The island of Oahu was the first Hawaiian island we explored and it definitely did not disappoint. There are endless things to do in Oahu it’s the perfect Hawaiian island for your first visit. It’s filled with beautiful white sand beaches, lush botanical gardens, and a culture like no other. Below I’m sharing the “Best Photo Spots and Things to Do in Oahu, Hawaii” to help make your trip planning go more smoothly.
Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden, Oahu
First up, the island’s most beautiful views can be found at the Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden. It’s known for its mountainous backdrop and gorgeous botanicals from every continent of the world. Not only that but you feel as though you’re in a Jurassic Park movie set. They didn’t film the movie that far from here. It’s important to note that you’re not allowed to stop and take photos at the main entrance. Finally, I’ve written an entire blog post on visiting the gardens, check it out here!
Address: 45-680 Luluku Rd, Kaneohe, Hawaii 96744
Sunrise Shack, North Shore Oahu
Next, the most aesthetically pleasing smoothie bowl joint on the island. Not only is this yellow shack Insta-famous their food is delicious, fresh, and super healthy. A must-visit when on the North Shore of Oahu. We loved the wild chickens running around, they were the cutest.
Address: 59-158 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI 96712
Located on the North Shore of Oahu. This valley is known as “The Valley of Priests” and has a lot of religious significance dating back to 400 AD when the first settlers arrived in Oahu. Not only that, but many movies and TV shows were filmed in this valley including Lost, Jurassic Park, Jumanji, and so many others.
Waimea Falls Park is the best way to experience this valley. It costs $18 to enter and there is a short one-mile hike to Waimea Falls in which you’re able to swim and cool off near Waimea Falls (pictured above). In order to swim it’s required you wear a life vest. Lastly, be sure to bring your goggles!
Address: 59-864 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI 96712
A little slice of Japan in the middle of Oahu. This Buddhist temple was dedicated in 1968 to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii. It’s located near the Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden so you can easily do these both in one trip. It costs $5 to enter and you can take as many pictures as you’d like!
Address: 47-200 Kahekili Hwy, Kaneohe, Hawaii 96744
Better known as Turtle Beach, it’s home to the most beautiful beach I’ve ever laid eyes on. Not only that but you get to swim with all the cutie sea turtles. The water here is so clear and calm it’s the perfect beach for snorkeling. An experience I will never forget!
Disclaimer: Please be respectful of the sea turtles when swimming and it’s against the law to get within 10 feet of these beautiful sea creatures. No selfie is worth harming the sea turtles, ya feel?
Address: Laniakea Beach, North Shore, HI 96712
Turtle Bay Resort
A stunning resort located on the North Shore that’s most famously known for the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall. This resort has beautiful ocean views, a pool to die for, and the best burgers on the island. We stayed at an Airbnb down the block from the resort so we’re able to use the amenities. Also, be sure to wake up for a sunset here if you stay, it’s incredible.
Address: 57-091 Kamehameha Hwy, Kahuku, Hawaii 96731
Lanikai Pillbox Hike + Lanikai Beach
One of the most pictersque trails in Oahu, this moderately tough hike takes an hour to 90 minutes to complete depending on your athletic ability. Make sure you have the proper shoes especially if it has rained recently! When you’re finished, the famous Lanikai Beach is right down the road so you can jump in the ocean to cool off and take in the bluest of blues ocean.
Address: 265 Kaelepulu Dr, Kailua, HI 96734
This was our first stop when we got off the airplane and seeing this place easily took my breath away. The sweeping views of the turquoise ocean are enough to make you want to never return home. You’ll have to climb over a short wall to access this point to take photos. Make sure you’re super careful and there are no police officers around because you can get a ticket!
Finally, if you have more time, check out the Makapu‘u Point Lighthouse Trail. It’s a shorter hike, roughly 30 minutes, to the Makapu’u Lighthouse.
Address: Kalanianaʻole Hwy, Waimanalo, Hawaii 96795
The Royal Hawaiian Hotel, Waikiki
A pink paradise in the middle of Waikiki beach this place is perfect for a photo op and you can spend an afternoon exploring the area. Do note, Waikiki can be very touristy so if you plan on staying here I would only stay for two nights MAX.
Address: 2259 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
While all opinions and recommendations are always my own, my content on this blog post may contain affiliate links for hotels I’ve traveled to, tours I’ve completed, and products I recommend. This means I get a small commission if you book a stay or purchase a product after clicking one of these links. As always, I am so thankful for your support and will continue to share the best properties, things to do, and items I love!
What to Pack for Hawaii to help your photos stand out
Hawaii has tons of lush background so I would opt for lighter colors to stand out against the greens and blues of this beautiful island:
- Bathing suits! If you overpack anything in your suitcase let it be this. Being that Tulum is full of beautiful beaches, ocean activities, and multiple cenotes you’ll always want to have bathing suits handy! I always find great suits at Aerie, Cupshe, + Revolve.
- A sturdy pair of flip-flops. These Olukai Sandals are my go-to and have lasted me years!
- Chic and comfortable slide sandals
- Flowy Dresses: These really come in handy when the temperatures are high in the spring/summer. My favorite white dress for photos is linked here, here + here.
- A wide brim sun hat: I love this one from Brixton I have it in multiple colors. Also, I’ve been eyeing this Lack of Color Boater Hat and I just purchased and it has easily become my new favorite!
- Shorts: Abercrombie has the best shorts for all sizes and shapes. Check my favorite pairs that have lasted multiple seasons here and here. I also love my Levi cut-offs they’re so classic and never go out of style.
- Basics: I always find the best basics at either Free People & Abercrombie. It’s nice to have some neutral tees and tanks handy during your stay.
- Workout sets: I love getting mine from Lululemon because they last forever. If you’re on a budget, Amazon has some amazing Lululemon dupes that you can shop here.
In conclusion, I hope you’ve found my “Best Photo Spots and Things to Do in Oahu” post helpful. If you’re headed to Hawaii soon you need to check out more of my Hawaii Guides! And for the ultimate Hawaii packing list CLICK HERE!
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