One of the best parts of eloping in Hawaii, specifically eloping on Oahu, is the sheer amount of options you have at your disposal to make your elopement incredible. One of my biggest priorities as your elopement photographer is to help you create an amazing elopement experience, which is why I always encourage my clients to rely on my expertise when planning out their Hawaii elopement. One huge aspect of creating a memorable elopement experience that you love from start to finish is deciding where to stay on Oahu for your elopement. As you probably guessed from the title, that’s what we’re here to talk about today, so let’s get into it!
Deciding Where to Stay on Oahu
Now this could be a really short blog where I just tell you to choose a resort with a 5 star rating and leave it at that, but your elopement deserves SO much more than that! An elopement is for most a once in a lifetime experience, and as such deserves a much greater level of care and respect. Finding the right place to stay for your elopement comes down to more than just a good rating, it’s about the whole experience you want to have. That’s why we’re not just going to cover where to stay for your elopement on Oahu. Instead we’re going to take a look at my elopement planning process, where to elope on Oahu, where to stay based off of where you’re eloping, and finally when you should have your elopement.
How I Plan Elopements With my Clients
When I get an elopement inquiry, there is typically one of two scenarios that my clients are in. One scenario is that my client knows they want to elope in Hawaii and they know what kind of elopement they want to have, but they don’t have a specific island or location chosen for their elopement yet. The other scenario is that my client knows exactly where they want their elopement to happen, but they need a little guidance on the other details like where to stay, what time the elopement should happen, finding an officiant for the ceremony, and all the other details that go into elopement planning.
Regardless of what stage of planning you’re in I’m ready to help you through the rest of your Hawaii elopement planning! Between my years of experience photographing Hawaii elopements, my relationships with fellow vendors on the island, and my knowledge from living in Hawaii, I love to help my couples plan their elopement day to create the best experience possible for them. Whether you just need a little guidance on where and when to have your elopement, or you want me to take care of everything (yes that’s actually something I do through our all-inclusive elopement packages!) I’m here to help my couples with whatever they need to make their elopement dream a reality.
Planning an Elopement in Waikiki
Waikiki is the most popular location for an elopement on Oahu for a number of reasons. It’s a neighborhood of the capital city of Honolulu which means it is incredibly close to the airport. It also has an abundance of hotels, resorts, activities, bars, and restaurants, all of which are incredibly accessible thanks to everything you need being so close. I recommend you try the Hula Pie at Duke’s as it is spectacular! The live music scene in Waikiki and Honolulu is also stellar and a great source of entertainment throughout your elopement stay. The popularity of Waikiki does mean that it is the busiest location on our list, but that’s a small price to pay to have everything you could possibly need for your Hawaiian elopement at your fingertips!
Where to Elope in Waikiki
Waikiki has a stellar beach that is perfect for an intimate elopement ceremony! Being as popular as Waikiki is though I STRONGLY suggest having a sunrise elopement here. The beach gets progressively more and more crowded as the day goes on which come sunset will take the intimacy right out of your elopement. Sunrise on the other hand gives you the beach more or less to yourself and allows you to enjoy your elopement in a tropical paradise completely uninterrupted!
Where to Stay in Waikiki
TONS of Options
Being the central hub not only for Oahu, but also for travel to the Hawaiian islands in general, Honolulu and by extension Waikiki offer an immense variety of choices when it comes to places to stay. The Westin, Marriott, and Marriott Bonvoy are just 3 of the seemingly endless options in Waikiki, and that doesn’t even cover all of the options in Honolulu! Choosing exactly where to stay in Waikiki and Honolulu can feel a little daunting, which is why after you inquire with me I can help guide you in the right direction for an elopement stay that fits your specific vision.
Next on our list is the North Shore of Oahu! The North Shore has a bit of everything, and that’s no exaggeration. If you want to hike for a beautiful view and you want to get a little more in touch with your adventurous side, the North Shore has you covered. On the flip side though, the North Shore can also be perfect for couples looking for a more laid back and relaxed experience for their elopement. There’s plenty of local mom and pop shops to enjoy, delicious shaved ice to try, and relaxing beaches to soak in that gorgeous Hawaiian sun.
Where to Elope on the North Shore
Loulu Palm is a wedding venue that also excels as an elopement venue! The venue backs right up to the beach while also having a gorgeous grass area surrounded by the palm trees that give the venue its name. Tamara and Logan had their wedding day here which turned out beautifully as you can imagine. This location is one that you’ll have to book, but that means you’re guaranteed to have the entire space to yourselves for your celebration!
This is an amazing option for couples looking to get a bit more adventurous! Crouching Lion is a short but moderately difficult hike with a view of the ocean and the mountains that line the shore of Oahu that is simply jaw dropping. I recommend a hike at sunrise for a few reasons. The first being again that sunrise on average is much less busy than any other time of day at any location throughout the Hawaiian islands. The other reason is to avoid as much of the heat from the sun as possible. I do still recommend bringing water along to keep yourselves hydrated, but the heat will be much more manageable in the morning.
Our next elopement location on Oahu’s North Shore is the wonderful Turtle Bay! Turtle Bay is a much simpler location to reach compared to Crouching Lion, and has a completely different feel to it. Turtle Bay is perfect for couples looking to enjoy that trademark Oahu beach feel for their elopement. With a good mix of sandy beaches as well as some rockier shores to explore, there’s a lot of variety to enjoy for your elopement portraits.
Next up is Pounders Beach which is another stunning beachside setting on Oahu’s North Side, but with a bit more scenery to enjoy. The beach itself is wonderful and has these gorgeous views of rocky cliffs and the mountains of Oahu lining the shore of the island. There’s also a simple hiking trail to enjoy that takes you out on one of the cliffs through the lush greenery which is SO much fun to work with for an elopement. Sunsets here are particularly gorgeous!
Our last stop for our North Shore elopement locations is Ka’ena Point, the very tip of the island’s northwest side! Similar to Pounders Beach, Ka’ena offers spectacular beach vibes with views of the mountains of Oahu looming in the distance. There are a fair bit of hiking trails along Ka’ena Point that are moderately easy and a ton of fun to explore.
Where to Stay on the North Shore
If you’re planning on having your Oahu elopement on the North Shore your best option for your stay is going to be Turtle Bay Resort! That’s right, Turtle Bay is not only a great spot for your elopement, but also for you to stay at after your ceremony. The resort has a handful of food options within it and is the closest resort to all of the elopement locations mentioned above. The surrounding area near Turtle Bay has very little in terms of restaurants, and the ones that are there require reservations ahead of time which is something you’ll want to plan ahead for. One last note I want to make is that you do NOT stay in Waikiki if you plan to elope on the North Shore of Oahu. If you do so you’re going to spend the majority of your elopement day driving.
The East Side of Oahu has some of my all time favorite locations for elopements on the island! From epic rocky cliffs to stunning beaches looking out over the ocean and the islands, the beauty here is unmatched! Another benefit to the East Side is that it is MUCH closer to Waikiki than the North Shore so there’s more options for where to stay for your Oahu elopement.
Where to Elope on the East Side
This sandbar is found off the coast of the East Side of Oahu and is a one of a kind experience for an elopement. Say your vows to one another completely surrounded by the ocean waters and with the coast of Oahu in the distance. Getting to the sandbar is the only real challenge as you’ll either have to book a boat ride or if you’re looking to get adventurous you can kayak out to the sandbar!
One of, if not my all time favorite location on Oahu for an elopement has to be Makapu’u Lookout and Beach! This cliffside looks out over the ocean and the mountains lining the coast of Oahu and is such a beautiful setting for an elopement ceremony. After saying your vows you can hike down to the beach that’s perfect for portraits and SO beautiful for sunset!
Another magnificent beach for an elopement on the East Side is Lanikai Beach! This beach is the perfect option for a sunrise elopement as it is SO peaceful in the mornings. The beach also has views of the Oahu shoreline as well as the islands of Moku Nui and Moku Iki in the distance.
Where to Stay on the East Side
Stay right on the East Coast of Oahu with plenty of options through sites like Airbnb and Vrbo. There are few restaurants on this side of the island so be sure to plan ahead when making reservations, and make sure there is a restaurant you would enjoy eating at before deciding to stay in Kaneohe
Like I mentioned earlier, the East Side of Oahu is relatively close to Waikiki which makes finding a place to stay when having your elopement here MUCH simpler! Plan ahead when traveling back and forth to take into account the Waikiki and Honolulu traffic. Even with traffic though the drive from Waikiki to the East Side of the island only takes around 20 to 30 minutes.
Our final location for your elopement on Oahu is of course the West Side of the island! This is the least busiest side of the island which is part of the draw. Another thing I love about the West Side though, and we’ll keep this between you and me, but I feel that the BEST beaches of Oahu are on the West Side. The West Side is less green than other parts of the island due to how it’s usually much more dry during the rainy season. This can be another draw though for an elopement as even during the rainy season you can still have a perfect and picturesque elopement on the West Side. There’s also a good amount of locations to stay and eat at on the West Side of Oahu so it really does have it all.
Where to Elope on the West Side
Ko Olina is the first stop on our list, and this resort has it ALL! You can choose to have your elopement in one of the many ceremony spaces of the resort if you would like to make things more official, or you can head out to the beach for a more casual experience. The beaches do of course get busy so I recommend a sunrise elopement if you plan on heading out to the beach! Secret Beach is also located directly behind the Four Seasons Ko Olina and is a magical option for an elopement location.
One of the MANY Beaches
Like I said, I feel the West Side of Oahu has the best beaches of the island and they’re incredibly underrated! It’s hard to list them all out as there are just so many good ones, each offering their own unique experience for your elopement. Some of my favorites are Makaha, Maili, and Nanakuli. When booking with me we’ll discuss your specific vision for your elopement so we can find the perfect beach to fit what you’re looking for!
Where to Stay on the West Side
There are multiple resorts to choose from to stay at in the Ko Olina area of Oahu’s West Side. This combined with its textbook Hawaiian beauty and the fact that there’s a decent amount of restaurants available mean that Ko Olina is your best bet for where to stay on the West Side. There are Airbnb’s as well as other smaller resorts you can find along the coast, but with how easy it is to travel from Ko Olina to any location along the West Side, you’re best off booking at Ko Olina!
Sunrise or Sunset for Your Oahu Elopement
If you know me or if you’ve been following along with my blogs for a while now then you know that I’m a sucker for a Hawaiian sunset. The temperatures are cooler which is great if you plan on hiking, there’s less people on average at every location, and the light is going to be more even at most locations. There are only a few drawbacks to sunset, one being that sometimes the lighting of sunset can be a bit better, but this depends heavily on your location. You also have to get up and get ready for your elopement early which can be easy for some but a real challenge for anyone who’s not a morning person.
While it may sound like I have a sunrise bias, believe me I LOVE sunsets just as much as the next gal! Sunsets on Oahu are wonderful for an elopement as they usually give you a more rich tone to work with. As I mentioned earlier as well, some locations just have better lighting overall at sunset. You’re able to get ready at the end of the day which leads to much less stress. The biggest drawback of course is the fact that it’s hard to get a location all to yourself at sunset, but that doesn’t make it a deal breaker!
I hope this guide gave you a better picture overall of how to plan your elopement on Oahu, and most importantly where to stay in the context of your elopement location! If you still need more help planning your elopement then you’re in luck. I have plenty of resources on my blog that go further into detail on ALL things elopement related. And of course if you’re ready to book me as your elopement photographer I’d love to help you plan out each detail of your elopement day so that it fits your vision exactly!