Everything You Need to Know About Eloping in O’ahu, Hawaii

So, I heard that you are thinking about eloping in O’ahu, Hawaii.

Let me be the first to congratulate you! As a Hawaii Elopement Photographer, I might be a little bit biased. But, I truly think that O’ahu is one of the greatest places to elope!

In this O’ahu Elopement Guide, you will find anything and everything you need to know about planning your elopement in this part of paradise!

Guide to Eloping in O'ahu, Hawaii and learn how to elope in Hawaii with Two Tides Photography

Eloping in O’ahu: A Brief History of The Island

In 1795, Hawai’i Island Chief Kamehameha invaded the island of Oahu.  He brought with him an army of thousands.  The battle took place at Nu’uanu Pali, a cliff with a 1,000ft drop.  800 warriors were driven to their deaths by Kamehameha’s army.  This was a turning point for Hawai’i.  As this battle is what brought unification to all of the Hawaiian islands for the next century.

“Oʻahu was the home of the Hawaiian monarchy, the birthplace of modern and big-wave surfing, the stage for the overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom, and the tipping point that led to the United States’ involvement in World War II.”


In the 19th century with the rise of the agricultural industry, Immigrants from Japan, China, Korea, Puerto Rico, Portugal, Russia, and the Philippines arrives to work in the plantations.  This is how Hawai’i developed its multicultural population.

Famous films and shows such as Jumanji, Jurassic Park, and Lost were all filmed on the island of O’ahu. 

Waikiki, located in the southern region of the island, is where you’ll find the birthplace of surfing.  Years later, Hawaiian surfers eventually made their way to the North shore to take on larger surf.  Waimea Bay, Pipeline, and Sunset are among the most famous big-wave surfing spots.  


Mokus (Districts)

Hawaii Island contains 5 different Mokus (districts).
Below is a brief description of each!

North Shore

If you’re looking for some of the best big-wave ridings in the world, you’ll find them at the North Shore.  Every year, the North Shore hosts a slew of big-wave surf competitions, which brings in the top surfers in the world!

The best time of year to view big waves on the north shore is in the winter months between November-March.  

All year round, the 7-mile-long stretch of beach is warm, beautiful, and great for fun and relaxation. The sleepy town of Haleiwa is a great spot for boutique shopping and local eateries.  A typical drive to the North Shore from Honolulu takes about an hour. Expect longer during the winter months.

Plan to spend the day on the North Shore as there is so much to see and explore!

Central O’ahu

Central O’ahu is where you’ll find the richness of the Island’s history.  Five historic sites are located in Central O’ahu, including the famous Pearl Harbor.  It’s worth taking at least half a day to visit these historical sites.  

In addition, you’ll find much of Oahu’s formerly thriving agricultural regions located in Central Oahu.

  When you visit this district, be sure to stop and take a tour of the Dole Plantation or the Hawai’i plantation village to learn more about Hawai’i’s agricultural history.

Windward Coast  

Full disclosure, this is one of my FAVORITE regions of the island.

Here you will find some of the most scenic backdrops your eyes have ever seen.  If driving from Honolulu, take the Pali Highway towards Kailua and you’ll see the city quickly disappear into green, lush mountain peeks that feel otherworldly.  Drive a little further, and crystal clear turquoise waters come into view.  Check out Kailua Beach!  Or better yet, park at Kailua Beach and take the mile-long trek over to Lanikai Beach and spend a day relaxing, kayaking, or surfing along the white sand beach. 

Kailua Town has so much to offer in the way of local shops, eateries, and even a Whole Foods.  Take note, Kailua is also a small residential community.  Avoid exploring the local neighbourhoods or sneaking into private beach areas.

Locals will surely express their lack of appreciation.  

Lastly, if you have time to kill, the drive North from Kailua to the North Shore is one of the most beautifully scenic drives along the coast.

Stop at Kualoa Ranch (the film site of Jurassic park and Jumanji) for some horseback riding or ATV-ing.


The city of Honolulu is the heartbeat of Oahu, and quite possibly all of Hawai’i.  Being the largest city in the state of Hawai’i, here you’ll find high-end shopping, fine dining, and tons of historical sites to visit and explore.

Waikiki is also a great surf spot for beginners!  

Leeward Coast  

Head 30 minutes west of Honolulu, and you’ll end up in what feels like a completely different world!  The Leeward coast is dry and mountainous.  Although resorts are more limited on this side of the island, what you’ll find are some of the most pristine resorts. These include The Four Seasons and the Disney Aulani Hotel.

Be sure to visit Ka ‘ena Point, the furthest western tip of the island.

Eloping in O’ahu: Pros and Cons


  • One of the trickiest parts of eloping in Hawaii is the permits.  O’ahu has the largest amount of permissible locations for shooting your elopement than any other island.  
  • The Beaches! Some of the most beautiful beaches in the entire state are on the island of O’ahu
  • More affordable hotel options.  Because of the larger quantity of hotels on O’ahu, it is easier to find more affordable options
  • Pearl Harbor, and other historical sites to visit
  • You won’t find better shopping, fine dining, or local eateries on any other island. At the very least O’ahu has a lot more options!


  • If AirBnbs are your jam, O’ahu can be tricky. In the last two years, vacation rental laws have become increasingly strict. Non-permitted rentals in non-major tourist regions on the island are considered illegal.  Although you, as the renter, would not face legal trouble for renting an unlawful spot, the county has cracked down on illegal rentals. This means that your rental could be shut down at any moment.  It’s something to remember when booking an Airbnb on O’ahu.  
  • It’s busy!  Over 50% of Hawaii tourists visit O’ahu.  In addition, over 90% of the state’s population also lives in O’ahu.  So, yeeeeeah. It gets busy.
  • Traffic can be pretty crazy on the island.   

Eloping in O’ahu: Best Elopement Venues

Although you’re planning an elopement, don’t rule out booking a wedding venue just yet!
Why you ask?

Sometimes it can be challenging to find just the right location for an elopement ceremony on O’ahu. Especially if you are looking for a specific backdrop, like waterfalls, a bamboo forest, etc.

Many of the most epic locations are on private property or not permissible.

Booking an intimate venue can help you avoid this hassle.  And, if you’re including a small guest list with your elopement, can also be a great way to still have an intimate cocktail hour or dinner celebration on your wedding day! 

Male’ana Gardens 

This venue is a truly romantic destination for couples looking to elope in a beautiful and serene setting. The gardens are located in the heart of Hawaii and offer a peaceful and tranquil environment for an intimate wedding or elopement

The gardens are lush and green, with towering palm trees, fragrant flowers, and a stunning waterfall that provides a beautiful backdrop for photos. There are many secluded spots throughout the gardens that offer privacy and intimacy, perfect for a small and intimate ceremony.

The staff at Male’ana Gardens are experienced in hosting weddings and elopements and can help you plan every detail of your special day.

In addition to the natural beauty of the gardens, Male’ana also offers several romantic amenities, such as private gazebos and picnic areas, where you can enjoy a romantic meal or champagne toast with your partner.

Haiku Gardens

These gardens are stunningly beautiful and are located in a serene location. This spot is perfect for couples looking to elope in a romantic and intimate setting. Located in the lush and verdant Haiku Valley on the island of O’ahu in Hawaii, this botanical garden is a hidden gem that offers a magical and unforgettable experience for couples.

There are several locations throughout the gardens that offer secluded and private spots for couples to exchange their vows, with stunning views of the valley and the Ko’olau Mountains in the distance.

Haiku Gardens also offers several amenities that will add to the romance and intimacy of your elopement, including a private bridal suite for getting ready and a gourmet dining experience that is tailored to your specific tastes and preferences. This is great, especially if you will be having close family and friends joining!

Paliku Gardens

Paliku Gardens is a stunning botanical garden located on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. The gardens are situated in the majestic Ko’olau Mountains, providing a breathtaking backdrop for an intimate and romantic elopement ceremony.

There are several locations throughout the gardens that offer privacy and seclusion for couples to exchange their vows with awe-inspiring views of the mountains and valley below.

The gardens are illuminated at night, creating a magical and romantic ambiance that is perfect for a nighttime ceremony. There are also several walking trails and picnic areas where you can enjoy the stunning scenery with your partner.

Bayer Estate 

If you’re looking for something with luxury, Bayer estate will be the perfect spot for you!

You can exchange your vows on the white sandy beach, under a gazebo overlooking the ocean, or in a lush garden setting. Whatever your preference, your ceremony will be unforgettable!

On your elopement day, enjoy a candlelit dinner on the beach, indulge in a couples massage at the spa, or take a romantic sunset sail along the coastline.

Sunset Ranch

Talk about a breathtakingly beautiful and secluded ranch located on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii.

The ranch offers a stunning natural setting with panoramic views of the ocean, mountains, and valleys that make it a perfect location for couples looking to elope.

The ranch offers several unique locations to host your elopement ceremony, including the lush garden setting, a picturesque pond, and a majestic hilltop that offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Each location is perfect for a small and intimate ceremony, surrounded by the beauty and tranquility of the ranch.

The staff at Sunset Ranch are experienced in hosting elopements and are dedicated to making your special day as stress-free and enjoyable as possible. They can assist with all aspects of your ceremony, including finding the perfect location, arranging for a celebrant, providing floral arrangements, and more.

The ranch also offers several amenities perfect for couples looking to celebrate their love. You can enjoy a romantic horseback ride on the ranch, take a peaceful walk through the gardens, or indulge in a relaxing couples massage at the on-site spa.

The accommodations at Sunset Ranch are also luxurious and comfortable, with a variety of options to suit your needs. You can stay in a cozy cottage or a spacious villa, each beautifully furnished and decorated to reflect the natural beauty of the ranch.

Overall, Sunset Ranch is a magical and romantic location for couples looking to elope in a breathtaking natural setting. The stunning scenery, attentive staff, and luxurious amenities make this a perfect destination to celebrate your love and start your new life together.


This is truly a lovely spot for an elopement or intimate wedding. The estate offers a picturesque backdrop of lush tropical gardens, coconut palms, and stunning ocean views.

The estate has several locations available for your ceremony and or small reception dinner, each with its own unique character and offering breathtaking views of the surrounding scenery.

It’s a beautiful and serene location for couples who want a private and intimate elopement on the stunning north shore of O’ahu. The breathtaking views, the lush tropical gardens, and the exceptional staff make Loulupalm Farm Estate an unforgettable destination for your special day.

Waimea Valley

This is one of my fave venues on O’ahu.

The valley boasts breathtaking scenery, including lush tropical gardens, majestic mountains, and a stunning waterfall that creates an unforgettable backdrop for your elopement.  And, with their elopement packages starting at $1500, it won’t break the bank either.  

In addition to the stunning scenery and exceptional service,  I love that Waimea Valley also offers a variety of activities that you and your partner can enjoy, including hiking trails, botanical gardens, and cultural exhibits. This makes it a perfect location for couples who want to celebrate their love in a beautiful natural setting and enjoy a fun and romantic adventure together.

Eloping in O’ahu: Finding Lodging on the Island

Best Unique Stays

Hawaii Surf Campers

If you’re looking for a truly unique stay while visiting O’ahu, consider renting a vintage VW van from Hawaii Surf Campers!  An incredibly unique way to really take in the sights of the island.  Each van also includes your camping necessities.  

Best Hotels on Oahu

The Royal Hawaiian

The Royal Hawaiian Hotel is a historic and iconic luxury hotel located in Waikiki, Hawaii. It was originally built in 1927 and is known as the “Pink Palace of the Pacific” due to its distinctive pink color and grand architecture.  It has a prime location on the stunning Waikiki Beach, offering guests access to a wide range of water sports and activities.

Moana Surfrider

The Moan Surfrider (formerly known as the Moana Hotel), was built in 1901 and was the first hotel built on Waikiki Beach.  It gained popularity in the 20s and 30s with the rise of tourism to Hawaii in this time period but then quickly went to a grinding halt during WWII.  According to historichotels.org, from the years between 1941-1945, the Moana Hotel was used as a place of rest and recreation for soldiers and sailors, often serving as the last stop for those heading to war.  The hotel now has two towers built on either side of it, which were constructed in the ’60s.

If it’s within your budget, I highly recommend staying in a room located in the original portion of the hotel.

Prince Waikiki

The Prince Waikiki is a modern and upscale hotel located in Honolulu.  It features contemporary and spacious accommodations with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and Honolulu skyline.  It’s a great option for couples looking for something with a bit more luxury, but won’t be paying more than $500 a night.


The Laylow Hotel is a stylish boutique hotel located in Waikiki and one of my favorites!

It’s modern and chic with a mid-century design aesthetic, featuring vibrant colors and patterns.  The central location can be a huge perk to staying at the Laylow, but if you’re looking for something quieter and more chill, this may not be the best spot for you.

Turtle Bay Resort

This beachfront resort on the North Shore of O’ahu is luxurious at its core.  It features a range of accommodations, including rooms, suites, and beach cottages, each with breathtaking views of the ocean and surrounding landscape.

If golfing is your jam, they have two championship golf courses.  In addition, they have tennis courts, horseback riding, and a full-service spa.

If you’re more into water activities,  they also have surfing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and snorkeling. The resort also offers guided hikes and cultural activities to immerse guests in Hawaiian culture.  If you have it in the budget, Turtle Bay is an excellent alternative to the hustle and bustle of Waikiki. 

Eloping in O’ahu: Best Activities on the Island

Leaving No Trace: OUR KULEANA (responsibility)

You may not know this, but Hawaii is a very special place.
Just kidding, you totally know this! Why else would you be considering eloping in O’ahu?!

But, what you may not know is that the Aina (land) is considered incredibly sacred to the Hawaiian natives and those who have spent their lives growing up on these islands. Although most Hawaiians welcome visitors with their extraordinary aloha spirit…

There are a few things you can do on your end to ensure you’re visiting responsibly and respectfully.

ONE | Do NOT Bring Your Own Bouquet or Florals

Although it would be lovely to save some money and bring your own dried bouquet for your elopement, please refrain from doing so.  Anything agricultural brought to the island is considered invasive and can harm existing indigenous plants.  Instead, support a local floral designer and have them curate for you a beautiful bouquet or Lei Po’o (flower crown), made of local stunning foliage for your elopement day!

TWO | Avoid All Private Property or Any Area Considered Kapu (restrictive area)

Most people these days love to travel “off the beaten path,” away from high touristy areas.
I love this too!

In Hawaii however, this can be a sensitive thing for residents.

Many of the amazing “hidden gems” you might hear about on social media or online, are actually on private property or are considered sacred land.  Many of these places are being overrun by visitors.  If a place is clearly marked private, please refrain from entering.

Lastly, anytime you’re at a location and see an area roped off or see long rock walls, these areas are Kapu (restricted) because it’s considered a Heiau( sacred site or burial ground).

Do not enter these areas or climb these ancient rock walls. 

THREE | Educate Yourself on Hawaiian History

Truly, this place and its history only become more magnificent the more you learn.

Consider going to a Polynesian museum, taking a guided tour, or checking out some local art museums.  You won’t regret it!

FOUR | Buy Local

It might be tempting to buy touristy things from the ABC store or target. Instead, seek out local shops that carry beautiful handmade and unique items.  Eat at local restaurants and buy your produce from the local farmer’s markets.

These are all small ways to support local businesses. 

Want to give back while traveling the Islands? Check out the Malama Hawai’i Program!

Choose from a list of volunteer opportunities on each island!
They also include volunteer incentives like a free night at a hotel or resort credits!  


Did you find this, “Eloping in O’ahu” Guide Helpful?
Check Out Some of My Other Hawaii Elopement Resources:

Ultimate Big Island Elopement Guide | Eloping in Hawaii with Two Tides Photography
7 Ways to Personalize Your Hawaii Elopement
A Look Into A Hawaii Adventure Elopement On A Budget: Tips, Tricks, and Inspriation

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