So Which is the Best Island to Elope in Hawaii?

May 23, 2020 | 0 comments

If there is one thing that’s difficult about planning an elopement in Hawaii, it’s choosing which island is the best to elope in Hawaii! I mean, with six accessible islands to choose from, there’s just so much variety. Each island has it’s own unique vibe and scenery which can make choosing even harder. I live here and depending on the week and time of day you ask me, my answer to which island is my favorite changes! With my unique perspective as a local island photographer and experience capturing elopements here, know that I am here to help guide you in deciding which island to elope on.

 

A Good Place to Start: Choosing Which Island to Elope in Hawaii

 

The best place to start when choosing which island to elope in Hawaii is with the two of you. It all comes down to which island you’ll vibe best with! With every island having such a different personality, it helps to break things down and decide based on what you most want to do. A few things will help you take a step toward answering the question of which Hawaiian island is best for you. You should consider the type of backdrop you’d like to have as you say your vows, what you’d like to do after you’ve eloped, the type of place you’d like to stay and get ready for your elopement in, how adventurous you’d like your day to be, and the sorts of activities you’d like for the rest of your trip. You should also give some thought to your tolerance for crowds as each island receives a very different number of visitors. With these questions in mind, take a look through this helpful guide on which island is best to elope in Hawaii for you!

Use these links to jump between islands more quickly or scroll to read about them all.

Oahu Elopements
Kauai Elopements
Maui Elopements
Big Island Elopements
Lanai Elopements
Molokai Elopements

 

oahu elopement photographer

The City and the Sea: Oahu Elopements

Oahu is a seriously fun island. It boasts a fantastic mix of rugged mountains meeting cerulean waters, some of the most accessible hiking trails in the state, great eats, and even a big city (something that doesn’t really exist on many of the other islands). If you enjoy night life, swanky dinners, North Shore surf vibes, playing in the ocean, and mixing adventure with tamer activities like shopping and dining, Oahu is probably your best bet. You can really get the best of everything on this island! Of course, this comes with a few caveats as Honolulu traffic can be a real bummer and Waikiki is super crowded, but if you can handle a crowd then you’ll be just fine. There are plenty of ways to get away from it all, anyway. Got your attention? Read a little further for the best places to stay, where to eat, unique experiences, and see a few photos that will give you an idea of what an Oahu elopement looks like.

Where to Stay on Oahu

There is no shortage of places to stay on Oahu, but things are a little different here. There may be many choices, but there aren’t as many categories of choice. There are mostly resorts, hotels, and the like with fewer choices in vacation rentals or Airbnbs. But if that’s your jam, there are a few places that might work. Choosing where to stay location wise isn’t too vital as nothing is really hard to get to from anywhere on this small island. I think it’s better to choose by your taste and what you’ll most enjoy over where it’s located. These are a few of my favorite spots to stay on Oahu.

Boutique Hotels:
The Surf Jack – this is one of my favorite spots and we actually lived here for a month when we first moved to Hawaii! The retro vibe has so much charm, you’ll love the restaurant, and it’s in the thick of things without being too crowded.
The Lay Low – another place with a fun vibe and THE cutest rooms. The pool is great and they also have an amazing spot to dine.

Resorts:
Disney’s Aulani – it really is all it’s cracked up to be. And it’s not too far from some of my favorite spots to snorkel and dolphin watch!
Moana Surfrider – a luxe option for sure, this beautiful hotel was built in 1901 and is just steps away from Waikiki beaches.
Turtle Bay Resort – this one probably doesn’t need any introduction, but it gains points by being on the North Shore close to numerous amazing snorkel spots and the famous town of Hale’iwa.

Unique Stays:
Paradise Bay Resort – this spot is on the windward side where there are few places to stay. You’ll have views of bays, mountains, and the sunrise!
Treetop North Shore – stay in this bright, lovely spot on the North Shore perfect for getting ready (just see Dana + Ross’s morning here).

 Where to Elope on Oahu

Choosing a spot to elope on Oahu is only challenging because there are so dang many spots that are absolutely stunning. While the island is somewhat small, it really does pack a lot in to that small size. There are very different regions, each with their own feel. You can get anything from urban all the way to feeling like you might just be at the end of the world!

Planning an Oahu elopement for the North Shore will give you options for historic surf towns, sprawling coastal views, banyan tree forests, and interesting rocky coves. The windward side is iconic with it’s Jurassic Park mountains, crystal clear sandbars, bays, and white sand beaches. The west side features Ka’ena Point, a beautiful coastline of very different mountains from the east. And of course, the south can get you into urban territory as well as tide pools and cliffs.

There seriously are so many beautiful places to elope on Oahu. One of the biggest benefits to an Oahu elopement is that you’ll be able to drive between some of these spots pretty easily, giving you the option to choose more than one location! The types of scenery you can expect to find on Oahu include epic jungly mountains, a few rocky cliffs, lava rock beaches, white sand beaches, turquoise water, and mountains meeting the sea.

There are quite a few trails to hike for adventure elopements on the island of Oahu. You can access most of the trails pretty easily, though there are some for the more experienced and gutsy travelers. You can hike to cliffside views, bay views, waterfalls, or into the mountains. If you want something a bit more low-key, you can easily get to spots with views of bays and mountains without a hike. There are also beautiful beaches, forested areas with banyan trees, and fun little spots to stop for coffee.

If you love the thrill of scrambling up a muddy Hawaiian path to the top of beautiful green mountains and you also want the relaxed surf vibes mixed with nightlife, Oahu is your island.  

The Best Eats on Oahu

There are some truly fantastic places to get a meal on the island of Oahu!  I am always super excited to share all of my favorite spots with couples and support local businesses. These spots are my usual haunts, so make sure you plan a little time to enjoy them while you’re here.

Looking for a great place to celebrate your elopement on Oahu? If you love craft beer and want a casual vibe with comfort food, try Hana Koa Brewing! This is one of our favorite spots on the island. The La Hacienda dark Mexican lager is one of our fave beers ever, but they also have lighter beers as well as island-inspired brews. They even have Bachelor/Bachelorette Mondays if you’re a fan of the show (we may or may not have been on many occasion to watch the drama with a beer)! For something a bit fancier, Morimoto Asia has delicious Asian fusion dishes with a lovely patio where you can watch the sunset. We also love Moku Kitchen in Kaka’ako or Monkeypod if you’re closer to Ko ‘Olina.

For everyday dining, some of my favorites include Tako’ako, Ono Thai, Easy Que, Himalayan Kitchen Kailua, and Kalapawai Deli. If you’re looking for good coffee or breakfast spots, look no further than Chadlou’s in Kailua, Egghead Cafe, ARVO, or My Cafe in Kapolei (get the pancake flight, just trust me). For açaí bowls, hit up the Sunrise Shack every time. Ice cream? Black Sheep Cream Co. In search of the best North Shore food truck? Hit up Cheesus Crust for an amazing pizza. This list could get way longer, but I’ll stop here ha!

Unique Experiences on Oahu

If you want to commemorate your elopement trip with a really unique experience, here are a few ideas to make the most of your time!

Go Shark DivingOne Ocean provides incredible opportunities to safely dive with sharks on the island of Oahu! Not only are their tours amazing, but they are helping to save sharks and educate about them. They also host monthly beach clean-ups!

Kayak Your Heart Out – You’ll have some really unique kayaking opportunities on Oahu. You can rent a kayak on the windward side and kayak out to the Mokes if you are more experienced or head to Moli’i if you want something easier. I’ve kayaked all over the North Shore too and we floated over sea turtles while enjoying the sunshine and mild summer waves.

Hit the Sandbar – Kaneohe Bay is home to one of the most unique sandbars out there. You can take a boat out to float in crystal clear waters with views of the windward side mountains.

Take a Tour – And I don’t mean a cheesy van tour. You can take an incredible helicopter tour around the island for views of Sacred Falls and the Koolau’s from the sky! Check out Paradise Helicopters to take off from Turtle Bay or Ko Olina or Magnum out of Honolulu for the best tours of the island.

Zipline Kualoa Ranch – Get some epic mountain views while zooming through the beauty of Kualoa Ranch.

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Kauai elopement photographer

Canyon Views For Days: Kauai Elopements

Kauai is an incredibly, incredibly beautiful island. In fact, most days if you ask, I’ll tell you that this island is my favorite. This is the island I hold closest to my heart. And it’s probably true more often than not. Kauai is a wild island rich in epic scenery, even richer in amazing hikes. I’ve never seen anything quite like Waimea Canyon, aptly named the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. The red dirt canyon graced with towering waterfalls reaches toward the ocean, eventually shifting into the emerald green ridges that make up the Na Pali Coast. This entire area takes my breath away every time and is probably second only to Yosemite on my list of most beautiful places. If you are looking for an adventure elopement, Kauai should be on the list of places to make that happen. Kauai is a little sleepier than Oahu, but there are still fun spots to grab a craft beer or a great meal. And even if hiking the canyon isn’t your jam, you’ll have your pick of beaches featuring beautiful mountains or rocky cliffs where you might spot a whale in the right season. You can get stunning views of Hanalei Bay in the backdrop, too.

Where to Stay on Kauai

You’ll have a really exciting array of options for where to stay on Kauai. You can aim for anything from a beautiful resort to camping here! If you want to make the most of your time in Kauai, you could opt to stay in more than one spot as well. Driving out to Waimea Canyon does take some time, it’s about two hours out from Hanalei so if you’re not a fan of that type of round trip drive but want to see it all, make plans to switch locations. There are also a few spots more central which will allow you to drive between the two, look out for anything in Poipu for that.

Boutique Hotels:
Kauai Shores Hotel – This cute hotel is nestled on the beach and has fun, retro vibes. It’s pretty centrally located and has a good restaurant on the beach, too!
Koa Kea Hotel – This beautifully designed hotel is beach front and features fire pits with Adirondack chairs to lounge in with your love.

Resorts:
Koloa Landing (Poipu) – centrally located resort with an awesome pool!

Unique Stays:
Waimea Plantation Cottages – super close to Waimea Canyon, these vintage cottages make for a unique stay.
Romantic Garden Cottage in Hanalei – views for days with this one. Nestled into the jungle against the mountains, it boasts a pool and botanical garden like yard with a stream.

Where to Elope on Kauai

You’d really have to try very hard to pick a spot to elope on Kauai that isn’t absolutely, drop-dead gorgeous. I don’t think one bit of this island can be called anything else, to be honest. You will have an endless pick of Kauai elopement locations that range from moody canyons painted red and green to sunny cliffs with crashing waves. Keep in mind that choosing some of these locations does mean you’ll need to be ready for any kind of weather, but it’s all aesthetic. Sometimes, you’ll catch the Na Pali Coast bathed in golden sunshine. Others, you may barely be able to see five feet in front of you from all the fog. This island is dramatic and the atmospherics are ever-changing.

With all that in mind, plus the sheer number of hiking trails, I usually suggest Kauai for adventurous elopements. But you can also get away with something more low-key, too. Kauai is home to some of the most stunning beaches lined in towering mountains, a couple of which are easily accessible if you’re not interested in a hike. There are also a couple of easier trails in Waimea Canyon that look adventurous, but are in reality pretty much just a walk from the car. The mix lends itself to a really versatile island experience for couples of all experience levels and interests!

Some of the scenery you can choose from for your elopement includes red canyons winding through the island, green valleys sweeping toward the sea, hidden gem waterfalls, miles on miles of pristine beach rimmed in towering peaks, white sand beaches hugged by mountains, or rocky cliffs and shores. 

If these dramatic, adventurous landscapes sound like a great fit and you don’t mind early evenings in tiny towns, Kauai may be a great fit for you!

 

Best Eats on Kauai

While the options on Kauai are a bit more limited than on say, Oahu or Maui, you will still find some great spots to celebrate eloping on Kauai! If you’re looking for a nice meal with a great atmosphere, think about a reservation at Tidepools (in the Grand Hyatt), The Beach House in Koloa, or head to Kapa’a where you’ll find JO2 which features thoughtfully sourced, Hawaiian inspired dishes. If you’re up north, aim for AMA or Bar Acuda (see what they did there?).

For the casual meals, you should definitely try out Kilauea Bakery + Pizza, The Local in Kapa’a, Kauai Beer Co., or The Lanai Restaurant and Bar. Some of my favorite coffee shops are also on Kauai! Make sure you have time to stop in at Java Kai, Hā Coffee Bar, Aloha Roastery, and Kind Koffee. And whatever you do, don’t miss out on pretty much the best doughnuts in Hawaii. In Hanalei, there is a food truck called Holey Grail Donuts. Do yourself a favor and stop in for one of these delicious taro confections and a draft latte because both are to die for!

 

Unique Experiences on Kauai

You can definitely have the time of your life on this exciting island. These are just a few of my favorite ideas for couples to enjoy and celebrate their elopement on Kauai!

Tour the Na Pali Coast – whether by air or by sea, a tour of the Na Pali Coast is a must. You can take cruises for sunset, snorkeling tours on boats, and even raft tours up to the coast by sea. By air, you can take a doors-off helicopter tour which should be on your bucket list (if it isn’t already).

Hike to Hanakapiai Falls – this is one of the best hikes pretty much ever. You’ll have some fantastic views of the coast along the way, secluded beaches, and a beautiful waterfall. This one is on the steep side, can be muddy, and is 8 miles round trip but it’s beautiful as heck. Keep in mind you’ll have some permitting to do as well.

Hike a Ridge Trail – there are soooo many ridge trails in Waimea Canyon and Koke’e State Park! If you’re down for a thrill, check out which ridge trail might be right for you (just make sure it’s not a super windy day).

Go Cliff Jumping – another adventure of a time is to find an epic spot for some cliff jumping. Journey Era has a great post on where to go!

Venture down Polihale Beach – you can make your way down the coast at this expansive beach, gaining some incredible views. You’ll travel along windswept dunes and beautiful mountains. You can even camp along here!

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Maui elopement photographer

Road Trips + Mountain Tops: Maui Elopements

 

Maui is the island I’ll tell you is my favorite on even days of the month, haha! This versatile, stunning island has so many different landscapes and climates to experience. You can take in a sunrise or sunset at Haleakala, bundled in a puffer jacket because it can often dip into the 40s and even 30s up there. On the same day, you can go for a dip in temperate waters and soak up some tropical sunshine to warm yourself back up. You can road trip this island, you can experience epic hikes and beautiful ridges in the clouds, you can even bike down from Haleakala! The whale watching here is also some of the best in the islands. There are just so many things to love about this island. While it is definitely second only to Oahu in terms of how many visit this island every year, the crowds do not often feel overwhelming except in a few key places on the island or at the wrong time of day (read: the middle of the day). The trick with Maui is sunrise, so if you’re a morning person you will have an advantage here. Some of my favorite memories traveling Road to Hana were early in the morning before anyone else started to show up. You can see red sand beaches, black sand beaches, and chase what feels like an endless amount of waterfalls on this windy road. You can also travel the lesser known route north for some equally windy roads and rocky coasts paired with rolling hills that will make you think you’ve teleported to Scotland. You’ll also have a little more nightlife here. It’s not Oahu by any means, but it’s not quite as sleepy as the other islands if you like an evening out.

 

Where to Stay on Maui

You’ll have a lot of options for where to stay on the island of Maui. It’ll really depend on the kind of experience you’re after. Do you want to stay somewhere luxurious to celebrate your elopement in style? Opt for a resort or upscale boutique hotel. You can even splurge on a unique Airbnb. There are some more budget friendly options on the island as well, so it can meet your needs either way. Choosing a region to stay in is also key since Maui is a bit larger and takes longer to drive. I often like to stay in Hana if I’m going to be traveling the Road to Hana. I can go early, spend the day, stay the night, and travel back the other way at a leisurely pace. It’s easiest to jump around if you don’t mind switching things up, you can stay a night in Hana, a couple in Kihei, some along Napili, and perhaps one or two in Kahului so you can head up to Haleakala or into Kula for Maui Wines and farm stand shopping.

Boutique Hotels:
Travaasa – a peaceful retreat in Hana with an amazing restaurant.
The Mauian – this pretty seaside hotel is small and full of charm.
Lumeria Maui – features farm-to-table eats and a tranquil atmosphere.
Paia Inn – a unique little spot right in the midst of it all.

Resorts:
Andaz Maui Wailea – luxury and beachfront, if that’s what you’re into.
Four Seasons Wailea – infinity pools and tiki torches line the beachfront luxe resort.
Ritz Carlton Kapalua – pretty much as luxe as it gets and they have garden-to-glass cocktails.
Hotel Wailea Relais + Chateaux – a stunning tropical oasis in relaxing form.

Unique Stays:
Suite Vans Maui – so cool. Test out van life in one of these adorably designed vans!
Ho’oilo House – a beautiful balinese style BnB.
Bamboo Temple – walk to a waterfall and enjoy this unique retreat.

Where to Elope on Maui

 

When you choose a Maui elopement, you open up a world of options. There are tons and tons of spots that you can have your elopement on Maui and they vary from easy little walks all the way up to hikes that’ll take you up into the clouds. With so many great spots to choose from, you end up with the same “problem” you have with Kauai – too many to choose just one! The good news is that you can sometimes get in more than one spot, provided you book enough hours of coverage or choose spots that are close together. Helping guide couples to their best Maui elopement experience is something I love doing. I’m always happy to come up with a unique itinerary made just for you.

When you opt for Maui, you’ll be opting for any number of the following: red sand beaches, black sand beaches, white sand beaches, dramatic cliffs, otherworldly peaks of dormant volcanoes, lush forests, big jungly mountains, pretty misty valleys, rolling hills reminiscent of the UK, towering redwoods forests that seem like you’ve just gone to NorCal, quaint surfer towns, trails of waterfalls, and beaches with views of Molokai.

Deciding where to elope on Maui comes down to narrowing down what scenery from that absolute abundance I just listed speaks to you most. Whether you feel most at home in the mountains, by the shore, or in the forest, rest assured that Maui definitely has a spot for you.

If you love road trips, a variety of landscapes, farm stands, small towns, and some nightlife then Maui could be a great choice for you. Just be sure to find an elopement photographer who can help you find the best spot and suggest the best time to go to avoid the crowds.

Best Eats on Maui

Maui is home to some truly fantastic spots to eat. For your Maui elopement celebration, some amazing options include The Mill House which is situated in the hills with a great atmosphere, The Preserve Kitchen + Bar at Travaasa which has live ukulele music on most nights and is just beautiful (not to mention the farm fresh eats), or Lineage Maui. There are plenty of others such as Mama’s Fish House and more, these are just a few that I’ve been to and loved.

For casual meals and great dinners, there are also tons of options. I think the best Thai I have ever had was at a quaint little spot in Kahului called My Thai. This husband and wife duo cooks up her family recipes and the result is absolutely delicious. Frida’s is also good if you are craving Mexican. A’A Roots is also a yummy option. For cafes and coffee, you’ve got Belle Surf Cafe, Maui Lavender Cafe, and Kihei cafe. If you’re into wine, make sure to have time for Maui Wines and a sampling of island inspired flavors including pineapple wine! Of course, definitely make pit stops for banana bread as you travel Road to Hana. I had the best banana bread EVER from a little shack on the side of the road here.

 

Unique Experiences on Maui

Drive Road to Hana – this famous road trip will give you all sorts of waterfalls, beaches, and spots unique to Maui!

Haleakala – take a hike on top of a dormant volcano in the clouds.

Molokini Crater – snorkel along this crescent-shaped crater rich with sea life.

Tour a Distillery – Ocean Vodka has a farm and distillery on Maui that you can visit!

Watch Whales – each year during whale season, you can spot tons of these gentle giants in the ocean. I love driving along the west side of the island because you’ll just see them playing around and jumping all over here.

Grab Some Booch – love Kombucha? Make sure you stop in at Alchemy for some Valley Isle Kombucha. The flavors are incredible.

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big island elopement photographer

Volcanoes + the Open Road: Big Island Elopements

The Big Island is a nickname for the Island of Hawaii. It’s nicknamed as such because it is very large. It has more land than all the other islands combined. For this reason, Big Island elopements can cover a lot of ground and include a lot of adventure. There are beautiful valleys to hike into, volcanic beaches to wander, even lava fields that you can traverse. This is the island with the only active volcano, too. The Big Island has its own vibe. It’s super relaxed but a little bit sleepy, you won’t find nightlife here like on Oahu or Maui. And while it doesn’t have quite the dramatic landscape that Kauai does, it’s still really dang epic in its own way. There are cute beach towns to explore, green sand beaches (one of only four in the world), off-road adventures, waterfalls, and so many hiking trails. You can opt for adventure or choose to keep it simple and either way, you’ll find something truly beautiful.

 

Where to Stay on the Big Island

Deciding where you want to stay on the Big Island is a bit more important than on the other islands because of the ground to cover between places. Splitting your stay into different regions can be helpful or choosing something central can work too if you’re okay with putting in some miles. Just make sure wherever you choose is near to the things you want to see and do if you’d like to maximize your time. That said, it can be really fun to spend time just driving around the island together, my guy and I actually loved this. You can definitely find some unique spots to stay in on the Big Island. Whether your idea of paradise is a boutique hotel, a resort, or a funky Airbnb, you will definitely find something perfect here.

Boutique Hotels:
Volcano Rainforest Retreat – this relaxing retreat located in the rainforest is just 3 miles from Volcanoes National Park.
Mauna Lani Auberge  – an upscale option just 12 minutes walk from an open-air shopping experience.
Hawaii Island Retreat – colorful yurts and yoga classes make this a truly peaceful spot!
Holualoa Inn – set on a coffee farm, you can’t go wrong with this pretty, luxe Polynesian-style BnB.

Resorts:
Four Seasons Resort Hualalai – a beautiful, upscale resort with pools and beach access.

Unique Stays:
Tropical Treehouse – stay in this gorgeous treehouse for a truly special experience. Bonus points for being perfect to get ready for your elopement in! 
Sanctuary Cottage – another beautiful space for getting ready and relaxing.
Jungle Suite – this cozy suite features floor-to-ceiling windows with rainforest views.

Where to Elope on the Big Island

 

Places to elope on the Big Island are plenty. Your best bet is to first consider what sort of landscape speaks to you and what experience matters most to you. Are you into off-road adventures that end in beautiful green sand beaches? Or do you prefer hiking into the valley? Maybe you want to bask in the sun along a field of dried lava (tbh it looks like crackly brownies to me so this might make you hungry for dessert hahaha). Whatever your jam is, you can definitely find a spot that will suit for your Big Island elopement. 

As I’ve mentioned, you can find one of only 4 green sand beaches in the world on the Big Island. This rocky cove is a great spot to visit for an elopement! Other landscapes to expect are rainforests, lava rock beaches, fields of dried lava, black cliffs along the shore, black sand beaches, green valleys, big summits, and beautiful waterfalls. Essentially, this is a great island for you to take a scenic drive. You can combine that with your elopement by booking a longer day of coverage that allows you to visit multiple locations. You can also take advantage of the hikes here to create a Big Island adventure elopement that will be an amazing experience for the two of you. 

There are so many experiences to center your elopement around on the Big Island. It can help to picture exactly the kind of day you want to share together, how you’d like to commemorate your love for one another. Whatever this looks like, try incorporating it into your plans. This is something I can definitely help you do as your Big Island elopement photographer and guide if we work together! I’m really passionate about helping couples figure out what kind of day really fits for them and where to go to make it all happen.

If you love a scenic drive, don’t mind the early evenings, want to see volcanoes, and love hiking then the Big Island may be your best bet. 

Best Eats on the Big Island

 

Amazing food was a little bit harder for us to find on the Big Island, but it’s completely made up for with amazing beer (and cider/hard seltzers). To celebrate your elopement on the Big Island, you can aim for something like Huggo’s for sunset or The Beach Tree Bar in Kailua-Kona. In Volcano, the Kīlauea Lodge has a pretty yummy restaurant with a lovely dinner menu. There are definitely some nice spots at the bigger resorts, as well.

Casual dining is definitely easier, which is fitting since this island is so chill. Check out Ola Brew for the most delish pineapple cider and fresh eats. You can also visit the famous Kona Brewing for an island-style beer with comfort food. Daylight Mind is one of our favorite spots for a beachside breakfast and the coffee there is really good too! If you’re after some shave ice, check out One Aloha in Kailua-Kona as well!

Unique Experiences on the Big Island

 

There are definitely a few experiences that are really unique to the Big Island. You’ll be able to have a blast on this beautiful island while you’re there!

Visit With a Sea Horse or Octopus – yep, you read that right. You can visit with or pet either of these in Kailua-Kona! Just check out Ocean Rider or Kanaloa.

Take a 4×4 – drive out to that green sand beach via 4×4 or simply take a walk to visit this unique beach. 

Visit Volcanoes National Park – see fields of lava, black cliffs, calderas, and how eruptions have changed the earth.

Watch Lava from the Sky – when it’s flowing, you can take a helicopter to see a really special view as the lava meets the sea.

View the Sunrise at 14k – seeing the sunrise at Mauna Kea is spectacular. 

Swim with Mantas – at night, you can swim with manta rays at Keauhou Bay!

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big island elopement photographer

The Road Less Traveled: Lanai Elopements

Lanai elopements are unique from the start because this island is so often overlooked in favor of bigger, more popular islands. However, if you are looking for a really different way to celebrate your elopement, Lanai has some incredible options. For one thing, one of the most beautiful resorts I have ever seen is here on Lanai. For another, one of the most interesting landscapes I’ve come across in Hawaii is here as well. The combination is sure to make for a memorable elopement on the island of Lanai!

 

Where to Stay on Lanai

You will have fewer options on Lanai just due to its size and the fact that so few make the trip out.

Boutique Hotels:
Sensei Lanai – though part of Four Seasons, this one is in Lanai City and is much smaller. The focus is on well-being, with yoga and limitless spa options.
Hotel Lanai – set in a 1923 plantation home, this is a warm and inviting space.

Resorts:
Four Seasons Lanai – this is the one. The prettiest resort I’ve seen with sprawling shorelines, proximity to Sweetheart Rock, and immaculately landscaped spaces. It literally screams tranquility, if such a thing is possible.

Unique Stays:
Local Charm – live like a local with this sweet plantation house.

Where to Elope on Lanai

 

Small but mighty, Lanai has some really beautiful locations to elope! If you’re planning a Lanai elopement, the best thing to do is think about what kind of beauty you want to include in your day. You can get pretty diverse scenery even though there’s not a lot of ground to cover here. And you can get pretty creative with the way you plan your elopement day, too!

 

With Lanai elopements, you’ll be able to choose between pretty coastlines, pristine beaches, red rock cliffs, a quirky kitty sanctuary, or a landscape similar to what you might find on Mars. Some of these spots are simple to get to while others require a little four wheel drive. One thing to  be cautious of is making sure that you’re working with a Lanai elopement photographer who knows their way around the island and its rules. Lanai is privately owned, so unique permits are required for most of the locations here. You’ll want someone who can help you navigate this with ease.

 

If you’re looking to truly get away from it all, to experience a completely different (and totally epic) side of Hawaii, and explore a unique collection of landscapes, then Lanai is a great bet for your elopement trip! 

 

Best Eats on Lanai

While the options are somewhat limited, they’re definitely tasty. Nobu at Sensei and One Forty are great for celebrating. Malibu Farm provides fresh eats poolside and is perfect for lunch. Pele’s Other Garden serves up pizza if you’re looking for a slice. For breakfast and coffee, try out Coffee Works or Break at the Four Seasons.

 

Unique Experiences on Lanai

With the whole island being so unique, you can definitely find some special things to do on the island of Lanai.

Four Wheel to Garden of the Gods – I loved the thrill of driving out to Garden of the Gods. I also had the place to myself and the landscape is incredible!

Take the Ferry – you can hop a ferry between Lanai and Maui to expand your horizons.

Visit the Cat Sanctuary – play with some cute cats or even take some elopement photos with them!

Snorkel Hulopoe Bay – it’s been named one of the 10 best spots in the world to snorkel!

Learn About the Culture – Hookipa Cultural Program teaches about the history of Lanai and Hawaiian culture.

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big island elopement photographer

Valleys + Solitude: Molokai Elopements

Molokai elopements give you the unique opportunity to travel back a ways and see Hawaii as it would have been before tourism really took over. Visiting Molokai is very different from visiting the other islands. Molokai is an island that appreciates travelers over tourists. Molokai is stunningly beautiful, peaceful, and the locals would like to keep her that way. Planning an elopement on Molokai will open interesting doors to unique landscapes and experiences. While not for the casual tourist, seasoned travelers will really enjoy what this island has to offer.  It can make for an epic elopement location! You won’t find any nightlife and there aren’t many places to stay, but if you love outdoor activities and taking restful days at the beach you will not run out of things to do.

 

Where to Stay on Molokai

You only have one option as far as hotels go, but there are quite a few Airbnbs to choose from (just search for stays in Kaunakakai).

Hotels:
Hotel Moloka’i – one of your best bets in Kaunakakai with tropical grounds and a great restaurant.

Unique Stays:
Puu O Hoku Ranch – not only do they have the cutest chickens, but this peaceful retreat offers fresh fruit delivered to their cottages!

 

Where to Elope on Molokai

Places to elope on Molokai may not be as many or as varied as some of the other islands, but they are truly unique and very beautiful. On Molokai, you’ll find gorgeous views and waterfalls to hike to but you’ll also find what is essentially a ghost town as well as one of the few remaining leper colonies. Obviously those two spots aren’t really a backdrop for your elopement, but they are points of interest on the island and you can learn a lot about the history of Molokai through them.

Landscapes you can expect to see on Molokai include tropical forests with tranquil hiking trails, dramatic coastlines, rocky beaches, lush valleys with waterfalls, and views of Maui in certain spots. There are many beautiful Molokai elopement locations, you’ll just need someone who knows the island to help guide you. Choosing a Hawaii elopement photographer with experience on Molokai is vital for this reason. I’ve spent time on Molokai scouting various spots and can help create an elopement experience that you’ll love.

Best Eats on Molokai

One of the best restaurants we found on Molokai is Hiro’s at Hotel Molokai. This spot has beautiful sunset views and serves up fresh island options. For a unique experience, head to Paddlers Restaurant and Bar. You could definitely celebrate your elopement with dinner here! There are also a few casual options on Molokai for pizza, burgers, and cafes but one of our favorite things on Molokai was to shop the local farmer’s market and cook for ourselves! 

Unique Experiences on Molokai

Experiences on Molokai can range from relaxing days in the ocean to seeing bits of history for yourself. You can definitely find very unique things to do on Molokai! 

View Kalaupapa – this remote community on the coast of Molokai is where King Kamehameha V banished lepers in the 1800s. It’s pretty eery to look down on the quiet town and know its somewhat brutal history, but it’s an opportunity to try and understand more about the disease and the inhabitants of Kalaupapa. If you’re a history buff, you can pull the threads and learn a ton!

Take a Cultural Hike in Halawa Valley – this is a must-do, I think. You’ll get to learn while traveling out to a gorgeous waterfall in the Halawa Valley.

Hike the Molokai Forest Reserve – take a beautiful hike and test your odds of seeing some of Hawaii’s rarest birds.

Kayak or Paddleboard – you can take a guided downwind kayak or SUP tour with views of mangroves and the coast.

Send a Coconut – Post-a-Nut lets you send a coconut to a friend for the cost of postage at a quirky USPS location outside Ho‘olehua.

 

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Best Island to Elope in Hawaii

 

So now you can see that choosing the best island to elope in Hawaii is a very subjective thing. It all comes down to which island has the most of what you want to do and which landscape really speaks to you in terms of where you want your ceremony to be. If you need a little more clarity on which island to choose, I have helped so many couples with this exact thing. I specialize in planning unique elopement experiences for couples on all of the Hawaiian Islands. To get started, just fill out the form below so we can chat!

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Hey! I’m Randi!
an elopement photographer + intimate wedding photographer based in Hawaii. I document real love stories around the world that you can read about here! You’ll also find insightful planning guides along with other resources to help you visualize your best day ever. Happy reading! ♡