At Sky and Reef Photography, we focus on getting a mix of both candids and posed. We are about having fun and getting those once-in-a-lifetime shots that last a lifetime. Our photos are bright, vivid, true to life color, which showcases Hawaii's natural beauty. Ultimately, I am here to make you look Damn good in your photographs. 

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May 15, 2019

Best Photo Shoot Locations in Hawaii

Best Photo Shoot Locations in Hawaii

25 gorgeous locations for your perfect photo session on Oahu, Hawaii

Best locations to photograph HawaiiHere is a guide to help navigate all of my most frequented gorgeous location options for photo sessions. Please note if you have a special location in mind that is not on the list please don’t hesitate to inquire.

All are located on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. Each of these locations can be perfect for either a Family Photography Session, Engagement Session, Maternity, or Elopement. My proposal guide can be found Here!


map of oahu

The Four Regions on Oahu, Hawaii:

To help choose the best location for you, I have organized this guide into four regions of the island. I have also included a map of each location to help you choose the best location for you.

Eastside:

Lanikai, Waimanalo, Makapu’u, Baby Maks, Sandy’s, Kualoa, Lanai Lookout, Kaloko

Halona Blowhole, Kahana Bay, Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens, Crouching Lion

Waikiki:

Waikiki Central, Hilton Hawaiian Village, Hale Koa, Waialae, Ala Moana Beach Park

Westside:

Secret Beach, Paradise Cove

 Northshore

Turtle Bay, Kawela Bay, Mokuleia


TIPS to Choose your Perfect Hawaii Photo Shoot Location

  1. Traffic-Keep in mind traffic, drive time, and if you need to rent a car. It is best to give yourself plenty of time so you are not rushed.
  2. Ideal shooting time-I prefer shooting at ‘golden hour,’ that is sunrise to 90 mins or 90min prior to sunset. Some locations offer better qualities of light than others. I do refrain from shooting during high noon. First off, it is hot, it hurts your eyes and it doesn’t do your skin justice.
  3. Crowds- I try to not shoot at busy beaches, I can edit out a person here or there, but I will not edit out crowds of people from your shoot.

 

Final Tip: Always bring a towel and a change of clothes in the car. Oftentimes, we do end up getting a bit wet and sandy and it is great to have a spare set of clothes to change into after your photoshoot.

 


EASTSIDE

 

1. Lanikai Beach

Lanikai has been named one of the most beautiful beaches in the world by National Geographic and after visiting, you will understand why. The sand feels like powdered sugar and the water is less like the ocean and more like a bathtub. It is where I take my kids to learn how to swim. It is just gorgeous.  I prefer to shoot here at sunrise since the beach can get very busy throughout the day but I will also shoot here at sunset on weekdays only.

Best Time of Day: Sunrise + sunset weekdays only

Lanikai offers: Gorgeous Sunrises, Baby Powder Sand, Turquoise Water, Palm Trees, Island Views

large family at Lanikai Beach at sunrise

Want to see more pictures of Lanikai Beach? Check out these galleries below

Lanikai Family Photography

Lanikai Engagement Photography

2. Waimanalo Beach

Waimanalo Beach is Oahu’s best-kept secret. It is almost away empty and just plain gorgeous. It is a classic Hawaii Beach look.

Best Times of Day: Morning or Evening.

Waimanalo offers: a long stretch of perfect sand, turquoise waters, greenery, palm trees, evergreen forest, purple flowerswaimanalo family photography

Want to see more pictures of Waimanalo? Check out these galleries below

Waimanalo Family Gallery

 

3. Makapu’u Lookout & Makapu’u Beach

Makapu’u Lookout and Makapu’u Beach are two separate locations that you should drive in-between. The drive is less than a min away but the road is very windy and steep with no good place to walk. Makapu’u lookout is a great place to propose and get an epic view of the Eastside of Oahu.

Best Time: Morning or Evening

Makapu’u offers: Sandy Beach, Gorgeous Scenic, Lava Rocks, Mountains, Palm Trees

 

 

Want to see more pictures of Makapu’u beach? Check out these galleries below

Makapu’u Elopement

4. Baby Maks

Baby maks is a great location for kids since it can be a fun and interactive location with the large sandy tidepools

Best Time: Morning or Evening

Baby Maks offers: Sandy Beach, Gorgeous Scenic, Lava Rocks, Mountains, tidepools

Baby Maks

Want to see more pictures of Baby Maks beach? Check out these galleries below

Baby Maks Maternity Session

5. Sandy’s Beach

Sandy’s beach is not the best location for kids since there are waves that break close to shore, but Sandy’s beach offers sand, mountains and lava rocks. Sandy’s beach does have ample parking, bathrooms, and showers.

Want to see more pictures of Sandy’s beach? Check out these galleries below

Sandy’s Beach Engagement

 

 6. Kaloko Beach

Kaloko is a local’s spot that offers a lot of privacy and is rarely busy.

Best Time of Day: Morning or Evening

Lanai Lookout offers Rocks, large tidepools, greenery, private

 

7. Kualoa Regional Park

This is my locations for photoshoots. I love Kualoa Regional Park because if its soft afternoon light. Because of the Koolau Mountains, the sun is blocked in the late afternoon creating a gorgeous soft light. I can start shooting int he late afternoon until sunset and get very beautiful colors that allow for the best light on your skin. It really creates a golden hour effect a lot longer at this location.

Best Times of Day: Afternoon to Evening

Kualoa offers: Mountains, Turquoise Waters, Greenery, Rocks, Palms Trees, Grass, Plants, private

kualoa family photo

Want to see more pictures of Kualoa Regional Park beach? Check out these galleries below

Kualoa Family Session

Kualoa Engagement Session

Kualoa Regional Park Elopement

8. Waimanalo Farms

Ever wanted to take pictures in a field of Sunflowers?

Waimanalo Farms is a great location if you are not wanting to shoot at the beach. During sunflower season it is a unique and gorgeous location. Please note, for this location we will need to coordinate with the farms ahead of time.

Best Times of Day: mid-late afternoon

Waimanalo Farms offers a long stretch of perfect sunflowers, farms, farm animals, rustic, mountains, and local goods for purchase.

hawaii sunflower fields

 9. Lanai Lookout

Lanai Lookout is a unique location on Oahu. To get down to the rocks, you must be active and agile. It is very steep, I do not recommend this location for maternity sessions or for small children

Best Time of Day: Morning or Evening

Lanai Lookout offers: Rocks, Ocean Views, Amazing Scenic

Lanailookout

10. Halona Blowhole

Halona Blowhole is a gorgeous place to take photos. I highly recommend sunrise. This beach gets very busy later in the day. You need to be athletic to go on this shoot. It is a steep walk down. I would not recommend this shoot for your grandparents. For people with small children, if you are comfortable carrying them down the hill then you can go for it. There is very limited Parking so make sure you arrive early for your session just in case you have to wait for a parking space. I do not recommend this location for maternity sessions since the walk is steep and I do not want you to fall.

Best Time of Day: Sunrise!

Halona Blowhole offers: an amazing sunrise location, rocks, Sand, Water, Mountains to climb on!, cave

11. Maunalua Bay Beach Park

Want to get your feet wet? Maunalua Bay Beach Park offers lake-like very shallow calm water that can be fun to dip your toes into. Hui Nalu paddling team are close by so you may get photobombed by the canoe club.

Best Time of Day: Sunrise. Sunset

Maunalua Bay Beach Park offers shallow calm water, great scenic must get wet

 

 

12. Kahana Bay + East Side Beaches

When you think of Hawaii, you think of empty beaches and green mountains and crystal blue waters, right?  Then this is your spot. The quiet beaches along Kahana Bay and the sleepy eastside are very often empty and pristine. If you are up for a drive, it is often worth it, plus we often find hidden swings!

Best Time of Day: late Afternoon- to early evening

Kahan Bay offers mountains, Lush Tropical Foliage, hidden swings, empty beaches, turquoise calm waters.

 

hidden swing on eastside beach

See Jessika’s + Dustin’s Full Gallery HERE

13. Kailua Neighborhood Jungle

The east side of the is the greenest and jungle-like. Come to my neighborhood to find some secret jungle vibes.

Best Time of Day: Morning and Afternoon

Kailua Neighborhood Jungle offers  Lush Tropical Forest and foliage.

 

kailua jungle

14. Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens

Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens is a botanical gardens located in Kaneohe and is unlike any other botanical garden. It is huge and awe-inspiring and you could literally spend the whole day exploring the gardens, checking out the koi and unusual ducks and seeing all the vibrant foliage this gardens has to offer.

Best Time of Day: Morning and Afternoon (closes at 4pm)

Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens offers Iconic Landscape, Lush Tropical Forest, Fresh Water Lake, Mountains, it is a great location for an afternoon photo session since there is great shade in the forest

Want to read more about Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens? Check out this Blog and Gallery Here!

15. Crouching Lion

 Crouching Lion Hike is a short but steep incline hike that offers breathtaking views of Kahana Bay. The view from the top is seriously one of my favorite landscapes on the entire island of Oahu in Hawaii. ONLY FOR FIT ADULTS (no kids, maternity, or elderly)

Best Time of Day: Morning and Afternoon

Crouching Lion offers an Iconic Landscape, Lush Tropical Forest, a workout

Want to see more pictures of Crouching Lion? Check out these galleries below

Crouching Lion Engagement 


WAIKIKI AREA


15. Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach is a great and convenient option. It offers a metropolis beach feel. Do not expect to get a beach shot where the beach looks empty. It most likely will not work at this location.

Best Time of Day: Sunrise. Sunset can be very busy

Waikiki offers accessibility, gorgeous cityscape, sandy beaches, palm trees galore.

16. Hale Koa Hotel & Beach

The Hale Koa Hotel located in Waikiki is a great location for a shoot in Waikiki. It offers a less busy part of Waikiki Beach and has a lovely tropical garden inside the Hale Koa Hotel grounds. I highly suggest sunrise for this location.

Best Time of Day: Sunrise

17. Hilton Hawaiian Village

The Hilton is located on the far side of Waikiki shore and offers a little gem at the corner of the beach. At the end of the beach, there are canoes so there isn’t too many beachgoers and a perfect spot to take photos. There is a great rock wall getty that is great for taking photos and we can even squeeze diamond Head behind you.

PS. The Hilton offers fireworks every Friday Night at 7:45pm. Want to do a sunset and fireworks shoot?

Best Time of Day: Sunrise

The Hilton Offers: accessibility, gorgeous cityscape, sandy beaches, palm trees galore.

 

18. Waialae Beach

Located in the heart of the ritzy town of Kahala, this is one of my favorite options for people that want to stay close to Waikiki without the crowds. There is a palm tree island right off the beach. Many times, from the shore, I can sea turtles. One of the best features of Waialae beach is the “Palm Tree Chair,” many people love to either sit or stand on the palm tree to create a very unique picture.

Best Time of Day: Sunrise or Sunset

Waialae Beach Offers: Sand, Water, Palm Trees, Island, Greenery, Palm Tree Chair

 

19. Kakaako Waterfront

If you want a Honolulu city life feel head over to Kakaako Waterfront. This location does not offer a sandy beach, but an urban style filled with cafes, graffiti, colorful murals, rocks, a tall grassy hill, and some stray cats. Great if you are looking for more an editorial vibe or want some vibrant colorful new Instagram photographs.

Best Time of Day: Sunrise or Sunset

Kakaako Waterfront offers: colorful, art, murals, cafes, rocks, large hill, waterfront

20. Ala Moana Beach Park

Ala Moana Beach Park aka Magic Island is close to Waikiki and offers great views of Diamond Head, palm trees, rocks, urban buildings. It is a very challenging place to get beach photos since the beach is very small and is often busy.

Best Time of Day: Sunrise preferred

Ala Moana Beach Park offers diamond head views, palm trees, marina, hotel views

 


NORTH SHORE


21. Palm Tree Forest

The Palm tree forest to located on the North Shore of Oahu. Bring bug repellent!

Best Time of Day: Sunrise or Sunset

Palm Tree Forest Offers: palm trees of course

 

21. Turtle Bay

Turtle Bay is a gorgeous location along the North Shore of Oahu. This shoot below was a sunrise session which is a great option since it is the least busy time of day where most of the beaches are empty

Best Time of Day: Sunrise or Sunset (can be busy)

Turtle Bay Offers: conventionally located if you are staying at Turtle Bay Resort, Sand, Trees, Rocks, Tide pools

 

22. North Shore-Kawela Bay

Kawela Bay is a great beach for little kids during the North Shore winter’s months with the massive waves. I love this location on the North Shore because it is a beach that is off the beaten track. It offers a gorgeous bay with a forest. It also offers very unique trees. Finding this beach can be a bit tricky, but if you follow my directions, it is right across the street from the Kahuku fruit stand. If you follow the dirt path it is less than a 5 min walk from the road.

Best Time of Day: Sunrise or Sunset

Kawela Bay Offers: Calm Water-No waves, Forest, Trees, Sand, Off the Beaten Path

 

23. Mokuleia Beach

With the Mokuleia mountains and North Shore windmills in the distance, this secluded beach has no shortage of stunning blue water and soft Hawaiian sand.

Best Time of Day: Sunrise or Sunset

Mokuleia Offers Calm Water, Palm Trees, Sand, Off the Beaten Path, Windmills

 


WESTSIDE

Ko’olina Area: Aulani Hotel, Marriot, Four Seasons


24. Secret Beach

If you are staying on the west side of the Island in Ko’olina with the hotels such as Aulani, Four Seasons, and Marriot. Secret Beach is a great option. While they offer a very small parking lot, you can most definitely walk from your hotel. I prefer shooting here at sunrise since it is way less busy but I can also shoot at sunset.

Best Time of Day: Morning or Evening (If evening I like right before sunset)

Paradise Cove offers: Sandy Beach, Palm Trees, Rocks, Gorgeous Tree

Want to see more photos from Secret beach?

Secret Beach Elopement

 

25. Paradise Cove

If you are staying in Ko’olina, Paradise Cove is the most covenant location for taking photos. While they offer a very small parking lot, you can most definitely walk from your hotel. I prefer shooting here at sunrise since it is way less busy but I can also shoot at sunset.

Best Time of Day: Morning or Evening (If evening I like right before sunset)

Paradise Cove offers: Sandy Beach, Palm Trees, Rocks, Gorgeous Tree

 

 

 

Do you have another location on your mind? Let me know. I love discovering new locations.

 

 

  1. Bri says:

    Amazing suggestions. Thanks for all the details.

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