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China Walls On Oahu, Hawaii: Most Popular Sunset Spot


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Marjy Simmonds



Welcome to China Walls, one of Oahu’s most popular sunset spots. Nestled along the southeastern coastline of the island, China Walls offers visitors breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and the opportunity to witness stunning sunsets that paint the sky with vibrant hues.


China Walls is not only a favorite spot for locals, but it has also gained recognition among tourists for its natural beauty and mesmerizing scenery. Whether you are a photography enthusiast, a thrill-seeker, or simply someone looking to unwind and soak in the beauty of Hawaii, China Walls is the place to be.


This natural formation of cliffs and reef offers a unique experience, combining the beauty of the ocean with rugged shores. The towering cliffs act as a protective barrier against the powerful waves, creating a calm, shallow pool. This natural infinity pool effect adds to the charm and allure of China Walls.


From adrenaline-pumping cliff jumps to peaceful moments spent watching the waves crash against the rocks, China Walls caters to a variety of interests. Whether you are seeking adventure or a tranquil escape, this iconic spot provides an unforgettable experience.


As you explore China Walls, you’ll notice the remnants of its historical significance. Originally built as a breakwater around the turn of the 20th century to protect a nearby submarine cable, the walls have become a beloved gathering place for locals and visitors alike. While the cable is no longer in use, the name “China Walls” has stuck.


Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a first-time visitor to Oahu, a stop at China Walls is a must. The unique combination of natural beauty, captivating sunsets, and the opportunity for adventure make this destination a true gem of Hawaii. So grab your camera, put on your sunscreen, and get ready for an unforgettable experience along the southeastern coast of Oahu.



China Walls is located on the southeastern coast of Oahu, the third-largest and most populous island in Hawaii. Specifically, it is situated in the residential neighborhood of Portlock, near the prestigious area of Hawaii Kai.


To reach China Walls, head east from Honolulu on Kalanianaʻole Highway (Route 72). As you pass through Hawaii Kai, you’ll find a small parking area near the entrance of Portlock Road. From there, it’s just a short walk to reach the lookout point where China Walls begins.


Once you arrive at China Walls, you’ll be greeted by a stretch of rocky cliffs that extend along a pristine shoreline. The rugged landscape and stunning panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean immediately immerse you in the beauty of Hawaii’s natural wonders.


The area is surrounded by upscale homes, giving it a unique blend of natural beauty and residential charm. This creates a serene ambiance while also providing facilities such as restrooms and showers for the convenience of visitors.


While China Walls is not a designated beach, there are tide pools and shallow areas along the coastline that offer opportunities for swimming and snorkeling during low tide. However, it’s important to note that there are no lifeguards on duty, so exercising caution and being mindful of the ocean conditions is essential for a safe and enjoyable experience.


Overall, China Walls’ location on the southeastern coast of Oahu provides a picturesque setting for visitors to immerse themselves in Hawaii’s breathtaking scenery and enjoy a variety of activities along the water’s edge.



The history of China Walls traces back to the early 20th century when it was originally constructed as a breakwater to protect a submarine telegraph cable that connected Hawaii with mainland America. The cable was laid by the Commercial Pacific Cable Company in 1902 and played a vital role in facilitating communication between Hawaii and the rest of the world.


The breakwater, built using rocks and concrete, served as a shield against the powerful waves that would crash upon the coastline. This protected the submarine cable from damage and ensured uninterrupted communication between the islands and the mainland.


Despite its original purpose, the breakwater soon began to draw the attention of locals due to its unique structure and the picturesque views it offered. Over time, it evolved into a favorite spot for swimming, cliff jumping, and sunbathing, as well as a popular location for stunning sunset views.


Regarding the name “China Walls,” there are a few theories behind its origin. One theory suggests that the name refers to the builders of the breakwater, who were Chinese laborers. Another theory suggests that it derives from the term “china,” which was used by mariners to describe fine, calm weather conditions, as the breakwater provided a protective barrier against the rough ocean waves.


Regardless of its name’s origin, China Walls has become deeply ingrained in the history and culture of Oahu. Through the years, it has remained a treasured spot for locals and a hidden gem for tourists to discover.


Today, China Walls stands as a testament to both its historical significance and its ability to captivate visitors with its natural beauty. Its unique blend of history, rugged cliffs, and stunning ocean vistas continue to make it a must-visit destination for those exploring the southeastern coast of Oahu.



The construction of China Walls involved the use of rocks and concrete to create a breakwater along the southeastern coastline of Oahu. The primary objective of the construction was to protect the submarine telegraph cable that connected Hawaii with mainland America at the turn of the 20th century.


The breakwater was carefully constructed to withstand the powerful waves that crash against the rocky shoreline. The rocks were expertly placed to form a barrier that would absorb the force of the waves, creating a calm, shallow pool of water on the other side.


The use of concrete in the construction provided additional stability and strength to the breakwater. The concrete blocks were strategically placed to reinforce the structure, ensuring its durability against the relentless ocean waves and the test of time.


The construction of China Walls also involved the installation of a submarine telegraph cable, which played a crucial role in the communication networks between Hawaii and the mainland United States. This cable was carefully laid beneath the ocean floor and connected to the breakwater, ensuring its protection from damage caused by turbulent waters.


Over the years, the breakwater has endured the forces of nature, yet its construction has remained steadfast. It continues to serve as a symbol of human engineering and ingenuity, as well as a platform for recreational activities and the observation of Hawaii’s stunning natural beauty.


Today, visitors to China Walls can appreciate the impressive construction techniques used to create the breakwater and marvel at the resilience of the structure. It stands as a testament to the intersection of human innovation and the captivating power of nature.



China Walls is easily accessible by car and is located along Kalanianaʻole Highway (Route 72) on the southeastern coast of Oahu. While the exact address may not be readily available, the entrance to China Walls is near the intersection of Portlock Road and Kalanianaʻole Highway.


There is a small parking area available near the entrance of Portlock Road, which provides convenient access to China Walls. However, due to its popularity and limited parking space, it is recommended to arrive early to secure a spot, especially during peak hours or weekends.


Once you have parked your vehicle, you can reach China Walls by taking a short walk from the parking area to the lookout point. The terrain is relatively flat and easy to navigate, making it accessible to people of all ages and physical abilities.


It is important to note that due to the location of China Walls along the rocky coastline, there are no designated paths or trails leading to the water’s edge. Visitors must exercise caution and use common sense when approaching the cliffside or participating in any water activities.


While there are no lifeguards stationed at China Walls, the area is frequented by experienced local surfers who can provide assistance if needed. It is always recommended to swim or engage in water activities with a buddy and to be mindful of the current ocean conditions.


Additionally, for those who prefer not to drive, there are public transportation options available to reach China Walls. The bus routes in Oahu provide access to the area, although it may require some additional walking from the nearest bus stop to the entrance of Portlock Road.


Overall, while China Walls may require some effort to reach, its accessibility by car and proximity to major roadways make it a viable option for visitors looking to experience its natural beauty and breathtaking sunsets.


Sunset Views

China Walls is renowned for offering some of the most spectacular sunset views on the island of Oahu. As the evening approaches, the warm glow of the setting sun casts a magical ambiance over the rocky cliffs and the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean.


The westward-facing location of China Walls provides an unobstructed view of the sunset as it dips below the horizon. The combination of the open ocean, dramatic cliffs, and the changing colors of the sky creates a breathtaking panorama that captivates both locals and tourists alike.


During the golden hour, when the sun is close to the horizon, the sky comes alive with vibrant hues of orange, pink, and purple. The reflection of the colors on the calm waters of China Walls creates a picturesque scene that is perfect for capturing memorable photographs or simply enjoying the beauty of nature.


As the sun sinks lower, casting long shadows along the cliffs, the atmosphere at China Walls becomes even more mesmerizing. The tranquil surroundings and the serene sound of the crashing waves provide a serene backdrop for those seeking a moment of peace and contemplation.


Many visitors choose to bring picnic blankets or beach chairs to sit and bask in the beauty of the sunset. It is common to see families, couples, and groups of friends gathered along the cliffs, sharing laughter and creating lasting memories as they witness nature’s stunning display.


It is important to note that due to the popularity of China Walls as a sunset viewing spot, it can get crowded, especially during the peak tourist seasons. Arriving early and securing a comfortable spot along the cliffs ensures a premium viewing experience.


Whether you are a photography enthusiast, a romantic soul, or simply someone yearning for a moment of awe-inspiring natural beauty, China Walls’ sunset views are sure to leave an indelible mark on your memory. The combination of the vast ocean, dramatic cliffs, and vibrant colors of the sunset make it a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the southeastern coast of Oahu.


Photography Opportunities

China Walls offers photographers a plethora of opportunities to capture stunning images that showcase the natural beauty of Hawaii’s southeastern coast. From the rugged cliffs to the crystal-clear waters, every angle provides a unique composition for photographers to explore and capture unforgettable moments.


One of the popular photography spots at China Walls is the cliffside overlook. From here, photographers can capture the expansive ocean views, the dramatic coastline, and the vibrant colors of the sunset. The changing light conditions during the golden hour present a perfect opportunity for breathtaking landscape shots.


The natural infinity pool effect created by the shallow pool of water against the cliffs provides a stunning foreground element in photography compositions. The calm waters mirror the vibrant sky, creating a sense of depth and tranquility in the images. Photographers can experiment with various angles and perspectives to capture the unique geological formations and the reflection of the sky in the clear waters.


In addition to capturing the majestic beauty of China Walls itself, the area also serves as a vantage point for capturing images of surfers riding the waves, local fishermen casting their lines, or even marine life such as turtles or dolphins that may occasionally visit the area. Photographers with an interest in action and wildlife photography will find plenty of exciting opportunities.


For those with an adventurous spirit, underwater photography is another option at China Walls. During low tide, there are shallow tide pools teeming with marine life. Snorkelers and divers can capture vibrant images of colorful fish, coral formations, and even small sea creatures hiding among the rocks.


To enhance the photography experience at China Walls, it is recommended to bring a wide-angle lens to capture the expansive coastal views, a polarizing filter to enhance colors and reduce glare from the water, and a tripod for capturing long exposure shots during sunset or low light conditions.


Whether you are a professional photographer or just starting out, China Walls offers a visually captivating and diverse setting for capturing stunning images. With its natural beauty, breathtaking sunsets, and a variety of subjects to photograph, it is a photographer’s paradise waiting to be explored.


Other Activities

While China Walls is famous for its scenic beauty and stunning sunsets, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy in the area. Whether you’re seeking adventure or relaxation, there’s something for everyone at this picturesque spot along the southeastern coast of Oahu.


One of the popular activities at China Walls is cliff jumping. The rugged cliffs, ranging from heights of 10 to 30 feet, provide thrill-seekers with the perfect platform to leap into the crystal-clear waters below. However, it is important to exercise caution and ensure that the tide and conditions are suitable for safe cliff jumping.


For those who prefer a more leisurely experience, China Walls offers excellent snorkeling opportunities during low tide. The shallow tide pools reveal a vibrant underwater world, with colorful fish, coral formations, and marine life. Snorkelers can spend hours exploring the unique ecosystem and observing the beauty of Hawaii’s marine biodiversity.


Fishing enthusiasts will also find China Walls to be a great spot for casting a line. The rocky shoreline provides ample opportunities for shoreline fishing. Locals can often be seen casting their lines in hopes of catching local fish species such as ulua, papio, or goatfish. Just be sure to check the local fishing regulations and obtain any necessary permits before casting your line.


For those who simply want to relax and soak in the natural surroundings, China Walls is an ideal spot for sunbathing and picnicking. Bring a beach towel or a picnic blanket and enjoy the warm Hawaiian sun while taking in the breathtaking ocean views. This tranquil setting provides the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life.


Lastly, hiking enthusiasts can explore nearby trails to experience the natural beauty of the area on foot. The Koko Crater Trail, Koko Head Crater Railway Trail, and Hanauma Bay Ridge Trail are popular choices for hikers of all skill levels. These trails offer panoramic views of the coastline and are an excellent way to immerse in the stunning scenery surrounding China Walls.


With its diverse range of activities, China Walls caters to both adrenaline junkies and those in search of relaxation. Whether you’re cliff jumping, snorkeling, fishing, sunbathing, or hiking, there’s no shortage of ways to make the most of your visit to this breathtaking coastal spot.


Nearby Attractions

Located in the southeastern part of Oahu, China Walls offers visitors access to a variety of nearby attractions that further enhance the overall experience of exploring this beautiful region of Hawaii. Whether you’re looking to explore nature, immerse in culture, or enjoy some leisurely activities, there’s something for everyone in the vicinity of China Walls.


Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, located just a short drive from China Walls, is a must-visit for nature lovers and snorkelers. This natural marine preserve teems with colorful coral reefs and a stunning array of tropical fish. Snorkelers can swim alongside sea turtles and marvel at the underwater beauty that attracts visitors from around the world.


Makapu’u Point and its famous lighthouse are also within close proximity to China Walls. This dramatic sea cliff offers awe-inspiring views of the Pacific Ocean and the opportunity to spot humpback whales during the winter months. The Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail provides a scenic hike that rewards visitors with panoramic vistas at the summit.


For history enthusiasts, a visit to the nearby U.S. Coast Guard Station at Diamond Head is a fascinating experience. Learn about the station’s role in protecting the shores of Hawaii and explore the exhibits that showcase the history and heritage of the United States Coast Guard.


For those interested in Hawaiian culture and history, the Lyon Arboretum is a hidden gem worth exploring. This botanical garden offers guided tours, showcasing a diverse range of plants native to Hawaii. Immerse yourself in the lush natural surroundings and learn about the rich flora that makes the Hawaiian Islands so unique.


If you’re in the mood for some retail therapy, the nearby Hawaii Kai Towne Center is a popular shopping destination. From upscale boutiques to local shops and restaurants, this center offers a variety of options for a leisurely day of shopping, dining, and entertainment.


Finally, don’t miss the opportunity to experience the unique culinary offerings in the area. From local food trucks to waterfront restaurants, there are plenty of options to indulge in delicious Hawaiian cuisine. Sample fresh seafood, tropical fruits, and flavors that reflect the diverse culinary heritage of the islands.


With its proximity to a range of attractions, China Walls serves as an excellent starting point for exploring the southeastern part of Oahu. Whether you’re interested in nature, history, culture, or simply enjoying the local cuisine, there’s something for everyone within reach of this charming coastal spot.


Safety Tips

While China Walls offers a stunning and enjoyable experience, it’s important to prioritize safety during your visit. Following these safety tips will help ensure a safe and enjoyable time at this beautiful coastal spot:


1. Be cautious of the ocean conditions: The Pacific Ocean can have strong currents and unpredictable waves. Pay attention to the surf conditions and be mindful of any warning signs or advisories. If the waves are too rough or the current is strong, it’s best to stay out of the water.


2. Watch your step: The terrain at China Walls can be uneven and rocky. Exercise caution when exploring the area, especially near the cliff edges. Pay attention to your footing and wear appropriate footwear to prevent slips and falls.


3. Swim and snorkel with a buddy: When participating in water activities, it’s always best to have a companion. This ensures that someone can assist you if needed and provide an extra level of safety. Additionally, keep an eye on each other and communicate to ensure everyone is safe in the water.


4. Check the tides: If you plan on snorkeling or exploring tidal pools, it’s important to be aware of the tide schedule. During low tide, certain areas may become more accessible, while high tide can bring waves crashing against the cliffs. Plan your activities accordingly to avoid any unexpected changes in water conditions.


5. Protect yourself from the sun: Hawaii’s sun can be intense, even during cloudy days. Apply sunscreen generously, wear a hat and sunglasses, and seek shade when possible to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout your visit.


6. Respect the environment: China Walls is a beautiful and fragile natural ecosystem. Respect the wildlife, coral reefs, and marine life by observing them from a distance and not disturbing their natural habitat. Dispose of any trash properly and leave the area as you found it, so future visitors can also enjoy its beauty.


7. Listen to locals and obey posted signs: The locals are familiar with the area and can provide valuable information about current conditions or any hazards to be aware of. Pay attention to any posted signs or warnings, as they are there to ensure your safety.


8. Know your limits: Participate in activities that align with your skill level and fitness level. Whether cliff jumping or hiking, assess your capabilities and only engage in activities that you feel comfortable and confident in doing. It’s okay to step back and enjoy the views if you’re not comfortable with certain activities.


By following these safety tips, you can enjoy all that China Walls has to offer while ensuring your own well-being and the preservation of this natural beauty. Stay mindful, be respectful of your surroundings, and make memories of your visit that are filled with joy and safety.



China Walls on the southeastern coast of Oahu, Hawaii, is a true gem that captivates visitors with its natural beauty, stunning sunsets, and diverse range of activities. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or an opportunity to immerse in Hawaii’s captivating scenery, China Walls has something to offer for everyone.


From the rugged cliffs that protect the calm waters to the panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, China Walls provides a captivating backdrop for a variety of activities. Whether you’re cliff jumping, snorkeling, fishing, or simply enjoying a picnic while soaking in the breathtaking sunset views, the experience at China Walls is sure to create lasting memories.


Beyond the beauty of China Walls itself, the area offers easy access to other attractions nearby. From exploring the vibrant marine life at Hanauma Bay to hiking the scenic trails at Makapu’u Point, visitors can immerse themselves in the natural wonders of the region or indulge in cultural experiences and local cuisine.


As you explore China Walls and its surroundings, it’s important to prioritize safety. Being aware of ocean conditions, watching your step, swimming with a buddy, and respecting the environment are all key to ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience.


Whether you’re a local resident or a first-time visitor to Oahu, a trip to China Walls is a must. Immerse yourself in the beauty of Hawaii’s southeastern coast, witness unforgettable sunsets, and create memories that will last a lifetime. Just remember to bring your camera, your sense of adventure, and an appreciation for the natural wonders that await you at China Walls.