It doesn’t get more magical than watching the sunrise in Honolulu from a boat while drinking your morning coffee. Whether you live on Oahu or you’re just visiting, watching the sunrise in Honolulu is a must.

While catching a sunrise from the beach is beautiful, it doesn’t compare to the experience of watching it rise over the open ocean. From the ocean, you witness dramatic views of Diamond Head, endless hues of blue, and even catch glimpses of wildlife, if you’re lucky.

Although sunset cruises receive all of the hype in Waikiki, sunrise is where the magic happens. The Vida Mia Morning Coffee Cruise is a unique and special outing everyone should experience.

In this activity guide, I will highlight why you should add watching the sunrise from a boat in Honolulu to your bucket list, why we loved the Vida Mia Coffee Cruise, what to expect, and other great spots to watch the sunrise in Honolulu.

The Vida Mia: Best Place to Watch the Sunrise in Honolulu

Women leaning on a boat railing holding coffee watching the sunrise in Honolulu from the Vida Mia
Aboard the Vida Mia

What to Expect on the Vida Mia Morning Coffee Cruise

I have been on several sunset cruises around the island, but this was my first sunrise experience. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d choose a warm coffee over a Mai Tai any day though so I knew I was in for a treat.

I first heard about the Vida Mia via their Instagram and wasted no time in booking the Morning Coffee Cruise. Sunrise, coffee, and the ocean? Sign me up!

The Vida Mia, meaning my life, is absolutely stunning. The 61 foot wooden yacht is elegant and romantic with its white and polished wood accents.

Location and Time

The Vida Mia sunrise cruise leaves from Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor, near the Hilton Lagoon. Upon booking, guests receive an exact address and harbor slip number to locate the boat.

Finding the boat was easy and in the heart of Waikiki. We met at 6:45 A.M., although I’m sure this time varies seasonally depending on the time of sunrise. By 7:00 A.M. all guests were aboard and we departed the harbor just as the sky began to melt into cotton candy colors.

Sunrise over the Ala Wai Boat Harbor in Honolulu
Sunrise over Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor

Coffee and Pastries

Moments after stepping foot on the Vida Mia I was offered a cup of coffee. From that moment on I was sold. In addition to coffee, guests can also enjoy unlimited fresh baked pastries, fruit, juices, and water.

The selection was beautifully displayed and absolutely delicious. I went back for third (maybe fourths) and even brought some home. The scones are a must.

Coffee and pastries provided on the Vida Mia cruise watching the sunrise in Honolulu

Live Music

To make the experience even more memorable, there was calming live music. When the music began I felt like I was in a movie, which is ironic (more on that later).

The music wasn’t overbearing but rather subtly playing in the background. The sun was rising, I was sipping coffee, and music was humming in the background.

If I’ve ever had a better morning, I don’t recall.

Live music on the Vida Mia coffee cruise watching the sunrise in Honolulu
Local musician playing live aboard the Vida Mia

Wildlife Encounters

We began our cruise out of the harbor towards Diamond Head. The water was glass and a deep hue of blue. Shortly after exiting the harbor, we spotted a humpback whale.

Moments after we spotted the whale we spotted the presence of a calf as well. The mom and calf leisurely swam next to and around the boat for over 30 minutes. The mom and calf played and relaxed on the surface the whole time.

We even saw a fluke (flash of the tail) from them both and the calf practicing it’s breach.

I’m still in awe.

What began as a morning hoping to soak up the beautiful sunrise in Honolulu turned into a morning I will remember forever. The cruise was beautiful, the music was serene, the coffee and pastries delicious, and the wildlife was something out of a dream.

All in all, I couldn’t have asked for a better morning.

The Vida Mia Package Options


Adult: $79 | Child: $69

Kamaʻāina (local) / Military Adult: $59 | Kamaʻāina / Military Child: $49

Woman standing along the Vida Mia boat railing looking out over the water at sunrise

While I stand by the fact that everyone should join the Morning Coffee Cruise to see a sunrise in Honolulu from the water, the Vida Mia offers several other cruise options.

Among their package options, you can join a sunrise charter, swim and snorkel, sunset, or private boat charter. You can even book a private stay aboard (which has officially been added to my bucket list).

All Vida Mia tours offer kamaʻāina and military discounted rates.

The Vida Mia: As Seen on The White Lotus

My husband and I first spotted the stunning Vida Mia in the Ala Wai harbor while returning from a sunset sail. Jokingly Cole turned to me and said, “That boat looks just like the one in the T.V. show White Lotus.”

The Vida Mia Boat Deck during a sunrise sale in Honolulu

After some internet digging we found out that he was right. The beautiful Vida Mia makes several appearances in the 2021 comedy-drama show, The White Lotus.

Having seen the show made being on the Vida Mia at sunrise that much more special.

Other Ways to Watch the Sunrise in Honolulu

Watching the sunrise in Honolulu from a boat is my favorite option, but not the only option. If you haven’t already, add these trails to your list as must-dos as they also provide incredible views of the island during sunrise.

Diamond Head Trail

You haven’t experienced Oahu if you have visited the iconic Diamond Head.

The Diamond Head Le’ahi Summit Trail is a very popular and heavily trafficked trail. Hikers will make their way to the top of Diamond Head via a paved path, a series of switchbacks, and steep stairs.

From the top, hikers are rewarded with 360-degree views and a unique, aerial view of Waikiki. The summit makes for a stunning view to watch the sunrise in Honolulu.

Koko Crater Tramway Trail

The Koko Crater Tramway Trail, commonly referred to as “Koko Head,” is undoubtedly one of the most popular hikes on Oahu.

Koko Crater is frequented by nearby residents, locals, and visitors, and heavily trafficked year-round. Consisting of approximately 1,000 stairs, Koko Crater Tramway Trail is less of a hike and more of a workout. Making it to the top of the stairs before the sun has broken the horizon is one of the most rewarding experiences.

If executed for sunrise, Koko Crater Trail offers breathtaking views of the south shore and a must-do while in Honolulu.

Hanauma Bay Ridge Trail

Hanauma Bay Ridge Trail is a great hike for anyone looking to get in a workout and soak up some epic views, without having to get down and dirty as many of the island’s other hikes require.

The hike is suitable for the entire family as it offers two trail options: a shorter, out-and-back paved route and a longer loop that begins paved before veering off onto a more adventurous (and strenuous) route.

Regardless of which trail you choose, both will leave you in awe of the island’s beauty as you watch the sun rise over the Pacific.

Do you have a favorite place to watch the sunrise in Honolulu other than the ones listed? Drop any questions or recommendations you have about things to do in Honolulu in the comment section.

Happy adventuring!

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