Oahu Photoshoot Location Rating Scale
just a drive up
REQUIRES a lengthy hike
white sand beaches
Idyllic & secluded white sand beaches photoshoot locations on Oahu
While our favorite locations may be more difficult to access (you'll need a rental car if you're visiting the island), we promise that going a bit further out of town will be worth it! Beaches in and around downtown Honolulu are always crowded, which would make any photos busy, distracting, and honestly, just not quite worth it. We want you to have your own private. We suggest heading to one of the following beaches if you’re interested in a photoshoot adventure in the sand on Oahu, Hawai'i.
When you’re in Hawai'i, one of the most idyllic photoshoot locations is surely our gorgeous white-sand beaches, and it’s no surprise that these locations are by far our most requested! Whether you’re interested in a sunset couple’s shoot, or a more adventurous photography session in the ocean, Hawai'i’s beaches offer pretty much everything you could want for your tropical vibes. Most visitors to the island of Oʻahu will be staying in or near Waikiki Beach, but we actually prefer to do all of our photoshoots in less-crowded areas (contact us and we'll tell you all the reasons not to do a photoshoot on Waikiki Beach).
This expansive beach park on the windward side of the island is one of the more versatile coastal settings we take couples, as there are so many different beautiful backdrops. Kualoa Regional Park is definitely known for its epic mountains with dramatic cliffs, which rise up right behind the beach. Just offshore is Mokoliʻi, a pyramid-shaped island (which can be its own adventure as well!) that sits on the calm waters of Kāneʻohe Bay. While the drive may be longer from downtown Honolulu, there are usually fewer people at the beach, especially during the week around sunset. Since the beach park is so expansive, we usually end up walking approximately 1 mile between scenic spots. However, since this location is on the windward (east) side of the island, sunset colors can be hit or miss, and rain showers are common even when the forecast calls for sunshine. Either way, it makes a gorgeous beach photoshoot location.
If you’re looking for a pristine beach that is also pretty close to town, Sandy Beach Park is a fantastic place for a sunset photo session, since it’s situated on the southwestern shore of Oʻahu, just past Hawaii Kai. The views are amazing in all directions, with perfectly blue water, black lava rocks, and Kohelepelepe (Koko Head crater) rising from across the road. This easily accessible beach means that it is much more busy any day of the week, particularly among surfers and body boarders. However, due to the consistently large waves and strong currents, this beach is not necessarily one we would recommend if you are interested in getting into the water during your session. There’s still plenty of room for us to spread out, have some fun, and be blown away by the sun setting over Hanauma Bay and the churning Pacific Ocean.
This north shore beach just beyond Haleiwa is perhaps the best mixture of all the previous locations, with wide open space and (usually) few other beach-goers. Although the drive to the north shore is substantially longer than anywhere else, the northwest-facing views are also perfect for watching the sun go down over Kaʻena Point. The beach park has limited parking, especially on weekends, when surf school companies dominate the roadside, but there’s usually enough space since most people leave before sunset. The rocky shoreline on either side of the beach offers some more dramatic photographic opportunities other than just having photos on the sand itself. Be aware that during the winter months, seasonal wave swells are much larger and may limit accessibility in the water.
Moody & tropical photoshoot locations on Oahu
If you’re more interested in a tropical adventure vibe, rather than the relaxing beach, a Hawaiian forest shoot may be more suited for you! The lush greenery of the dense jungle provides a darker, moodier tone to the photos. We also try to take you to hidden gems that may feature quiet streams, waterfalls, and swimming holes. However, the best locations oftentimes require a bit of walking, and since hiking trails in Hawaii are oftentimes muddy and slippery, access requires a bit more effort than, say, just pulling up to the beach (for instance, a change of clothes for the hike in/out is highly suggested).
These hillside hiking trails are easily accessible from Honolulu and allow for a variety of different scenic locations, such as a waterfall, stream swimming hole, dense bamboo forest, and unique stands of pine trees. Depending on how adventurous you want to be, photoshoots here can include exploring some trail offshoots, or we can stay close to the entrance among the lush tropical greenery. These trails can end up being muddy or wet (with an optional shallow stream crossing), so be prepared to come wearing comfortable clothes! The flexibility of the Nuʻuanu Valley really makes it a fantastic all-around choice for any forest photoshoot and one of our favorite spots on all of Oahu. We always try to explore a different part of the forest when we go here
One of our favorite forest hikes on Oahu is Kaʻau crater trail, which is definitely more rugged than other locations. However, the muddy and rocky trail pretty much immediately becomes stunning in a dense grove of tropical forest, complete with vines and a quiet stream. A fifteen minute trek through the woods will bring you to majestic swimming holes and lava rocks that complement the dark green scenery. If you’re interested in getting a bit wet, we love playing around in the shallow river pools. For a more adventurous session, we can hike quite a bit farther (roughly 1-1.5 hours each way) to the amazing waterfalls along the trail. We can also hike the full Ka’au Crater trail for an amazing all day adventure stopping at 5-6 spots along the way (including a picnic at a waterfall!). However, this should only be attempted by those comfortable with some moderate hiking!
Epic mountain overlook photoshoot locations on Oahu
If sand and mud are not quite your thing, but you still want some epic views of the coast, ocean, and rugged terrain, hiking overlooks are a dramatic contrast to what most people typically imagine from locations in Hawaii. However, you should expect some rock scrambling and getting a little sweaty before arriving at the scenic overlook.
Crouching Lion is a windward side favorite (just about halfway between Kualoa Ranch and the north shore), with draw-dropping views of Kahana Bay, the Koʻolau mountains, and the turquoise waters offshore. The popularity of this hike is evident, with many hikers heading to the rocky summit for sunset, even though it is a bit of a drive from Honolulu and Kailua. If you do decide to do a photoshoot at Crouching Lion don’t be surprised if you’re sharing the summit with other hikers or other couples also doing a photoshoot. The hike is an intense, straight up scramble along an eroding dirt path that will surely make you question your decision, but again, we promise the view is worth it (and the first view only takes about 20-30 minutes)! Clouds oftentimes obscure the higher peaks, which actually makes the view from Crouching Lion even more epic (sunset rays will sometimes beam through as well). If you’d like to adventure here, be aware that after the sun sets, heading down the trail becomes slow-going (but we’ll make sure to bring headlamps just in case).
Makapuʻu Lookout is quite and unusual, yet stunningly picturesque location. Situated on the southern tip of Oʻahu (just about a 30 minute drive from Honolulu), this arid and rocky cliff is completely different from just about everywhere else on the island. Few people venture beyond the parking area, so we generally have the entire place to ourselves! The exposed lava rock face is quite a literal dropoff into the ocean, hundreds of feet below, and with just a short 15 minute hike from the parking lot (scrambling up some rocks), we arrive at a windy overlook that gets bathed in sunset light. The views here are unreal and we can often see whales in the distance (not to mention you can see Lanaʻi and Maui on clear days). With the turquoise waters of Oahu below and mountain views from all sides, Makapuu Lookout makes the PERFECT Oahu photoshoot location.
Experience the ocean with on-of-a-kind underwater photos taken by Hawai'i educated Marine Biology PhD student and PADI certified dive instructor
Take stunning aerial photos on Oahu, Hawai'i with a licensed drone pilot and husband/wife photography team
PHOTOGRAPHY FOR LEEWARD OAHU
PHOTOGRAPHY FOR SOUTH SHORE OF OAHU
Downtown Honolulu, Chinatown, Kaka'ako, Waikiki, Pearl Harbor
Makaha, Wainae, Nanakuli, Waipahu
PHOTOGRAPHY FOR CENTRAL OAHU
PHOTOGRAPHY FOR WINDWARD OAHU
Pearl City, Mililani, Wahiawa, Ewa Beach, and Kapolei
Kualoa, Kaa'awa, Kaneohe, Kailua, Lanikai, Waimanalo, Makapu'u
PHOTOGRAPHY FOR THE NORTH SHORE OF OAHU
There are an unlimited number of photoshoot locations across the Hawaiian Islands. However, many locations are sacred, off-limits, or local secrets. We do not give away the best kept secrets and will give you a customized location list once you book with us.
Kaena Point, Waialua, Hale'iwa, Waimea Bay, Turtle Bay, Kahuku, Laie, Punaluu