I get asked at least once a month how to ensure a sunset view when making reservations at Maui restaurants, so here are some tips to keep in mind.
The Sun Sets in the West
Restaurants on the South (Kihei/Wailea) and West (Lahaina/Ka’anapali) sides of Maui have the best direct sunset views of the sun setting into the ocean. Restaurants on the North shore (Paia) also get beautiful views during the evening, but the sun sets over the mountains, not over the ocean. Same gorgeous colors — but if you’re looking for a classic view, you need to be on the other side of the island.
There are Also Three Islands to the West of Maui
The islands of Kaho’olawe, Lana’i and Moloka’i lie to the west of our island, and we can’t do anything about it. 😉
The setting sun might set behind one of these islands, rather than sinking into the ocean. For example, in South Maui, you see both Kaho’olawe and Lana’i. In Lahaina, you see Lana’i. In Kapalua, Moloka’i is right across the channel.
The Position of the Sun in the Sky Changes Throughout the Year
Hawaii is located 20 degrees north of the equator, so we experience the same phenomenon likely found your hometown: the sun sets in the northwestern sky in the summer and in the southwestern sky in the Winter. This is due to the tilt of the earth as it orbits the sun — and we can’t do anything about that, either. 😉
For example, my home faces due west, and I can see the sunset over the ocean. In the winter I get to see that sun sink into the ocean between Kaho’olawe and Lana’i. In the summer, I watch it set behind the island of Lana’i.
Sunset Times Change Throughout the Year
Sunsets don’t always happen at the same time every day of the year. They change from day to day and month to month, just like they do on the mainland US. We don’t have as much variance in our sunset times, but there is some. So “sunset” dinner reservations will need to be adjusted based on the time of year you’re visiting Maui.
Here’s a good site where you can look up the time of sunset (and sunrise) in Hawaii.
The Restaurants Know the Best Time to Book Your Table for That Day
Believe it or not, you wouldn’t be the first to ask for a sunset view when booking your reservations. And the person making your reservation will know the best time for you to arrive to catch the big show. If they’re able to seat you at that time, they will. Just ask!
The Bottom Line
If you are looking for a very specific sunset view — for example, the sun setting directly into the ocean — you will have to do your homework and find a restaurant you want to dine with which has that view at the time of year you’re visiting.
James and I take a simpler approach to sunset views at dinnertime: we head to the beach with a blanket, a bottle of wine and some pupus, and then head out to dinner once the show is over. That way we can have everything we want.
For more tips on visiting Maui and making the most of your food experience, get a copy of Top Maui Restaurants. For less than the price of breakfast for one, you can get the best advice on navigating Maui’s tourist-driven restaurant scene.