Instagram Pics Oahu Hawaii

Ever wonder how to get those beautiful Instagram pics while you’re traveling? It’s probably a lot more work than you think! Below is my guide to taking beautiful Instagram pics in Oahu Hawaii. Enjoy and tag me in your pics!


  • DSLR Camera
    • From beginner to advanced is fine(we use Nikon).
    • Important: Set to shoot in RAW.
      • This is important for post-processing.
  • Lens
    • You can take great shots with the beginner lens that come with the camera but as you progress you will want to invest in different lenses. It’s good to have a wide-angle lens, prime and zoom lens. My favorite right now is a 35mm 1:1.8G-takes crisp, clear pics with those blurred backgrounds.
  • Tripod
  • Drone, DJI is the best.
  • GoPro
    • This is for those underwater shots.
    • More advanced: a dome for the GoPro, this is for those half underwater half above water shots.


To be real, a lot of planning goes into these shoots. I research and pick the spots I want to shoot at, then I have to schedule what days I will shoot where and when usually 2-3 shoots a day. I plan my outfit based on the shoot location ahead of time that way I know what to pack for the trip. Some locations I will do 1-3 outfit changes during a shoot.

Things to do before your trip:

  • Research locations, decide the top places you want to shoot at- I’ve got this one covered for you!
  • Based on those locations plan what days you will shoot where there are only so many sunrises and sunsets on a trip(more below on time).
  • Based on the locations choose your outfits for the shoot, remember to not clash, and to stand out. My go-to in a white dress!


We all know that sunset is the best time to shoot, it’s the perfect lighting. But those of us who take Instagram pics also know an even better time, sunrise. Sunset can still be great but it also means crowds while at sunrise there is usually little to no other people. This is the secret to getting shots at tourist attractions without the tourists, well that and Photoshop!

The reason why shooting mid-day is not ideal is the harsh shadows that the sun creates. This is not to say you can’t still take lovely pics during the day, just watch those unflattering shadows and decrease their intensity in post-processing.

Instagram Pics: locations Oahu Hawaii

  • Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens
    • This is not your typical Botanical Garden, this place is huge and you need a car to see all the different areas. 
    • Although you have most likely seen many photos at the entrance drive with palms flanking the road and mountains in the background, there are many signs asking you to NOT take photos here. Please respect those instructions. 
  • Hikes
    • There are many great hikes with beautiful views, here are some:
      • Diamond Head
      • Koko Crater
      • Makapuu Light House
      • Lanikai Pillbox Hike
      • Kaiwa Ridge Trail 
      • Waimea Valley Trail(falls)
      • Kuliouou Ridge Trail
  • Beaches
    • Waikiki- while beautiful will be crowded.
    • Waimanalo Beach- this is my favorite, we discovered it from a local photographer. 
      • While there are a main parking lot and area for this beach a better spot is: drive past the main lot and keep going until you see the McDonalds, turn right after the McDonalds. Go straight until to hit a dead end with a chain-link fence. Park there and walk out to a deserted part of this beautiful beach!
    • Lanikai Beach- will also get crowded.
    • Sunset Beach- beautiful for sunsets will most likely be crowded. 
    • Kahana Bay Beach- this is a great spot that should not be busy. 
  • Beautiful hotels
    • The most famous being the all pink Royal Hawaiian. 

Props for Instagram Pics Hawaii

  • Leis and flower crowns
    • Cindy’s Lei Shop
    • One of the oldest lei stands in Hawaii, has been there for over 50 years!
    • Website
  • Surf Board
    • Many places to rent a board on almost every beach. My husband surfs I just hold the board for pics and pretend!
  • Jeep
    • You’ll probably want to rent a vehicle for exploring the island anyway so why not rent a Jeep?!
  • Bathing suits and cover-ups
    • You’ve got to pick the perfect swim suit and cover-up for those shots!
  • Coconuts
    • Always a great tropical prop, especially if you don’t know what to do with your hands.
Instagram Pics Oahu Hawaii

Post Processing

This is where the magic happens! Take a look at some of my before and after shots below to get an idea. The best way to edit your pictures is in Adobe Lightroom, this is how I edit all my pictures. I will sometimes use Adobe Photoshop but not too often. You do need to pay for these software, I pay for the photography bundle for $9.99/month.

I am not going to go into how to edit in these programs because it can be complicated but know that I am self-taught. You can easily learn these programs by watching free YouTube tutorials. To learn more about the Adobe Photography bundle click here.

Looking for more on Hawaii, check out my Oahu Travel Guide. Need more help planning your trip? As a professional Travel Advisor, it’s my job to design you the perfect Hawaiian escape. Visit my travel planning page or planning process page to learn more.

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Krista Suletic
Krista Suletic

Full-service, luxury Travel Advisor/Agent. Travel Blogger. Married, dog mom, plant-based. Based in San Jose California but often traveling the world.

Find me on: Instagram

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