Unexpected Places to Take Photos in Oahu

Ancient trees, a boutique hotel and street murals are just a few of the quirky photo backgrounds that Oahu offers.

Of course, in a geographically beautiful place like Oahu, photo opportunities abound. Once you’ve seen some of the island’s top destinations with a view, take your camera or smartphone to any of these photogenic spots and amp up your vacation photo album with these picturesque backdrops. 

The Surfjack

Part 1960s retro, part modern, this newly renovated boutique hotel was designed with vintage beach culture in mind. Elements from local artists are infused throughout the hotel. From colorful murals painted by Wooden Wave to signs and pool typography designed by lettering artist Matthew Tapia to vintage upholstery by Tori Richard, the artistic hotel offers plenty of opportunities to relax and travel back in time to retro Waikiki. 

The Surfjack, Oahu
(Courtesy The Surfjack)

Kakaako Street Murals

Before 2011, the walls of the commercial Kakaako neighborhood were bare, but POW! WOW! artists turned the space into a giant canvas and painted the neighborhood with bright, eye-catching murals. Each year, artists from around the world gather for a weeklong street mural festival and the same public walls are repainted and refreshed with new works of art. 

Street mural, Oahu
(Courtesy POW! WOW!)

Spitting Caves

Forgo the white sand and palm-lined shoreline for a dramatic cliff-side ocean view. Tucked in a residential neighborhood called Portlock, the Pacific Ocean “spits” blue seawater against rugged cliffs. The short walk down to the sea cliffs can be a little steep, so wearing covered shoes is recommended. You’ll be rewarded with unobstructed views, where you can relax and enjoy the quiet surroundings. The current is strong, so please do not attempt to jump in. 

Spitting Caves, Oahu, Hawaii
(©Anthony Quintano/Flickr, Creative Commons)

Laniakea Beach

The small stretch of beach along Kamehameha Highway on Oahu’s North Shore is a haven for the endangered Hawaiian sea turtle, which is how it got its nickname “Turtle Beach.” Turtles frequent the shallow waters to feed on seaweed and you’re likely to find the large creatures sunbathing on the beach year round. Because the turtles are endangered, federal and state laws protect them, and volunteers are always on-site to ensure the turtles’ protection. 

(©Anthony Quintano/Flickr, Creative Commons)

Mu-Ryang-Sa Temple

The little known Korean Buddhist temple is tucked between residential homes in Palolo Valley. The quiet temple overlooks the ocean and is filled with bursts of color and textures. Hand-painted temple walls, water lilies, a bell tower and a garden of a thousand miniature statues fill the quiet, visually stunning space. The active temple is filled with practicing monks and worshippers, so please be sure to snap photos only outside temple buildings.

Mu-Ryang-Sa Temple, Oahu
(©Karendesuyo/Flickr, Creative Commons)

Banyan Trees by Kawela Bay

Hidden from crowds on the North Shore, this quiet ironwood forest is home to a massive banyan tree, with a maze of vines and branches. The famous tree served as a backdrop in the TV show “Lost” and was also the mermaid’s lair in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. The trees tall roots and cool shade make for dreamy or haunting photos depending on how your lens captures the light.

Bayan Trees, Kawela Bay, Oahu
(Courtesy Turtle Bay Resort)

Kakaako Waterfront Park

Sprawling, rolling green hills cover this 35-acre park, overlooking a palm-tree lined oceanfront. The expansive hills provide fantastic, unspoiled views of the ocean and sky, making the site a great place for both portraits and scenic photos. Come right before sunset and capture dramatic bursts of colors before the sun falls into the horizon.

Kakaako Waterfront Park
(©Daniel Ramirez/Flickr, Creative Commons)