Are you searching high and low for the perfect shots for your Instagram feed? If that’s your current day-to-day mission, you’ll love to learn about the magic of Oahu.
As the third largest island of Hawaii, this beach lover’s paradise has nearly endless Instagram-worthy spots awaiting your arrival. Each one offers a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural significance, ensuring you get the best snaps and stories to share with the world.
Ready to get started? Here’s a look at the top 10 spots to visit with your camera in hand:
Set along the south shore of Oahu, Waikiki Beach is one of the world’s most famous stretches of sand, and for good reason. Its clear, turquoise waters and gentle waves make it a magnet for surfers, wakeboarders, and other water sports enthusiasts. This makes for many excellent action shots, especially when framed against the iconic Diamond Head Crater in the distance. Don’t miss the chance to capture the horizon during the sunset when the sky lights up in a brilliant array of pink, purple, and orange.
Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden
Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden boasts 400 acres of lush greenery and tropical plants surrounding a serene lake. The nearby Koolau Mountains offer a dramatic backdrop for all that natural beauty, making it the perfect spot for nature-centric Instagram posts. It’s also a popular place for birdwatchers to snap photos of their fan favorites, like egrets and cardinals. If that’s your jam, bring plenty of patience (and a picnic lunch!). It’s well worth the wait for the perfect shot.
Mokolii is a small, 12.5-acre islet made of basalt, which gives it a rugged, earthy appearance. Once connected to Oahu’s mainland, this islet has been sculpted over time by volcanic activity and the ocean’s waves. You can capture its beauty with a long-range zoom lens while exploring Kualoa Regional Park. Or come right up to the island for close-ups by signing up for a sunset cruise, snorkeling tour, or fishing charter.
Waimea Valley is a lush, historic area on Oahu’s north shore. It’s where stunning botanical gardens meet the deep cultural roots of Hawaii. The trails lead you past gorgeous native plants, through memorable historical sites, and around the spectacular Waimea Falls. Every turn along the path offers a new view or beautiful flower to photograph, quickly filling your camera with shots to post on the ‘Gram.
A trip to Manoa Falls offers even more waterfall action for your Instagram reel. This 150-foot waterfall is a breathtaking sight, with its rushing waters moving past moss-covered trees and giant ferns. As the mist fills the air, the tiny water droplets catch the light to create once-in-a-lifetime fairytale shots. The gentle sound of the babbling stream adds to the ambiance, making it feel like you’re exploring a hidden world.
If you’re looking for a priceless shot of the powerful ocean waves crashing against the rocks, Lanai Lookout is the place to go in Oahu. Even during the nicest weather, the waves send spray high in the air to create a dramatic scene for all your photographs. If you visit between December and May, migrating whales may join your shots, adding another layer of excitement to your photos. Just be sure to come by on a clear day to capture the island of Lanai in the background to fill each frame with Hawaii’s beauty.
Koko Crater Railway Trail
For panoramic views of the eastern side of Oahu, you’ll want to take a hike up to the Koko Crater Railway Trail. It’s a challenging climb, featuring over 1,000 railroad tie steps to the top. But the view from the summit of the Koko Crater Railway Trail Stairs is a reward that’s pretty hard to beat. Upon arriving at your destination, you can capture a triumphant summit shot that generates followers unlike anything else. From that vantage point, it’s easy to capture a bird’s eye view of Hanauma Bay, the Pacific Ocean, and the surrounding crater all in one superb photo.
The Sunrise Shack
The Sunrise Shack isn’t just a place to grab a tasty snack and rest up between adventures. It also serves as an ultra-cute backdrop for your selfies and group shots. This quaint shack has a vibrant yellow paint job and surf-inspired décor that fills every shot with cheerful vibes and endless positivity. The burst of color promises to stand out in the feed, drawing new followers to your posts. The organic coffee, smoothie bowls, and other tropical snacks are the pick-me-up you need, too, as you search out your next Instagram-worthy backdrops.
As the name implies, Sunset Beach is famous for its incredibly vivid sunsets. The sky turns all sorts of colors, from red and orange to pink and purple. Classic sunset beach photos instantly come into view as a result, especially if you frame the shot over the vibrant turquoise waters. Plan to spend extra time in this little slice of paradise, as it’s equally renowned for its relaxing atmosphere. Also, aim to come back time and again because every sunset is unique, giving you ample chances to share a moment of natural wonder.
The Byodo-in Temple
Set at the base of the Koolau Mountains, the Byodo-in Temple is a gorgeous replica of a 900-year-old temple in Uji, Japan. The authentic Japanese architecture pairs perfectly with the backdrop of lush mountains, making for a truly peaceful and picturesque setting. While touring the grounds, visit the pond to capture pictures of peacocks strutting and koi fish gliding through the water. Don’t forget to ring the bon-sho, or sacred bell, before you leave to spread happiness and good fortune for all.
When visiting these spots, find unique angles and use the natural light to your advantage to get the best photos. For even better results, plan your visits for the golden hour—the first hour after sunrise and the last hour before sunset. Don’t forget to employ the rule of thirds for each shot. Respect the local environment and culture as you search the island for the best photo opportunities.