My favorite spots on Oahu for a portrait session
Kawela Bay (all morning or sunset) Google Maps link
Pros— This beach is the most versatile of all the spots I use for family pictures. The jungle blocks most of the wind, lots of great backdrops– beach, banyan tree, etc, shady all morning.
Cons— 90 from Waikiki
Sherwoods beach in Waimanalo (early morning or late afternoon) Google Maps link
Pros— Very pretty sand and water, Easy to park, 45 minute drive from Waikiki. It’s easily the prettiest place within 45 minutes of Waikiki.
Cons— Can be windy, the sun goes down behind the mountains so if you wan the sunset in the photos this isn’t the beach for you.
Kualoa Park (early morning or late afternoon) Google maps link
Pick this location if you are more interested in a great mountain backdrop than a beach.
Pros— close to Kaneohe (15 minutes) and Waikiki (45 minutes), Mountain views are amazing.
Cons— can be windy, the beach is quite small.
Papailoa Beach (7-8 am or sunset) Google Maps link
Pros— Closer to the west side. Great for people staying at Koolina (45 minute drive), very secluded and pretty.
Cons— limited parking
Other Great Ideas
Makapu’u Lookout (South shore – google maps) It’s a dramatic sea cliff with beautiful black lava rock.
Kahana Bay (north east Oahu – google maps) Perfect if you love deep greens of the mountain and dark tan sand
Crouching Lion (north east Oahu – google maps) It’s a hike to get there but the view is amazing.
Portlock Spitting Caves (Hawaii Kai – google maps) Fairly close to Waikiki with great sunset views and black wavy lava rock
Lana’i Lookout (near Waikiki – google map) Black lava rock and nothing but blue ocean and sky around you.
Diamond Head beach park (near Waikiki – google maps) Cute little beach park not far from Waikiki.
Waialae Beach Park (Near Waikiki- google maps) If you like cute little coconut trees you will love this beach.
Nanakuli Beach Park (near Koolina – google maps) Big beautiful white sand beach less than 10 mins from Koolina, Disney Aulani, and the 4 seasons hotel.
Halona Blowhole (South shore – google maps) Fun cove with a sea cave. Best to get there early to avoid the crowds
Kaaawa Beach park (North East Oahu – google maps) Dramatic mountain views on this small east side beach.
Pali Drive waterfall – this is a small waterfall that you can walk to in less than 3 minutes.
Yokohama Bay (west side – google maps) Dramatic mountain views with clean white sand. Waves in the winter.
Malaekahana (north shore – google maps) Very secluded beach on the north shore. Across the street from Gunstock ranch. If you love horses they might just wander into the frame.
Pounders Beach, (Laie – google maps) Amazing mountain views with pretty white sand. Get here early to beat the crowds.
Laie Point (google maps) Sandstone sea cliff sitting 30 feet out of the ocean on 3 sides. Dramatic views of the Koolau mountains.
Maunawili Falls – It’s a 40 minute hike but if you are up for it the waterfall view is amazing. Earlier the better.
Places I don’t usually shoot family pictures
Waikiki beach (unless you like some strangers in the frame)
Koolina (way too many people)
Basically anywhere right near a hotel is probably too crowded for my style of photography. Unless you like all the strangers in the photo. In that case lets do it! I am always up for something different.
Crazy ideas for the adventurous
If you like to hike and don’t mind getting dirty I can take you to a waterfall and take your pictures there. I know of a small waterfall on Oahu that is just a minute from the road. I can also get out my underwater housing and take pictures of your family in the water. We can hike up to a ridge with an amazing view. If you are looking for something completely different we could head in to Honolulu for some street art.