Best Oahu Beach Wedding Venues
So, you've decided that the venue of your dream wedding has to be in Hawaii, but have you thought about which island to have it on? Unlike other locations, Hawaii is made up of several islands, each with their own unique personality and potential wedding venues. While this makes for more exciting options, this can make deciding difficult as well. Oahu is undoubtedly the most "central" island in terms of population density, venue options and accessibility. Read on to find out our ranking of the best Oahu wedding venues!
Oahu has a population of nearly 1 million people, which means that about two thirds of the Hawaiian population lives there. No wonder the island is nicknamed "The Gathering Place!" This alone is a good indication that choosing an Oahu venue for your wedding for a family and friends gathering is a great idea!
Oahu is a great choice for choosing a wedding venue because it has much of the "island feeling" but with big city amenities. For example, most flights to Hawaii will fly into Honolulu International Airport (airport code HNL), making travel for you and your guests much more convenient. There are some flights that fly direct into the other neighboring islands (from the US West Coast, for example), but they can be less frequent or more expensive. From other locations such as Asia, almost all flights fly directly into Honolulu.
Most of the hotels and commercial areas are located along the south shore, so chances are, you and your guests will want to pick a hotel in this area. Iconic Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head are all located along the south shore.
Oahu is not a very large island in terms of geographical size, so generally, getting around Oahu by car is fairly straightforward and most destinations can be reached within an hour. Keep in mind that Honolulu has some very heavy rush hour traffic, though, so picking your Oahu wedding venue's locations may also be just as important as the time and day of the week.
Generally, the weather on Oahu and Hawaii in general is very temperate and consistent throughout the year. During the winter months, Oahu will get slightly more rain and if this is a concern, planning your wedding for the summer months may be advisable. Additionally, trade winds blow from the north-east, which means that the north and east shores of the island tend to get the most direct impact when it comes to moisture.
If you're looking for an iconic beach wedding venue, Waikiki Beach is your best bet. With dramatic views of Diamond Head, your photos will also be sure to turn out great. The central location makes it very easy for you and your guests to access, but the flip-side of this is that this is one of Hawaii's most popular beaches. Particularly during the high tourism seasons, the beach will be packed regardless of the day of the week.
If you can manage to find an off-peak season and time, you may be able to get a spot without many people around, and it can be beautiful, like the picture below shows.
At peak times, though, Waikiki Beach can look like this. Not very romantic and not a great wedding venue at all!
For fewer crowds, we recommend considering a location nearer to Waikiki Aquarium or Honolulu Zoo, as this is located slightly apart from the main hotel areas. Kapiolani Park, located nearby, also has several picturesque photo locations as well. In the photo below, you can see Kapiolani Park towards the back of the photo near the base of Diamond Head (courtesy Google Maps).
Google Streetview imagery of Waikiki Beach near Honolulu Zoo (also known as Sans Souci Beach).
In the Hawaiian language, Lanikai literally means "heavenly sea" and if you have ever had a chance to visit, you will understand why. With crystal clear turquoise water and soft, gentle sand, it truly is a heavenly wedding venue. Lanikai beach is located near the city of Kailua on the east side of the island. From downtown / Waikiki, it is about 30 minutes without traffic.
Because it is a bit of a drive away, there are fewer tourists at this beach, which will make it a little more secluded. The beauty of the beach is no secret, however, so there are bound to be people here at all times of the year.
You can find parking on Mokulua Drive, which is a residential street that runs parallel to the shoreline. There is only street parking available, but you should eventually be able to find a spot even if it's crowded - just be prepared to walk a bit!
From Mokulua Drive, several pathways lead to the beach.
Lanikai has some of the most gentle waves on all of Oahu due to several offshore sandbars and reefs that take the brunt of the large waves. If you're looking to do any photos IN the water, this would be a great option!
Kailua Beach / Waimanalo Beach
Located just a couple miles northwest of Lanikai Beach are Kailua Beach and Waimanalo Beach, both very strong contenders for best beach wedding venue. These beaches have similar sand and and water quality, but slightly larger waves due to the geography. Compared to Lanikai, there are some dramatic, steep mountains that create some excellent photo opportunities not available at Lanikai Beach.
There are also some beautiful Ironwood tree groves behind the beach which can make for additional photo backdrops as well.
On the easternmost edge of Oahu is Makapuu Beach. This beach has a little bit of everything - dramatic cliff formations, beautiful white sand, and relative seclusion. Waves tend to be rather large at this beach, which actually works well as a beach wedding venue because few people visit the beach unless they are surfing / body boarding. Nearby is Makapuu Lighthouse, a regional landmark.
Because of its location on the east side of Oahu, weather can potentially be an issue during the winter months.
If you're looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of Honolulu for your wedding venue, Sunset Beach on the North Shore may be exactly what you are looking for! During the winter months, the beach is the site of the famous Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, but when the waves subside during the summer months, it is a quiet and peaceful beach perfect for your wedding.
There is no proper parking lot, but street parking is available along Kamehameha highway. If you can make your schedule work, definitely look into this beach. As the name suggests, the sunsets here are also gorgeous!