🏝 21 Best Oahu Instagram Spots & Photography Destinations (2024)

Oahu Instagram Spots Blog Cover Graphic - text overlaying an image of Kaaawa Beach in Oahu

Grab your flip flops and sunscreen and get ready to explore the best Oahu Instagram spots and photography destinations that Hawaii’s most visited island has to offer!

Whether you are seeking idyllic beaches, swaying palm trees, or Jurassic mountains, Oahu is home to some of the most instagrammable spots in all of Hawaii.

In this guide, we will tell you the exact locations for each of the best photography spots on the island as well as what makes it special and tips for shooting there.

Before you begin, you may want to queue up our two most popular guides on planning a trip to Oahu:

🏝 Overview: Oahu Instagram and Photography Spots

Sophie Marland doing a handstand at one of the best Oahu Instagram spots at Kaaawa Beach.
Sophie showing off her handstands in paradise.

Too many people think of Waikiki Beach and resort-laden shoreline when they think of Oahu.

However, the reality is that you will discover some of the most amazing hikes and natural landscapes that exist anywhere in North America, perhaps the world, if you take the time to escape Honolulu and travel the rest of the island.

With that said, Oahu boasts the best, most accessible and pristine beaches of any of the Hawaiian Islands.

While volcanic rock and interesting colors give the beaches of Maui and Kona some unique character, the beaches of Oahu are what your mind imagines when you daydream of a tropical Hawaiian beach.

hoomaluhia botanical garden is one of the best spots in Oahu for Instagram photos
The jungles and mountains of Oahu provide amazing opportunities for a unique Instagram shot.

πŸ—Ί Map of all the Best Oahu Instagram Spots

We’ve put together an interactive Google map of all the best Oahu Instagram spots mentioned in this blog post.

Click on the image above to open the Google map to help you plan the most amazing and photogenic trip to this stunning island.

πŸŒ… The 21 Best Oahu IG Spots and Photography Destinations

Oahu was the one island we planned the least time for. We’d expected to be underwhelmed by Oahu after spending time on the other Hawaiian islands, anticipating the shore lined with resorts and manicured beaches.

How wrong we were! We absolutely fell in love with Oahu and its incredible scenery, lending to some of the best photo spots of any of the islands!

If you’re still trying to decide which Hawaiian Island to visit then let us show you why we think you should consider Oahu!

πŸ– 1. Lanikai Beach

The #1 best Oahu Instagram Spot belong to the Eden-esque Lanikai Beach.
The #1 best Oahu Instagram Spot belong to the Eden-esque Lanikai Beach.

You have arrived at our absolute favorite Oahu Instagram spot for beaches! Without a doubt, Lanikai Beach is the prettiest beach on all of Oahu, and perhaps even the best beach in Hawaii!

The pure white sand meets the most clear, warm water you can imagine, while palm trees sway overhead.

If I asked you to close your eyes and imagine the most perfect, tropical beach in the world… this is what you would think of. Make sure you save a lot of time for Lanikai Beach.

And please do yourself a favor and don’t forget to put the phone and camera down at some point.

As tempting as it can be to want to capture everything, it’s important that you take a moment to feel the tradewind breeze and let the sun kiss your skin while your eyes and heart feast on this heavenly paradise.

YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY: 200+ Beach Quotes and Instagram Captions

🌴 2. Ka’a’awa Beach (Kaaawa Beach)

Looking at the photos, do I really need to explain why Ka’a’awa Beach was one of our favorite Oahu Instagram spots on the entire island? Not only is the scenery unbeatable, but we had this stretch of beach entirely to ourselves!

There is nowhere near as much available shoreline as the beaches we’ve covered already. However, what makes this place so special is the stunning mountain backdrop that complements the tall, blowing palm trees and perfect tropical setting.

After Lanikai Beach, Ka’a’awa Beach is where we spent the most time photographing and relaxing. We simply could not tear ourselves away from how isolated and beautiful this place truly was.

Ka'a'wa Beach is a real-life postcard and Instagram classic.
Ka’a’awa Beach is a real-life postcard!


🌺 3. Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens

An Instagram favorite: the entrance road to Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens.
An Instagram favorite: the entrance road to Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens.

Let me start by saying we rarely bother photographing man-made nature, such as botanical gardens. There is nothing inherently wrong with it, but it feels a bit inauthentic; it’s like building a wildlife photography portfolio by going to a zoo.

With that said, the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens are absolutely worth the trip! They do not feel or look like any botanical gardens I’ve ever visited, but more like a National Park.

The gardens also happen to be one of the most popular Oahu Instagram spots, particularly the road at the entrance.

As a result, they have strictly enforced a no stopping policy during open hours. However, at the time of our visit (Feb 2019) they were still very lenient with people who arrived early.

The Hoomaluhia Gardens are one of the best Oahu Instagram spots for landscape photographers.
The Ho’omaluhia Gardens are one of the best Oahu Instagram spots for landscape photographers.

Even if you cannot get your iconic Instagram photo at the entrance, you still have plenty of opportunities available within the grounds.

The KoΚ»olau Mountain Range borders the gardens and provides endless opportunities for amazing landscape photos or IG pics for with natural backgrounds.

Get here early if possible. Firstly, this will allow you to get your road shot. Also, you can then get some snaps in before the gardens start getting the heavy tourist traffic they tend to receive later in the day.

Drone photography from the Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens.
High above the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens.


🌊 4. Kailua Beach Park

Kailua Beach as seen from the road is one of the most popular Oahu Instagram spots.
One of the most popular Oahu Instagram spots, so get there early!

Just up the road is another one of the most popular Instagram spots on all of Oahu; Kailua Beach Park.

Drive safely, as the road will take you up a scenic drive with views of the most inviting beach you’ve ever laid eyes on. Not becoming distracted by the siren call of Eden out your window will be one of the most difficult things you will have to do during your time on Oahu!

Despite being incredibly popular, Kailua Beach is extremely spacious. Even on its most crowded days, finding a spot of your own with plenty of personal space is not a problem.

Sophie getting that perfect Oahu Instagram shot on Kailua Beach.
Sophie getting some much-deserved sun on Kailua Beach.

πŸŒ‹ 5. Koko Head

Drone photography of Koko Head on Oahu at sunset.
High above the impressive Koko Head at golden hour.

The FIRST thing we did after landing in Honolulu was to get out of the city and head South towards Koko Head. Don’t get me wrong, Honolulu is a fine place as cities go, but escaping traffic and crowds is Step 1 when it comes to finding those chilled aloha vibes.

Koko Head is a large volcano that looks like a dragon clawed at the edges. If you are interested, you can actually reach the peak in a 15-45 minute hike starting from the trailhead. There are some spectacular compositions tailor-made for Instagram of the city from the top!

Fading light graces Koko Head on Instagrammable Oahu.
Fading light graces Koko Head on Instagrammable Oahu.

Of course, landscape or aerial photographers will find plenty of photos that feature this prominent geographic feature from pretty much anywhere in the Maunalua Bay and Hanauma Bay region.

🌈 6. Lanai Lookout

Wind and sand have shaped these spectacular rock formations at Lanai Lookout.
Wind and sand have shaped these spectacular rock formations at Lanai Lookout.

The Lanai Lookout is where we spent more time on Oahu than any other Instagram spot we had highlighted. There were so many opportunities for landscapes photos, lifestyle snaps, drone captures, and most importantly, WHALE WATCHING!

Regardless of what type of content your Instagram account features, you will find opportunities limited only by your creativity at the Lanai Lookout. The terrain itself is a mass of swirling colors, shapes and textures set against a vibrant orange sandstone.

You have the tropical aqua and blue water of the Pacific in one direction, while the impressive Koko Head looms in the other.

Landscape photographers will rejoice at the opportunities at Lanai Lookout.
Landscape photographers will rejoice at the opportunities at Lanai Lookout.

But, the main reason we couldn’t help but come back here over and over was the whale watching. It was easily the best I have seen anywhere!

Every single visit, we saw at least double digits spouts! Also, often enough, we were able to spot pods swim and play from what felt like a stone’s throw away.

A baby whale plays in the waters off Lanai Lookout.
A baby whale plays in the waters off Lanai Lookout.

At the time, drone regulations were very relaxed. This provides you pilots an opportunity to see them up close without bothering them with boat engines or human presence.

If you’re looking to fill your Instagram feed with more than just pretty beaches, be sure to carve out some time for the Lanai Lookout; bonus if you can spend a sunset here!

101+ Dream Destinations for your Travel Bucket List

🀿 7. Hanauma Bay and Nature Preserve

The beautiful aqua waters of Hanauma Bay make for the perfect Oahu Instagram photos.
The beautiful aqua waters make for the perfect Oahu Instagram photos.

One of the most iconic beaches for Instagrammers, snorkelers, and vacationers is without a doubt Hanauma Bay. Just a short drive from Lanai Lookout, this Instagram heaven awaits!

Hanauma Bay is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays to give marine life a break from visitors and reservations are required. Check the Hanauma Bay State Park website for current opening days and times, as well as to make reservations.

🍍 8. Makapuu Lookout

Even the most novice photographers will find something Instagrammable from Makapuu Lookout.
Even the most novice photographers will find something Instagrammable from Makapuu Lookout.

You will be inundated with incredible ocean vistas as you continue Oahu’s most scenic drive along the Kalaiana’ole Highway. Of those, one in particular is an absolute must-stop Oahu Instagram spot, and that is Makapuu Lookout.

A large parking lot and a very short walk takes you to this unbelievable overlook, where I promise you will feel something stir inside.

That something is peace, or as it’s known here, aloha!

Take some time for those Instagram photos, but also take some time away from it. Disconnect yourself for just a moment and take it all in. This is paradise!

β›± 9. Waimānalo Bay State Recreation Park

The spacious Sherwood Beach is a great Oahu Instagram spot for beach lovers.
The spacious Sherwood Beach is a great Oahu Instagram spot for beach lovers.

Of the choices you’ll have, our pick for the best Oahu Instagram spot in Waimanalo Bay State Park is Sherwood Beach.

Here, you will find the softest, silkiest white sand you could hope for, as well as distant mountainscapes and stunning turquoise water.

As pretty as Sherwood Beach is, and it is pretty, things only get better as you drive north…

πŸ’™ 10. Lanikai Pillbox

Lanikai Viewpoint seen from the trail with stunning ocean views.
Lanikai Pillbox and the views it offers.

Unfortunately, we did not have time to visit this place ourselves. To be honest, we might have… but we decided to spend the entire day on the beach and follow it up with some craft beer at Lanikai Brewing Company.

We regret nothing.

Still, we had to include the Lanikai Pillbox viewpoint as it is one of the most popular Oahu Instagram destinations.

It requires a modest hike of 60-90 minutes, but the view from the top offers gorgeous, sweeping views of the Lanikai region and it is often listed as one of the best hikes in Oahu.

We had spent so much time photographing already on our Hawaiian vacation, so we opted to relax instead. We decided to take this time to enjoy the beach and some local beer. Instead, we took the drone up for a slightly different view…

AnDrone photography of the entire east coast of Oahu. aerial view of the entire east coast of Oahu.
An aerial view of the east side of Oahu.

Once again, we regret nothing.

πŸ›£ 11. The H3

Drone Instagram photography of the H3 (Highway 3) seen cutting into the KoΚ»olau Mountains.
The H3 (Highway 3) seen cutting into the KoΚ»olau Mountains.

Not that you could ever have enough beaches, but at this point, we recommend a detour into the KoΚ»olau mountains for a Jurassic Park-like adventure.

The most fuel-efficient route to cover most of the Island of Oahu is to explore it in a figure-8 rotation.

Up close and personal with the mystic, moody KoΚ»olau Mountains.
Up close and personal with the mystic, moody KoΚ»olau Mountains.

Having flown in at the west-central coast, we have covered the bottom loop of the 8 so far. We will now cross back from the East coast to the West Coast via Highway 3, which is an amazing destination unto itself.

The downside of the H3 is that there are not many places to stop to get those Instagram shots. Still, the road itself is as photogenic as anywhere else on Oahu as it splices between the stunning green mountainscape.

πŸŒ„ 12. Farrington Highway / Ka’ena Point

The scenic drive along Farrington Hwy followes  the sweeping Waianae Mountain range.
The scenic drive along Farrington Hwy follows the sweeping Waianae Mountain range.

Once you’ve completed your drive across the H3, you will want to journey up toward the North Shore.

However, there is a very beautiful detour option for those who would like to get off the beaten path a bit and explore the quieter part of the West Coast.

If this sounds like you, the Farrington Highway is a 20-mile stretch that heads north toward Ka’ena Point. At this point, the road simply dead ends. Along the way, however, you will have ample opportunity to enjoy some of the quietest, but windiest, coastline on Oahu.

In addition, the road follows Oahu’s western mountain range, the Waianae Mountains. This mountain range provides beautiful backdrops for the entirety of your trip.

Even if you don’t stop, the drive itself is quite stunning.

πŸŒ… 13. North Shore

Many of the best Oahu Instagram spots and beaches will be found on the famous North Shore.
Many of the best Oahu Instagram spots and beaches will be found on the famous North Shore.

Whether or not you took the Farrington Highway detour, the next stop on our tour will be Oahu’s North Shore.

The Oahu North Shore is a world-renown surfer’s paradise and is a USA bucket list favorite! It is also home to some of the most Instagram worthy beaches in the United States!

With that said, while a few of our favorite photography destinations are on the North Shore, the East coast still topped our list for the island’s best beaches. And if we know anything about Hawaii’s North Shore surfers, they’ll be happy we said so!

The North Shore also has some of the best food options (including some pretty places for some Insta shots). Check out this foodies guide to Oahu’s North Shore to find the most delicious options!

🐒 14. Laniakea Beach

Just after saying most of our favorite beaches are on the East coast, there is one place on the North Shore that ranks as one of our favorites beaches in Hawaii. That place is Laniakea Beach.

This is one of the most popular spots for honu, aka green sea turtles, to come to the shores for rest. As a result, it is also one of the most popular spots for tourists to flock in order to get those truly Hawaiian photos.

This handsome turtle turns a typically pretty beach into tropical perfection.
This handsome turtle turns a typically pretty beach into tropical perfection.

While the parking at Lanaikea Beach can be an absolute nightmare, it is definitely worth the stop. It is truly one of the most classically Hawaiian beaches you will come across.

It is absolutely fine to take pictures of the turtles… with a zoom. Do NOT invade their space and by all means DO NOT touch them or force them into selfies. They have become quite acclimated to sharing their beach with humans. However, they can become distressed and potentially stop coming to shore to rest if they are harassed with regularity.

If you love them, do not smother them.

145+ Inspirational Sea Quotes and Instagram Captions

🐚 15. Turtle Bay

Aerial view of Turtle Bay on the North Shore of Oahu Hawaii
Turtle Bay on the North Shore of Oahu as photographed from the sky.

Made famous by the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Turtle Bay Resort and nearby Kawela Bay are as pristine as one would expect from a beach that is managed by a resort.

It was this exact reason, however, that we did not spend too much time here.

While it was pretty, we did not want to deal with the crowds and prices, and opted instead to continue south.

πŸ„ 16. Laie

Sophie swings on a rope swing near Laie creates a great Oahu Instagram spot.
Borrowing a rope swing to complete that Hawaiian Instagram look.

Laie is a small coastal town with a beautiful coastline and incredible views of the KoΚ»olau Mountain Range in the distance. Though the beach access is limited, it is a very quiet area and there are plenty of places to pull off from the road and borrow your own private slice of paradise.

πŸ¦• 17. Kualoa Ranch & Regional Park

Kualoa Ranch is the location for many movies, but it is most known from the Jurassic Park films.
Kualoa Ranch is the location for many movies, but it is most known from the Jurassic Park films.

As you continue to journey south and enter the central region of Oahu, you will approach those same mountainscapes that look like they are from another era. It’s no wonder Kualoa Ranch is where they filmed so much of Jurassic Park, not to mention so many other movies!

There are a good deal of walks and a few accessible beaches you can access in the Kualoa Regional Park.

However, Kualoa Ranch is the most popular photography destination. Instagrammers and tourists of all kind flock in droves to collect photographs of scenes from their favorite movies.

After you’ve spent some time exploring here, it will be time once more to head back toward the city and Honolulu. Take Highway 61 to see some new sights along the way. The highly Instagrammable Manoa Falls are along that highway, making it the best option for those with time left.

At this point, you will have covered most of the island with the exception of the area around Waikiki.

While we did not spend any time there at all on our visit, there are a couple of places that are popular for Instagrammers that we will at least mention below.

⭐️ Pro Tip: Save money on visiting Kualoa Ranch with a Go City Oahu Pass. In addition to Kualoa Ranch, this all-inclusive pass will give you access to many different popular attractions for the duration you choose.

πŸ’Ž 18. Diamond Head

Looking back over Waikiki from Diamond Head viewpoint - one of the best Oahu Instagram spots.
The view from Diamond Head lookout.

I (Adam) had actually hiked to Diamond Head on a previous visit. While it was a short, easy hike, the crowds were maddening and the view was nice but deemed unworthy of the effort to return. Of course, part of that decision is that we have a drone that offers similar views without the crowds, time restraints, and earthbound limitations.

With all that said, we are not recommending skipping Diamond Head peak necessarily. It is, after all, one of the most popular Oahu Instagram spots there are. Only you can decide if it’s worth adding to your itinerary.

☁️ 19. Stairway to Heaven (Haiku Stairs)

In 2022, the State of Hawaii voted to officially remove the Haiku Stairs due to decades of trespassing violations.

Once upon a time, this was a bucket list item for any visitor of Oahu.

There was a legal Stairway to Heaven hike via a back way, but it is much longer. It is called the Moanalua Ridge Trail and despite being the legal path, it is considerably more dangerous.

🏨 Most Instagrammable Hotels in Oahu

It seems only fitting in a guide to the best Oahu Instagram spots that the hotel recommendations are also Insta-worthy.

From ocean views to pink walls and colourful murals, these hotels will inspire wanderlust and help you get those Instagram shots. You’ll find the largest range of hotels in Honolulu.

🌺 The Royal Hawaiian

This luxury beachfront hotel is an Instagrammer’s dream. The Royal Hawaiian is affectionately referred to as “The Pink Palace of the Pacific” with good reason… you’ll find pink in everything from its walls to its beach loungers, umbrellas, towels and even pancakes!

Everywhere you go in this stunning hotel there is an Instagram perfect moment waiting for you.

🏩 20. The Laylow Waikiki

It seems that the Laylow Waikiki was designed for Instagram.

With its Hawaiian floral decor in the bedrooms, lush tropical foliage and lanais with ocean views, there are photo opportunities aplenty here.

πŸ‘™ 21. Shoreline Hotel Waikiki

For the most colourful Instagram shots, the recently re-branded Shoreline Hotel Waikiki is the place to stay!

Vibrant murals adorn the walls and paper mache birds hang from the ceiling, alongside bold colored furniture just waiting to be photographed.

Everything about this photogenic hotel is playful and fun.

πŸ“· Photography Equipment for the Best Photos in Oahu

A camera with a CPL being put on

Disclosure: At no cost to you, we receive a small amount for any purchases made using the links below.

While you’re preparing your Hawaii packing list, don’t forget to include a few key pieces of camera gear. This is what we used to capture our Oahu Instagram photos:

  • Camera: We use the Sony a7riii and have been in love with it ever since the first photo we took with it. However, for beginners you may wish to consider an entry level DSLR. This will allow you to start getting to grips with manual settings and decide whether photography is something you enjoy enough to invest in.
  • Waterproof camera: With incredible snorkeling and waterfalls to explore you may find yourself taking more photos from underwater than on the land! We recommend either the GoPro or Olympus TG6, both of which we use.
  • Lens: The lens we use most frequently is the Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS as the zoom lens allows for the most diversity. We also often use the Laowa 15mm F2 for shots that require a wider angle.
  • Tripod: A tripod is essential if you are shooting in low light, at night or for any other long exposure photography. When traveling, we use the Manfrotto Be Free as it’s lightweight and easy to carry on longer hikes. For times when we require something more stable, we use the Artcise Carbon Fiber Tripod.
  • Filters: A Circular Polarizing (CPL) filter (CPL) or Neutral Density (ND) filter are very useful for allowing slower shutter speeds and for cutting glare on reflective surfaces, helping to bring out the colors. This is especially useful in Oahu, where you’ll likely be shooting a lot during the day around water. The best CPL and ND filters we have found are the quartz line from Polar Pro.

πŸ“œ More Oahu Travel Guides

Planning a trip to Oahu blog cover image. Text overlaying an image of a girl walking along the entrance road at Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens, surrounded by lush green vegetation

The two of us work very hard to create these free travel guides to help you plan your dream vacation. If you think we’ve done a good job and would like to say thanks, please consider clicking the donate button below πŸ™‚

Need some help planning the rest of your Oahu vacation?

Below are some of our most popular guides that will help you learn everything you need to know for visiting “The Gathering Place” of Oahu.

β˜€οΈ More Hawaii Travel Guides

If you are going to be visiting some of the other Hawaiian Islands, you may find some of our other guides useful for planning:

πŸ’¬ Final Thoughts on the Best Oahu Instagram Spots

Sitting in the palm tree shadow of the most Instagrammable beach on Oahu.

The two of us work very hard to create these free travel guides to help you plan your dream vacation. If you think we’ve done a good job and would like to say thanks, please consider clicking the donate button below πŸ™‚

We truly hope you’ve enjoyed this travel guide to the best Oahu Instagram spots and photography destinations!

Of all the Hawaiian islands, our expectations were lowest of Oahu. We thought of it as nothing but resorts and tourists, but we could not have been more wrong! In the end, our time on the island was one of the most joyful weeks of any in 2019.

Please leave a comment below if any of our names or information is inaccurate or if you think we’ve left something off the list.


πŸ“Œ Enjoyed Reading Our Oahu Instagram Spots and Photography Locations Guide? Pin It! ?

Photo of author
Written by
Adam Marland is a professional travel blogger and landscape photographer from Oregon. After over a decade of experience as a freelance travel photographer, Adam found national acclaim when he became the National Park Foundation's β€œChief Exploration Officer” in 2021.

13 thoughts on “🏝 21 Best Oahu Instagram Spots & Photography Destinations (2024)”

  1. Love your guide to Oahu ❀️ Our daughter and her husband were booked to fly there the end of May from Brisbane, AU but unfortunately all flights out of the country are cancelled until at least June – But when they can travel again, this guide will be wonderful for them to use ! I may just have to meet up with them and explore more of beautiful Oahu ?β˜€οΈ? Mahalo !

    • Thank you Janet. That’s a shame to hear they aren’t able to go, but it’ll hopefully make it all the more exciting when they do. You should definitely try to meet them, it’s such a beautiful please!

  2. I moved to Oahu this past August to attend college out here. Love this island and all the beauty it has to offer! I am curious as to what beach the first picture of Sophie doing a handstand, was on? It is so beautiful and I would love to check it out! Mahalo!

    • Hi Jenna! Wow I’m jealous that you’re living over there now. I hope you’re loving life there and college is going well πŸ™‚ The picture of me doing a handstand was Ka’a’awa Beach. You can see other pictures of it in the blog too.

  3. Right…when anyone thinks to visit Oahu, they just think to visit Waikiki beach …but these are best list of beaches. It’s beautiful with full of nature. Nice article.

    • Thank you so much Britt. That’s so exciting that you’re heading to Oahu next month! I definitely wouldn’t recommend trying to do all these stops in one day. You could potentially drive a loop from Honolulu hitting many of the most picturesque stops along the southeast, up to Lanikai then across to Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens and back via Interstate H-3. However, you’ll need to decide what pace you want to travel and which areas are of most interest to you. Don’t forget you’re on vacation and on island time, so ensure you plan some time to relax too!


Leave a Comment