As you make your way up the twisting road to Tantalus Lookout, you can peer down at the commotion of the city below and marvel at the short time it took to go from the confines of urban Honolulu to gazing at it from above.
The Lookout is reached via Tantalus Drive, which becomes Round Top Drive about halfway through. The origin of this street lies in the midst of the city, but its winding turns conduct you through the lush greenery and jungle-like canopies of the Honolulu Watershed Forest Reserve before leading you up to the highest point of 2000-foot-tall Mount Tantalus that is vehicle-accessible. Along the road are several shoulders where you can park and take in the many vistas, including Mānoa Valley and Waikīkī.
Along the 10-mile drive is Puʻu ʻUalakaʻa State Wayside Park, which features a view that stretches from Diamond Head to the Honolulu International Airport. Both admission and parking are free, and the park offers such amenities as picnic areas and restroom facilities. Its gate is closed at 7:45pm in the summer and at 6:45pm the rest of the year. Continuing the ascent beyond the park, you eventually reach Tantalus Lookout. Here, you can see extensive daytime views of Punchbowl Crater and the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. The cemetery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and inters thousands of veterans of both world wars and the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
At night, the Lookout's height and distance from the city makes it an ideal site for a sweeping view of Honolulu's city lights, including those emanating from ever-lively Waikīkī.
A cautionary note: the road's numerous bends and switchbacks may be of concern to those susceptible to motion sickness.