MOST BEAUTIFUL OAHU INSTAGRAM SPOTS
Whether you like to photograph landscapes or are ready for family portraits in the waves, here is your complete guide to finding the best of the Oahu Instagram spots on this beautiful island. From turquoise beaches to adorable tropical huts and epic sunrises, you will find no lack of beautiful Hawaii Instagram spots to fit your style!
We have now explored this island on three separate trips and we still haven’t come close to scratching the surface of all the beautiful spots it has to offer! But we hope this Hawaii Instagram guide helps you to choose some of the best photo spots for your own travel itinerary!
Oahu is known for it’s diverse landscape and for its incredibly vast list of things to do, however, it is also famous for its crowds. Check out our tips below for capturing its beauty without circling the parking lot for hours and wasting away your time in paradise. Detailed instructions below will help you make the most of your time so that you can soak up every last bit of aloha.
Is it just me or are you ready to start clicking your shutter at the first glimpse paradise before the plane even lands? Sigh…
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Most Beautiful Hawaii Instagram Spots: Green Jungle Island Vibes
HO’OMALUHIA BOTANICAL GARDENS
Made Insta-famous by it’s gorgeous entry road that winds through the majestic mountains, signs and cones now line the road warning visitors that stopping for photography here is simply not allowed. But don’t be dismayed – there are photo worthy spots around every bend!
Located in Kaneohe, Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden is open from 9am – 4pm daily and is free. It was literally one of our favorite photo spots on the island and the fact that it was free was just icing on the cake!
These gardens are huge; you can walk or drive through them, but even with several people around, you really still feel like you have the place almost to yourself. You can really arrive here any time of day and still get great Instagram shots. We there in the middle of summer mid-day and only saw a handful of people at a time. There are also two parking spots outside the gate, so if you are lucky to snag one of those, you can enter through the pedestrian gate before they open for early morning photography.
TROPICAL MACADAMIA NUT FARM
Visitors to Hawai’i often ask for tips for hidden gems on each island. In all honesty, Hawai’i is so filled with tourists that most secrets that still exist are only known by the locals! However, the Tropical Macadamia Nut Farm was truly an amazing discovery for us! Their outlet for selling tasty varieties of nuts is well known and on a stop on many Circle Island Tours, however, most visitors stop for a snack and then head on their way.
Located right next to the real Jurassic Park of Hawaii, the beautiful views at the Nut Farm is a destination in itself. But if you head outside to the back of the store, and you will find their Ali’i Tour offered daily at 11am and 1pm. $20 for adults and $10 for keiki (cash only!) will allow you to board the open air bus and spend the next hour or two driving through gorgeous farm land, adorning handmade floral wreaths and leis, watching an entertaining and educational culture show next to an ancient fishpond, and munching on apple bananas straight off the tree.
There were more locals on our tour than tourists which confirmed our suspicion that this gorgeous property filled with photo opps is truly a hidden gem on this busy island.
JURASSIC PARK VALLEY
This incredible bone yard can be found just north of the Nut Farm on the windward side of the island at Kualoa Ranch. This stunning property is located in the valley surrounded by the Ko’olau Mountains and is the place where Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, Kong Skull Island, LOST, Fifty First Dates, Soul Surfer, and numerous other movies were made.
They offer numerous adventure opportunities to see and photograph the movie scene locations yourself. The thrill seekers in your group may prefer the ATVs or ziplining tours, and there are even air conditioned vans with snacks for those who would rather the ranch in luxury.
At first glance, you may find their tours to be expensive, but in all honesty, if I were to pay for one activity in Hawaii (besides renting snorkel gear and eating shave ice every day), this would be it. WE LOVE THIS PLACE. Check out my post on traveling to Hawaii on a budget to free up some moolah so you can fit the real Jurassic Valley into your trip. No matter which you choose, you will have a blast posing with the dinosaurs on your instagram feed!
SECRET ISLAND, JURASSIC VALLEY
Secret Island is just one of the many places to explore at Kualoa Ranch. After touring the movie sites, scheduling an afternoon on the sand, relaxing, snorkeling, and kayaking makes for a perfect day. In my mind, there is literally nothing better to experience or photograph than crystal blue water with the mountains in the distance. The palm trees make for prefect props for this Instagram worthy place on Oahu!
KOKO CRATER BOTANICAL GARDEN
Located on the south east side of the island, Koko Crater Botanical Garden is a free and lovely photo spot on Oahu. Trails are available to explore the unique desert-y plant life, but our favorite spot was right at the entrance where the plumeria grove blooms in the spring and summer. Fragrant petals were scattered all over the ground giving us plenty to scoop up and place in our hair for a photo opportunity. Sweet smelling trees offer winding branches covered in tropical flowers and serving as the perfect Oahu Instagram backdrop.
This jungle-y hike is a photographer’s dream. The long vines, mystical trail, and cascading waterfall at the end make for an amazing activity with many instagrammable spots on this Oahu trail. While it looks like this trail is off the beaten path, it is actually pretty popular, so early mornings and later afternoons are your best bet for a quieter trail.
At Manoa Falls, prepare for a muggy walk, bring your insect repellant and $5 cash for parking in the lot, and don’t be afraid of the mud! Frequent rain in this part of the island is what makes this trek so beautifully green! It is not safe to swim in this waterfall due to leptospirosis dangers, so plan to to take those magical Hawaii instagram photos on the rocks at this spot!
Most Instagrammable Places in Oahu: Windward Side Beaches + Viewpoints
Waimanalo Beach earns its spot next to the windward side’s other more popular beaches and is truly one of the most beautiful places in Hawaii. The water is So. Ridiculously. Blue. that you are sure to think that it must be from another world. But dip in your toes, and you’ll be convinced that its beauty is so very real.
As always, beaches will be emptiest early in the morning, so pull yourself out of bed at least a couple of times before sunrise, watch paradise wake up in all its glory, and capture some amazing Oahu instagram spots without another soul in sight.
The parking lot here is small-ish, but we found an opening within a few minutes mid afternoon on a summer weekend. Full disclaimer, there were signs up with jelly fish warnings when we arrived and had we been alone, our family would have moved on elsewhere. However, we had signed up for a free ocean clinic for our kiddos (you can read more about it in our full trip itinerary) and we are so glad we did! After some sealife and environment education, the group took our children out on paddle boards and canoes and they had the best day ever. They had “jellyfish experts” riding around scooping up any stinging culprits and keeping everyone safe. We felt so blessed to experience this stunning beach with locals who were so generously volunteering their time!
Eternity Beach aka Halona Beach aka Cockroach Beach (who knows why?! Ask a local :)) is one of my absolute favorite Oahu Instagram spots. The rugged, dark rocks contrast so beautifully with the bright turquoise water. The views are best front and center at beach level as well as from the parking lot above.
It can be accessed from the public parking lot at the Halona Blowhole. The lot is fairly small, but most people only stop for a few minutes and then move on, so parking isn’t too hard to come by, even in the middle of summer. With your back to the road, you’ll see a small path on the right, along the street, with a short and slightly steep path going down to the beach. There is also a warning sign but we found the path to be easy and the beach to be filled with people who took the path like we did. However the water was rougher than these photos convey, so safety first, and we did not let our children swim here.
If you would like some uncrowded landscape at the beautiful Hawaii Instagram spot, early morning is highly recommended, especially in the summer. As you can see below, the beach is even more beautiful when it is almost empty. This image was taken in the early afternoon in the month of November, while the top image above was captured in June.
The Halona Blowhole shares a parking lot with Eternity Beach featured above. The complimentary small lot often appears crowded, but a spot often opens up within a few minutes. You’ll notice a crowd at the rail, and the blowhole views are certainly worth at least a few minutes of your time to watch as it really is one of the most beautiful photo places in Hawaii. I would definitely suggest capturing some video too!
Don’t forget to look left toward Sandy Beach Park. No explanation needed.
Be still my heart. Kailua Beach is one of my favorite places on this planet and tops the charts on my list of most instagrammable places on Oahu. While I can’t promise you a rainbow (to increase your chances, head to the beach right when a rain storm ends), I can promise that this gorgeous slice of heaven is more enticing than a pot of gold.
Sugary white powdered sand and unrealistically beautiful blue water is surrounded by gorgeous palm trees, mountains in the distance and shave ice down the street.
Early mornings will gift you with the beach all to yourself, but even in the late afternoon, the beach is vast enough that you are likely to find plenty of great spots for photo taking. Parking is available on the street for free.
We are HUGE fans of hiring a photographer while we are on vacation to make sure that we bring home gorgeous photos of the whole family together. Tara with Flytographer captured this sweet family photo and it sits on our mantle daily reminding us of cherished memories. Check her out here and get $50 off your booking!
MAKAPU’U LIGHTHOUSE TRAIL
Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail is a lovely hike with incredible views and is on our list of favorite family-friendly hikes on the island. It is paved so works for strollers too, but expect a calf workout on the way back up! The entire round trip hike is 2 miles long and will likely take you 1-2 hours depending on how many stops you take for photos of some of the most beautiful places in Hawaii.
This hike does not have shade and is on the pavement, so it gets HOT. I would highly recommend hiking either early morning or just before sunset to capture the epic sunsets as pictured above. If you choose the latter, make sure to check the parking signs and hustle down the hill before it gets dark and the gate closes on the lot!
SUNRISE ON LANIKAI BEACH
Oh, Lanikai beach. If I had to choose one place to photograph the sunrise every day for the rest of my life, this would be it. Every trip we take to Oahu, this is cemented into our itinerary for our very first morning on the island. Watching the world wake up in such a beautiful slice of paradise is simply magical. Bring your big camera or bring your phone, or maybe just your eyeballs, but you will be so glad to add Lanikai beach to your list of a Oahu Instagram spots to capture.
There’s not a parking lot for Lanikai beach, so you will need to respectfully park in the residential areas surrounding the beach. Early in the morning there are plenty of spots available, but be sure to respect the residents and adhere to the signs or you’ll come back to find your car ticketed which would be such a bummer after such a beautiful experience! I would recommend bringing a simple tripod, or a friend, to capture some fantastic silhouettes and the beautiful Mokulua islands in the distance. To top off your experience, consider bringing a towel or blanket and a simple breakfast for an early morning beach picnic. No need to rush off! This place may be the highlight of your whole day!
LANIKAI PILLBOX HIKE VIEWPOINT
Lanikai pillbox hike is a sweet, short, and slightly sweaty, hike to a beautiful view point overlooking Lanikai Beach mentioned above. The toughest decision you’ll have to make is whether to hike the trail in the dark with your flashlight in order to watch the sun come up over the horizon, or watch the sunrise on the beach and then head up the trail and see the beautiful blue water in all it’s glory. This path is only 1.5 miles round-trip and is easy enough for even children to enjoy. The first 100 yards are the steepest and young children will definitely need assistance, but with good shoes and help from the ropes attached the ground and the surrounding trees, it’s pretty possible for anyone with good mobility.
There are two sets of pillboxes once you reach the summit. The pillboxes were built in 1943 as observation stations to keep an eye on any activity in the water. They are now covered in colorful graffiti and sitting on the top of them is pretty magnificent. We personally only hiked up to the first pillbox as it seemed that the view was just as good from there.
As mentioned above, all of the parking in this area is on residential streets. So please be sure not to block any driveways or and keep the volume down when starting out your hike in the early morning. Parking is best right off of Ka’elepupu Drive right across from the Mid-Pacific Country Club. You will see a sign for the trail head marked here.
KO’OLAU MOUNTAINS + KANEOHE BAY
The Ko’olau Mountains were mentioned above in the Oahu Instagram spot tip at Kualoa Ranch. And alternative way to experience these magnificent mountains are from the water in Kanehoe Bay. I can’t recommend this experience and photo spot enough.
You can rent kayaks or take an ocean catamaran from Kualoa Ranch to get out on the water. The contrast of the steep green mountains against the gentle, crystal clear blue water is truly stunning. This can be done at any time of day but we found morning to be the perfect time for the sun to hit the mountains just right. In the late afternoon the sun would be behind the mountains which would give them a gorgeous silhouette, but also contribute to a loss of color. Keep your eye out for turtles here too!
Chinaman’s Hat, Mokoli’i, is a sweet, unique little island also out in Kaneohe Bay. You can take an ocean catamaran tour to view it from the water or you can also kayak directly to the island and climb to the top. We haven’t yet had the experience of doing the latter, but it is definitely on our bucket list for next time!
Hanauma Bay is a picturesque, beautiful, crescent shaped body of water filled with coral reef and other gorgeous sea life. From the parking lot above, you can capture the whole bay in your camera lens. If you arrive before opening, you can head down the hill for a few shots without needing to pay an entrance fee.
But if you’d like to stay and snorkel, we highly recommend making this more than a quick stop and doing some great fish spotting. Hanauma Bay is closed on Tuesdays so make your plans accordingly. This popular spot also fills up by mid-morning so arrive early or try the late afternoon for your best bet. We highly recommend early morning as the sea life is much more visible for snorkeling before the crowds arrive. If you don’t have a car, several tours offer transportation and rental gear. Check out more expert tips for snorkeling in our new post popping up very soon.
Instagram Spots Hawaii: North Shore Beaches + Tasty Treats
ANAHULU’S SHAVE ICE
Finding the best shave ice on the island of Oahu is always on my list of things to do! When the sweet dessert spots offer a perfect opportunity for photos, they top the list in our book. Anahulu‘s Shave Ice in Hale’iwa, North Shore Oahu offers beautiful angel wings along with their delicious, and very reasonably priced, shave ice. This is the perfect spot to capture another fun shot for your Oahu Instagram feed.
DOLE PLANTATATION PINEAPPLE WHIP
Some people think that heading to Oahu without stopping by the Dole Plantation is a crime. However, we have taken multiple trips to Oahu and I have to admit this is our first trip to see the famous pineapples. But we are so glad we stopped this time! Though we didn’t take any tours or train rides, we definitely indulged in some delicious pineapple Dole Whip with a tiny upgrade for fresh pineapple on top. We literally inhaled it in a few seconds flat.
Totally delicious, totally Instagram worthy, definitely worth the stop on the way home from your day on the North Shore. They do close at 5:00 PM so if you plan to watch the sun set up north, you might want to hit up Dole in the morning. Pineapples for breakfast are healthy, right?!
The Sunrise Shack has starred in many feeds highlighting Instagram spots on Oahu. This adorable shack is brightly colored, surrounded by magical palm trees, and serves delicious açai bowls, kombucha, and fresh juice. Definitely wear your cute sundress when you head up this place and snap a photo or two.
Waikiki also has a Sunrise Shack, but do not confuse it with the Hale’iwa location. This sweet tropical hut pictured above is located on a Oahu’s North Shore. The Waikiki location, while still serving delicious fruity dishes, looks like a typical smoothie shop and does not hold the ambiance of this quaint and tropical North Shore spot.
Waimea Bay is a popular beach on Oahu’s North Shore. There is a large parking lot, however it does fill up during busier seasons. Morning arrival is your best bet for a parking spot, and of course a quieter beach for perfect photo opportunities on one of the most beautiful places on the island of Oahu. Waimea Bay is a must stop visit. In the winter, the waves will be so rough that you dare not even dip in a toe -just be happy to photograph the surfers doing their thing. In the summer, however, the beach can be as smooth as glass. You will find many jumping off of the giant black rock into the water. If you like to try yourself, make sure you talk to someone first who knows what they’re doing! Otherwise enjoy sitting behind your camera and capturing the adventurous activity in your camera roll.
We have visited the island of Oahu many times, however this was our first visit to Three Tables. Wow! How incredible it was! In the summer, it is one of the best snorkeling spots on the islands. We literally felt like we were swimming in an aquarium. Hundreds of colorful fish surrounded us everywhere we looked and my only regret was not bringing an underwater camera. However, my camera feed was slightly redeemed by just capturing the gorgeous turquoise water from the sand.
I love the contrast of black rocks with blue water in Hawaii, and Three Tables definitely did not disappoint. You won’t regret visiting this beach which can be accessed from the parking lot just east of it closer to Shark’s Cove. The parking lot is small, but we didn’t have any trouble finding parking late morning in the summer. However, I did feel like we kind of got lucky. It’s totally worth making this one of your first stops when touring the North Shore.
Honolulu Instagram Spots
Waikiki Beach is such an iconic spot that no Instagrammable spots on Oahu list would be complete without including it. The high-rises, legendary historic hotels, bright blue water, sliver of white sand all contribute to this photogenic beach. The spots to photograph in this area are numerous, however our favorites were sunsets right by the Duke statue as our children splashed in the waves and also the view from the water from the pier that stretches off from Kapahulu Avenue.
DOWNTOWN KAKA’AKO STREET ART MURALS
Downtown Honolulu, just a short car drive or bus right away from Waikiki, are the Kaka’ako street art murals. This gorgeous collection of diverse and creative art displays are a must see. This particular image was photographed near Auahi Street and Lana Lane, however I would highly recommend that you take the time to drive around and experience all this area has to offer. The colorful backdrops make for incredible photo opportunities.
HONOLULU COOKIE COMPANY
Honolulu cookie company is one of our must stop shops on every trip to Oahu. Who are we kidding? It’s basically a daily requirement while are there. Numerous locations make it easy to stop by without planning before hand. We are always sure to hit up a couple located in the International Marketplace when we’re grabbing lunch or doing some light shopping. They generously provide samples for taste testing so that you can be absolutely confident before you buy. I personally love the pineapple cookies and the chocolate dipped ones. The turquoise walls and the sweet ambiance make for a fun, easy (and delicious!) Instagram spot on the island of Oahu.
Enjoy your time on the island! Which instagram spots are you most interested in seeking out ? Can’t wait to hear about your trip!
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