So you've decided to plan your elopement on the island of Oahu, yay! I could not be more excited for you!! The next thing you'll probably think about is where exactly to go to exchange vows. As an Oahu elopement photographer, I've had the honor of documenting elopements all over this beautiful island. That puts me in a unique position to offer a little insight on what I think are the prettiest spots to elope!
Whether you're into the beach, rocky cliffs, or even sandbars, there is a perfect spot to elope on Oahu. That's the beauty of it! It has something for everyone since it's a little less remote, yet just as pretty as any of the other islands. You can grab an incredible dinner at one of the hip little spots at SALT in Kaka'ako after spending the day hiking to a waterfall or enjoy a night out in Waikiki post snorkeling adventure at Electric Beach. The possibilities are really endless! Let's get to these epic elopement locations.
1. Ka'ena Point State Park
Ka'ena Point is situated on the North Shore of Oahu, making it a killer spot. This area consists of a remote and wild coastline perfect for hiking, picnicking, and of course, eloping! The views are all unique and the fun part is that you can really customize your experience here. Don't want to hike too much? There are easily accessible spots that are really gorgeous. Want a longer hike with a variation of views? That works too as you can easily spend a half or full day touring around at Ka'ena. You'll get a mix of rolling hills, green mountains, rocks, beaches, and coves. The whole area is seriously gorgeous.
When to go:Golden hour is really beautiful at Ka'ena whether you are on the windward or leeward side.
What to bring:Plenty of water, snacks, and sunscreen. Flats could be handy for wandering in the hills, but barefoot works in the beach areas.
Difficulty Level:Easy - while you can hike a short way or a distance, it's pretty flat.
Nitty Gritty: You'll have to travel by foot in the park as only special use permits can admit vehicles.
2. Pillbox Trail + Lanikai Beach
This trail serves up some incredible views, especially at sunrise. You'll definitely need to be up for some steep spots, but it only takes about 30 minutes to hike up this trail so I wouldn't say it's too difficult. There are plenty of spots to stop along the way and catch views of the Mokes, Lanikai Beach, and even the range of mountains leading all the way to Makapu'u. If you're into graffiti, you can snag a few with the pillboxes themselves. After the hike, cool off in cerulean waters at Oahu's most beautiful beach.
When to go:Sunrise is prettiest and the beach will be least crowded in the morning.
What to bring:Water, shoes with tread, and sunscreen for exposed areas. A clear umbrella could also be handy depending on the forecast, I've gotten a shower a time or two on this trail.
Difficulty Level: Moderate.
Nitty Gritty: It can get pretty muddy depending on the weather.
3. Ahupua'a 'O Kahana State Park
This spot is a true hidden gem. I was hesitant to even list it because I'd hate for it to become overrun by Instagram tourism, but because it takes a bit of effort to get to the good spots I decided to run the risk ;) There are two trails here and you'll be able to explore the jungle this way. Think greenery, giant leaves, wandering trails, and eventually a view of Kahana Bay.
When to go: Mid-day to sunset works.
What to bring:Plenty of water, snacks, bug spray, and sunscreen. Hiking boots are a good idea.
Difficulty Level: Moderate.
Nitty Gritty: You'll have to hike nearly the full trail to get views beyond the jungle.
4. Makapu'u Lookout + Beach
One of the most stunning views on the island, Makapu'u Lookout is a perfect spot to elope. Start the day at sunrise to catch the rays as they crest the pacific and look down over green mountains against a beautiful coastline. Once you're done exploring the lookout area, head down to the beach for tropical greenery with some of the best beach views on island.
When to go: Sunrise is best but sunset can also be nice.
What to bring:Water, snacks, and shoes you trust on the rocky area of the lookout.
Difficulty Level: Easy.
Nitty Gritty: The lookout area is a bit steep so if heights make you impossibly nervous, be careful with this one.
5. Manoa Falls
Manoa Falls is perfect for those who want all the Hawaii vibes without a beach. When you start this hike, you'll be greeted by one of the prettiest valley views. Vines of pretty leaves dotted with flowers climb tall trees and giant leaves seem to sprout from everywhere. There is a fun spot to cross the creek as well. At the end of the short hike, you'll be at the towering waterfall. There is a small pool, but it's not quite big enough for wading (try Lulumahu or Maunawili if that's your goal). The bonus is that this spot is close to Waikiki so if you like the city, you'll be able to celebrate with a dinner out on the town.
When to go: Morning and afternoon.
What to bring:Plenty of water and bug spray.
Difficulty Level: Easy.
Nitty Gritty: You'll probably get muddy along the way if it's rained recently, best to just embrace that :)
6. Crouching Lion (Kahana Bay)
This spot is probably one of the most epic on the island and it does require some steep hiking (we're talking holding onto ropes or tree roots to hoist yourself up some of the slick spots) but the climb is oh so worth it once you are at the top! You'll be rewarded with absolutely stunning views of Kahana Bay leading back into a lush, tropical valley. There are plenty of spots to explore once you're at the top and proximity to Kahana Bay beach leads to flexibility if you're feeling like two locations are better than one.
When to go:This spot is beautiful at sunrise and just before sunset. Be aware that the hike down will mostly be in the dark for sunset and with sunrise, it will be fairly dark so bring a headlamp.
What to bring:Water (lots of water), snacks, sturdy shoes such as hiking sandals or boots, and bug spray along with a headlamp as mentioned above.
Difficulty Level:Moderate - this is a steep but relatively short hike at approximately 20-30 minutes each way.
Nitty Gritty: If it rains hard in the days leading up to your elopement, we may have to consider an alternate location. Mud is not something you'll want to mess with on the steep trail. This hike is also not sanctioned by the state and if you do come across law enforcement, fines are possible. Let's just say that I've not yet run into this, nor have the couple of workshops that have taken 20ish photographers up with a couple though.
7. Lanai Lookout
This spot is right on the tip of Oahu, but you may think you've traveled to another plant. The landscape is otherworldly with swirled lava rock and puddles of salt water gleaming in the morning sun. It's close to Waikiki and just around the corner from Hanauma Bay. The sunrise here is insanely beautiful since you get to watch the sun peek over the ocean. This is a great spot to choose if you love rock formations with views of the Pacific and the back of Koko Crater.
When to go:Lanai Lookout is best at sunrise but possible to work with at sunset as well.
What to bring:Water and sunscreen. Plan to go barefoot as the rock can be a bit slick.
Difficulty Level:Easy - this spot can be slippery but is relatively easy to move around in and does not require hiking.
Nitty Gritty:Technically, you're not supposed to be over the wall. That's the county's way of saying they aren't liable if something happens since droves of tourists venture over the wall every day.
Honorable mentions include Waimanalo Beach, Makua Beach, and Sunset Beach which all have beautiful tropical scenery and some views of the mountains.
You really can't go wrong with any of these locations as a backdrop for your elopement. As a local to Oahu, I have experience with each of these spots and have photographed elopements at many of them. If you're looking for an Oahu elopement photographer, reach out and say hey!