One of the first and most important steps to planning out your engagement session in the Hawaiian islands is deciding exactly where to have your session. This can be a little challenging as the islands are literally bursting with incredible options. We’ll go over the different islands and their unique features as well as the best season and time of day for your session as well. We’ll also take a look at some of my personal favorite locations throughout the islands to give you an idea on what to look forward to when having your engagement session in Hawaii!
First up we need to decide on which of the islands of Hawaii you plan to have your engagement session on. Each one is unique and has their own charm to it so choose the one that really speaks to you!
Hawaii (The Big Island)
The island of Hawaii is by far the largest of the Hawaiian islands, hence the nickname the big island, and in turn has a ton of options for you to look forward to! From the classic sandy beaches you can come to expect from the islands to towering mountain ranges the sheer variety of the island is incredible. You even are able to find snow atop the Mauna Kea volcano which is an insane contrast to the tropical paradise of the rest of the island. Being one of the most populated islands means that there are a wide variety of options in terms of stay and entertainment for you to enjoy outside of your engagement session!
The island of Maui is the most popular of the Hawaiian islands for tourism for a number of reasons, but the main one being its stunning beaches. With over 30 miles of beaches ranging from white sand to black sand there is just SO much to enjoy on Maui! That’s not all you’ll find on Maui though. There are plenty of gorgeous hiking trails through magnificent landscapes giving you a ton of options for your Hawaii engagement session. With its popularity with tourists Maui has a ton of options for your stay as well as entertainment similar to the big island.
The most populated island of Hawaii is also one of its most beautiful and the perfect setting for your engagement session! Oahu is such a wonderful island through and through with so much to offer. From majestic beaches with the most incredible sunsets, to jaw dropping hiking trails through its lush greenery, there’s something for everyone here. Again, like Maui and the big island, Oahu is an island that gives you plenty of options both for settings for your engagement session as well as accommodations for your time outside of your session.
The oldest of the Hawaiian islands is also one of its most lush! Kauai is sometimes referred to as the ‘Garden Island’ due to its immense natural beauty. From its mountainous cliffs to the dense rainforests, Kauai is a true thing of beauty! The island is less populated than the previous islands, and some of its most beautiful areas are only accessible via boat which gives you an incredible sense of wonder and discovery for your Hawaii engagement session. There are still plenty of options for your stay on Kauai and the island does have its own airport so travel is still very straightforward.
Next on our list we have the island of Molokai, a small island with some of THE most incredible cliffs in the world. Molokai is a relatively undeveloped island of Hawaii with most of its residents being native Hawaiians who have kept their rural way of life intact. This being the case the island has an almost undiscovered feel to it making its scenery and views that much more incredible. The island does not have an international airport but does offer interisland flights, and in terms of stay there are a variety of Vrbo’s available on the island.
Last but certainly not least we have the island of Lanai, the smallest island on our list. What Lanai lacks in size though it makes up for in its experience. The island is the pinnacle of a relaxing getaway, with drastically fewer tourists than any of the other islands. There are still a couple resorts on the island, but far fewer than you will find on any of the other islands. This relaxed and untapped feel of the island leads to some incredibly relaxing experiences on the island’s beaches as well as its rural hikes.
So how do you choose a location for your engagement session in Hawaii? Ultimately it comes down to the kind of feel and setting you are looking for with your session. Each of the islands offer an array of different settings with their own unique vibe to them. Do you want your engagement session down on the beach? Want to hike an epic mountain for photos looking out over the islands? Or maybe an engagement session on the cliffs looking out over the shores below you. There’s no wrong answer here, so whichever sounds best to you is the way you should go!
Keep in mind your travel and stay plans as well though, ideally you’ll have your session on the same island you plan to stay on for ease of planning. If you do plan to travel between islands though it’s crucial that you make those arrangements ahead of time so that you are good to go the day of your session!
Some of My Favorite Locations Throughout the Islands
With so many locations perfect for an engagement session all around the islands of Hawaii it would be impossible to list off ALL of my favorites. I did want to show you some of my favorites on my home island of Oahu as well as a couple others from the other islands of Hawaii to show you a glimpse of the incredible options that are here!
On the southeastern tip of Oahu is Makapuu lookout and beach, one of the coolest spots on the island! Makapuu lookout offers a breathtaking view of the island’s coast and the beach below creating the perfect setting for an engagement session. Speaking of the beach, Makapuu Beach is equally as beautiful and a lovely spot for some portraits during your engagement session. Take a look at this blog about one of my elopements I photographed at Makapuu to get a glimpse at the beauty this location offers!
Kualoa Regional Park, Oahu
On the island’s east side you’ll find the beautiful Kualoa Regional Park. The park feels like a setting straight out of a movie, with its main grass area sandwiched between the ocean and its towering green mountains. Just off the shore is another smaller island framed by some palm trees on the shore making for a beautiful backdrop for your engagement photos!
Ko Olina, Oahu
On the west side of the island we have Ko Olina, which offers a truly unique setting for your engagement session in Hawaii! The shores of Ko Olina are a beautiful mix of sand and rock, giving us an amazing setting to work with during the engagement session. The views of Ko Olina are immaculate, just take a look at this engagement session I photographed here!
Finally on Oahu’s north side you’ll find stunning sandy beaches with the most incredible sunset views! The aptly named Sunset Beach is just one example of what this side of the island has to offer in terms of engagement sessions. The pristine sandy shores combined with gorgeous backdrops of the island’s landscape give you SO much to work with for your engagement photos.
Maui is home to some beautiful beaches, and one of those is Wailea on the south side of the island. Wailea beach offers a lot for an engagement session, and its beauty extends far past the beach as well. The area around Wailea beach is filled with lush greenery which can be used for the engagement session. Once on the beach your session will be complete with rocky areas, palm trees in the distance, and plenty of sunshine to go around!
Offering a completely different experience on Maui is Ironwoods on the island’s west side. Ironwoods offer a one of a kind engagement session experience in Hawaii. The shores of Ironwoods are composed of these jagged rock cliffs with the ocean waves continuously crashing against them. They’re really an incredible sight to see, and even more so to have as the backdrop for your engagement photos!
Shipwreck Beach, Kauai
On Kauai’s south shore you’ll find Shipwreck Beach. Named after a wrecked ship that used to still be marooned in the waters, the beach is an incredibly picturesque location for an engagement session. Though the wreckage has since been removed, the beach kept its iconic name and is still just as incredible of a location for your engagement photos. With sandy shores and a beautiful hiking trail along the cliffs there’s so much to see here!
And finally we have Hanalei which can be found on the north side of the island of Kauai! Hanalei is one of the most peaceful and tranquil locations on the island and a perfect location for an engagement session. Hanalei beach is huge and leads to these enormous mountains in the distance creating a spectacular backdrop for your session.
When Should You Have Your Session?
When it comes to engagement sessions in the Hawaiian islands it is hard to argue with the sheer beauty that comes along with a sunrise or sunset. Whether you’re right on the water or up on a mountain looking out over the scenery you really just cannot beat the awe inspiring lighting of a Hawaiian sunrise and sunset. Typically the islands are a little busier in terms of other people on location at sunset, which is why I LOVE having engagement sessions at sunrise!
Outside of time of day though which time of year is best to have your engagement session in Hawaii? Winter and Summer are the busiest seasons of the year in terms of tourism with families traveling either for summer or winter vacations. Summer tends to be the driest season of the year, but even though rain is more common in the other seasons it typically passes very quickly and is not much of an issue.
Other Important Factors for a Hawaii Engagement Session
Now that we have the when and where all planned out for your engagement session in Hawaii it’s time to consider all the other details of your planning. I know this might seem like a lot but trust me the work you put into planning and creating your engagement session is SO worth it!
Hire a Photographer
First and foremost you’ll want to hire a Hawaiian photographer for your engagement session in Hawaii. Lucky for you I am available and would love to be a part of your planning process! When booking with me I’ll work with you to help with things like location scouting, permit requirements, and general planning to ensure that your engagement session is executed flawlessly. My goal when working with my clients is to make their experience as smooth and seamless as possible so you can spend time enjoying yourselves and your session.
Once you have an idea of where you are planning to have your engagement session in Hawaii you’ll want to plan out all of your travel arrangements. From the hotel you’re staying at, the flights you’re booking, the car you’re renting, and whether or not you’ll need to do any travel from island to island. Having this all planned out ahead of time is a MUST for your sanity. Plan out and book your stay/rentals well ahead of time so that you can focus on your session and your enjoyment of said session!
Watch the Weather
While most rain showers do pass quickly on the Hawaiian islands, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on the radar prior to your engagement session. If things are looking a little sketchy or if the rain isn’t looking like it’ll pass you may need to adjust your session. Whether that’s a change in location, a delay of the session or reschedule to a different day. Most times though we’re able to either work through the rain or wait until it passes!
Planning out your engagement session in Hawaii might feel like a pretty daunting task at first, but with this guide as well as some assistance from your photographer you’ll be set for the session of your dreams! Speaking of which, if you’re ready to book me as your photographer today be sure to send an inquiry through my contact page so we can reserve your date!