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Top 10 locations to take photos in Kauai


Priyanka Sharma

16 Sep, 2021


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A photographer’s perspective
Welcome to the most picturesque island of Hawaii. How exciting it is to have a trip planned to Kauai soon! As popularly known, the garden isle is home to majestic mountains, waterfalls, the Napali coast and an amazing coastline. Being a local Kauai photographer, I am sharing some of the most beautiful locations that will give you an idea for some stunning backdrops in your pictures. Below find my personal favourite places to take photos in Kauai, Hawaii.


Waipouli Beach

The pictures in the gallery you see were shot at evening time.

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Waipouli Beach

Time to shoot: Early mornings between 5.30 am - 7.30 am or after 5. 30 pm

Pros: Perfect for everyone who is living in Kapaa or Lihue.

Cons: Small beach so evenings get resort crowds.

Other photo spots in East: Lydgate beach, Opaekaa falls vista point, Wailua River, Kealia beach & Kapaa Beach, Timber's Farm.

Noka Fair Market

This Instagrammable market place is bursting with pastel colours that will offer the perfect backdrop for your photos. Fun fact, these tiny shops are upscaled using shipping containers. Now how cool is that? It is sure to lend a fun feel to your pictures that others may not from their Hawaii’s trip.

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Time to shoot: Early mornings or after sunsets.

Pros: Perfect for everyone who is living in Kapaa or Lihue. Close to Kapaa beach so combine it with sunrise pictures.

Cons: Not for afternoon or evening as the area gets very crowded.

Kapaa Beach

While it may not be the most stunning part of the island, it has it’s benefit if you are staying at Pono Kai Resort or Waipouli beach resort in kapaa. This place deserves honorable mention if you like the beautiful colours of Noka fair market place shops and also want to capture some sunrise photos.

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Time to shoot: Early mornings between 5.30 am - 7.30 am

Pros: Perfect for everyone who is living in Kapaa or Lihue. Located right across Noka fair Market.

Cons: Not for evening time due to limited parking and tons of people walking around.


If you want all the ingredients for a truly spectacular slice of Kauai, then think no further. Hanalei has it all and is my personal favourite spot. Albeit the traffic and accessibility can become an issue due to the landslide construction work going on so I recommend, early morning shoot starting at 5.45 am and be done by 7 am. This way you will have ample time to grab breakfast in Hanalei and head towards Tunnels beach. Return to Hanalei by noon for lunch and join the afternoon traffic line which opens up at 1 pm. See traffic timings for weekdays & weekends here.

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Hanalei Bay

Evening sunsets are a possibility as well but be prepared to face the crowds and muddle through the parking spots.

Time to shoot: Early mornings between 5.30 am - 7.30 am or after 5. 30 pm

Pros: Has mountains, coconuts trees, beach & pier

Cons: Gets crowded in the afternoon with little parking space.

Other Photo Spots in the North: Anini Beach, Kalihiwai Beach + Bay, Kilauea Lighthouse.

Tunnels Beach

Located on the north end of island, there is something truly magical about this beach. Combine it with your Hanalei trip and make sure you come to the beach prepared. Make sand castles, collect shells or read a book - You get the idea:). Start at Tunnels in the afternoon and then make your way back to Hanalei. Get a picture or two at the most beautiful church located in Hanalei town before heading to Hanalei pier for sunset.

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Time to shoot: It's a long drive to get here and windy roads so day time is recommended especially when you have young babies in the group.

Pros: Perfect if you want to see a giant mountain in the background, rainbow peeping through clouds and a river flowing into the ocean.

Cons: Parking is tricky but if you come early morning or late afternoon, you will be fine.

Mahogany Forest Kilauea

Ideal for your next dreamy forest location, this enchanting place of mahogany plantations makes it perfect for photo sessions. The surrounding trees dripping with moss and bushes offers perfect symmetry for an engagement or an elopement style photo shoot.

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Mahogany Forest Kilauea
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The pictures you take here will add a pop of colour to the travel gallery for sure and will have you wanting to come back to Kauai as soon as you leave.

Time to shoot: Anytime during the day ( avoid midday sun though).

Pros: Hidden gem in north shore.

Cons: Wear long boots if you want to avoid the strong jungle rash from leaves and spider lava. It’s for real.


Red Dirt Falls in Waimea

The grand canyons of Kauai is a spectacular sight to witness. Perfect for couples and adults. Not that feasible for photoshoots with young toddlers as there isn't any safe space for them to walk around.

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Red Dirt Falls in Waimea
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Time to shoot: Before 11 am if you want striking imagery with the sun gleaming.

Pros: Perfect pit stop for couples & adults.

Cons: Only two parking spots on the road side.

Other Photo spots in the west side: Kok'e & Waimea State Park, Pihea Trail for Napali Coast Lookout, Polihale State Park (4 wheel drive required).

Kekaha Beach + Waimea

Waimea Canyon and Kekaha are in the extreme west side of the island. This is a great option for couples, if they want to have some shots at Red dirt falls first then head to the sandy beach of kekaha. In my opinion, the time stands still here and you feel transported back in time.

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Kekaha Beach + Waimea
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Time to shoot: Early morning between 5.30 am - 7 am or after 5.30 pm - 6.45 pm

Pros: Sunset is spectacular + You get to see the forbidden island of Nihaau from the coast.

Cons: Long drive back to Lihue, Kapaa or Princeville + It has only beach and no lush green mountains so I suggest we shoot here, only if you are combining your Red dirt falls or Waimea photo shoot.


Shipwreck Cliffs

Located right across the Grand Hyatt Poipu in the south, this is an extraordinary spot if you love hiking. It's an easy hike up the limestone cliffs. During winter months, I have been lucky to see pods of whales breaching from the shore. Although if you aren't able to to hike, then drive to Mahaulepu trail and park on the dirt road just after CJM stables.

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Time to shoot: 6 am - 8 am or 5 pm - 7 pm.

Pros: Perfect pit stop for couples & adults.

Cons: Requires hiking a bit and may not be great with young babies.

Other Photo spots in South: Koloa town, Mahaulepu Trail, Shipwrecks beach Poipu, Salt ponds, Hanapepe town.

Mahaulepu trail

If a long hike is not your style? Then opt for this gravel road that leads to CJM stables from Grand Hyatt Poipu to get to this spectacular spot overlooking the Pacific. The small walk from the stables dirt road leads through rugged terrain before you witness the azure blue waters for your photo shoot. Wearing comfortable shoes is a must with sunscreen and if you choose for an early morning session bring an umbrella for sure.

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Time to shoot: Early morning or later in the afternoon.

Pros: Easy to get to if you are staying in the Koloa region, Poipu area.

Cons: Rugged terrain so driving slow is imperative if you don’t have a 4X4 vehicle.