Top 5 Places to Shoot in Oahu, Hawaii

A photographer's guide to shooting on the island

This past February I visited the island of Oahu in Hawaii! The weather was a bit crazy that time of the year- but luckily on the day of our shoot we didn’t have too much rain. It’s a tropical place, so what can you do but enjoy the warm rain! Oahu (and Hawaii in general) is known to have completely different weather happening all over the island. So if you run into this issue too, no worries, just drive a little bit south or north OR just wait a few minutes and the weather will clear.

It took me quite a bit of researching and location scouting on the island to find these spots-so I hope this list helps you out and saves you time! My model, Lili, was a huge help in telling me where to go from the eyes of a local (so this list is pre-approved from a native! haha) So here it is, my Top 5 Places to Shoot in Oahu!! It’s listed in order as a guide to shooting it all in one day :)

1. Kawela Bay: This is the best location from a logistical stand-point because it also has a second location–Banyan Trees!! These beautiful tall and hanging trees that are so easy to climb, makes for a fun photo! So this place will save you time and allow for you to shoot multiple looks in one spot! Kawela Bay is on the North shore of the island, so if you’re traveling from Waikiki Beach, be sure to allot for driving time (there’s only one main highway up the center of the island, so you might run into traffic depending on the time you leave). Park your car on the main road, grab yourself a coconut from across the street at the open food market, and walk into the park past all the overhanging Banyan Trees to arrive at the beach.

2. Laie Point State Beach: This is what the locals call ‘the hole in the rock’ - it’s a “hidden” sea arch created back in 1946 when a tsunami blasted a whole in the middle of this sandstone island that rests just in front of Laie Point. You also have a beautiful viewpoint of the other island and the coastline of Oahu-perfect for so many photos!

3. That Damn Palm Tree: I have a love/hate for this palm tree. I love it’s beauty. I hate how annoying it was tracking down it’s location. Nobody on the island knew where to find it, and other photographers who had shot there before seemed to “forget” where it was located. 🙄 Welp, I’m here to stick it to the nay-sayers and put this info on blast. Because we should all be helping each other out and not holding ‘secret locations’ to ourselves. SO. HERE. IT. IS. The cross streets are Hauula Homestead Rd. & Kamehameha Hwy. Park your car on the street (be mindful that you’re not on someone’s private property or in a towing area), walk to what looks like a bridge/road overpass and there is a tiny place you can enter the beach below. The beach should look like this once you’re down on sea level:

Turn the corner to the right, walk past about 10 houses and you shall see THE PALM TREE!!! Another tip-be mindful of the tide, depending on the time of the day there may be more or less sand available to walk on! (Also, extra secret note- just slightly past the palm tree to the right there is a swing!)

4. Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden: One of the more iconic locations on Oahu, where you’ve probably seen photos of bloggers hanging off the side of a jeep as the car drives up a long winding tropical road. The botanical garden is quite stunning to see in person, especially when the fog rolls in and hangs above the mountains. This spot is located at the entrance to the garden, and I do want to note-there is a security guard watching. He didn’t care that we were shooting, but when a larger group showed up with mopeds to take a photo and block the street, he got upset. So be cautious and don’t block the road for too long, because cars are coming in and out of the garden to visit.

5. Lanai Lookout (or the Moon): Last on the list is this beautiful cliffside with deep brown colored rock/swirl formations. You literally feel like you are walking on the moon! The texture is so beautiful! Park your car in the lot and hop over the short stone wall and walk down carefully! It was super windy when we where shooting and the waves where crashing hard, so watch out. Probably also want to wear very supportive shoes too because the ground is bumpy. But overall I definitely have this place as a favorite because this backdrop is very unique.

Thank you so much for reading along! I hope this helps in your journey to capturing the best photos in Oahu, Hawaii! If you’re traveling to Oahu-please hit me up if you have questions! I’m always down to help in any way that I can-message me on Instagram at @champagneunicorns 🦄 or send me an email at 💌