Table of Contents:
- Where is Oahu?
- Best Time of Year to Elope on Oahu
- 10 Best Oahu Elopement Locations
- Oahu Elopement & Wedding Permits
- Getting Your Oahu Marriage License
- Best Places to Stay for Your Oahu Elopement
- Best Oahu Hikes for an Adventure Elopement
- 10 Fun Oahu Adventure Elopement Ideas
- Oahu Elopement Photographer + Videographer
- More Hawaii Adventure Elopement Resources
Welcome to our ultimate Oahu elopement guide, a guide we’ve been meaning to make forever because we freaking adore Oahu! It’s one of the most stunning places we’ve ever been, and we seriously fall more in love with it every time we go. This guide includes all of our best tips for eloping on Oahu based on the many couples we’ve worked with on the island, including the best Oahu elopement locations, permit info, how to get your marriage license, where to stay, fun activities, & so much more. Enjoy!!
Where is Oahu?
Before we dive (ocean pun totally intended) into all the elopement tips you came here for, let’s talk about traveling to Oahu in the first place! Oahu is the third largest Hawaiian island, home to the Pearl Harbor memorial site, the state’s capital city of Honolulu, and some of the most freaking breathtaking scenery in the world. This island really has something for everyone, from gorgeous white sand beaches to epic hikes to jungle tours to volcanoes, and even a city! Whether you want to spend your time on the island getting familiar with the local Hawaiian culture and staying out in the middle of a ranch, or you want to stay on a luxury beachfront resort with a full spa & delicious restaurants, you can do it all on Oahu!!
How to get to Oahu
To get to Oahu from the mainland, you’ll want to fly into the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, which is located on the southern part of the island, west of Honolulu. From there, it’s about a 25 minute drive to Kailua, a 30 minute drive to Waialua, and a 40 minute drive to Waianae. If you want to hop between islands, you can fly out of this airport with Hawaiian Airlines!
Regions of Oahu
Before you visit Oahu, it’s really helpful to get familiar with the different regions of the island, so that you can choose where you want to elope & where you’d like to spend the majority of your time. Oahu has 5 different regions: the North Shore, Central Oahu, the Windward Coast, Honolulu, and the Leeward Coast.
The North Shore is home to some of the best waves in Hawaii, so if you love to surf, hitting the waves of the North Shore is a MUST! In this part of the island, you’ll find a super laid-back atmosphere with tons of outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and plenty of snorkeling, of course.
If you spend some time in Central Oahu, you’ll definitely want to explore the central valley between the Wai’anae Mountains & the Ko’olau mountain range – it’s a great place to learn about the agricultural history of Oahu, and you can visit the Dole Plantation to learn all about the legacy of the pineapple on Oahu🤩 Plus you’ll get the chance to snack on the most DELICIOUS pineapple, Dole Whip, & other pineapple-flavored snacks you’ll everrrr have.
The Windward (East) Coast of Oahu is most known for its lush mountain valleys & farm-filled landscapes, where you’ll find a much more slow-paced lifestyle than Honolulu. This side of Oahu definitely has some of the most breathtaking scenery in all of Hawaii, and it’s also home to Kualoa Ranch, which is an iconic family-owned ranch that’s been featured in TONS of different movies & TV shows. It’s a must-visit if you want to do a fun excursion in the jungle, as they offer a variety of epic activities including horseback riding, ziplining, and ATV tours!
If you want to take a peek at what the shores of the Windward Coast look like, check out Kaylan & Present’s Beachy Oahu Backyard Elopement!
Honolulu is the capital city of Hawaii, filled with historic landmarks, tons of shopping, delicious restaurants, and lots of touristy activities. It’s definitely not the place to go if you want a more laid-back, country experience for your elopement, but if you’re looking for a night out in a buzzin’ island city, you’ll love it!
Finally, the Leeward (West) Coast of Oahu is the most rural of the 5 regions, sitting right at the base of the Wai’anae mountain range with beautiful little mountain towns, gorgeous & less-crowded beaches, and country landscapes everywhere you look. It’s the best part of the island to stay on if you want to escape the tourists and have a more authentic local experience!
Best Time of Year to Elope on Oahu
In our experience, the best time of year to elope on Oahu is in the winter, between October-April if you want to avoid the summer wave of tourists.
If you’d rather have the warmest weather possible, less rain, and you’re fine with crowds (or are down to put in a little more effort to find quiet locations), then the best time for you to elope on Oahu would be in the summer, between May-October! Keep in mind that because this is peak tourist season, costs for things such as airfare & accommodations might be a little pricier.
Here’s a quick glance at the seasons on the island, and what different months look like weather-wise:
- Summer/dry season: May-October
- Winter/rainy season: October-April
- Hottest month: August
- Coldest month: February
- Wettest month: December
- Driest month: June
10 Best Oahu Elopement Locations
The list of amazing Oahu elopement locations could literally be miles long, but we’ve narrowed 10 of our top favorite places to elope in Oahu for you to start with.
1. Kualoa Ranch
Kualoa Ranch is one of the most ICONIC destinations on Oahu, thanks to its absolutely insane scenery, epic outdoor activities, and hundreds of features in popular movies & TV shows! It’s located about 25 miles from Honolulu, spanning 4,000 acres of Oahu’s lush, deep green rolling hills. Not only does this family-owned ranch have a ton of fascinating history and a variety of hella fun activities, it also has a bunch of different sites for wedding ceremonies & receptions! From gorgeous gardens to wildly beautiful viewpoints to a secret little spot on the beach, Kualoa Ranch’s wedding options are probably some of the best on the entire island.
Who doesn’t want to tie the knot in a quiet, peaceful spot in the mountains, surrounded by lush palm trees and stunning tropical plants?! Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden is a dreamy garden in Kaneohe with plants from all over the world, and absolutely insane mountain scenery. It’s the perfect place to get married if you want to escape the crowds and be somewhere a bit more peaceful, with views for DAYS. Depending on which ceremony site you choose, Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden can fit up to 50 guests.
Makapu’u Point Lookout is one of our personal favorite viewpoints on Oahu, located along the Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline, just off Kalanianaole Highway. The trail to get to this lookout is just 2.5 miles round trip, which is almost too easy of a journey to get such incredible views of the ocean & rocky shore. Rowie & Binh started off their Oahu elopement adventure with a sunrise first look at Makapu’u Point Lookout, and it was SO epic – take a peek here!
4. Makua Beach
Another one of our favorite & lesser-known spots on Oahu is Makua Beach, which is located right in front of the Waianae Mountain Range & Makua Valley. The white sand beach is freaking beautiful, and the rocky shores & tidepools are so much fun to explore (safely)! With amazing snorkeling opportunities, sea turtles, and even dolphins, Makua Beach is an awesome option if you’re down to drive a little further in order to escape the crowds, and have more of a local experience. And experiencing a golden sunset at this beach is UNBEATABLE!
Located in a small community in Kailua called Kaohao, Lanikai is one of the top beaches on the Windward Coast – and was even voted one of the best beaches in the world! With soft sand, endless miles of turquoise water, and open blue skies, it’s a must-see if you’re okay with being around plenty of other tourists who also want to take in all the incredible views. We definitely recommend snorkeling here, as it has incredible marine life and such clear water!
6. Kualoa Beach
If you’re visiting Kualoa Ranch at any point, you definitely need to make a stop at Kualoa Beach (Kualoa Regional Park) on your way in or out. It’s a fairly small and narrow beach that isn’t great for swimming, but it’s an awesome place to relax and just enjoy the stunning views, including the famous “Chinaman’s Hat” out in the water!
Waimea Valley is by far one of the most beautiful parts of the island, home to a world-class botanical garden, lush jungles, a gorgeous waterfall, and lots of opportunities to learn about native Hawaiian history. You HAVE to check out Waimea Falls, a rad waterfall in the valley where you can sometimes go swimming depending on the weather! It’s super easy to get there via a short ¾ mile walk along a paved path each way.
Located between Waikiki and Honolulu, Ala Moana Regional Park is a great local Oahu beach to visit if you’re staying in the city! If you’re looking for a more private place to have your ceremony, we wouldn’t suggest Ala Moana simply because it’s super popular with tourists and is usually pretty crowded. But if you’re just looking for a place to swim and relax, or even have a picnic by the water without having to go too far from Honolulu, it’s a great option.
Hanauma Bay is definitely one of the most epic places on Oahu, located along the southeast coast of the island and boasting some of the best coastal views you could ask for! You absolutely have to spend a day at Hanauma Bay during your time in Oahu and enjoy the amazing snorkeling opportunities, swim in the clear blue waters, and maybe even see a few sea turtles! It does get pretty crowded with tourists, so you do have to get tickets ahead of time for your group. This isn’t a location you’d actually want (or be able) to have your ceremony at, but we highly recommend spending some time here if you’re able to get tickets!
Last up on the list is Ahupua’a ‘O Kahana State Park, which is a breathtaking publicly-owned ahupua’a on the east side of Oahu. It’s an amazing place to learn about native Hawaiian culture, relax on the beach, go hiking, and even set up camp for the night if you want to sleep under the stars!
Oahu Elopement & Wedding Permits
If you want to get married on any sort of public land in Oahu, chances are you’ll need to get a special permit that allows you to have a legal ceremony! The permit you need will depend on the kind of location you want to elope.
For Oahu beach weddings: You’ll need a Wiki Permit from the Department of Land & Natural Resources. Oahu has gotten a lot stricter in recent years when it comes to wedding and elopement permits, so make sure you do your research ahead of time and respect the local rules! You can find a list of permitted beach sites for weddings here, and then you can apply for your Oahu beach wedding permit here.
For Oahu botanical garden weddings: You’ll need a Botanical Garden Wedding Permit. This permit allows you to have your ceremony at the following gardens: Foster Botanical Garden, Lili’uokalani Botanical Garden, Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden, Wahiawa Botanical Garden, & Koko Crater Botanical garden. Each garden has its own set of rules and its own group size limits, so make sure to pick a garden that fits what you’re looking for! You can apply for this permit here, and find more info about maximum group sizes for each garden here. Oh, and your photographer and videographer will also need to get a separate commercial photo/video permit!
For Oahu state park weddings: You’ll need a Special Use Permit. Requests need to be submitted at least 45 days in advance, so make sure to do it ahead of time! You may also need a Wiki Permit if you want to have your ceremony at a beach location.
Getting Your Oahu Marriage License
Now in addition to getting the proper permits for your Oahu elopement, you’ll also need to get a Hawaii marriage license, of course! The marriage laws are the same across all the islands, but each individual county office has slightly different application processes.
Fortunately, you do not need to be a Hawaii resident to get married in Hawaii, and you also don’t need to be a U.S. citizen – you just have to be at least 18 years old. Once you get your license, there’s no waiting period, which means you can have your ceremony as soon as you want! It’ll be valid for 30 days from the day you get it, so make sure to have your ceremony before it expires, otherwise you’ll have to go through the process all over again.
Here’s how to get your Hawaii marriage license!
- Apply for your marriage license online & pay the required $65 fee
- Meet with an agent within 30 days of your ceremony date to review your application + verify photo IDs and any necessary documents (both of you must be present!)
- Have your ceremony within 30 days of getting your license, anywhere within the State of Hawaii!
Best Places to Stay for Your Oahu Elopement
Like we mentioned before, Oahu has something for everybody – and that includes places to stay!! You can stay anywhere from a 5-star resort on the water to a cozy bungalow in the jungle to a room on a beautiful ranch out in the country, whether you want to stay somewhere just the two of you or invite all your guests to stay in one place. There are sooo many incredible places to choose from, so we narrowed down a few of our personal fave resorts plus some of the top-rated places on Airbnb.
Top Oahu Airbnbs
- North Shore Paradise
- Oceanfront Beach Bungalow
- Secluded Farm House
- Secluded Farm House
- Tropical Garden Cottage in Kailua
- Cozy Tropical Honolulu Retreat
Top Oahu Hotels & Resorts
Best Oahu Hikes for an Adventure Elopement
You can’t NOT go hiking when you’re on Oahu – seriously, if you want to make the most of the spectacular and unbeatable landscapes, experiencing them from the trails is a must. There are plenty of hikes that are on the easier, shorter side that still take you to incredible viewpoints, or you can opt for a more challenging hike through the jungle. It’s totally up to you! Here are a few of our favorite hikes we’ve done during our time on Oahu, or hikes that we’ve heard are pretty epic 🙂
Easy Oahu Hikes
- Crouching Lion (heads up, this is now technically an illegal hike, but people do it all of the time anyway!)
- Manoa Falls
Moderate Oahu Hikes
Difficult Oahu Hikes
10 Fun Oahu Adventure Elopement Ideas
If you want to add some epic activities to your Oahu elopement itinerary besides hiking, we’ve got plentyyyy of reccs you’ll love. Waterfall-chasing? Check! Skydiving? Check check! Visiting a Jurassic Park film site and zip lining over it?! Check, check, check! Below is a list of 10 fun Oahu elopement activities that we 10/10 recommend checking out!
1. Go waterfall chasing at Lulumahu Falls or Manoa Falls
2. Fill all your pineapple cravings at the Dole Plantation
3. Go skydiving with Skydive Hawaii
4. See the rare green lava rocks of China Walls
5. Go snorkeling in the Kaneohe Sandbar
6. Have a beachside picnic at Sunset Beach Park
7. Take the Jurassic Park Adventure at Kualoa Ranch
8. Go ziplining through lush tropical jungles
9. Grab a bite to eat at a local restaurant
(Here are some of our all-time favorite places to grab a bite on Oahu!)
- Adela’s Country Eatery
- Marugame Udon
- Thai Issan Cuisine
- Waiola Shave Ice / Wailua Shave Ice
- Leonard’s Bakery
- Disney’s Aulani Resort
- Tanaka of Tokyo Central
10. Visit the breathtaking Waimea Valley Botanical Garden
Heyo, we are T & Corey, a husband and wife Oahu elopement photo and video duo! We love all things adventure elopements and intimate weddings, especially in the magical jungles or on the pristine beaches of Hawaii 🤩If you’re looking for a pair of nerdy creatives to help you plan the most chill, stress-free elopement and document it all, let’s chat – we’re stoked to hear about the epic day you’re dreamin’ up! You can also check out our Oahu elopement packages here 🤙
More Hawaii Adventure Elopement Resources
We’re OBSESSED with Hawaii and will always say yes to going back, so we’ve got a few more in-depth Hawaii elopement guides & resources for ya below 😎