Are you traveling to Oahu soon and looking for the top photo spots on the island? Well then, this article is perfect for you! We’re breaking down 25 Oahu Instagram spots you won’t want to miss on your trip. Plus, we’ve even included a map at the end so you can find them all. You’ve most likely come across some of these instagrammable places in Oahu while scrolling on your feed; for example, the famous pink hotel (The Royal Hawaiian) or the well-known Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden. However, we hope to surprise you with a few spots you maybe haven’t heard of before. Keep reading to discover 25 beautiful places to take pictures on the island of Oahu, including beaches, hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions, and more.
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Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden
Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden is one of the best places to take pictures in Oahu. Between the palm trees, mountain backdrop, and gorgeous greenery, it’s easy to see how this garden got its name. In fact, “Ho’omaluhia” means “to make a place of peace and tranquillity.” Due to the surge of visitors coming to the gardens, taking photos on the main road is now prohibited. You’ll see signs all through the gardens that warn you not to take photos in the street! Nonetheless, there are tons of other beautiful locations to take pictures of throughout the property. For example, strike a pose by the palm trees or snap a photo of you sitting on the bench by the lake.
Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden is free to visit; however, you’ll probably want to go first thing in the morning to beat the crowds and snag a coveted parking spot. Hours are from 9 AM to 4 PM every day except Christmas and New Year’s Day.
The Byodo-In Temple
The Byodo-In Temple, located in the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park in Kaneohe, is one of Oahu’s most surprising Instagram spots. Who knew that you could find a little piece of Japan in Hawaii? Byodo-In is actually a replica of a 900-year-old Buddhist temple, making it an extremely peaceful corner on the island. If you’d like to visit, I recommend going earlier in the day to enjoy cooler weather. As is the case with many attractions on Oahu, parking is limited at this location.
General admission costs $5 per person for ages 13-64, $4 for seniors, and $2 for children. One of the best activities at the temple is to feed the koi fish, so make sure to purchase fish food at the temple entrance. As far as where to take photos here, two of the most popular spots are the red bridge at the entrance and the bench in front of the temple. A quick note: Byodo-In can get busy–especially on the weekends–so you’ll need to be patient to capture a photo without many other visitors around.
Haleiwa Joe’s (Haiku Gardens location)
If you’re looking for a stunning restaurant for dinner on Oahu, you have to visit Haleiwa Joe’s during your trip. This chain has two locations on the island: one in Haleiwa and one in Kaneohe. Although the food is great at both, my favorite is the Kaneohe (Haiku Gardens) locale. In recent years, this spot has become so popular that it can be a bit of a hassle to secure a table. However, I can assure you that the view at Haleiwa Joe’s is 100% worth the wait.
One of my best tips to eat dinner at the Haiku Gardens location is to arrive when the restaurant opens at 4:30 and get in line. Oftentimes, the wait after putting your name down on the list can range from 1-2 hours. Nonetheless, you can make the most of your time while you wait by perusing the botanical gardens and snapping some photos of the grounds. Just make sure to bring bug spray!
The Royal Hawaiian
The Royal Hawaiian is undoubtedly one of the best places to take pictures in Waikiki. This property opened its doors in 1927, also making it one of the oldest hotels on Waikiki Beach. As you can tell from the photos, everything at the Royal Hawaiian is pink! For example, you can even order Pink Palace Pancakes for breakfast here. Therefore, this hotel has earned the nickname “The Pink Palace of the Pacific” over the years.
Most people like to take pictures in the Coconut Grove area (featured above). Here, you’ll have a wonderful view of the property’s Historic Wing as well as the iconic “Royal Hawaiian” sign. If you’d like to check out another colorful hotel in the area, head to Shoreline Hotel Waikiki.
If you’re interested in booking a stay at the Royal Hawaiian, click here.
The Sheraton Waikiki
Did you know that the Sheraton Waikiki boasts the largest oceanfront infinity pool in North America? Additionally, it has an epic mountain backdrop featuring Diamond Head, making it one of the best Honolulu Instagram spots. You’ll have to be a guest to access this awesome swimming pool; so, I’d suggest spending at least one night here during your Hawaii vacation! Another cool feature of the Sheraton Waikiki is that most of the rooms offer a view of the ocean. I loved seeing the Helumoa Playground, Waikiki Beach, and Diamond Head from my patio.
The best time to photograph the infinity pool is in the morning when it first opens: at 8 AM. At this time, the light is still relatively soft, and you won’t have to worry about capturing other guests in your photos! Another fun time for pictures is at sunset, although the pool tends to be pretty busy at this time of day. Note that the sun sets in the direction of the Edge of Waikiki bar.
Click here to book a stay at The Sheraton Waikiki.
The Moana Surfrider opened in 1901 as the first hotel along Waikiki Beach. For this reason, guests lovingly refer to the property as the “First Lady of Waikiki.” Today, it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) and is part of Westin Hotels & Resorts. From its stunning colonial-style architecture to the gigantic banyan tree, there is no shortage of photo spots at the Moana Surfrider. Grab a signature cocktail at the Beach Bar under the banyan tree or peruse the Historic Banyan Wing. If you’re visiting on the weekend, don’t miss afternoon tea at the Veranda at the Beachhouse. This activity is very instagrammable!
You can book a stay at the Moana Surfrider here.
Waikiki is the most famous beach in Hawaii–and for a good reason! Tourists and locals alike flock to Waikiki Beach for activities like surfing, boogie-boarding, snorkeling, and more. It spans approximately two miles and offers a really cool view of Diamond Head, a volcanic tuff cone that you can hike while in town. Additionally, Waikiki Beach is close to all sorts of shopping, restaurants, and hotels. For example, if you stay at the Sheraton Waikiki, The Royal Hawaiian, or Moana Surfrider, you will be staying directly on the beach.
Historically, Waikiki Beach was a playground for Hawaiian royalty in the 1800s. During this period of time, those who were lucky enough to vacation here would surf using longboards. Fun fact: in the Hawaiian language, “Waikiki” translates to “spouting fresh water.”
This Australian-inspired café is one of the most instagrammable restaurants in Oahu! ARVO is located in Honolulu within SALT At Our Kaka’ako and is open every day from 8 AM-2 PM. It serves creative breakfast options, like toast with unique toppings and lattes in fun flavors, such as charcoal and lavender. We tried the Nutella toast and meatballs and toast on our visit! If you aren’t familiar with the term “arvo,” it’s Aussie slang meaning “afternoon.” Service at ARVO is quick and friendly, and the café’s plant-filled aesthetic is super photo-worthy. I suggest visiting ARVO earlier in the morning or in the afternoon before it closes to avoid the crowds.
Leonard’s Bakery is a popular foodie spot in Honolulu that’s famous for its delicious malasadas. In case you’ve never heard of malasadas, they’re essentially Portuguese donuts without a hole. Leonard’s offers malasadas coated with sugar, cinnamon sugar, and li thing, as well as malasada puffs filled with custard, chocolate, guava, coconut, and macadamia nut. You’ll need to order at least half a dozen to get the Instagram famous pink Leonard’s Bakery box.
Since Leonard’s is so beloved, you can expect to wait in line most days. However, the line moves quickly! If you don’t have much time, I recommend passing by first thing in the morning when the bakery opens or during the early afternoon.
Nu‘uanu Pali Lookout
Nu‘uanu Pali Lookout is one of the most beautiful places on Oahu for landscape photography. Just five miles from Honolulu, this cliff offers a panoramic view of the island’s northeast coast. Entrance to the lookout is free, although you do have to pay for parking. Moreover, be prepared for lots of wind! Trade winds blow through the valley and between the mountains, causing a wind tunnel that creates quite the sensory experience.
While you’re there, take the time to read the placards that go over the historical significance of this area. Interestingly, Nu‘uanu Pali is the site of one of the bloodiest battles in Hawaiian history: the Battle of Nuʻuanu. I suggest allowing anywhere from 10-30 minutes to check out the views.
Manoa Falls is a popular hiking trail near Honolulu, ending in a beautiful waterfall perfect for photos. The trail itself is about 1.7 miles long and is considered a moderate hike. Make sure to wear shoes with good traction on your visit, as the trail can get very muddy. Please note that swimming in the waterfall is not allowed due to bacteria in the water. Furthermore, double-check trail conditions before starting your hike. This area receives heavy rainfall, so the trail occasionally closes due to flash flood warnings. Parking in the Paradise Park lot costs $5, and the hike should take about 1-2 hours roundtrip, depending on the conditions.
Haleiwa: North Shore Oahu Sign
If you plan to visit the North Shore on your trip to Oahu, don’t miss the Instagram famous Haleiwa surfer signs. These installations were created by Carole Beller, an artist from California, in collaboration with the North Shore Chamber of Commerce. At present, the signs are a popular spot to stop and take pictures while you’re in the area. You can find the surfer girl version at 62-330 Kamehameha Hwy and the surfer boy at 62-400 Joseph P. Leong Hwy. Keep in mind that both of these signs are located along the side of the highway, so please take all of the proper precautions when pulling over to take your photo.
Wings mural in Haleiwa Town
Renowned artist Colette Miller has created wings murals in locations all across the globe as part of her Global Angel Wings Project. Luckily, one of these murals is in the middle of Haleiwa Town! After perusing the shops in this neighborhood–and maybe even grabbing delicious shave ice at Matsumoto’s–don’t forget to check out this colorful installation. The exact address is 62-620 Kamehameha Hwy, on the side of the green building next to Rainbow Bridge Gift Shop. Photo tip: wear a bright color that will pop with the wings against the green backdrop!
Haleiwa Bowls is a wonderful foodie spot featuring photo-worthy açai bowls, smoothies, and cold brew coffee. You’ll find this super cute “shack” at 66-030 Kamehameha Hwy. It opens every day from 7:30 AM to 6 PM and has a convenient parking lot directly behind the shop. Even the small bowls are big enough to share if you just want a snack! Plus, the prices are very reasonable for açai bowls: the small runs between $8-11, and the large size is $11-14.
As far as taking photos at this location, it’s best to visit during a slower time of day. For example, I went on a Thursday morning and was able to snap photos without anyone else around. You may even spot some cute little geckos!
Waimea Bay Beach Park
Waimea Bay Beach Park is one of the most beautiful beaches on the North Shore. It’s an ideal place to visit with family and snorkel, swim, boogie board, or surf! Plus, this beach has clear blue-green water and white sand, making it great for photos. The park also offers public bathrooms and outdoor showers so you can rinse off before leaving.
Waimea Bay can get really busy, especially during the high season, so it’s best to arrive early in the morning to secure parking. Although the parking lot directly next to the beach park is small, you can find additional parking across the street for $10.
The Sunrise Shack (Sunrise Beach location)
This vibrant café is another of the most popular Oahu photography spots–I’m sure you can see why from the photos above! The Sunrise Shack actually has three locations: one across from Sunset Beach, one inside the Outrigger Waikiki, and another at Shark’s Cove in Haleiwa. However, the original location at Sunset Beach is by far the most insta-famous. The menu includes bullet coffee, açai bowls, smoothies, and juices.
The Sunrise Shack is a trendy spot for locals and tourists alike, so you can normally expect it to be busy. Nonetheless, if you’re patient, you’re sure to be able to capture a great photo! While there, snag some Sunrise Shack merch. The colorful t-shirts or hats make adorable souvenirs to bring home with you.
These stunning beach swings are scattered along Kamehameha Highway and provide some incredible photo opportunities. In fact, these beach swings are the best secret photography location on Oahu! I don’t have the exact locations–and to be honest, I don’t want to give them out to keep these areas private. However, you’ll definitely come across them if you spend some time on a road trip along the North Shore. The swings can be tricky to get onto, so make sure to have a travel buddy to help hoist you up! The beach where I took these photos had three different swings, so we didn’t have to wait long to take our photos.
Kualoa Regional Park
Kualoa Regional Park is a wonderful spot to spend the afternoon with family. As you can see from the photos above, this park is also incredibly photogenic! It’s surrounded by palm trees, the ocean, and a landscape that’s straight out of Jurassic Park. Plus, it’s a popular place to go kayaking from the beach to an island locally known as “Chinaman’s Hat” (Mokolii Island), which sits about 600 yards offshore.
This park is ideal if you’re hoping to see the Kualoa area but couldn’t secure tickets to see Kualoa Ranch. There is plenty of public parking, bathrooms, and picnic areas, meaning you could easily spend hours relaxing here.
Kualoa Ranch covers 4,000 acres and is famous as a filming spot for Jurassic Park, 50 First Dates, Hawaii Five-0, and other classics. The property offers a huge variety of award-winning guided tours, including ATV Raptor tours, the Hollywood Movie Sites tour, Horseback Walking tours, and more. Nonetheless, due to the ranch’s popularity, these tours fill up weeks to months in advance. Therefore, I’d recommend booking your guided tour as soon as you can–especially if there’s a particular experience that most interests you. Click here to learn more about the available guided tours at Kualoa Ranch.
Note: you cannot explore the Kualoa Ranch property without a tour. You will only be allowed to visit the gift shop and restaurant. If you are unable to purchase tickets, you can keep an eye on the website for cancellations. However, if you find yourself in this situation, I suggest planning to visit Kualoa Regional Park instead, which sits directly across the street.
In my opinion, Lanikai Beach is the most beautiful beach on Oahu. It has some of the softest white sand, incredible views of the Mokulua Islands, and warm and tranquil water. Plus, it’s only about a 40-minute drive from downtown Honolulu. However, it does have a few downsides. For example, Lanikai Beach doesn’t have a public parking lot. So, all parking is along the streets in residential areas, where parking violations are strictly enforced. Additionally, Lanikai Beach doesn’t feature any public facilities such as bathrooms, lifeguards, or showers.
Lanikai Beach is also a popular kayaking destination, as you can actually visit one of the Mokulua Islands. Looking at the photo featured above, the island on the left (Mokulua Nui) is open during the day for kayakers and paddleboarders to visit. The island on the right (Mokulua Iki) is closed to the public. The journey takes approximately 1-2 hours, depending on your level of kayaking experience.
Lanikai Pillbox Hike
While in the Kailua area, why not check out one of the island’s most instagrammable hikes? The Lanikai Pillbox hike is on the windward side of Oahu, overlooking Lanikai Beach and the Mokulua Islands. The hike itself is moderate to difficult and normally takes between 60-90 minutes roundtrip, depending on if you stop at the first pillbox or continue to the second. Remember to wear hiking shoes with good traction as the trail can be slippery. Plus, pack an insulated water bottle so you can stay cool and hydrated in the heat!
If you’re looking for other hiking trails on Oahu, check out AllTrails for suggestions and to stay up to date with trail conditions and closures. When researching this article, I came across many people recommending the Crouching Lion hike; however, this trail is closed indefinitely.
Waimānalo Bay State Recreation Park
Waimānalo Beach Park is another of Oahu’s most photo-worthy beaches. Besides its stunning landscape featuring the Ko’olau Mountains, Waimānalo has another huge draw: the lack of crowds! Parking is limited, providing a tranquil respite in comparison to the island’s other busy beaches. For example, Waimānalo is about 45 minutes from Waikiki Beach, and the difference is night and day between the number of visitors!
Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail
Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail is an easy 2.5-mile hike located approximately half an hour from downtown Honolulu. If you’re looking for a hike that is perfect for the whole family, this is the trail for you! Plus, Makapu’u is also a dog-friendly hike if you happen to want to bring your furry friend.
This hike provides an awesome view of the water. Moreover, you can even spot whales as you climb your way to the top during certain months of the year (December-April). Especially during February and March, your chances of seeing a humpback while are really high! For another cool hike nearby, check out Koko Crater Tramway to Kokohead Lookout.
Halona Beach Cove & Halona Blowhole Lookout
This spot on Oahu’s Southeast Shore is pretty awesome because you get to see two attractions in one: a blowhole and a beautiful beach cove. Halona Beach Cove is a small pocket of sand that you can hike down to from the blowhole lookout point. Just remember to be mindful of the surf! The water is normally at its calmest during the summertime. Note that there are no public facilities here, so don’t expect to see a lifeguard on duty or a public bathroom. However, you will find incredibly clear water where you can keep an eye out for sea turtles!
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve
Hanauma Bay is one of the most beautiful places in Oahu for underwater photography and snorkeling. Due to its popularity, there is a new online reservation system to limit the number of visitors and help re-establish the bay’s marine ecosystem. Reservations can only be made a maximum of 48 hours in advance, and the tickets open at 7 AM Hawaii Standard Time. Make sure to bring your GoPro for some awesome underwater photos!
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