How to Elope in hawai'i

A guide to planning an elopement in Hawaii

Don't you fret, you've found the right place to help you with EVERYTHING you need to know as you get planning!

The first thing you're going to want to consider as you begin your process on eloping in Hawaii is WHERE you'd like to have your ceremony, and share your vows. This will determine how we plan out your day!

POV: You want to elope in hawaii but have no idea how to plan it.

Eloping in Hawai'i...

Your hawai'i elopement photographer & planner

I'm an elopement photographer who's been shooting love stories since 2016. It's been a wild ride!

Helping couples elope and get married in Hawai'i the past 5 years has been an absolute honor -- and it has become one favorite place to be. Having traveled to almost all 50 states, and to places like Iceland, France, Norway, Canada, and more for my photography - Hawai'i still remains the most romantic and incredibly magical place..

I'm based out of Utah, but travel to Hawai'i often for friends and family. It's a very beautiful place that I think requires a photographer who knows where to get permission with permits, and also how to keep the islands beautiful. 

I like to tell people that my love language is showing people the beauty the islands have to offer for the first time - driving through Waimea Canyon in Kauai, and watching the reaction on people's faces as they see watch the sun set at one of my favorite beaches. 

It's truly a magical place that will never get old for me -- and I can't wait to help you make your dream come to life!

Hey, I'm dani!

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The Island of Hawaii, known as the "Big Island," is the best location in Hawaii for waterfalls. Another feature that makes it unique are the active volcanoes that produce black volcanic rock, black sand volcanic beaches and lava tubes. You can also see red earth, super green valleys, open land with rolling plains, ranches, and jungles.

It is also not as much of a highly visited tourist destination as the other islands so there are increased chances for a more private elopement. Unfortunately, the island is very restrictive on its waterfalls and you can only legally shoot at one of them. It just so happens to be my favorite for elopements: Kulaniapia Falls.

Jumping into a waterfall after your ceremony? Iconic. Just a reminder that there are no rules on your wedding day when you choose something smaller and intimate. Do what you want with your flexible timeline like jumping into a waterfall on a hot Hawaiian day. I was so excited for this first discovery of the beautiful Kulaniapia Falls. We started with a celebration and ceremony at the falls then drove across the entire Big Island.

These two spent their day frolicking in fields, chasing rainbows, and ending with the best sunset that Kona (the western side of the Big Island) has to offer. These truly are the makings for such a beautiful day. 

The island of hawai'i

elopement inspiration

things to do on the big island

Elope on The Big Island of Hawai'i

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where to elope on the big island:

This waterfall location is an Inn and resort -- with a private chef on site. They LOVE having couples for an all-inclusive stay, and offer discounts if you stay and get married here. One of a my personal FAVE locations to help couples get married at. Costs about $500 for a permit to get married here, and you can go kayaking/swimming in the waterfall when you're done!

Kulaniapia Falls

Volcano National Park

This national park is one that is unique in so many ways, and from lava rock cliff shores to lava fields, it's one of the coolest places to hold a ceremony! There are some limitations to where we can and can't go, but worth visiting -- especially at twilight or dawn when you can see the glow from the Kilauea volcano when it's active!!

Waipio valley

The BEST way to get married here is to book an airbnb in the valley, or a cabin/lodge. It can be difficult to get down into the valley, but with a 4x4 jeep (or hiking it), it's worth it! The black sand beaches, the rivers and even the giant waterfall in the distance. It can be tricky with locals, so I recommend booking a place to stay there, and making sure your Airbnb is cool with a private ceremony.

Elope in Kaua'i

The island of kaua'i

Sea turtles, red canyons, incredible beaches, great snorkeling and hiking, lush jungles, and the sea cliffs along the Nāpali Coast! Kauaʻi also has my favorite restaurant with the best garlic shrimp ever at the Lava Lava Beach Club (which also has a Big Island location).

The only thing that makes eloping in Kauai a bit difficult is it does have the most restrictions on where we can shoot. It has become very restrictive over the past few years because of other photographers breaking the rules and hosting shoots in locations that are sacred to the locals. It's important to work with a photographer who knows about this, and can get the appropriate permits for where we want (and are allowed) to go.

elopement inspiration

Rain doesn’t get in the way when you’re in Hawaii. In fact, it makes it better. Kauai is one of the wettest places on earth, with a mountain that is almost always under constant rain and clouds. Because of this, it's easy to assume we can expect rain on your big day -- so umbrellas, or even dancing in the rain is a MUST! Plus, it also increases our chances of seeing a rainbow! 


This place is EVERYTHING. Red canyons, beautiful views, hikes, and such a unique landscape it will leave you in awe. Because Kauai is one of the rainiest places on earth, you can almost always expect a rain shower here and there, which also creates a beautiful chance to see a rainbow! That mixed with the beautiful canyon landscape is one that is unbeatable anywhere else.

waimea canyon

north shore

One of the most beautiful beaches in my opinion. Parking can be a tight here, but for good reason. It's a beautiful beach to snorkel and see sea turtles, as well as watch the sunset. It's a bit of a drive from Poipu, but worth it for those crystal blue waters and beautiful Kauai mountains! If you want a mix of both, this is the perfect beach. It's also a tad more private, but a permit is required.

Napali coast

While it may be difficult to access this part of the island (only by boat or helicopter) it's still worth exploring! Take a boat and say your vows with the INCREDIBLE mountain landscape behind you -- while you're in the middle of the ocean! Doesn't get more epic than that. Even if you don't host your ceremony here, it's a great place to explore by hiking or other (boat or helicopter), which you can TOTALLY also do on your elopement day!

where to elope in kaua'i

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Elope in Oʻahu

Oʻahu has incredible historical sites like Pearl Harbor, and natural sites like waterfalls, the best sandy beaches in Hawaii, accessible views of mountains, and easy-to-obtain permits.

It is amongst one of the more touristy islands, and has an actual city Waikiki, where you can find a downtown like atmosphere. However, my favorite part of the island is actually the eastern side, which has lots of green mountains that make you feel like you're in Jurassic Park (it's literally where they filmed it!). 

Oahu arguably has some of the best sandy beaches for lounging and swimming -- especially along the western and northern shores. It also has some beautiful hikes that should definitely be explored, especially if you're looking for green mountains!

best features


Very touristy. More restrictions have also come in place on beaches we can and cannot shoot, because of other photographers abusing the system and shooting in sacred spaces to the locals. We are currently working to get some popular beaches back available for permits, but it's a work in progress.


elope in o'ahu

If you're looking for the Jurassic Park experience, or even LOST (one of my favorite shows, in the early seasons at least), then this is the spot. Get the best mountain views from the valley floors, and you can take an ATV ride! There is a bit of cost associated with this to rent the space, but totally worth it if you want those mountain views! There's also an alternative spot that's more public which I can help you plan (book me if you're interested!)

Kulaloa ranch

makapu'u beach

A more public, but BEAUTIFUL overlook to elope at! If you're looking for nothing involving a venue and no hike, this is a great option to consider. You get a mix of both beach plus cliff overlook. It's epic, and although it may not be super private, it's still a beautiful spot -- especially at sunset or sunrise! Definitely worth considering if you're still exploring ideas.

ka'ena point state park

A state park that will require a permit, but one that is GORGEOUS and definitely more private because of its proximity -- it's pretty far from Waikiki and other developed areas of the island. That means privacy! It's a beautiful mix of beach, rocky shoreline, and green mountains that you can't go wrong with here in Oahu.

where to elope in o'ahu

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Elope in maui

Maui has beautiful beaches, waterfalls, and the nationa park Haleakalā, which has a dormant volcano that has a road to the summit up to 10,000ft! Another feature is the Road to Hana which is a drive through the best areas of Maui including lots of waterfalls and beautiful jungles (though it is a bit treacherous -- not for the faint of heart!). There are also very lava rock coastlines with beautiful views of sunsets! There are also some beautiful beach state parks with clear waters and beautiful Hawaiian sand!

best features


Also a bit touristy. Not many places to shoot unless you go Road to Hana or into the national park of Haleakala. 


elope in maui

Haleakala is an inactive volcano that has a summit of 10,000ft. It's wild to go from sea level to 10,000ft in just the span of an hour, but it is a BEAUTIFUL place to say your vows! The best time to go in my opinion is at sunset, since you currently need reservations to go up at sunrise. The locals will also tell you that sunset is the best time. You can get a permit here through the national park service (which I can help with!) and can say your vows above the clouds!

haleakala summit

ROad to hana coast

This is a bit of a treacherous road, but still has BEAUTIFUL waterfalls along the way that are perfect to stop off and take a dip in. Hana also has some beautiful spots for eloping -- many specific ones that I can't list here. But as you're planning your elopement, if you're down for the ride of your life, you should plan on taking this road and planning some festivities along the way for your wedding day!

Wai’ānapanapa State Park 

A state park and beach that will require a permit, but if you're looking for a black sand beach that feels volcanic and moody, this is the spot in Maui! It does get busy here, so I recommend coming at sunrise or later sunset for privacy. It is also a bit of a drive from the more developed parts of Maui, so definitely make a day trip out of it or stay closer in Maui at my favorite resort so you don't have to go far!

where to elope in maui

let's get planning!

I've had the honor of being the Hawaii elopement photographer for so many couples over the years helping them plan their elopement in such a beautiful place. However, we can't just get married anywhere on the islands. 

Hawai'i has a whole culture that requires respect so we can keep using their lands, and some areas are considered sacred and aren't allowed to have commercial use. Because of this, it's important that you work with someone who knows WHERE you can go to hold a ceremony, and also can obtain the appropriate documentation to do so. That's why I love what I do - because I can handle it for you!

you will need permits!

You will need permits!

this is why working with a photographer who knows how to get them is Vital!

let me plan your elopement!

waterfalls in hawaii

Yes, you CAN get married at this waterfall in Hawaii legally!! This waterfall is privately owned by an Inn, and encourages couples who get married here to also stay! They have an amazing private chef also in their restaurant, and you can take a kayak ride or a dip in the water when you're done saying your vows!! This waterfall is located on the Big Island.

1. Kulaniapia falls

Waterfalls in Hawaii are as majestic as you'd imagine - and they are very easy to find! HOWEVER, when it comes to getting married in front of a waterfall, our options are limited. Unfortunately, many waterfalls in Hawaii are located on sacred or closed grounds to the public. Meaning, you can only HIKE to these waterfalls, unless they are privately owned and we can obtain permission to have a ceremony. It's important to know this as you look for a photographer who is helping you elope in Hawaii, and something I can definitely help you with!
This waterfall is located along the Na Pali Coast in Kauai, and is about a 7.7 mile out and back. Considered a difficult hike, but one well worth it! This waterfall is unmatched in accessibility, and being able to take a dip! If you're looking for an adventure, this one is the one. It's estimated to take about 5 hours to complete, but is an adventure we can definitely fit into your wedding day (in hiking attire!) if you're set on making the trek!

2. Hanakapi'ai Falls

This waterfall is located on Kauai, and is about a 2 mile out and back. Considered a moderate hike, but one that's a lot fun for an afternoon! This waterfall is a wide one with a beautiful pool to swim in. I especially love to come to this one and plan a picnic lunch to eat as we watch the falls! I've even hiked this with my babies before and can confirm, it's a fun one! For our all day elopements, this is a great one to come visit mid-day as an activity to do on your wedding day (you cannot get married here, however).

3. Ho'opi'i Falls

This is located on the road to Hana in Maui, and is actually pretty accessible (though parking here can be very limited!). There is even a little picnic area with a picnic table for a day trip if you're braving the road here! I've personally gone swimming in this waterfall and it is lots of fun! As for hosting a ceremony here, because it is a State Park, this would be something to ask officials about (which I can help with). However, because parking is limited, I would recommend that it be for 5 people or less.

4. Pua'a ka'a State park

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beaches in hawaii

Yes, we can obtain a permit and host your ceremony here (yay!). This beach is located in Kauai, and has a great mix of green mountains and crystal blue water. It's also a great beach to snorkel and see some sea turtles! With its expansive shores and beautiful sunset, it's a great one to host a ceremony. Be aware that parking is limited, so it's best to carpool, and keep the guest count to under 10 people if possible.

1. tunnels (makua) beach

The beaches in Hawaii are a great option if you're really thinking of having an iconic, beautiful Hawaiian elopement. Let's get some traditional leis, plan a sunset, and watch the clouds turn pink! It's important to know that not all beaches are permitted for hosting ceremonies, but most beaches on the Hawaiian islands are public (which means they aren't privately owned by resorts). Acquiring permits for Hawaii ceremonies is fairly easy, but it's important to work with a photographer who knows the land well and can obtain these permits legally! That said, let me help as you get started
This regional park located in Oahu is a great spot for photos with the beautiful Koloa mountains in the background! You'll notice these mountains look similar to the Jurassic Park movies -- and you'd be correct! This is where they filmed it, as well as LOST (one of my favorite TV shows!). This spot is a little more public, but it comes with a beautiful large green lawn, and an expansive shoreline as well. If you're looking for privacy however, this one isn't super private. There's also a secret dock that you may or may not have seen in 50 first dates... ;)

2. Kualoa regional park

If you're looking for a private "secret" beach that we can legally host a ceremony.... this is it. The Big Island (on the Kona side!) actually has some BEAUTIFUL beaches that I love exploring! This one in particular is a secret beach that only the locals really know about, because you have to go past a guard tower to get down to this beach. It's worth noting -- this is a locals primarily beach, so it's best to try and keep this one "secret" to avoid those crowds. Also, parking is VERY limited, so I would recommend no more than 10 people in attendance.

3. mau'umae beach

This is a special location that I found 2 years ago, and it never ceases to amaze me! If you're looking for a different sort of beach experience, with lava rock, black sand beaches, and palm fronds blooming out of the rocks, then this is the place. Located on the Big Island (the Hilo side), this beach is a great place to host a ceremony. It's pretty private, since not many people know about it, and it is legal to obtain a permit for a ceremony here!

4. kaimu beach

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mountains in hawaii

This canyon is a popular destination amongst tourists (for good reason!). Located in Kauai, it's a long road with beautiful overlooks and hikes that will give you stunning views around every corner. Specific hikes to beautiful overlooks are ones that I love sharing with my clients for more privacy (since the popular overlooks tend to be crowded and limiting). These require permits to host a ceremony here, so it's good to work with a photographer/planner who can help you obtain one, since this place in particular is a bit complicated.

1. waimea canyon

The mountains in Hawaii are those of the islands -- green, jungles galore, and rainforests! They are extremely unique and different than other islands because of the red dirt that can be found in Waimea Canyon (see below) and throughout other various mountains in the islands. And! On the Big Island, it's said that Mauna Kea is actually the HIGHEST mountain in the world -- sitting at over 14,000ft, and diving deeper below sea level under the ocean. Pretty wild! With the mountains also come many sacred burial grounds rich in Hawaiian and Polynesian history, so it's good to know where we can go for ceremonies. That said, let me help as you get started
This is one of the most scenic and epic mountains you will be able to see via hiking, helicopter, or boat ride. Unfortunately, there are no roads that go along this coast due to it's jagged nature. It's worth exploring if you're interested in beautiful mountains, and if you're looking for a ceremony somewhere here, it would be worth chatting with the officials at Ha'ena State Park, which I can help with (although, because most of it is sacred ground, ceremonies may not be permitted). Because of this, I suggest this as a great place to adventure, or have your ceremony on a boat overlooking the mountains in the background!

2. Na Pali Coast

If you're looking for a private "secret" beach that we can legally host a ceremony.... this is it. The Big Island (on the Kona side!) actually has some BEAUTIFUL beaches that I love exploring! This one in particular is a secret beach that only the locals really know about, because you have to go past a guard tower to get down to this beach. It's worth noting -- this is a locals primarily beach, so it's best to try and keep this one "secret" to avoid those crowds. Also, parking is VERY limited, so I would recommend no more than 10 people in attendance.

3. haleakala national park

This is definitely more of a "venue" type booking, where you have to reserve with Kualoa Ranch to have a ceremony -- but the good news is you can have a ceremony and reception here, perfect for an intimate wedding! This is located in Oahu, and gives the vibes of LOST and Jurassic Park (which is where they actually filmed some of the TV show and movie). There is also a more inexpensive option, Kualoa Regional Park, right across the street, but it is a bit more public and less private.

4. kualoa ranch

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Want to go hiking on your wedding day? Or take a helicopter along the Kauai coast? Or even jump and swim in a waterfall? LET'S DO IT! The good news is, when you elope, no one is depending on you to be somewhere at a certain time (like a venue does), so you can truly make your day ALL ABOUT YOU, and do exactly what you would want to do on your wedding day! 

plan activities on your elopement day!

plan activities on your elopement day!

When you elope, there are no rules to what you can and can't do. 

let me plan your elopement!

As Your hawaii Elopement Photographer & planner,

Book your hawaii elopement vendors

Planning out your wedding photography timeline will be done according to whether it’s a 12-hour or 8-hour elopement day. This is generally the range of time that I recommend since your ceremony and wedding portraits locations could be on different sides of the island which can take two hours or more to drive. 

Choose your island based on where you’d like to have your ceremony and I’ll take care of location scouting based on the vibe you want. Plans often change at the last minute due to unknown location closures and other factors. This is just the nature of adventure elopements and why sunrise to sunset elopement days always do well in Hawaii! 

shoot locations

I'm here to give you all the recommendations!

Here's what to expect from me...

elopement day activities

Let me be your Hawaii guide! Based on your elopement Hawaii packages, I will recommend the best companies for your activities, as well as food recommendations, accommodations, and vendor referrals based upon which island you choose for your elopement.

You don’t have to be in your wedding dress all day! Let’s plan activities and capture some fun moments like snorkeling, waterfall exploring, hiking, horseback riding, taking a boat/sailboat/catamaran tour or even just a relaxing beach picnic! 

I can also officiate in the state of Hawaii to make it legal!

other vendors to consider booking:


If you're unsure about a videographer, let me just assure you, you will NEVER regret hiring someone to capture video. Because not only do they capture moving pictures, but they also get AUDIO -- which is everything if you want to listen to your vows again one day. It's also so special to have a video to send to family and friends who can't make it to the actual elopement, and makes them feel like they are still a part of your big day!

Here are some videographers I love working with:


There are obviously many florists on each island, but these are the ones that I think do a stellar job! When you work with me, I'll send you more recommendations on who I think will best fit the vision you're going for. But it's definitely worth hiring someone to make a BEAUTIFUL bouquet for you, and even some traditional leis to wear during your ceremony!

Here are some florists I love working with:

hair and makeup

Not every bride books professional hair and makeup on their elopement day, but if you're looking to be pampered, here are some of the artists I recommend checking out as you get planning! Once you work with me, I'll of course send you more based on where we are hosting your ceremony. But I always suggest to my brides: don't do anything you're not comfortable with. If you don't fee yourself in heavy makeup, no sweat! You can also totally do your own hair and makeup. But if you want to be glamorous, then definitely look into it!

Here are some hair and makeup artists I recommend:

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As more photographers and couples plan a Hawaii elopement, the more restrictions have increased. We must stick to the rules so we are continually given the privilege to use the land for ceremonies and photos. For your elopement we will follow the Leave No Trace philosophy of staying on trails, not taking photos on sacred ground, and only photographing permissible locations. 

Once we choose your locations, it’s my job as your elopement photographer to apply for permits which are required in most locations, even for portraits. It’s crucial that we select your ceremony location first because some spots require a different type of permit for this especially if you have guests in attendance. 

I always recommend looking into Hawaii Airbnb’s before a hotel. Airbnbs allow for flexibility while hotels can be a nightmare for taking photos. There are some AMAZINGLY unique Airbnbs out in Hawaii! Make sure to have a budget for your stay as it is a bit expensive out there. I always use credit card points.

Permits & Leave No Trace

where to stay for your hawaii elopement

time of year & day 

  • Rainy Season: fall, winter, and spring (October-May), but it can always rain no matter the season especially in Kauaʻi! Rain can come at any moment of our day but it creates some fun adventures and fun rainbows so it’s not that bad!

  • High Tourism Season: Summer & early Fall

  • Sunset/Sunrise: Hawaii is more southward, so sunsets are earlier and sunrises are a bit later. Summer has the most daylight while winter has the least.

let me plan your elopement!

Let me help!

Ready for your hawaiian adventure?

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don’t just take
my word for it



Marlee A.

"We loved everything about Dani! Dani is beyond talented. Her attention to detail is amazing. Her use of lighting is timeless and her attitude is full of energy. Our friends and family keep speaking about how stunning the photos are from the big day. We loved Dani’s use of non posed photos. They came out more authetic and genuine and we couldn’t be more happier. Everything about these photos speaks fairytale dream come true. Thank you so much."

Rebekah H.

"Dani is such a people person, I had no hesitation in booking her because she has such a gracious presence about her on all platforms. She does such a good job at giving you direction but not making you feel forced or awkward about it. She's genuinely there to be a friend, she was so kind to both me and my husband and I may be a little bit biased but honestly I don't think I would ever book another photographer besides her if I needed photos taken."

Bryanna C.

"Dani was more than we expected! She was so happy and very calm on our wedding day. Her passion for photography did not go unnoticed! She even came to the rehearsal to scope it out and stayed longer than she was supposed to take pictures. She got me a few pictures by the next morning which made me even more excited to see all our photos. She was always on time and took all the photos that I wanted to be taken. I highly recommend Dani and will definitely use her in the future!"