One of the most unique aspects about visiting the island of Hawai'i is the ease with which one can explore high mountains and tropical oceans with only a short drive separating the two. The Tantalus Lookout combines a little bit of both with an accessible and popular vista of downtown Honolulu, Pearl Harbor, and the ocean while being surrounded by lush cloud forest scenery.
The Tantalus Lookout is located in the Pu'u 'Ualaka'a State Wayside, which is situated high up Round Top Drive toward the summit of Mount Tantalus. At the entrance of the park is a trailhead for the 'Ualaka'a Trail, a 1-mile loop that also leads to the network of other trails up the mountain, such as Pu'u Ohia. Farther up the entrance road is a parking lot for the picnic area with a covered pavilion and picnic tables, surrounded by some wonderful open greenspaces. At the end of the road is the small lot for the lookout itself, where there are sweeping views of Manoa Valley, Diamond Head, and Waikīkī to the south, Pearl Harbor and the Waianae Mountains to the north, and a seemingly endless Pacific Ocean. Most visitors to the lookout are there for the spectacular sunsets, and it can be very busy during weekend evenings. Tantalus is known to be wet, with showers blowing unexpectedly in over the mountains and down into Manoa Valley, so come prepared. Hikers looking to use the trails should expect plenty of mud and slick slopes.
The park gates are open from 7:00 a.m. until 7:45 p.m. in summer months and until 6:45 p.m. in winter months. Parking is limited at the lookout, especially on clear evenings around sunset. However, more parking is available toward the park entrance and at the picnic shelter with only a short walk to the lookout.