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Tantalus Lookout

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Mount Tantalus, located four miles north of Waikiki, offers some of the greatest panoramic views from its lookout point near the forest canopies of Puu Ualakaa State Park. Stretching from Diamond Head and Waikiki to downtown Honolulu, a visit to Tantalus Lookout promises great photos of the city both day and night.
History of Tantalus Lookout

Tantalus was originally named “Pu’u ‘Ualaka’a,” or “Hill of the Rolling Sweet Potato,” after the ancient island legends that spoke of sweet potato gardens that were grown on the top of the mountain. Now it is more commonly known as Mount Tantalus, or simply Tantalus, dubbed by former Punahou students after the Greek god of the same name. Soaring high above Honolulu, Tantalus Lookout offers breathtaking, one-of-a-kind city views that are enjoyed by local residents and has been a “go to” spot for visitors from around the world.

This extinct cinder cone that gives Tantalus its shape was formed tens of thousands of years ago at the same time as the Punchbowl, Diamond Head and Koko Head craters, and the six mile Tantalus Loop drive was a popular wagon trail at the turn of the 19th century for scenic drives and outdoor picnic parties. The area was rich with lush canyons, wooded valleys with hearty-scented Eucalyptus, heavily-laden sweet guava trees and colorful tropical flowers. Unfortunately, Tantalus became quickly stripped of its natural resources in the late 1800s as whalers harvested the surroundings for firewood and building materials.

Thankfully, the area was declared a Forest Reserve by the Territorial Government in 1913 and much needed reforestation efforts were introduced. Thousands of trees were replanted to bring life back to what had become a barren landscape. In the 1940s, a 2,000-acre park and lookout were built, which still persist today.

The true beauty of the area is more commonly found once the sun sets, and the city of Honolulu glistens and sparkles with innumerable lights. The popular tune “Honolulu City Lights” captures the beauty of the nighttime view, and now the circular drive along Round Top Road to the summit of Tantalus has become one of Oahu’s most cherished evening activities.

Highlights

If you are visiting Tantalus Lookout during the day, plan to spend some time at Puu Ualakaa State Park for a lovely picnic and views. The short and sweet 'Ualaka'a Trail is a quick 1/2-mile loop that is perfect for nature walks and is accessible to all ages. Once the sun sets, you will find several stops along the nine miles of Round Top and Tantalus Drives where you can get a good look at the lights of Honolulu.

Things to know

Hours of Operation: Open daily from 7:00am - 6:45pm (until 7:45pm between April 1 - Labor Day)

Facilities at the park are ADA and wheelchair accessible and include picnic tables, a pavilion and restrooms.

Top-Rated Activities for Oahu

Latest reviews of Tantalus Lookout

Honolulu Volcanic Rainforest Guided Hiking Tour at Mt. Tantalus

Great tour!!!!

2024/06/13 Friends Kara

The guide was really awesome of the knowledge of the rainforest!

Honolulu Downhill Bike Tour, Secret Waterfall Hike & Waikiki Snorkel Sail Combo

Waterfall hike first and bike ride second; good combo.

2023/02/19 Couples -PAUL-

The hike was VERY muddy! Not so much of the mud being a nuisance, as much as the slippery parts. Then cooling off with downhill bike ride with scenic views of Waikiki and Honolulu, even Pearl city. We enjoyed our time.

Honolulu Volcanic Rainforest Guided Hiking Tour at Mt. Tantalus

Gorgeous Tour

2022/11/21 Friends Kara

Great to see the nature of Oahu, and learn from the guide

Honolulu Volcanic Rainforest Guided Hiking Tour at Mt. Tantalus

Get ready to get wet

2022/09/21 Solo Travelers Krilin

Amazing tour. The pickup was very smooth. Mike was a really nice guy with a lot of knowledge aviut the different plants, fruits, animals and the history of the island. The hike is made for everyone, not to hard but also ... more

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Honolulu Volcanic Rainforest Guided Hiking Tour at Mt. Tantalus

Beautiful views!

2022/01/17 Solo Travelers Yes to Hawaii

We started at Tantalus for beautiful 360 views and photos. Then, we drove a bit farther to start the actual trail. Quite a bit of it was shaded and there was a lot of incline at the beginning. The hiking guide was amazin... more

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Beautiful Colors of Hawaii Guided Photo Tour - Waimanalo, Pali Lookout & More

Amazing!!!

2021/12/07 Solo Travelers Alesia C

I was so impressed with the scenic views!! The different locations to snap photos as well as the time given to take absolutely breathtaking photos was amazing!! This was an absolute hidden treasure!! The time the tour gu... more

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Tantalus Lookout | Book Oahu Tours, Activities & Things to Do with HawaiiActivities.com
Mount Tantalus, located four miles north of Waikiki, offers some of the greatest panoramic views from its lookout point near the forest canopies of Puu Ualakaa State Park. Stretching from Diamond Head and Waikiki to downtown Honolulu, a visit to Tantalus Lookout promises great photos of the city both day and night.