The Best Places to Photograph in Hawaii

Haleakalā National Park by damien_p58 / CC BY 2.0

When it comes to landscape photography in the United States, the state of Hawaii is obviously very unique. Not only is it geographically separated from the rest of the country, but it features a completely different type of landscape than you will find anywhere else in the U.S. On this page we’ll mention some of the best places to photograph throughout Hawaii. Since the state includes several different islands we are breaking the content down by island. The interactive map below shows the location of each spot mentioned on this page.

This page will continue to be a work in progress, so please feel free to leave a comment with your own suggestions of great places to photograph.

Find great places to photograph in any state! We have similar guides for each state to help you find all of the best places to photograph. See the index page to find the guides for each state.

Hawai’i (The Big Island)

Hawai’i is the biggest island in the state, and also the southern most of the Hawaiian islands.

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is on the southeastern part of the island and encompasses two active volcanoes: Kīlauea and Mauna Loa. The park includes area at sea level all the way to more than 13,000 feet (Mauna Loa)! Here you’ll find unique hiking and photography opportunities. If you want easy access, Crater Rim Drive and Chain of Craters Drive will both give you some great views with very little effort. Many day hikes and back country hikes are also available if you want some seclusion.

The Best Places to Photograph in Hawaii

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park by pogo_mm / CC0

Kohala Coast

The Kohala Coast at the northwestern part of the island offers beautiful coastline and rugged lava fields just waiting to be photographed. State Highway 270 runs through this area.

The Best Places to Photograph in Hawaii

Kohala Coast by Bryan Ungard / CC BY-SA 2.0

Pololu Valley Lookout

The Pololu Valley Lookout is at the end of State Highway 270, in North Kohala. Here you’ll find a stunning view down the coast.

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The Best Places to Photograph in Hawaii

Pololu Valley Lookout by RDPixelShop / CC BY-SA 2.0

Waipio Valley Overlook

The Waipio Valley Overlook is just off of State Highway 240 on the northern part of the island. This is another place to get a fantastic view from high above the coast and cliffs.

The Best Places to Photograph in Hawaii

Waipio Valley Overlook by Paul Hirst / CC BY-SA 2.5

South Point (Ka Lae)

South Point, also known as Ka Lae, is, not surprisingly, located at the southern end of the island. It also marks the southernmost point in the United States. This rocky shoreline with very rough waters is an ideal place to photograph.

The Best Places to Photograph in Hawaii

South Point (Ka Lae) by inquiryml / CC0

Mauna Kea

Mauna Kea is a dormant volcano in the north central part of the island. At nearly 14,000 feet it is the highest point in the state. There is road access to the summit, but 4-wheel drive vehicles are recommended. The ascent is quite steep, and the descent is hard on brakes. It is also recommended that you stop along the way to avoid altitude sickness from the sudden change in altitude.

The Best Places to Photograph in Hawaii

Mauna Kea by Keith Kenrick / CC BY-SA 2.0

Akaka Falls State Park

Akaka Falls State Park is on the eastern part of the island and is accessible by State Highway 220. The main feature of the park is Akaka Falls, a beautiful 400-foot waterfall. There is a loop trail that provides great views of the waterfall and gorge. The loop trail is about 0.4 miles long.

The Best Places to Photograph in Hawaii

Akaka Falls State Park by Svein-Magne Tunli / CC BY-SA 4.0

Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls is about 16 miles south of Akaka Falls State Park. This picturesque waterfall falls about 80 feet into a large pool. There is a viewing platform that gives you an excellent vantage point. A rainbow often is visible in the mist, usually in the morning.

The Best Places to Photograph in Hawaii

Rainbow Falls by AlaskaDave / CC BY-SA 3.0

Maui

Maui is the second largest of the Hawaiian islands and is the closest one to the Big Island. It is also a popular destination for tourists and three different airports are on the island.

Haleakalā National Park

Haleakalā National Park is in southeastern Maui. The park includes Haleakalā, a dormant volcano. In addition, coastal areas are also included in the park. The summit and coast are in two separate parts of the park that are not directly connected to each other by roads. There is also a large wilderness area that can be accessible through backpacking.

The Best Places to Photograph in Hawaii

Haleakalā National Park by damien_p58 / CC BY 2.0

Road to Hana

Driving the Road to Hana or the Hana Highway is one of the most popular things to do in Maui. This is a 64 mile stretch that connects Kahului with Hana. This is a winding, narrow road that presents some amazing views, and there are plenty of things to stop and do along the way. There are several waterfalls along the route that may be of interest to photographers.

The Best Places to Photograph in Hawaii

Road to Hana by Andrew / CC BY-SA 2.0

Pools of ‘Ohe’o (Seven Sacred Pools)

The Pools of ‘Ohe’o, also known as the Seven Sacred Pools, are a part of Haleakalā National Park and managed by the National Park Service and accessible on the Road to Hana. This area offers spectacular scenery and it very popular.

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The Best Places to Photograph in Hawaii

Pools of ‘Ohe’o by Mark Doliner / CC BY 2.0

Twin Falls

Twin Falls is along the Road to Hana. Here a trail will lead you to a few different secluded waterfalls.

The Best Places to Photograph in Hawaii

Twin Falls by Thomas / CC BY-ND 2.0

Koki Beach

Koki Beach is on the eastern side of Maui, just south of Hana. It features reddish sand and is a popular area for surfing, although tides and ocean conditions can be dangerous at times. This beautiful beach is a great place to photograph.

The Best Places to Photograph in Hawaii

Koki Beach by snorkelingdives.com / CC BY 2.0

Lahaina

Lahaina is in northwestern Maui that is popular for tourism and nightlife. It also offers beautiful scenery.

The Best Places to Photograph in Hawaii

Lahaina by Ernesto Andrade / CC BY-ND 2.0

Kapalua

Kapalua is about 10 miles north of Lahaina. This resort area includes restaurants and golf courses, as well as a stunning coastal landscape.

The Best Places to Photograph in Hawaii

Kapalua by Too Tall Paul / CC BY 2.0

Iao Valley

Iao Valley is a lush, beautiful valley in west Maui, and is the location of Iao Valley State Park. This area includes a dense rainforest. A paved path leads to some outstanding views. This area often gets very cloudy, so views can be obstructed by those thick clouds at times.

The Best Places to Photograph in Hawaii

Iao Valley by Mike / CC BY-SA 2.0

Kahakuloa Bay

Kahakuloa Bay is a gorgeous area on the coast of north side of West Maui. This picturesque area is accessible by way of the Kahekili Highway, which is a windy, narrow road. Some car rental companies prohibit driving on this road.

The Best Places to Photograph in Hawaii

Kahakuloa Bay by Any5855 / CC BY-SA 2.0

Molokini Crater

Molokini Crater is a volcanic crater to the west of Maui. This is a popular area for scuba diving and snorkeling, but also quite picturesque.

The Best Places to Photograph in Hawaii

Molokini Crater by Bossfrog / CC BY-SA 4.0

O’ahu

O’ahu is the third-largest of the Hawaiian islands but is the most populated island. Honolulu is on the island, and with Honolulu International Airport, O’ahu is easily accessible and popular with tourists.

Nu’uanu Pali

Nu’uanu Pali is a section of cliff in southeastern O’ahu. The Nu’uanu Pali Lookout provides amazing panoramic views of the nearly 1000-foot cliffs. The lookout is part of Nu’uanu Pali State Park and is accessed by State Highway 61. Be aware that this location is extremely windy.

The Best Places to Photograph in Hawaii

Nu’uanu Pali by LuxTonnerre / CC BY 2.0

Laniakea Beach

Laniakea Beach is in north O’ahu, and it is also known as Turtle Beach. The beach here is fairly small, but picturesque. The most noteworthy thing about this location is the sea turtles that can e frequently seen in the water and on the beach.

The Best Places to Photograph in Hawaii

Laniakea Beach by Kim / CC BY-SA 2.0

Lanikai Beach

Lanikai Beach is known as one of the best beaches in Hawaii. It is located in southeastern O’ahu and features beautiful white sand, with two small islands offshore. The beach is surrounded by a residential area, and finding parking near the beach can be a challenge at times.

The Best Places to Photograph in Hawaii

Lanikai Beach by Ted Coombs / CC0

Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay is at the south end of O’ahu, just a short drive from downtown Honolulu. This popular area makes a beautiful panoramic photo.

The Best Places to Photograph in Hawaii

Hanauma Bay by Cristo Vlahos / CC BY-SA 3.0

Spitting Cave

The Spitting Cave is just southwest of Hanauma Bay. At certain times the waves and air rush into the cave, causing a spray (or spitting). This rugged coastline is perfect for photos. It’s also a popular spot for cliff jumping, although it can be quite dangerous.

The Best Places to Photograph in Hawaii

Spitting Caves by Anthony Quintano / CC BY 2.0

Makapu’u Lighthouse

The Makapu’u Lighthouse is located in southeastern O’ahu, just a short distance from Hanauma Bay. There is a trail that provides access to the lighthouse. It is a steep two-mile trail that provides a nice view of the lighthouse, coast, and ocean.

The Best Places to Photograph in Hawaii

Makapu’u Lighthouse by Jeff Shewan / CC BY 2.0

Ka’ena Point

Ka’ena Point is the westernmost point on the island of O’ahu, and is part of Ka’ena Point State Park. To reach the point of this beautiful coastline you will need to hike about 2.5 miles (each way), but the view is worth the effort. The volcanic coast features tide pools and plenty of stunning views.

The Best Places to Photograph in Hawaii

Kaena Point by niksnut / CC BY-SA 2.0

Maunawili Falls

Maunawili Falls in on the southeastern part of O’ahu and is one of the most popular waterfalls on the island. Reaching the falls requires a 2.5 mile round trip hike, but the reward is worth the effort. Be aware that this is a popular trail and you may have to deal with crowds at the falls.

The Best Places to Photograph in Hawaii

Maunawili Falls by Grant Montgomery / CC BY 2.0

Kualoa Ranch

Kualoa Ranch is a private nature preserve on the east side of O’ahu. This is a popular tourist area with a lot of activities, like ziplining. However, the views are an attraction of their own. There are 3 scenic valleys at Kualoa Ranch that are perfect for photographs.

The Best Places to Photograph in Hawaii

Kualoa Ranch by opapaty / CC0

Diamond Head

Diamond Head is a volcanic cone in Honolulu, and is part of Diamond Head State Monument. Diamond Head itself could be the subject of your photos, or you can catch a great view from the top. There is a short (less than 1 mile) but steep trail that leads to the crater’s rim.

The Best Places to Photograph in Hawaii

Waikiki Beach from Diamond Head by Prayitno / CC BY 2.0

Pu’u Ualaka’a State Park

Pu’u Ualaka’a State Park is on the top of a cinder cone not far from downtown Honolulu. Here you will find amazing views of Diamond Head, Honolulu, and Pearl Harbor. A short trail leads to the overlook.

The Best Places to Photograph in Hawaii

Pu’u Ualaka’a State Park by Wendy Cutler / CC BY-SA 2.0

Kauai

Kauai is the fourth largest of the Hawaiian islands, but it should not be overshadowed by the larger islands. It lies about 100 miles northwest of O’ahu and features a fabulous landscape.

Nā Pali Coast State Park

Nā Pali Coast State Park is along the northwestern coast of Kauai. The Nā Pali Coast features breathtaking cliffs that rise as high as 4,000 feet. This beautiful coast isn’t accessible by vehicle. There is an 11 mile trail that can be hiked, or it can be reached by boat. Tours are available, or you can kayak on your own.

The Best Places to Photograph in Hawaii

Nā Pali Coast State Park by Steve Hedin / CC BY-SA 3.0

Waimea Canyon

The Waimea Canyon of western Kauai is a striking 10-mile-long canyon that reaches depths of 3,000 feet. Waimea Canyon State Park provides access to and views of this spectacular canyon. Waimea Canyon Drive leads to some overlooks, and there are also hiking trails if you want to get a different view.

The Best Places to Photograph in Hawaii

Waimea Canyon by Prayitno / CC BY 2.0

Ke’e Beach, Haena State Park

Haena State Park is in northern Kauai. Within the park, Ke’e Beach is a popular area for swimming and snorkeling. It is also a beautiful beach and a great place to photograph.

The Best Places to Photograph in Hawaii

Ke’e Beach by Ben K / CC BY 2.0

Moloka’i

Moloka’i is the fifth-lagest Hawaiiam island and lies between O’ahu and Maui.

Kalaupapa

Kalaupapa is located on the Kalaupapa Peninsula at the base of 2,000 foot cliffs. This island was once a leper colony, and the area is now a part of Kalaupapa National Historical Park. This area features a beautiful, picturesque coastline.

The Best Places to Photograph in Hawaii

Kalaupap by Mason Architects / CC BY 2.0

Lānaʻi

Lānaʻi is the smallest of the publicly-accessible and inhabited Hawaiian islands. It is south of Moloka’i and west of Maui and has a popular of only about 3,000. There are no traffic lights and many places on the island are connected only by dirt road.

Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods is a location unlike any other in Hawaii. Here you will find boulders of varying sizes and colors. You will need a 4-wheel-drive vehicle to reach this beautiful location.

The Best Places to Photograph in Hawaii

Garden of the Gods by Vadim Kurland / CC BY 2.0

Hulopoe Beach

Hulopoe Beach is on the south side of Lānaʻi. This is the most popular beach on the ocean and a great place for swimming and snorkeling. The beautiful beach also makes it a great place to photograph.

The Best Places to Photograph in Hawaii

Hulopoe Beach by tata_aka_T / CC BY 2.0

Photo license links: CC BY-SA 2.0, CC BY-SA 3.0CC BY-SA 4.0, CC BY-ND 2.0CC BY 2.0CC0

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