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Oahu's Most Instagrammable Things to Do and See

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Here are the most Instagrammable things to do and see in Oahu. And no, this is not just pretty places, because it’s Hawaii for god’s sake. Every beach and hike is pretty. Only things that were truly stop-your-finger-from-scrolling-through-your-Instagram-feed (and make your friends jealous as hell) made the cut.

You can click on any of these to skip ahead:

(If you’re looking for Oahu’s most Instagrammable food and drinks, we’ve got that list over here.)


Colorful street art murals in Honolulu's Kaka'ako neighborhood.

Kaka’ako Street Art

Kaka’ako is the coolest neighborhood in Honolulu and somehow still off the radar of most tourists. It used to be an industrial neighborhood that’s been transformed by street art, good food, and cool shops. There are huge colorful murals around every corner. Once a year, Pow! Wow!, a street art festival, brings artists from all over the world to paint new murals.

Photo Tips:

Start off at SALT at Our Kaka’ako. This area is very walkable and most of the murals are within a 2 mile radius of here.

Heads up, when you start Googling Kaka’ako, you’ll see a really tempting wall painting that reads “You’re entering a judgment-free Selfie Zone.” Before you spend too much time trying find its location, you should know that a new mural was painted over this one in 2020. Every year, Pow! Wow! artists paint new murals, sometimes over the old ones. A good reason to visit here often.

Where is this?



The crooked palm tree at Sunset Beach on Oahu's North Shore.

The Crooked Palm Tree at Sunset Beach

If you’ve seen pictures of Sunset Beach, you’ve probably seen ones with a palm tree whose trunk juts out horizontally toward the ocean before curving up toward the sky. It makes for the perfect tropical paradise photo. This beach also got its name for good reason. It’s a beautiful spot to catch the sunset.

Photo Tips:

Here’s how to find it. If you park at Sunset Beach parking lot, when you walk onto the sand, look to your right and you’ll see the crooked palm tree.

Respect the sign that says “Keep Off.” There are tons of photo ideas that don’t involve climbing up on the tree.

Where is it?

Sunset Beach on the North Shore


The Laylow in Waikiki - flip flops, coffee, and a ukulele at the Waikiki hotel.

The Laylow is a boutique hotel designed with Instagram in mind. Retro Hawaiian vibes meet modern styling. Every bit of this hotel is meant to be photographed — the signature hibiscus print accent wall behind the beds, rows of dashboard hula dancer dolls at the concierge desk, and hanging egg chairs by the pool. This hotel has a lot of personality. Nothing cookie cutter here.

Photo Tips:

If you’re a guest, the accent wallpaper behind the bed, with big bold hibiscus prints, makes a perfect backdrop. (FYI they have two prints. One is more peachy pink and one leans more toward darker teals. If you have a preference, be sure to request it ahead of time.) Every guest gets a really cute Instagram worthy gift basket too. Our favorite parts are the cute flip flops that match the wallpaper and the Laylow branded rubber ducky. Each room also comes with a ukulele which makes for some good photo ops.

If you’re not a guest, there are still so many photo worthy highlights. Just at the top of the elevator that takes you from street level to the hotel, is a cool lounge area with a geometric backdrop where the sun does something magical. Behind the reception are several rows of vintage hula girls. So cool. And a few feet from there is their vintage inspired coffee bar, with a cool looking menu sign. Plus, the hanging egg chairs by the pool are fun and different.

Where is it?


Check out our guide to The Laylow.


Photos from The Sunrise Shack in Oahu - colorful smoothie bowls, a yellow mug of bullet coffee, a rainbow bench, and the yellow and orange Sunrise Shack on Oahu's North Shore.

The Sunrise Shack

The Sunrise Shack makes you happy just looking at it. The bright yellow and orange roadside stand is right across the street from the beach. The whole vibe is sunny and laid back. The stand itself is a perfect backdrop, but so are the matching yellow picnic tables and rainbow benches. Not to mention the cute signs that point to the beach or say “Zen Den” or “Sippin’ on Sunshine.”

Photo Tips:

The OG location at Sunset Beach is most photogenic. This is the one that feels like it’s in the middle of a jungle. Shark’s Cove would be a close runner up. The one in Waikiki is cute but it’s tiny and indoors. It’s definitely a scaled down version. There’s a rainbow bench with a bright yellow background and sun drawing behind it, but there’s usually someone sitting there, waiting for their smoothie.

All of the smoothies are really pretty looking, but the Blue Dream Bowl is extra cool because it’s a bright blue color. (As far as which one tastes the best… our vote goes to Monkey Bowl.)

Where is it?

North Shore (Shark’s Cove and Sunset Beach) + Waikiki [Kailua and Ala Moana Center coming soon…]


Makapu'u tidepools in Oahu.

Makapu’u Tide Pools

Like the Mermaid Caves, these are stunning to see, but can be extremely dangerous. The hike to the tidepools is actually closed. There’s literally a sign that reads “DON’T HIKE HERE” where the trail begins.

Photo Tips:

This is another one where a great photo op isn’t worth your life. Strong currents have banged people against the rocks or swept them out to sea, so absolutely don’t attempt it unless it’s low tide. If you see waves crashing over the pools, it’s too rough and dangerous. Also don’t stand on the edge or turn your back on the ocean.

The tidepools photograph best on sunny days when the light shines off the water and looks bright blue against the black lava rocks. On cloudy and overcast days, the tidepools won’t look as blue or clear.

Where is it?

Waimanalo (the southeastern most tip of the island)


A large wooden tree swing on the beach near Oahu's North Shore.

Secret Tree Swing

Driving up the Windward Coast (west side) to the North Shore, there are several tree swings hidden on different beaches. They’re not easy to come by, so here’s the address of one of them to get you started. Yes, it makes for a great tropical photo op with the ocean in the background, but there’s also something fun and whimsical about finding a secret tree swing, on a secret beach, in a beautiful, tropical location. And not to mention bragging rights since most people can’t find them.

Photo Tips:

This particular swing is a pretty big one, so you could easily fit 2 people on here if you’d like.

It’s probably not worth going out of your way for this, but it can be a fun pitstop if you’re already cruising up the Windward Coast, taking the longer scenic route to the North Shore.

Where is it?

Almost to the North Shore when you drive up the Windward (east) Coast.

Check out our guide to The North Shore Tree Swing. (It’s a short one. Mainly the address.)


Sunset standup paddleboard yoga in Waikiki.

Night SUP Yoga

This is such a unique way to end your day. It’s a gentle yoga class on the water. As the sun goes down, the stand up paddleboards light up the water below in blue, green, purple, and red. From your board you can watch the lights fade over Honolulu.

Photo Tips:

The great thing about this one is that the instructors will take photos throughout the class, so you don’t even have to worry about it.

If you book a Friday night class, you may also catch the fireworks show set off weekly by the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki.

Where is it?

Ala Moana Beach (which is close to Waikiki)


The Pink Pillbox Hike in Oahu.

The Pink Pillbox Hike

It’s known for its bubblegum pink pillbox that sits overlooking the shoreline. This is a short, but steep hike with incredible views. It was painted pink in October 2015 in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness. Visitors leave messages on the interior walls supporting people who have or are currently fighting cancer.

Photo Tips

The pillbox is cool on its own, but the view from the top is insane.

For the most dramatic photo, stand on top of the pillbox or on top of the one beside it and have someone else walk a little further up to get a wider shot of you and the pink pillbox with the ocean in the background.

Where is it

Leeward (west) Coast


The Lanikai Pillbox Hike at sunrise with a view of the Mokes (Mokulua islands) in the background.

Lanikai Pillbox Hike

The Lanikai Pillbox Hike is a short hike with insane views of turquoise water and the Mokulua Islands. It’s one of the most incredible places to watch the sunrise in Oahu.

Photo Tips:

Don’t be shy about getting your photo. People are so nice on this hike that you can even ask someone to take a photo of you and they’ll be happy to do it.

If you climb up onto the first pillbox, covered in brightly colored graffiti, you can sit at the front with your feet hanging off the edge. Crop the ground below out of your frame and it’ll look like you’re sitting above an abyss with the ocean in the background.

A photo standing on top of the pillbox never disappoints either.

Also, if you make it for sunrise, don’t be surprised if lots of other people had the same idea. The cool thing is that everyone gives each other turns taking pictures. And if you wait about 30 minutes or so after the sunrise, people start clearing out and you’ll get the pillboxes to yourself for a few minutes at a time.

Where is it?



Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden palm tree lined road with the Ko'olau Range in the background.

Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden

The word Ho’omaluhia means “a peaceful refuge” and this botanical garden doesn’t disappoint. It’s a 400 acre garden filled with flora from all over the world. (And bonus, it’s free to visit.)

Photo Tips

The entire place is beautiful, but the photo everyone wants is standing in the middle of the palm tree lined road on the way into the gardens, with the Koʻolau Range towering in the background. Unfortunately, it’s become such a popular photo spot that there are now signs saying “No Photography” along the side of the road. So if you want to attempt it, definitely go early before other cars start showing up. Keep in mind that there is a security guard there that may or may not be ok with it.

Where is it?



Kayakers at the Kaneohe Sandbar in Oahu.

Kaneohe Sandbar

Kaneohe Sandbar is like a beach in the middle of the ocean. It’s one of the most beautiful places in Hawaii but still under the radar.

Photo Tips

Book a boat tour and they’ll set you up with snorkel gear to see turtles and floaties and stand up paddleboards for a great photo in the clear turquoise waters.

If you’re here partly for the gram, you could always pack your own Instagrammable floatie to make sure it works for your photos. If you happen to own a drone, this spot looks even more epic from the sky.

There’s not a bad time to go, but low tide looks the coolest. At low tide, it’s like walking around on an island. At high tide, it’s like swimming in a 3-5 ft deep pool. Most of the time, it’s about ankle to knee deep. All are fun, but good to know what to expect.

Where is it?



The mermaid caves in Oahu.

Mermaid Caves

The Mermaid Caves are one of Oahu’s best kept secrets (because locals usually won’t tell tourists how to find them). This is high on the list of things in Oahu that will make your friends jealous. They’re incredibly beautiful and enchanting but can also be dangerous. Read our guide for the specific location and our full list of safety tips.

Photo Tips:

They are beautiful and magical, but keep your safety in mind. Go at low tide and follow the rest of our safety tips. It’s not worth risking it just for a photo (no matter how cool).

Where are they? The Leeward Coast (West side of the island), not far from Ko Olina.


Sunflower fields in Oahu.

Sunflower Fields

There are a couple different Oahu sunflower fields that welcome visitors and their cameras (usually for a small fee around $5). The sunflowers usually only bloom for about 10 days per season and you won’t know when that is until it’s getting close, so this is a photo op that not everyone who goes to Oahu will get.

Photo Tips:

Waimanalo Country Farms sunflowers usually bloom in July and October. It’s so pretty here with the Koolau Mountains towering in the background and the Pacific Ocean in the distance. Aloun Farms in Kapolei usually bloom between October and November.

As far as what to wear… navy, orange, and corals stand out the most against the green and yellow.

Where are they?

Waimanalo (east coast) and Kapolei (southwestern region)


The Stairway to Heaven (Haiku Stairs) hike. A view of the satelite at the top.

The Stairway to Heaven (the legal way to it them before it's gone)

The Stairway to Heaven (aka The Haiku Stairs) is probably THE most iconic and captivating (and definitely the most Instagram worthy) hike in Oahu. It also happens to be super illegal and comes with a $1000 fine if you’re caught.

But what most people don’t know is that there’s another (legal) way to get to the top of the stairs. And that’s by hiking the Moanalua Valley Trail instead. It’s a 10 mile trek that ends at the top of the Haiku Stairs for the perfect photo op.

Sadly, in September 2021 a unanimous resolution was passed to remove the stairs. Honolulu has budgeted $1M to remove them, maybe as early as in 2022. So this really is a once in a lifetime photo op.

Photo Tips

Yes, this takes you to the very top of the Stairway to Heaven. Yes, you could walk down a few of the steps for an insane photo. Yes, it’s still illegal and if you’re caught, you will be fined $1000. Do people still do it…….? Yes.

Where is it?

About 20 minutes from Waikiki


The red fence bridge leading into the Byodo-In Temple in Kaneohe, Oahu.

Byodo-In Temple

Byodo-In Temple is becoming more popular, but still mostly under the radar. It’s a place of peace and calm, with the lush green cliffs of the Koolau Mountains towering behind. Outside the temple, turtles lounge around the pond while wild peacocks and black swans wander about the lush gardens outside the temple.

Photo Tips

Early morning is the most picturesque with the early sun casting light across the valley. In the afternoon, the sun moves behind the mountains and the colors aren’t as vibrant in photos.

The bridge leading in is the most sought after spot for a photo. Plan to get there early if you want the best shot at getting a photo without too many people in the background. But let's face it, lots of people want a picture on the red bridge so everyone kinda knows the deal and waits for a turn to take theirs in between people walking along the bridge to get to the temple.

If you’re after a couple videos, try ringing the huge Bon-Sho (sacred bell) after you cross the bridge. The gift shop also sells koi fish food and bird food and that is definitely a site to see.

If you’re interested in the temple for the photo op, there’s also a sunset photo tour with a professional photographer that takes you to the temple for about 20 minutes, along with some of the most iconic photo ops in Oahu — Nu’uanu Pali, macadamia nut farms, Chinaman’s Hat, Kawela Bay, Sunset Beach, Banzai Pipeline, Waimea Valley, Laniakea Beach, and on and on.

Where is it?



The Siren's Bath at Ala Moana Beach. A tub made of stone in the water.

Siren’s Bath

The Siren’s Bath is the easiest, most unique photo ops in Honolulu, and yet most people don’t know about it. And if they do, they don’t know where to find it. Here’s our short and sweet guide on how to find it.

Photo Tips

Go at low tide for the best photo op. This is when you can make out the rocks under the water and the bath isn’t completely submerged. (It’s also the easiest to get to it).

Since our photo doesn’t do it justice (because it was a day after some crazy storms), you've got to check out The Globe Wanderers photo. It’s insane.

Where is it?

Ala Moana Beach (near Waikiki)


Check out our guide to the best cameras for Hawaii. We narrow it down to the best types of cameras and then to the best in each category.

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