5 BEST OAHU BEACHES FOR PHOTOS | WHAT BEACHES TO PHOTOGRAPH
With so many beautiful beaches to take photos in Hawaii and with so little time, if you are on vacation, or work all the dang time and never come out, where should you go to get the best photos of a Hawaii beach on Oahu? Depending on what time you want to head out will determine the beach we recommend. We are going to give you two beaches for sunrise and two beaches for sunset and 1 for midday postcard photos, and maybe if you make it to the bottom of this shortlist, you will find a bonus beach in Hawaii to photograph.
First Things First! 🏖️
Do not think the list is only for professional photographers. At this point, your smartphone will take just as good, if not better photos than someone with an expensive camera, so we want to see everyone out taking pictures with whatever camera they have. If you are going to come out with your phone, however, know that unless you have the latest and greatest, the low light still sucks, and you will not be able to create anything epic before sunrise or after sunset. That is probably a little judgy, but hey, tag us in your photo if we are wrong @oahuphototours on Instagram.
Sunrise Beaches 🌅
We have our favorite spot that we go to on our tour, which is Sandy Beach or nearby, so we have to leave that one off this list. That could count as one of your bonus beaches but … it’s not. Just take our Golden Sunrise Tour for that one. 📸
1. Makapu’u Beach 🌴
Hands down, this is a must if you want to create some stunning images. Located only about 25 minutes outside of Waikiki, Makapu’u Beach has so much to offer. The light is unreal as it lights up Manana Island (Rabbit Island) off its shore. We highly recommend walking around a little before the light starts, so getting here about one hour before sunrise is critical. Do not leave anything in your car that you would miss. Cars get broken into here and everywhere, so live by that rule. Near the bathroom, you can get a sweet photo of silhouetted palm trees and the lighthouse between them. Looking for a more panoramic photo? Head to the middle of the beach and find the lifeguard shack. You won’t want to walk up to this but more line up with it. Have fun shooting here. After sunrise, head to the point to the far left past the parking lot. If you have a longer lens, shot the Booby Birds as they make their way out to sea for the day. They can get pretty close and catch you off guard, so be ready!
2. Kahala Beach
Even closer to Waikiki is Kahala Beach. You could sleep in that much longer if you had too many Mai Tais 🍹 the night before. This is a pretty easy spot to get to but offers a lot of colors. Since this is a little more inland, or more downwind from Makapu’u, the chances of clouds built up is pretty good for photos. Not too much, but just right. At the park is a bridge that allows you to use the waters below as a reflective source, and the palm trees here provide that extra Hawaiian feel to the photos. Walk around and see if you can get a proper angle on the island with the palm tree. This is a super famous IG photo that has excellent properties for photos. Kahala Beach is a great spot for you to use whatever camera you want and the best part, after the sunrise you can hike your self up to the top of Diamond Head for a spectacular view of the whole city of Honolulu. Looking for more hikes in Hawaii? Check out this blog post!
A little tip for heading out for sunrise in Hawaii. The weather does change a lot, and depending on where you go, you might want to have a light rain jacket with you. This can help keep you warm in Hawaii. Wait. What? Yes, that’s right, it can get a little chilly in the morning, especially when the winds are 25 mph.
The best advice of all, pack the night before and double-check everything. You are going to kick yourself in the back =side if you get all the way out to where you are going and find out your camera batteries or phone is dead. We can’t tell you how many times people have been on our tours and get all set up as the mind-blowing colors are starting to light up the sky, only to find out their batteries are dead. What a bust! Don’t be that person. Prepare the night before and capture it all in the morning.
If you have some graduated ND filters on hand, bring’em. If you do not know what this is, do not worry about it. This is not the time to learn. That’s what our tours are for 😉.
Sunset Beaches 🌞
Hey, you lazy bum! Since you slept through that fantastic sunrise, you had better get out there and find an excellent beach for sunset. Sure, you can get one hell of an evening from Waikiki, but what is the fun in that? We are going to make you drive a little for these two spots. You can rent a sweet jeep for the day right HERE. Ok, now you are ready to find an excellent beach for a sunset photo.
3. Yokohama Bay
Holy smokes Batman. This is one hell of a beach. We probably shouldn’t even be telling you about his spot, but most likely you will never also go, so what’s the big deal? If you do happen to make your way out here (the farthest point from Waikiki) you are in for one hell of a treat. Not only does this beach have the best sunset, the tide pools, the waves, and mountains all around will also add so much to your photos. Since this is a ling haul away from Waikiki, we recommend getting out there early and enjoying the beach and hikes before sunset. One of our most favorite hikes is the Kaena Point Trail, located at the end of the road. This will be about a 4-hour adventure, so plan accordingly.
Depending on what time of year you are out there, you have an excellent chance to spot out Humpback whales and Albatros sea birds. That is more in the winter. In the summer, the conditions are mind-blowing. The water looks like oil because of how calm it can get.
Try the first part of the beach close to the gate guard for the military access. This is right at the front of the beach entrance. The tide pools in this area can add to the photos as well as the cliff line a little farther North. Come to think of it. The other side has this too. Damn! So since you are arriving early, we believe always walking around the area to feel it out is an excellent idea if you are serious. If you want to enjoy and take some photos, have fun and roam around. No matter where you go on this beach, you are bound to get some epic sunset photos.
4. Sharks Cove 🦈
We are breaking our rule here. We sometimes hit this spot for sunset on one of our tours. Since it is so freaking impressive here, we can’t leave you hanging. This place will probably give you precisely what you are looking for, as long as you can find it. The rocks walking around are not that nice, so make sure you wear some damn shoes! Another great spot to enjoy the hours leading up to the sunset. You can snorkel here in the summer or whale watch from here as it gets super deep real quick. The waves are impressive, too, in the winter.
What we like about this spot is the topography of the cove. The lava mixed with limestone has made some fascinating but yet dangerous formations. The water will pool up in rocks give supreme reflections during sunset. You need to be very careful and know where your footing is before you even move. You do not want to fall on this stuff.
If you are right and want to go a little further, try making your way out to the ledge, in the summer only. In the winter, you’ll make the news if you go out there, but you won’t be able to watch the news, cause you’ll be swimming with the fishes. Some lava tubes will have water bubbling up from time to time. We call these the elevators. They are great for taking some long exposers and getting that movement. Use your phone for the best panoramic of your life. Have fun here, and be careful!
Beat the traffic. If you are going to head out to either one of these spots, you need to make sure you head out of Waikiki around 1 pm, 2 pm at the lastest. The traffic will make you so angry, you will not be in your right mind, and you might not even make the sunset on some days (Ever Friday).
Give yourself plenty of time to chill and explore before the sunset. Sure, these are beaches to take photos, but they are still beaches in Hawaii, and that means they are going to be amazing. You are going to want to give yourself some time to enjoy the area and see everything it has to offer
Never leave anything in your car. It doesn’t matter if you are in a beautiful part of the time or not. Do not leave anything in your car, or we are going to come to steal it from you. Not really, but seriously. Our tours vans have been broken into so many times, but luckily no one’s stuff has ever been taken. We tell everyone to take all their belongings with them for that very reason. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Mid-Day Beach 🤙🏼
Dang, did we leave only one spot for this one? It better be good. What do you think of when you think of a beach in Hawaii? Do you think of palm trees? White sand? Bluewater? We bet you think of all that. We are going to throw a good one your way, and it’s not the one you are thinking about. Are you ready?
5. Magnum P.I. Lagoon
What the heck is that? Located right passed Sea Life Park, you will start to see some homes on the right-hand side. Then you will come across a beach park that most likely has no parking available. You can either park a little farther down or just keep going wishing you had stopped. Right our to the right, you will see a wall that looks like a dead-end but keep pushing, and you will find an ancient Hawaiian fishpond. Legends have it. This is was reserved for royalty, and only they could eat the fish from here. Keep going a little further, and you will see the calm pools with palm trees overhanging. If you time it right, the low tide is when you want to make it out here because that’s when you will have the most beach available for photos.
You are going to love the conditions at this spot for photos. If you happen to have a drone, we recommend taking that here. Get a birds-eye view on all the colors. No matter the type of camera you have, bring a polarizer filter with you. This is going to help you get the best out of those mid-day colors that we all love in Hawaii. Have fun here, and make sure you don’t step on any urchins when walking around the rocks.
Know before you go that this is a local beach, and no many tourists make out there. You want o make sure you show respect and do not impose on anyone. The locals are always happy to talk with you, but they will not like it if you walk around like you own the place. Just a heads up.
Go to Onos Steak and Shrimp Shack after this beach adventure. The food there is the best, as long as you eat meat. If you don’t, go down the street a little more to Ai Love Nalo. Probably the best vegan food around.
Do not go on to the dock. There is a dock down the way that a lot of people have been going on for photos. The owners will shoot you on the spot. JK, but for real, do not go on their property.
Bonus Beach 🌟
We feel like five is just a little too… little. With all of the epic beaches on the island and so many places to take photos, we can’t possibly leave it at 5. Or can we? No, we can’t. Well, that was fast. Ok, drum roll, please. What’s the bonus beach? You probably already saw it as this is text, and there are no surprises. So go ahead and leave why don’t you. Just go to the next paragraph already!
What a sec, is that even a beach? Well, funny, you should ask. It depends on the time of day, or should we say tide. When at low tide, the sand becomes exposed, reveling the most massive sandbar in the world. Some might argue this, but remember, a sand bar has to be separated from the land, it can not be an accretion. The pure white sand will be knee-deep most of the day, but when the tide turns, that unreal white sand starts to dry out and give us a great spot to set up for photos. The only thing, you have to get out there.
There are a few ways to get to the sand bar. One, you can rent Kayaks from the state park right next to the pier. Another is you can rent standup paddles from a shop in Kailua and take them over for a gentle paddle out. Since the waters are super calm already, these are pretty easy ways to get out there. However, if you have camera gear, you are going to want to make sure you have a dry bag or find someone with a boat. There are a few charters that have tours, but they will also have a lot of people with them. Best of luck on this one. Make sure you tag us if you make it out here for photos.
Keep an eye out for turtles. There are so many of them; it’s not even funny. You might spot out a few other exciting animals while out in the bay. Do not worry that it’s one of the most massive nursing grounds for Scallops Hammerhead Sharks. Not to worry one bite, we mean bit …
Wear some sunscreen. There is no shade out there, and you will be exposed the entire time. Might as well help yourself out and laver up some SPF 1,000,000.
The earlier, the better. The more the day goes on, the more the clouds will build up. If you can et out there around 8 in the morning, your doing great. The afternoon can be pretty but not really what you are looking for. Make sure to line it up with the tides. Low tide is your friends here.
5 BEST OAHU BEACHES FOR PHOTOS | WHAT BEACHES TO PHOTOGRAPH
That should get your wheels turning. You have so many beaches to choose from when taking photos in Hawaii, but at least you now have a heads start. You want to make the most out of your vacation, and it will be all over before you know it, and you are going to kick yourself if you don’t get out and explore. If you need more motivation, book a tour with us, and we will light a fire under your ass. The beaches in Hawaii are world-class, and they are only a few minutes down the street from Waikiki. You have no reason to take photos of them. And remember, when you do, tag us on Instagram @oahuphototours.