Many couples dream endlessly of their Oahu elopement and thousands make the dream a reality each year! Unless you plan on staying in the touristy areas, you’ll need some guidance. Some of the best locations are hard to find unless you’re local to the island, but we are here to help.
Table of contents
- Getting your Oahu Elopement started
- 1.) Hanauma Bay – Sea to Summit and Back!
- 2.) Lanai Lookout – Rock & Roll.
- 3.) Halona Beach Cove – Secret Beach with Hike-able Surroundings
- 4.) Lanikai Beach – Picture Perfect.
- 5.) Kualoa Regional Park – “The Chinaman’s Hat.”
- 6.) Crouching Lion – Now with More Hidden Dragon!
- 7.) Laie Point – Enjoy the View!
- 8.) The North Shore – A Getaway in a Getaway.
- Oahu Elopement on the North shore
- 9.) Ka’ena Point – Edge of the World.
- 10.) Yokahama Bay – West Side, Best Side.
- Bonus: Cave of wonders
Getting your Oahu Elopement started
To orient yourself to the map, we will start our journey on the bottom right of the island and travel in a counter-clockwise fashion. Each location is numbered as such. The island itself is fairly easy to navigate. There aren’t many highways and as you drive, the ocean will always be on your right.
1.) Hanauma Bay – Sea to Summit and Back!
One of my favorite destinations on the island of Oahu, Hanauma bay has it all. A gorgeous, crescent-shaped shoreline with easy surf and beautiful turquoise water; as well as a hike around the rim of the bay, and a cool rock bridge over the churning sea at the end! The hike itself is about 4.5 miles round trip. It has some steep slopes to navigate, but nothing that you have to use your hands for.
2.) Lanai Lookout – Rock & Roll.
This location is just down the road from Hanauma Bay. It’s also easier to get to and requires no day-use fee. Cool rock formations and an eastern-facing orientation give you a lot of things to explore! On clear days, you can see the islands of Molokai, Lanai, and Maui.
3.) Halona Beach Cove – Secret Beach with Hike-able Surroundings
Halona Beach Cove is a small patch of sand and ocean hidden away beneath the highway. If you park at the Halona Blowhole parking lot, you can take a short hike down to the beach and hang out for the afternoon. Feeling the urge to explore? Turn inland and hike a short but steep distance to a natural rock bridge!
4.) Lanikai Beach – Picture Perfect.
Some of the prettiest blue water in the world with two triangular rock islands in the distance. People wading in the water usually see large sea turtles popping their heads up to say hello! The waters are generally calm here as well because it is on the eastern shore. The distant reef keeps the breaking waves far away. Don’t forget to stop at Lanikai Juice in Kailua and grab a smoothie or Acai Bowl!
5.) Kualoa Regional Park – “The Chinaman’s Hat.”
This park has been getting increasingly crowded but is worth a drive. You can kayak out to the rock formation known as Chinaman’s Hat or you can follow the beach along to the east and find some interesting hidden gems in the trees. There is also a dock hidden in the woods that is used by the Secret Island Resort. It sits in a pretty lagoon called the Moli’i Fishpond. You’ll have to contact the Kualoa Ranch and get their permission to shoot there, but its a great shot.
6.) Crouching Lion – Now with More Hidden Dragon!
Sea level not your thing? As you approach Kahana Bay, a larke rock formation known as the Crouching Lion shows up on your left. It is a steep and muddy hike featuring gorgeous views of Kahana Bay and the northeastern coastline. Once you get to the top, there are plenty of great places to take photos! If you wish to continue on upwards, the trail eventually leads to Pu’u Manamana (Pu’u means “hill” or “mount”). It’s one of the most extreme and notorious ridge hikes on the island of Oahu.
7.) Laie Point – Enjoy the View!
Have you ever seen the movie “Forgetting Sarah Marshall?” Do you remember the scene where they go cliff jumping? This is where they filmed it. This is a great spot to take in a view of the northeastern side of the island and the Koolau mountain range. Its great for sunrise photos as well! The light from the rising sun bathes the island in a warm glow and creates a beautiful background!
8.) The North Shore – A Getaway in a Getaway.
The North Shore is it’s own little world on the less-populous side of the island as opposed to the hustle and crowded nature of Waikiki. It’s more of a secluded beach town and the locals want to keep it that way. This is also where big wave surfing was invented. In the winter months, enormous swells pound the island and the craziest of the crazy swim out into them with surfboards.
Oahu Elopement on the North shore
If you’re looking for the best places to spend an afternoon or to watch the waves or sunset on an average day, Shark’s cove or Waimea Bay are perfect. At Shark’s cove, large tide pools form and people come to snorkel in the calm water and take pictures at sunset. If you are interested in a more conventional beach experience and want to see waves pounding into the sand, Banzai Pipeline beach is directly to the right of Shark’s Cove and after a short walk.
9.) Ka’ena Point – Edge of the World.
If you enjoy taking pictures of the Milky Way at night or enjoy rugged, rocky coastlines and sunsets, Oahu’s westernmost point is worth a drive. As you pass through Haleiwa and Waialua, you’ll eventually come to the end of the road and find yourself on a dirt trail that ends with a large gate. From this point on, you have to walk. You’ll pass numerous stone coves until you get to the very end of the island. The tip itself is quite visible and obvious, much like standing at the stern of a very large ship!
10.) Yokahama Bay – West Side, Best Side.
Since Ka’ena point is the end of all roads from the North Shore (no road circles the entire island), you’ll have to travel inland and take the H2 highway if you want to drive to the southwest shore. You can also walk here from Ka’ena point, but it will take a really long time and may turn your day into an overnight camping trip. Either way, the west side has some of the best beaches on the island and far smaller crowds because of the time it takes to get there. Yokahama Bay/Makua Beach is a great combination of beautiful blue water, white sand, green mountains, tide pools and picturesque sunset weather. The sky is usually a little bit clearer on this side of the island, so it’s not a bad place to spend a full day and night.
Bonus: Cave of wonders
Bonus: to the east of the beach, there is an old limestone cave carved into the side of a mountain near the road that you can hike up to and get a great view of the bay. The Makua Cave sits at the top of a steep, crumbly hillside trail that traverses a narrow goat path before ending in a set of caves. Bring an ultra-wide lens if you want to get a cool shot inside the cave! You can spend the night up here as well, but legend has it that the ghosts of old Hawaiian warriors—the Nightmarchers—will come to visit you if you stay too long. If you listen closely, you can sometimes hear them beating their drums in the night.
If an elopement in Oahu sounds like something that you are interested in, contact us today and we can discuss setting up your ideal Hawaiian adventure.
Love scenic locations? We also have a post about the incredible Big Sur for you to check out!