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Waikiki’s Best Photography Spots

Waikiki, a vibrant neighborhood in Honolulu, Hawaii, is renowned for its stunning beaches, bustling nightlife, and rich cultural heritage. For photography enthusiasts, Waikiki offers an array of picturesque spots that capture the essence of Hawaii’s natural beauty and urban charm. From iconic landmarks to hidden gems, here are some of the best photography spots in Waikiki that you won’t want to miss.

Key Takeaways

  • Diamond Head offers breathtaking panoramic views of Waikiki and the Pacific Ocean, making it a must-visit for landscape photographers.
  • Magic Island is perfect for capturing stunning sunset shots, especially on Fridays when the Hilton Hawaiian Village hosts a firework show.
  • The Laylow Waikiki provides a chic and modern backdrop, ideal for lifestyle and architectural photography.
  • Kaimana Beach is a serene spot for capturing tranquil beach scenes and vibrant sunrise photos.
  • The Duke Kahanamoku Statue & Surfstands are iconic landmarks that offer a blend of cultural and historical photography opportunities.

1. Diamond Head

boy in white crew neck shirt

Diamond Head in Honolulu is a volcanic tuff cone and an almost mystical landmark beside the city. The hike up to the summit offers some of the most breathtaking panoramic views and places to take photos in Honolulu, especially since the closure of the Haiku Stairs, also known as the Stairway to Heaven. Get ready for a serious climb and some serious views — Diamond Head is by far one of the most beautiful places in Oahu. The hike isn’t that bad, I promise (just wear proper footwear!). Don’t leave this off your Oahu itinerary — where else can you climb up an extinct Hawaiian volcanic crater?!

2. Magic Island

assorted stones

Magic Island, part of Ala Moana Regional Park, is a must-visit spot for photographers. Sunset on Magic Island is amazing! Arrive early and walk around, then make your way to the Diamond Head side to watch the sailboats depart and enter the harbor. If you are lucky enough to be there on Fridays, you’ll want to take advantage of the Friday night firework show taking place every Friday evening shortly after sunset (hosted by the Hilton Hawaiian Village).

3. The Laylow Waikiki

The Laylow Waikiki is a mid-century modern gem that offers a unique blend of style and comfort. With its printed leafy wallpaper and chic decor, this hotel is an urban oasis that is incredibly photogenic. Every square inch of The Laylow is a photographer’s dream, making it one of the top spots for capturing stunning images in Waikiki.

For those looking to enjoy a meal with a view, the Hideout at The Laylow is a must-visit. Whether you’re there for breakfast, coffee, or happy hour, the open lanai setting overlooking Kuhio Avenue provides a picturesque backdrop for your photos.

Some of the top photo spots at The Laylow include:

  • Hula girls behind reception
  • Swinging rattan chairs next to Hideout Coffee
  • Monstera leaf wallpaper in the hotel rooms
  • Entire outdoor bar and lounge area
  • Lounge chairs in the pool

While the entire hotel screams "photograph me please!", these spots are particularly noteworthy for capturing the essence of this stylish boutique hotel.

4. Kaimana Beach

Kaimana Beach is a hidden gem in Waikiki, offering a serene escape from the bustling city. The beach is known for its soft golden sands and clear blue waters, making it an ideal spot for both relaxation and photography. The sunsets here are particularly breathtaking, providing a perfect backdrop for stunning photos. Visitors can also explore the nearby historic sites of Molokai, such as Halawa Valley with waterfalls, Papohaku Beach for camping and water activities, and the Molokai Museum and Cultural Center. Serene escapes await!

5. Kapiolani Park Bandstand

a man sitting on a cement block next to a little boy

Kapiolani Park Bandstand is a hidden gem for photographers who love capturing wildlife and unique moments. Located on the east side of the Waikiki strip, this expansive park is a favorite among families for picnicking and playing soccer. Set up your tripod and be ready to capture the unexpected as ocean splashes against the rocks, creating a dynamic backdrop for your photos. As you wait for the next set of waves, you might find something else interesting happening in your frame.

6. The Duke Kahanamoku Statue & Surfstands

Right next to the Moana Surfrider, you’ll find one of Hawaii’s most famed surf breaks as well as the founder of surfing himself – Duke Kahanamoku – or should we say, a bronze statue of The Duke welcoming you to Waikiki with open arms. He carried the essence of Aloha around the world, and his poise and nobility is preserved in that figure of him standing in front of the place he loved.

The Duke Kahanamoku Statue is not just a tribute to a legendary surfer but also a symbol of Hawaiian culture and hospitality. The statue is surrounded by surfstands, where you can often see surfboards lined up, ready for the next wave. This spot is perfect for capturing the vibrant tapestry of art in Honolulu‘s surf culture.

  • Location: Right next to the Moana Surfrider
  • Best Time to Visit: Early morning or late afternoon for the best light
  • Photography Tip: Try to capture the statue with the surfboards in the background for a quintessential Waikiki shot.

Visiting the Duke Kahanamoku Statue is like stepping into a piece of Hawaiian history, where the past and present of surfing culture converge.

7. Pier Behind the Outrigger Reef Hotel

seashore during golden hour

Another summer catch is found at the pier behind the Outrigger Reef Hotel. You’ll find an open horizon, calm and reflective waters, and great silhouettes of sailboats all around – which makes for a really neat shot! You might get some interesting cloud patterns in your reflections, and certainly a “rainbow sherbet” of colors.

Allow time to meander along the marina and be mesmerized by this scene! You are standing at a historic place. The Ilikai was the first luxury high rise hotel in Hawaii when it opened its doors in 1964.

8. Behind the Ala Wai Canal

Hardly anyone thinks about photographing the Ala Wai Canal, since most are busy exploring the Kalakaua and Kuhio Ave strips. But if you do get up there (bordering the north side of Waikiki), you’ll discover some really neat reflections of buildings, and an occasional display of vivid rainbow making its way down from the mountain backdrop.

Around dusk (you’re probably figuring out that this is one of the key times to be out photographing Waikiki) – suddenly hundreds of parakeets will shoot out of the banyan trees. They’re not huge birds, but they’re fast, so nobody really pays attention. But this is a shot worth grabbing that probably no one else has thought of.

9. The Ilikai Marina

The Ilikai Marina offers an open horizon, calm and reflective waters, and great silhouettes of sailboats all around – which makes for a really neat shot! You might get some interesting cloud patterns in your reflections, and certainly a “rainbow sherbet” of colors.

Allow time to meander along the marina and be mesmerized by this scene! You are standing at a historic place. The Ilikai was the first luxury high rise hotel in Hawaii when it opened its doors in 1964.

What every visitor must see is, of course, a Hawaiian sunset. You could try to do this from a number of spots, but if you prefer to frame it at a place of great nostalgia and significance while utilizing some great elements, make a point to get out to the Ilikai Marina.

10. Moana Surfrider

The Moana Surfrider, often referred to as the “First Lady of Waikiki,” is an iconic oceanfront resort that introduced the world to Hawaiian hospitality in 1901. Located on Kalakaua Avenue, this historic hotel offers a perfect blend of elegance and modern amenities, making it a prime spot for photography enthusiasts.

Visitors can capture stunning shots of Waikiki’s lights and structures from across the street, with the hotel’s grand architecture serving as a majestic backdrop. The Moana Surfrider is not just about the building; the surrounding area provides ample opportunities to photograph the vibrant life of Waikiki.

  • Key Highlights:
    • Historic architecture
    • Oceanfront views
    • Proximity to other iconic spots like the Duke Kahanamoku Statue

Standing in front of the Moana Surfrider, you can feel the essence of Aloha that has welcomed guests for over a century.

Discover the charm and elegance of the Moana Surfrider, a Westin Resort & Spa, located in the heart of Waikiki. This historic hotel offers a perfect blend of modern amenities and classic Hawaiian hospitality. Ready to book your stay? Visit our website for exclusive deals and packages!


Waikiki offers a plethora of stunning photography spots that cater to every type of traveler. Whether you’re an amateur photographer looking to capture the perfect sunset at Magic Island or a professional seeking the ideal backdrop at Diamond Head, Waikiki has something for everyone. The area’s rich history, vibrant culture, and breathtaking landscapes provide endless opportunities for capturing memorable moments. So pack your camera, explore these incredible locations, and create lasting memories of your Hawaiian adventure. With its diverse range of photo-worthy spots, Waikiki truly is a photographer’s paradise.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best times to visit Waikiki for photography?

The best times to visit Waikiki for photography are during the early morning and late afternoon. These times provide the best natural lighting and fewer crowds, making it easier to capture stunning photos.

Are there any photography restrictions at popular spots in Waikiki?

While most spots are open to the public, some areas may have restrictions, especially private properties or areas requiring permits for professional shoots. Always check local guidelines and respect private property.

What equipment should I bring for a photography session in Waikiki?

A good camera with a variety of lenses (wide-angle, zoom), a tripod for stability, extra batteries, and memory cards are essential. A polarizing filter can also help manage reflections and enhance the sky in your photos.

Can I take photos at night in Waikiki?

Yes, night photography can be very rewarding in Waikiki. Locations like Diamond Head and the beach areas offer beautiful nightscapes. However, always be cautious and aware of your surroundings when photographing at night.

Are there any guided photography tours available in Waikiki?

Yes, there are several guided photography tours available in Waikiki. These tours can provide insider tips, access to unique spots, and professional guidance to help you capture the best photos.

What are some hidden gem photography spots in Waikiki?

Some lesser-known spots include the pier behind the Outrigger Reef Hotel, behind the Ala Wai Canal, and the Kapiolani Park Bandstand. These locations offer unique perspectives and are typically less crowded.

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