Hawaii Elopement – Ultimate Guide
This is the All-In-One guide for Hawaii elopement on Oahu! But why should you listen to me? Well, I lived in Hawaii for 3 and a half years and I’ve gone on a lot of adventures to know all the secret spots and locations… But before we get started on your hawaii elopement, watch this
Watch this video for Hawaii Inspiration!!
Alright! I really should’ve make this a secret blog but I can’t really hold this back haha. So you’re thinking about eloping in Hawaii. Awesome! I will lay out almost everything I know about this place for you! The best locations, laws, lodgings, and activities you can do on Oahu, Hawaii for your elopement!
So why Oahu?
- Many hiking trails
- Lots of fun activities
- Very short drive to many any locations because of the small island
- Surrounded by mountains so you’ll definitely get an awesome back drop anywhere
- Best nightlife for celebrating your wedding day after the sunset.
Quick Tip: Ceremony during sunrise for the win!! Because the island is pretty crowded, It’s your best bet to not have too many people around. For this reason, sunrise is my favorite time to capture intimate elopement ceremonies, especially sharing your vows. Also avoid traffic during rush hour (trust me)
I’m going to break it down into these sections here:
- Legal Process
- Hiking/ Rock Climbing/ Camping
- Surfing/ Snorkeling / Scuba/ Fishing / Sailing/ Cliff Diving/ Whale Watching
- Helicopter Tour/ Sky Diving
- Weather & Seasons
- When should you fly to Hawaii
- Elopement Packages
- How much does it cost for a photography package?
The Aloha state is a perfect location for an adventure elopement. Hawaii has a reputation for easy-to-arrange elopements because waiting period and marriage licenses are extremely easy to obtain and process.
RULES OF GETTING MARRIED IN HAWAII
- Identification Needed: Valid identification and proof of age is required.
- State Residency: You don’t have be a resident to receive a marriage license.
- Age Requirement: 18 years of age without parental consent. Minimum age to be married is 15 with written consent from parent/guardian as well as written approval from a judge in family court.
- License Expiration: A marriage license in Hawaii is valid for 30 days on any of the islands.
- Required Wait Time: There is not a required waiting period.
- Blood Test Requirement: No.
- Proxy Marriages Legal: No. (basically means that you both have to be physically present)
- Witnesses Needed: None.
THE LEGAL PROCESS
- Find an Officiant: I suggest selecting one who is registered online with the state’s Department of Health because they are able to electronically complete a marriage/civil union license after the ceremony. This is helpful if you need your marriage certificate shortly after the ceremony.
- Apply for a marriage license: You can’t just show up and get married. Before the ceremony you have to apply for a marriage license. And this license is valid for 30 days and will cost you $60 (plus $5 admin cost). You can click the link here or download and print the form to complete before submitting it in person to a marriage license agent. Follow this instruction here if you have any more questions. (Your officiant will ask for your confirmation number) (A marriage license and marriage certificate are different documents. The marriage license permits a marriage to take place. The marriage certificate indicates that a legal marriage has been performed.)
- Fly to Hawaii: Once you are on the island, you will need to appear before a marriage license agent (Hawaii State Department of Health 1250 Punchbowl St, Honolulu) and show your documentation such as proof of age and proof of previously terminated marriages. Once he/she reviews this information, the agent will give you your official license, which you will take with you to your ceremony.
- Get Permit: You actually need a permit to get married in public. But that’s why you have an officiant! They should be able to take care of it for you
- Get Married: After the romantic ceremony, your officiant is responsible for properly filing the completed form. If they are authorized to do so electronically, you’ll be able to print a temporary marriage certificate about 48 hours after the documentation has been submitted. You should receive your official marriage certificate via snail mail within about one to four months.
Tip: Always update your officiant about every legal step you take in case of any law & regulation changes
Where to elope in Hawaii – Oahu
Hawaiian islands provide many extravagant venues for elopements. With many beautiful locations, it can get very overwhelming choosing between the different type of locations (cuz they’re all BEAUTIFUL!!). How will you choose the right location? Well, you’re in luck! I lived in Hawaii for four years and have gone to a ton of beaches, hiked up epic mountains, and encountered many massive waterfalls.
Tip: Avoid weekends. Hawaii is world-renowned for it’s beautiful landscape and most spots are flooded with people. Go for a longer trails on weekdays to avoid people
To make this easy for you I breakdown the locations into 3 different types: waterfall, mountains, and beaches. These locations will give you different vibes for your elopement so go for the one that feels right to you!
Waterfalls in Hawaii are amazing but there are so many out there! Usually located deep into the jungle, these waterfalls will give you a very intimate experience. Perfect for couples that love adventures and are not afraid to get a little muddy.
Common characteristics of waterfall hikes in Oahu Hawaii:
- Best done in the afternoon
- Trails can be muddy and slippery
- Bring bug spray for mosquitoes
- Many hidden waterfalls and trails, contact for more info 😉
This popular waterfall hike is easy and beautiful but gets a lot of traffic, like a sh*t ton. This is no place for you to be intimate. You will encounter at least fifty hikers along the journey. I’m not going to get into too much detail, because I don’t think it’s worth going there for an intimate elopement.
But it will be a good option if you’re looking to bring your family with you. However. there’s no guarantee that there will be people in the background of your ceremony pictures….
*However, if you don’t mind the crowd, the waterfalls are good for a casual adventure!
If jumping into the waterfall is on your bucket list., then you can do it here! You can climb to the side of the waterfall and jump into the pool!! It’s super awesome!
Prepare to get super muddy. Bring bug spray! Otherwise you will get destroyed by mosquitoes for this one!
This hike is a 2-3 mile trail to the waterfall. I wouldn’t go here during the weekends though because it gets busy!! If you’re the super adventurous type, just imagine saying your vows at the top of a waterfall and jumping into the pool together!
Oh BTW… There’s this awesome hidden bridge around the area and still, till this day, I haven’t seen many pictures of it!
The trail to get there is a 1.7 mile heavily trafficked trail located near Honolulu. Technically you will need a permit to hike through here because it’s considered a private government property but till this day I have yet to see people get stopped by anyone for not having a permit… and there are so many people!
There are more than just one waterfall here. You will wander through a dense bamboo forest, Nu’uanu Reservoir, through a stream, across giant rocks, before you get to the 50ft tall waterfall.
This is my favorite waterfall. It’s epic, barely anyone goes there or know how to get there, it’s a perfect place to intimately elope BUT!!! The trail was permanently closed because of a rock slide some years ago that caused an accident.
This is my personal favorite! The mountains in Hawaii are so so breathtaking!! When you’re surrounded by clouds, you feel like the island is literally alive and you will feel very connected to nature.
Characteristics of mountains in Hawaii
- Tons of trails for all skill levels
- Epic views (obviously haha)
- Most of the best hikes are “closed”
- Best done during sunrise or sunset
Quick Tip: For some reason, most of hikes that are “closed” aren’t being monitored and people hike them all the time. BUT some hikes are legit, not safe and the rule of thumb is “if you don’t see the locals doing it, don’t do it.”
I have many recommendations here from easy to crazy, official and unofficial trails. So there’s everything here for everyone. Let’s dive in with my top recommendations…
Makua Cave (Easy-Moderate)
Whenever my friends ask what hike they should do while on Oahu, I always recommend this one. At a certain time of the year you can actually witness the sunset over the horizon. There’s a little area that I know is a perfect location for you to say your vows!
However, because the area at the top is small, you might have a few people (not many) witness your vows, which can be good or bad depending on how you look at it.
Another great thing about this location is that it’s 5 minutes away from one of the best beaches on the island. On this beach you can camp out and watch the stars…. And when you wake up, there’s a very good chance that you’ll be able to swim with live dolphins 😀 (This would make a perfect adventurous day!)
Kualua Ranch (easy)
This one is an odd one out. This is actually a very popular wedding venue. (It’s also where they filmed Jurassic Park!) I included this in the list for couples that want the majestic mountain backdrops for their ceremony but don’t want to hike at all. This is also a perfect location for bigger ceremony as well.
Pali Notches (Sketchy AF)
This is super dangerous and you should be extremely careful.
Let me be SUPER clear about this one. This is NOT for the faint of heart!! If you are afraid of heights, this is not for you. There’s no amount of money you can pay me to take you here if you’re not an experienced climber/hiker. This is super dangerous and you should be extremely careful.
To put this in perspective… You might have heard of Angels Landing in Zion National Park where people have died. It’s known as one of the most dangerous hikes in America… Well I did Angels Landing and to be completely honest it was a piece of cake compared to this one as far as the the level of danger goes.
This hike is a very short trail, but the route on this trail will make your heart drop, guaranteed. There are parts where you have to climb vertical rock walls with a worn down rope or even no rope at all.
SO why do I even put this on the list? If you know anything about me, you know that I live life on the edge. This is my favorite hike. It challenged me as a climber/hiker and it is my dream to capture an elopement here. I just need to find the right couple to do it 🙂
If you feel like you’re the one, please reach out haha
Crouching Lion (Moderate)
If you like epic views without hiking a long, crazy trail, then this might be for you!
Crouching Lion is a beautiful sunrise hike on the East side of Oahu, Hawaii. It’s not super busy and very underrated for some reason… If you hike up this trail before sunrise, during the weekday, you may be the only couple there.
It’s about a 4 mile round trail with about a 2000 ft elevation gain. This hike has many beautiful spots for photo opportunities!
Secret Island (Easy)
This spot is a bit secret (haha get it?) No but seriously this is a dope ass location for sunrise! No elevation gain at all, you just need to know where to go. Even though it’s not a challenging location to go to… it’s not quite an ideal location for big crowds. There’s a lot of process you gotta go through to access this location, legally.
Stairway To Heaven (Hard)
OHH SH*T This trail thou!!! This is one of those infamous trails that will leave everyone dropping their jaws when they see your photos. This place is epic no matter if it rains or shines!
The thrill of trying to access the trail alone will leave your heart pounding like crazy! People travel from all over the world to do this hike. BUT You can’t simply just walk up to the trail and hike. This trail is monitored pretty heavily because a few hikers before us did not respect the neighborhood. So if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re sure to get stopped and be told to leave. That’s why many travelers are looking for a local hiker/guide to do this.
*There’s a legal way to do this hike but that’s like 14 miles long out & back, but you don’t get to do the stairs, you’ll only get to the top.
Olomana Trail (Moderate-Hard)
This is a great hike for all skill levesl. The top of the first peak offers 360 degree views of the east side. It is steep on the downhill slope towards the second peak. The next peak isn’t as challenging but still has an excellent view. The last peak should only be tried by experienced hikers in good shape and requires ropes all the way up. It can be muddy because it’s east side but if it does rain, you have a chance of seeing the legendary waterfall!
Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail (easy)
Super short and easy trail for epic sunrise! Great short uphill paved trail along sea cliffs to observation deck and lighthouse with fantastic views. Whole thing is paved! So expect A LOT of people! Lots of lookouts for whales, you can climb down a path and get right next to the lighthouse.
Hanauma Bay Lookout (Moderate)
This spot is perfect for both sunrise and sunset! There’s a part of a trail that leads to sea cliff and tons of open space and not a lot of people (This hike is very underrated!) You can also see Ko Ko Head in the backdrop as well. This is also here you will find the hidden stone bridge 😉
Tom Tom Trail (Moderate)
Kind of a hidden gems here. Not many people know about this and it’s a bit harder to navigate. But once you make it up to the top, you will be rewarded with a beautiful sunrise over the water with epic mountains in front of you. It’s quite private, so super recommend for intimate ceremonies.
With over 100 miles of coast, the island of Oahu is home to over 125 beaches. There are so many unique locations to choose from, you are guaranteed to find the perfect spot to say “I Do”. Whether you prefer mountainous backdrops or unique, private locations, Oahu will not let you down! There are some beaches where you can even swim with wild dolphins and turtles! Or jump off of a cliff into the warm ocean! How cool does that sound?!
Surrounded by epic mountains, this beach is an awesome spot for those who prefer a more secluded atmosphere.
Amazing sunset location! no matter what time of the year, this west side gem will always exceed your expectation! If you’re looking for a beautiful sunset ceremony on a quiet beach with an epic mountain view in the background this is your beach!
However, you will occasionally have locals cooking out and maybe dolphins… oh yeah this is a prime spot for snorkeling with dolphins as well! Maybe after your ceremony you can camp at the beach and wake up in the morning and go swim with dolphins! What a perfect elopement day! Makua Beach is more secluded because it’s quite far from Honolulu.
Located near resorts. The beaches of Ko Olina are Man-Made and they are called lagoons… The beaches here are not as secluded as Makua beach but there is an area that is quite secluded and away from the resort that can be very good for your small elopement ceremony. Because this located right on the Ko Olina resorts, it is very convenient if you’re trying to plan a little reception dinner at Ko Olina with friends and family.
The downside is that they are not super secluded (obviously) and there’s not many outdoor activities that you can do like campfires or watching the stars because of light pollution.
Very very popular beach on the North shore. Because of its beauty, it is constantly packed with tourists, and the parking is very hard to find, tons of people. The really cool thing about this location though is you can jump off of a large rock into the water! I don’t recommend you go here for your intimate elopement at all, BUT!! BUT!! There is a little secluded area where you can over look the whole beach and all its might!
China Walls is located on the Southern Coast of Oahu. This is not technically a beach, rather a large formation of lava rocks and cliffs located right next to the ocean. It is usually unknown to tourists, but popular with the locals. Because China Walls are so vast, you are able to find many private locations.
With the ocean waves right next to the rocks, it’ll feel like you’re on the edge of the world! A cool thing about this location is that at a certain time of the year the sunset will be visible. You have to be careful when getting close to the edge, you might get surprise by a rogue wave haha
Very beautiful and secluded beach on the East side of Oahu. Super soft sand and epic mountain backdrop, it’s a perfect place for sunrise ceremony. This beach is split into two different sections. The public section and a military section. The Air Force owned part of this beach for its military training.
The best part about the military section is the amnesties like cabins, gas stations, camp grounds, and recreation center. You can literally rent a cabin on the beach!
Beautiful beach, perfect for sunrise. It’s not that crowded either! Located just below Bellows Beach, the characteristic of these two beaches are very similar! Turquoise blue waters, soft sand, line of Ironwood trees, and an incredible backdrop view of the Ko’olau Mountains.
North shore beaches
North shore beaches are’n’t limited to just one beach. There are ungodly amounts of hidden beaches here, and most of them are quite private and peaceful! From Kaena Point to Turtle beach, The North Shoreline has unlimited amount of beautiful beaches to choose from (I could write a whole blog about this haha)
Should I stay in Waikiki?
Waikiki is a tourist trap. It’s extremely crowded and the beaches aren’t that beautiful compared to what I listed above. And this is just the tip of the ice burg!!
Where to stay in Hawaii
Most of your lodging will be either Hotel or Airbnb. There are many options across the island, but here’s the breakdown!
The infamous north shore! Made famous by it’s beautiful beach and world class surfing, this side of the island is a great option if you’re looking for an ocean front. At the tippy top of Northshore is Turtle Bay Resort which is also an amazing hotel to stay as well. Other than that you’ll be looking for mostly Airbnb
TONS of options! there are so many hotels and Airbnbs here I can’t even count. You can find many options here ranging all the way from affordable to luxury. It’s a busier side of the island. Made up of mostly residents and businesses. Not many beaches or mountains but tons of activities! If you want to go on marine activities, most likely you will have to go to the south port. There are TONS of restaurants and hotels here. Perfect for the after party and night life! But if you know where to go, there are some hidden gems here as well! It’s also the central portion of the island, so you will be able to visit the North, East, and West side with similar driving time.
Unlimited green goodness! A real tropical vibe can be found here on the west side. It’s quiet and peaceful, and plenty of beautiful AirBnbs that give you that tropical jungle vibe. I recommend you stay in Kailua because it’s close to restaurants and Whole Foods lol. But you can always go a bit north for quieter lodging.
This is my favorite side of the island but for some reason, there’s a rumor that the west side of Oahu isn’t safe. Most visitors and tourists were told that they are not welcome here. However, that’s simply over exaggerated and not true. You just have to respect the locals and everything will be amazing! The west side is the hidden gem of Oahu. You Hotel option is mainly Ko Olina Resort (luxury) which is a very nice resort that has a lot of accommodation. Ko Olina is closer to civilization and the rest is more secluded. There’s a hotel in Makaha Valley that’s a bit further west, but I highly recommend it as well!
10 Things to do in Hawaii
Alright you have a whole day in Hawaii what do you do beside marrying your favorite person? The ceremony usually doesn’t take long, so most couples will fill their day with things they enjoy doing together.
But before you rush out, remember! Follow the Leave No Trace principle.
There are tons of visitors that come and enjoy the island life, but not every tourist respects the nature. Please if you do decide to go on and plan your own elopement, please don’t touch the turtles, and don’t throw thrash away while you’re on the trail. Let’s keep Hawaii beautiful so others can enjoy it as well!
Alright, it’s pretty obvious right now that hikes on Oahu are LIT!! With so many to choose from, it will depend on your skill level. The location listed above is a pretty good start. But there are a few more trails that I would recommend for a casual hike and not a ceremony. These are The Pillboxes… These “Pillbox” hikes are pretty easy and offer amazing views. It’s just too crowded for a wedding ceremony.
This is my personal favorite!! Climbing is Hawaii not very popular but the climbing community here is awesome! You get to see a beautiful landscapes while climbing and honestly it doesn’t get any better than that! There are 2-3 go-to spots where you can go climb, they are Mokuleia, Kaena Point, and Makapuu.
I don’t see many people “camp” here. Oahu is a very small island and people usually don’t live that far away from the hiking trails, so generally like to go back to the comfort of their homes and not camp, but that doesn’t mean camping isn’t fun! Some places you will need a permit and some you have to watch out for beach bums haha
You can’t find a better place to surf! Hawaii is surfer’s paradise! Whether you’re a pro or just want to learn, Oahu is a perfect place to do it! However, this also depends on when you visit the island. The waves get massive on the northshore during winter and during the summer, the waves are just about right for hobbyist surfers out there. I recommend you stay in the South or West side of the island if you’re a beginner.
Honestly, don’t pay for snorkeling tours. I’ll take you to the best spots where you are pretty much guaranteed to see a sea turtle. There’s also a chance for you to see dolphins, stingrays, and more! If you know where to go 😉
Now I’m not super familiar with scuba diving, but I know that there are many hidden spots you can explore like the underwater plane, underwater cave, and many more!
A more laid back way to enjoy your day. If you fancy just sitting around and enjoying the scenic view of the mountains or the sunset then this might be a great option for you! During the peak season you can also spot a few whales or two haha
If you are the adrenaline junky type, then this might excite you! Oahu has many cliff jumping spots ranging from 20ft-80ft drops haha. But you do have to sign a contract that says I’m not responsible for all the fun you will have 😀
What a better way to observe the island’s beauty than up in the air?! There’s no experience quite like it. This helicopter tour can take you to hidden waterfalls,
Alright if cliff jumping isn’t that scary then maybe you should try sky diving! But unlike any other sky diving out there, sky diving in Hawaii is literally falling into paradise. The view is just so unreal you will forget you’re falling to dead lol
When should you elope in Hawaii?
It depends… the temperatures during summer & winter in Hawaii do not fluctuate that much because Hawaii is very close to the equator. Here is some information in regards to the seasons in Hawaii:
- South swell (surf)
- Hardly rain
- Expensive plane tickets
- Some activities depends on nice weather
- More tourists
- Northshore swell (surf)
- More chance of rain (and rainbows 🙂
- Cheaper plane tickets
- Bigger waterfall
- Less tourists
The time that you should come to Hawaii depends on the ceremony location and the activities that you want to do.
Contact me more more info I would love to help you out!Contact me!
Here’s some example of the Hawaii Beach Wedding