May 2018 update: The eruption of the Kilauea Volcano on Hawaii is as dramatic as the Maui sunsets pictured here, but as of this posting, the volcano is not a danger to visitors or residents on most parts of the Big Island. For travel alerts on all Hawaiian islands, check the Hawaiian Tourism Authority’s special alerts page.
As the sun starts to dip toward the horizon on the island of Maui, you can sense the excitement in the air.
Tourists as well as locals plan their day around where they’ll be during the sunset with almost cultish passion. My husband and I worked most of our evening meals around sunset—it’s that exciting and awe-inspiring.
Although there are probably hundreds of spots for sunset watching on the Hawaiian Islands, here are three different locales on Maui where we enjoyed breathtaking color and dramatic cloud formations as daytime morphed into nighttime.
This is definitely island life at its best, and one of the prime reasons to travel to beaches and islands.
The Fiery Blaze
We spent four nights on west-facing Keawakapu Beach at the Hale Hui Kai beach condos, and every evening, a fire dancer arrived and twirled his lit batons as onlookers ooh-ed and ahh-ed. Upstaging him were the brilliant bands of clouds on fire as they were reflected in the water.
Maui’s Keawakapu Beach offers breathtaking sunsets 365 days a year.
The Serene Sunset
On calm Napili Bay, stand-up paddlers tended to float along as the sky lit with stunning pinks and oranges. Most of the nights we stayed at the Napili Kai Resort, we marveled at the splendid sunsets from our private balcony.
The Big Wow
Our friend Sandy drove us to Ho’okipa Beach Park (near the cute town of Paia) just as the sun began to slip into the west. It was our last sunset: two hours later we were boarding the plane to fly home. With a cliff, dramatic lava rocks, and huge waves filled with expert surfers, Ho’okipa Beach Park was the perfect place to cap off our trip to Hawaii.
Here, bright rays streamed through Iao Valley with biblical illumination. Then we walked down the hill to be closer to the water’s crash on the lava rocks, where we watched the sky turn pink, salmon, cantaloupe, and turquoise. The wind whipped; we could feel ocean spray on our faces. And always the light changed and grew more intense. The Ho’okipa sunset was quite a dramatic sendoff, and it sealed our resolved to visit Maui again soon.
—Laurel Kallenbach, freelance writer and editor
Originally published May 2014