Hawaii's Top 10 Instagram-worthy Spots

When you think of Hawaii, you imagine a paradise filled with stunning landscapes, vibrant culture, and the warm spirit of Aloha. For Instagrammers, it's a dream destination brimming with opportunities to capture and share awe-inspiring images. We've picked out the top 10 Instagrammable spots in Hawaii that will help elevate your feed to new levels of beauty and engagement. But before we dive into our countdown, let's first equip you with essential tips and tricks to get the most out of these scenic spots using just your smartphone.

Mastering Smartphone Photography for Instagram

Today's smartphones have evolved into powerful photography tools, enabling us to snap high-quality pictures at our convenience. Here's a comprehensive guide to help you refine your smartphone photography skills for Instagram.
1. Essential Gear:
Tripod: The first piece of gear on our list is a portable tripod. It can provide stability to your shots, prevent unwanted blurring, and is a must-have for shooting in low-light conditions or capturing long-exposure shots.
Smartphone Lenses: A set of smartphone lenses can drastically broaden your photographic capabilities. From wide-angle lenses for sweeping landscapes to macro lenses for intricate close-ups, there's a lens for almost every type of shot.
Portable Charger: Having a portable charger can be a game-changer. You don't want to find the perfect shot only to discover your phone is out of juice.
2. Understanding Light:
Golden Hour: As many photographers will tell you, lighting can make or break a photo. The 'Golden Hour'—roughly the first hour after sunrise and the last hour before sunset—offers a magical light that can transform an ordinary shot into an extraordinary one.
Blue Hour: Just before sunrise and right after sunset, there's a brief period known as the 'Blue Hour'. The sky takes on a deep blue hue that can add a dramatic tone to your photographs.
Mid-day Light: Although often avoided due to harsh shadows, mid-day light can work in your favor if used creatively. Look for interesting shadow patterns or try out high-contrast black and white photography.
3. Composing Your Shot:
Rule of Thirds: Imagine a 3x3 grid overlaid on your frame and try to align the subject of your photo with the intersecting lines for a balanced composition.
Perspectives: Don't just shoot from eye level. Try different perspectives—get low, go high, or shoot from an angle to add depth and intrigue to your photos.
Frame within a Frame: Look for natural frames such as windows, arches, or tree branches to create a 'frame within a frame'. It's a powerful technique to direct the viewer's attention towards the subject.
4. Post-Processing:
Editing Apps: Apps like Snapseed, Lightroom Mobile, and VSCO offer a multitude of editing options. From basic adjustments like brightness and contrast to more advanced features like selective edits and curves, these apps can significantly enhance your photos.
Presets and Filters: They can provide a consistent look and feel to your Instagram feed. However, remember that less is often more when it comes to using filters.
Now that we've got the fundamentals down, let's dive into the top 10 most Instagrammable spots in Hawaii.

10. Makapuu Lookout

Makapuu Lookout in Hawaii

Our list begins with the majestic Makapuu Lookout. Set in the southeastern corner of Oahu, this lookout point provides breathtaking views of the deep azure Pacific Ocean, rugged cliffs, and the charming Makapuu Lighthouse perched atop a hill. Early risers are rewarded with a stunning sunrise view that fills the sky with a riot of colors, offering an enchanting scene that's simply perfect for Instagram. The place is also home to unique flora and fauna, adding another layer of beauty to your shots. Whether you're looking to capture the vast expanse of the sea or a close-up of the native species, Makapuu Lookout offers countless photo opportunities.

9. Rainbow Falls, Hawaii

Rainbow Falls, Hawaii

Coming in at number 9, we have Rainbow Falls, a natural spectacle known for its cascading water and lush surroundings. Located in Hilo, this 80-foot waterfall is named for the rainbows that frequently form in the mist of its falls. Capturing this spot at the right time of day, when the sun's angle is just right, can result in a stunning shot featuring a radiant rainbow against the cascading water. The surrounding tropical rainforest, with its towering trees and exotic plants, provides an excellent backdrop for a captivating Instagram post.

8. Byodo-In Temple

Byodo-In Temple, Hawaii

Nestled at the foot of the stunning Ko'olau Mountains, Byodo-In Temple offers a unique slice of serenity and history. This non-denominational shrine was built to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii and is a replica of a 900-year-old Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. The serene reflecting pond, manicured grounds, and the striking red temple against the verdant mountain range create a tranquil and picturesque scene that’s a joy to photograph. Wild peacocks roam the grounds and koi fish swim in the pond, adding life to your shots. Its beauty and tranquillity make it an Instagrammer’s paradise.

7. Royal Hawaiian Hotel

Royal Hawaiian Hotel

Affectionately known as the "Pink Palace of the Pacific," the Royal Hawaiian Hotel stands out on Waikiki Beach with its unique color and Spanish-Moorish architecture. The hotel’s historic charm and the vibrant pink exterior contrast beautifully with the azure skies and the turquoise sea, making it a perfect Instagram spot. Strolling through the hotel's lush gardens and grand hallways, you'll find numerous opportunities for stunning pictures, from vintage decor elements to luxurious pools. As the sun sets, the lighting transforms the hotel into a soft, warm canvas that begs to be photographed. The Royal Hawaiian Hotel isn't just a place to stay; it's a place to capture.

6. Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden

Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden

If you're after a shot that screams 'tropical paradise,' look no further than the Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden. This 400-acre garden in Kaneohe is a ph
otographer's delight with its lush greenery, tranquil lake, and the dramatic backdrop of the Ko'olau Mountains. It's particularly known for its stunning palm tree-lined road which creates a natural corridor leading towards the mountains, a shot that has become iconic on Instagram. The garden is home to a diverse range of plants from around the world, offering myriad opportunities for captivating close-up shots. With its vibrant green hues and the symphony of tropical flora, Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden is a haven for nature lovers and Instagrammers alike.

5. Lanikai Beach

Lanikai Beach

At number 5, we have Lanikai Beach. Often ranked among the world's best beaches, Lanikai, with its powdery white sands, crystal-clear waters, and the two Mokulua Islands in the backdrop, paints a postcard-perfect picture. The calm, azure waters reflecting the changing colors of the sky make for an awe-inspiring sunrise photo. Additionally, the beach is lined with palm trees, adding to its tropical charm. Whether you're capturing the grandeur of the landscape or focusing on the intricate details like the unique seashells along the shore, Lanikai Beach is a playground for photographers and a hit on Instagram.

4. Makapuu Lighthouse

Makapuu Lighthouse, Oahu Hawaii

Makapuu Lighthouse, located on Oahu's southeastern tip, offers not just a historic charm but also panoramic vistas of the coastline and the vast Pacific Ocean. The trail to the lighthouse is a popular hike, winding up the side of Makapuu Head and offering several lookouts for capturing the rugged cliffs, offshore islets, and the deep blue sea. On a clear day, you may even spot Molokai and Lanai islands in the distance. The red-capped lighthouse standing against the azure sea and sky presents a captivating contrast, especially at sunrise and sunset, making it an Instagram favorite.

3. Chinaman’s Hat Island

Chinaman’s Hat Island, Hawaii

Chinaman's Hat Island, or Mokolii, is a unique and picturesque location in Oahu. Named for its distinct shape that resembles a traditional Asian conical hat, it's a charming subject that stands out in any Instagram feed. Views from Kualoa Regional Park offer an idyllic panorama of the island against the backdrop of vast skies and turquoise waters. At low tide, adventurous Instagrammers can even kayak out to the island and snap some truly unique shots. Surrounding landscapes, including the imposing cliffs of the Kualoa Mountains, also provide incredible opportunities for photography, lending a dramatic and captivating aura to your images.

2. Mauna Kea Volcano


The runner-up on our list is none other than the majestic Mauna Kea Volcano. This dormant giant isn't just the highest point in Hawaii, but when measured from its base at the ocean floor, it's actually taller than Mount Everest! An adventure to its summit reveals otherworldly landscapes reminiscent of a lunar surface, a stark contrast to Hawaii's typical beach and jungle scenes. But the real treat is after sundown, when the altitude and isolation make Mauna Kea one of the best places on Earth for stargazing. A long-exposure shot of the star-studded sky, perhaps with the silhouettes of the observatories in the frame, can make for a truly epic Instagram post. Remember to dress warmly and be mindful of the altitude if you plan a visit!

1. Na Pali Coast

Na Pali Coast, Hawaii

Finally, claiming the top spot is the breathtaking Na Pali Coast on the island of Kauai. This stretch of coastline, inaccessible by car, is renowned for its towering emerald cliffs, which plunge dramatically into the Pacific Ocean. The panoramic views from the popular Kalalau Trail are nothing short of spectacular, offering endless photo opportunities at every turn. Capture the majestic waterfalls cascading down the cliffs, the pristine Kalalau Beach, or the magical sunsets that set the horizon ablaze. For a different perspective, consider a boat tour or a helicopter ride: the aerial shots of the rugged cliffs and the cerulean sea are some of the most coveted images on Instagram. Truly, Na Pali Coast is not just the number one Instagram spot in Hawaii, it's a testament to the awe-inspiring beauty nature can sculpt.
And there you have it - the top 10 Instagram spots in Hawaii. Each location offers something unique and beautiful, ensuring that your Instagram feed will be filled with diversity and unparalleled beauty. So, pack your smartphone and your spirit of adventure, and get ready to capture the captivating wonders of Hawaii.

For farther reading you may check out our article: 10 Best Beaches in Hawaii.