Kalalau Lookout
Kalalau Lookout

Kauai, the “Garden Isle,” is a photographer’s paradise. From the jagged emerald cliffs of the Nāpali Coast to the emerald valleys of Waimea Canyon, Kauai’s stunning landscapes are begging to be captured on camera. In this post, we’ll focus on capturing great photos of Kalalau, the Nāpali Coast, and Kauai in general. We’ll cover the best locations, photography tips, and essential gear to help you bring home stunning images that will make your friends and family jealous.


  • Nāpali Coast: There are several ways to capture this amazing area.
    • Get a permit to hike the Kalalau Trail and experience the Nāpali Coast first hand. It’s an amazing hike but it takes some planning, so plan ahead.
    • One of the best ways to experience the Nāpali Coast is from the water. Take a boat tour or kayak trip for up-close views of the sea caves, waterfalls, and dramatic cliffs.
    • Seeing the island from the air is a extraordinary experience. For the best photography experience, make sure you take a doors-off helicopter tour.
  • Kalalau Lookout: This iconic viewpoint offers breathtaking views of the Kalalau Valley, a lush emerald oasis nestled between towering cliffs. Arrive early for the best light and to avoid crowds. You can also hike the Kalepa Ridge Trail near this area to see even more great views of Kalalau.
  • Waimea Canyon: Known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” Waimea Canyon is a photographer’s dream. Hike through the canyon or take a drive along the Waimea Canyon Drive for stunning views of the red rock cliffs and lush valleys. You can even take a River Boat tour down the river to get photos from the water.
  • Tunnels Beach: Tunnels Beach is a popular snorkeling spot located on the south shore of Kauai. The beach is named for the lava tunnels that can be found underwater. It is a great place to see a variety of marine life, including fish, turtles, and rays.
  • Queen’s Bath: Queen’s Bath is a natural pool located in Hanalei Valley. The pool is surrounded by lava rock and is fed by a waterfall.
  • Kīlauea Point: This scenic overlook offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and the Kīlauea Lighthouse. It’s a great place to watch the sunrise or sunset.
  • Polihale State Park: Polihale State Park is located on the western tip of Kauai. The park has a beautiful white sand beach and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.
  • Hanalei Bay: Hanalei Bay is one of the most beautiful bays in Hawaii. The bay is surrounded by lush mountains and has a white sand beach.
  • Wailua Falls: Wailua Falls is a 40-foot waterfall that is located in Wailua Valley. The falls are a popular tourist destination and can be seen from a number of viewpoints.
Na Pali above Kalalau Beach
Nāpali above Kalalau Beach
Waimea Canyon
Waimea Canyon
Kīlauea Lighthouse
Kīlauea Lighthouse

Photography Tips

  • Get up early: The best light for photography is usually early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
  • Use the golden hour: The hour around sunrise and sunset are often the best times to photograph landscapes. The light is softer and more flattering, and you’ll get warmer colors.
  • Compose your shots carefully: Pay attention to the rule of thirds and leading lines to create more interesting compositions. Great composition is important if you want the best Nāpali Coast photos.
  • Use a tripod: A tripod will help you keep your camera steady and capture sharp photos, especially in low-light conditions.
  • Don’t be afraid to get close: Get in close to your subjects to fill the frame and eliminate the unimportant parts of your image.
  • Experiment with different angles: Don’t just shoot from eye level. Try getting low to the ground or climbing to a higher vantage point for a different perspective.
  • Capture the details: In addition to the grand landscapes, don’t forget to capture the little details that make Kauai special, such as the flowers, the wildlife, and the local people.
Along the Kalalau Trail
Along the Kalalau Trail
Kalalau Beach from the air
Kalalau Beach from the air

Essential Gear

  • A good camera: You don’t need the latest and greatest camera to take great photos, but a decent DSLR or mirrorless camera will give you more flexibility and control.
  • A wide-angle lens: A wide-angle lens is essential for capturing the vast landscapes of Kauai.
  • A tripod: As mentioned above, a tripod is essential for low-light photography and capturing sharp images.
  • Polarizing filter: A polarizing filter will help reduce glare and reflections, and make the colors in your photos more saturated.
  • Neutral density filter: A neutral density filter will help you slow down your shutter speed to capture smooth-flowing water or create motion blur.

With a little planning and these tips, you’re sure to capture some amazing photos of Kalalau, the Nāpali Coast, and Kauai. So get out there, explore, and start shooting!