A Guide on How to Elope in Hawaii – Hawaii Elopement Photographer
Hawaii is like paradise on Earth, and it’s iconic for a reason! There’s truly no place like it. And for couples looking for the perfect place to elope, what could be better than a Hawaiian elopement?
Hawaii is peaceful, romantic, and thrilling all at once, and there are tons of things to do! Whether you’re thrill-seekers looking to explore the island by helicopter after your ceremony, or you’re more laidback and ready to relax on the pristine beaches, Hawaiian elopements give couples tons of options. And I couldn’t recommend it more!
But before you start planning, I’m sure you have a million questions. As a Hawaii elopement photographer, I’ve heard (and answered!) them all, so let’s explore some of the most common questions about getting married in Hawaii. I’ll even share some tips for making the most out of your trip!
Where is Hawaii?
Let’s begin with the basics. Hawaii is a group of islands in the Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental U.S. It’s roughly a 5-hour flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu nonstop and a 10-hour flight from New York City. Hawaii is in the HST time zone, which is 3 hours behind PST.
When is the best time to elope in Hawaii?
The hype is real: Hawaii definitely has a tropical climate! This means lots of lush greenery and beautiful views, but it also means hot summer days and tropical rainstorms. But the weather isn’t the only thing you’ll need to navigate to choose the perfect time to elope. Because of Hawaii’s appeal, it’s no surprise that the island receives millions of tourists yearly. Over 10 million tourists visited in 2019 alone! So, before picking a date, it’s essential to understand the tourism trends and what kind of weather to expect.
Hawaii is relatively warm throughout the year at sea level. July, August, and September are the warmest months, with daily temperatures ranging from 75° lows and 88° highs. In the cooler months (December, January, and February typically), expect temps between 65° and 78°. Hawaii has short rain showers nearly every day, so there’s not exactly a “wet season” and a “dry season.” Still, the Kona Winds typically bring in more rainfall along the more mountainous/inland parts in the winter months.
Visitors are often surprised by how localized the weather on the islands can be. And the weather in one part of the island may be extremely different than in the next; it’s common to drive through rainstorms on the way to enjoy a clear, sunny day at the beach! Elevation also impacts the temperature, so if you plan to hike one of the larger volcanoes, expect chilly temperatures at the summit. Once you know which island you’ll be visiting, you can research more into that island’s microclimate. Visitors are often surprised by how localized the weather on the islands can be. And the weather in one part of the island may be extremely different than in the next; it’s common to drive through rainstorms on the way to enjoy a clear, sunny day at the beach! Elevation also impacts the temperature, so if you plan to hike one of the larger volcanoes, expect chilly temperatures at the summit. Once you know which island you’ll be visiting, you can research more into that island’s microclimate.
What is the best place to elope in Hawaii?
Hawaii is made up of several islands, each with its own unique characteristics and personality! The primary six islands to visit are Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui, and Hawaii (also known as the Big Island).
Kauai is my personal favorite. It’s the oldest island geographically of the Hawaiian islands, it’s very peaceful, and it’s so romantic. I highly recommend making a visit to the Napali Coast State Wilderness Park. It’s gorgeous and would make an incredible backdrop for a wedding ceremony or proposal - especially if you’re willing to make the 8-mile hike for the best view on the island! I loved working with Desiree and Scott for their couple's photoshoot on Kauai.
For a destination micro-wedding, Kualoa Ranch on the island of Oahu would be perfect! There are unique features with so much history, like the Moli’i Gardens, where you can get married on the border of an 800-year-old Hawaiian fishpond, or Kualoa’s Secret Island to get married on a private beach! Aside from hosting weddings, Kualoa Ranch offers fun things like horseback riding tours, Jeep Expeditions, and Jurassic Adventure Tours (Jurassic Park was filmed here!). It’s definitely worth a visit!
To learn more about microweddings, visit this blog post.
The Big Island is romantic, too - especially in Kona, which is on the western side of the island. The Big Island is also known for their Kona coffee and plantation. My husband proposed to me on a private beach there, and it was unforgettable! Talk about romantic!!!!
Where is the best place to stay in Hawaii?
If you ask me, no trip to Hawaii should be shorter than a week - and even that’s not enough time to see it all! But out of the three times I’ve been to Hawaii, I’ve stayed in Oahu, the Big Island, and Kauai and each has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Oahu is more crowded but also more convenient - Oahu has nearly five times the population of the next-largest island of Hawaii. Stay right on the beach at the Hyatt, which has a world-class spa and dining sourced locally. For a more boutique experience, check out Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club, where you’ll enjoy the mid-century-modern inspired design and in-house events like live music! In Oahu make plans to visit one of the botanical gardens and the Pearl Harbor National Memorial.
The Big Island isn’t quite as populated as Oahu but still has plenty to enjoy. Most visitors stay on the Kona side (the western side) because that’s where most of the hotels are located and there’s easy access to places like Pololu Valley with some of the best hikes in Hawaii! I definitely recommend a stay at Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. I loved taking part in the hotel luau! On the other side of the Big Island, Hilo, there are fewer lodging options and upscale resorts, but you’ll be close to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Airbnbs are the way to go in Hilo, so plan to stay in a tiny house on the edge of the rainforest or a Bali-Style Beach House on the coast.
In Kauai, the Hilton Garden Inn Kauai Wailua Bay was conveniently located but still felt intimate. It’s near a few waterfalls (a signature Hawaii experience, in my opinion!) and has a little tiki pool bar called Mamahune’s. Lydgate Beach is nearby, which has two calm lagoons where you can see tons of tropical fish by snorkeling without the big waves. Be warned though! Kauai often has heavy traffic, so being close to local shops, sightseeing, and restaurants made this hotel a favorite.
What are some fun activities to do while you’re in Hawaii?
It’s hard to imagine not having a good time on a trip to Hawaii! Everyone is so friendly and chill, the weather is fantastic, and there’s so much to do. Some people can get away without renting a car on their trip, but if you plan to really see different parts of any of the islands, I recommend it! As for the more adventurous couples, adding these to your itinerary is a must:
Hawaiian Helicopter Tours: even for the less adventurous, the aerial view of the island is worth it! I loved seeing the Napali Coast from above.
Snorkel and swim with the manta rays: you can get up close and personal with the Kona Manta Rays at night as they enjoy a dinner feast of plankton. These manta rays are giant, with wingspans averaging around 12 ft, and they live to be 50 years old! The experience of seeing them was truly one of a kind! Heads up, though -- reservations book up several days in advance, so plan ahead!
Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden: this is perfect for a day that feels peaceful and laidback. Despite a short rain shower during our visit here, I wouldn’t change anything - being surrounded by the luscious greenery overcome with thick fog was surreal! This garden also allows camping, fishing, and small weddings (see more info on their weddings here).
Attend a luau: this would be such a fun way to wrap up your elopement day and really immerse yourself in the culture of Hawaii.
Visit one (or more!) of Hawaii’s National Parks or Hawaii’s State Parks: step outside of the resort living for a while to see Hawaii’s wilder side. But before you head out for a hike, check out Hawaii’s Safe Hiking Guidelines for safety!
Where should we eat during our Hawaiian getaway?
Anyone that knows me is well aware of how much I love food. It’s my favorite way to experience the world! Eating well is one of the great pleasures in life, and Hawaii doesn’t disappoint.
If you’re in Kauai, start your day with breakfast and coffee at Javakai. The acai berry bowl is my go-to order. It’s not like other “acai bowls.” The texture is thicker and more sorbet-like, unlike the regular extra thick smoothie consistency that you get at most places.
For a low-key lunch in Oahu, check out The Musubi Cafe and dine on one of the most classic foods Hawaii has to offer: Spam Musubi! Then, grab dinner with a twist at Marugame Udon, where you’ll enjoy the most delicious handmade, udon-prepared, theater-style as you eat. It’s a full sensory experience and may seem a little intimidating to some, but it’s well worth it. Each trip to Hawaii has included a visit to Marugame Udon because it’s just that delicious!
And finally, if you need a sweet treat, shaved ice is the way to go! You may think you’ve had Hawaiian shaved ice before, but there’s nothing like real Hawaiian shaved ice! It’s easy to find and the perfect way to cool off.
My Final Tips for Eloping in Hawaii
Stay updated on weather conditions: things change quickly on the islands! Everyday staples for any day out on Hawaii should include sunscreen, sunglasses, and clothing layers in case of rain.
Keep Leave No Trace principles in mind: Hawaii’s environment is ecologically sensitive, and we all must do our part in conserving this beautiful landscape. There’s truly no other place like it! Refresh on the basic LNT principles here.
Meet the photographer
That unique spark that only you two can create together. I believe that everyone has a unique love story that deserves to be told. It should be as organic as your love. My job is to tell your unique love story through my lens.
Capturing a love story is like reading a good book. You never want it to end. From the little glimpses, to the tender touches that are often forgotten years from now. It’s all about the connection between you and your #1 person.