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7 Top Photo Spots in Honolulu

The warm sunny beaches, vibrant island charm, and perfect swimming conditions make Hawaii a tropical paradise. When you’re a photographer in the capital city of Honolulu, there are endless possibilities for excellent photographs. Here’s a list to give you a taste of what Honolulu has to offer for photographers.



If you’re looking for high end resorts, Waikiki is the place to go. This beautiful beach on the southern shore of Honolulu has golden sand, turquoise waters, and a stylish island atmosphere fueled by the vibrant tourist culture of Hawaii. The whole island is known for surfing, and Waikiki is the heart of it all. Make sure to get a shot of the statue of Duke Kahanamoku, a famous Olympic gold-medalist born in the region. Further commemorating the surfing culture is the Waikiki Historic Trail, a beautiful path perfect for pictures of Hawaii’s natural beauty, where all the trail signs are made from surf boards.


USS Missouri Battleship

Forever famous in history as the site of Japanese surrender in World War II, the USS Missouri or “Mighty Mo” has now become a popular tourist attraction and a crucial place to include in a photo shoot in Honolulu.

On tours of the battleship, you’ll get to see the interior design of the ship, the upper working decks, as well as the engine room and other critical sites. In addition to learning fascinating history, you’ll have the chance to capture unique pictures that convey an important part of Honolulu’s past.


Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve

Volcanoes constructed the Hawaii islands, and the Hanauma Bay Preserve is a particulalry stark example of this. The bay was formed from a volcano crater, creating a picturesque bay with perfect swimming waters, protected from the more dangerous open ocean. The fragile ecosystem and coral reef of Hanuma along with the pollution and destruction the area received in the past mean that the number of visitors is regulated. For access to one of Honolulu’s top photo sites, make sure you reserve your place in advance with the Hanauma Bay Educational Center. If you’re more adventurous, you can even pack equipment for underwater shots to capture photos of the fantastic coral and bright schools of fish that make Hanauma Bay their home.


Pearl Harbor

One of the most important historic sites on Hawaii, Pearl Harbor is still an operational naval base and the largest harbor in Hawaii. It’s an opportunity to capture pictures that commemorate one of the most crucial moments in United States history as well as an important cultural aspect of Hawaii. There are numerous monuments, including the World War II Valor in the Pacific Monument, and memorials for some of the lost ships, like the USS Utah and the USS Arizona. In the Pacific Aviation Museum, you can learn important information about the various aircraft used during World War II as well a chronology of aviation discovery and development. It’s a huge area to explore, with many critical points that will add a somber, but undeniably meaningful touch to your photo shoot.


Koko Crater Railway Trail

Not an attraction for the weak for faint of heart, the Koko Crater Railway Trail is one of the most scenic hikes on the whole island, with a monumental 1,050 step staircase to climb to reach the top. These steps were built from railroad ties that were used during World War II to carry supplies from one location to another, and the image can add an interesting historic touch to your picture collection.

From the top of the stairs, you’re rewarded with a stunning panoramic view of the Honolulu coastline, making it a top photo site on the island. Since the trek can be a bit treacherous, there are local guides who can accompany you on the hike and can also give you interesting historic facts about the area. Nearby is the Koko Crater Botanical Garden, where you’ll have the chance to photograph numerous endangered plants, some of which used to be abundant on the islands of Hawaii.


Diamond Head State Monument

Both a historic landmark and a natural wonder, Diamond Head is a top photo site in Hawaii, and a must visit destination for any photographer traveling to Honolulu. Hiking up the trail 560 feet from sea level will take you up to a stunning peak where you will be looking out over the coastline of the island.

What better way to preserve memories of your trip to Honolulu than by capturing photos encompassing cliffs, mountains, jungle, and shore all in one? Since the peak was once used as a defense site, there are other monuments like a lighthouse and Fire Control Station.


Iolani Palace

Constructed in 1882, the Iolani Palace was originally built for King Kalakaua, and has been important in Hawaiian history as the official residence for members of Hawaii’s monarchy. Today, it is a museum, offering visitors a chance to step back in time, as well as being an important photography location in Honolulu. The majestic and elaborate design of the building will add a touch of splendor to your photographs. In the throne room you can view the ornate carved throne that was originally constructed for the palace and has now been restored to its former glory. This is just the beginning of what you can include in your photographs; Iolani is known for its beautiful stain glass windows, wooden interior design, and elaborate carvings, all perfect artistic additions to your photo shoot.