Though the island is relatively small, Kauai boasts a wide variety of magnificent settings and climates. On this most beautiful Garden Island, you will find everything from green mountains to red canyons.
During the Golden Hour, sunrises and sunsets are especially epic when the sun showers the island’s colorful landscapes and seascapes with golden rays. This photogenic island shines in photos, and you will certainly want to share this magical and special place on all of your social media.
Here’s a list of the best Instagrammable spots on Kauai.
Kalalau Lookout & Pu’u o Kila Lookout
The view is one of the most featured scenes on Kauai and is often seen on guidebooks, advertisements, and promotional materials for the island. Although the Kalalau Lookout is the most visited, the Pu’u o Kila Lookout has perhaps even better views looking down the center of the valley. For additional views, proceed down the Pihea Trail which starts at the Pu’u o Kila Lookout.
Kalepa Ridge Trail
Our personal favorite trail on the entire island of Kauai. The Kalepa Ridge Trail starts at the Kalalau Lookout, but the trail takes it a step further into a wonderland of epic views reminiscent of the movie Avatar. The trail is an out-and-back and follows a ridgeline down from the Kalalau Lookout. Be careful of the steep drop-offs. There is the potential for more danger the farther down you go.
This spot, near the beginning of the trail, is a favorite location for Instagram photos. We often see this location staged as a campsite in photos.
A bucket list destination for many Instagrammers, the payoff after a muddy and forested three-mile hike is a magnificent view of Kauai’s Nualolo and Awa’awapuhi valleys. It also connects at one point with the Nu’alolo Trail and the Nu’alolo Cliffs Trail. Though we don’t recommend going past the rail at the viewpoint, many people do to get the best shots. Use extreme caution if you do go past the rail.
One of the top attractions on Kauai, Waimea Canyon is also one of the most photographed. Known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, visitors are pleasantly surprised to find it really does look like the Grand Canyon with a touch of green added. The Waimea Canyon Lookout offers some of the best views and photo opportunities.
Reachable only by a rough ride down a dirt road, this expansive beach at the end of the Na Pali Coast is a popular place for getting away from it all. Polihale Beach is favored by the locals with the 4-wheel-drive vehicles capable of getting here and by tourists seeking a remote, overnight camping experience.
Sunsets are especially grand at Polihale, and the forbidden island of Ni’ihau looms on the horizon for more drama. Located at the western end of Kauai away from light pollution, this is a popular spot for nighttime sky photography, especially of the Milky Way if you have the right equipment.
People really like Poipu. Post a pic of Poipu to your Instagram account and it’s likely to be a big hit. The resort area of Poipu is popular for good times, bountiful sun, lovely beaches and blue waters. There’s plenty to see and photograph around Poipu, from the unique cliffs of the Mahaulepu Trail to the blowhole of Spouting Horn. Hawaiian Monk Seals can often be found at Poipu Beach, but please keep your distance if photographing. And there’s nothing quite like a Poipu sunset to finish the day.
Perhaps the most popular waterfall on Kauai due to both its grandeur and accessibility, this photogenic location sees a steady stream of tourists snapping selfies and Instagram photos. Located on a country road a short drive from Lihue, a roadside viewing point provides views overlooking Wailua Falls.
Though most visitors are content with this scene, a number of visitors head down a steep, dangerous and officially off-limits trail to the bottom of Wailua Falls for even better and more dramatic views (below photo).
Hanalei Bay & Overlook
You won’t believe your eyes the first time you see this! The beautiful Hanalei Bay Overlook (or Hanalei Bay Lookout) is one of the most photographed locations on Kauai’s North Shore. It’s also one of the most stunning scenes in the world, in our opinion.
The extraordinary view from the overlook encompasses the entire Hanalei area, including the town, river, bay, mountains and taro fields. For the most vivid and intense experience, visit the overlook at sunrise or sunset when the sun casts a golden spell on the Hanalei Valley. The location is a popular spot for both amateur and professional photographers and those wishing to take group photos or selfies.
Our favorite place on the entire island, the epic beauty of the town of Hanalei and Hanalei Bay is unsurpassed. Instagram photo opportunities abound in this paradise, beginning at the Hanalei Bridge and adjacent taro fields. In town, the historic green Wai’oli Hui’ia Church is a popular spot for photos. Green mountains, dripping with waterfalls, serve as the backdrop for Hanalei and Hanalei Bay. The ultimate photo opportunities are at the bay.
Sunrises are extra special here when the sun peeks over the green mountains and bathes the area in simmering golden light. Likewise, sunsets at Hanalei Bay come in all colors, including pastels, orange, pink, purple and silver to name a few. And no two sunsets are ever the same! Take all this beauty in at the Hanalei Pier where you’ll feel like you’re in a 360 degree dream.
As beautiful as Hanalei Bay is, there are more than a few people who say that Tunnels Beach (Makau) is the most beautiful place on Kauai. And it’s hard to argue that point. During the day, verdant greens and golden sands are especially vibrant at Tunnels. At sunset, Bali Hai (Mount Makana) is backlit by the setting sun, and the results are truly remarkable.
This is the beach at the end of the road that tropical dreams are made of. Unfortunately, a new system has been put into place that severely restricts the number of people permitted to visit Ke’e Beach. But if you obtain the proper reservations, parking permits or shuttle passes, then you’re in for a real treat. There is a beautiful lagoon for snorkeling and a long sandy stretch for hanging out. The beach actually angles out, so proceed down the beach to the right for dramatic views of the Na Pali Coast.
Na Pali Coast
Kauai’s Na Pali Coast is a sight to behold, where towering sea cliffs rise majestically from turquoise waters. Though portions of the 15-mile-long Na Pali Coast can be viewed from Kokee State Park above Waimea Canyon, you will need to take a helicopter tour, boat cruise, kayak trip, or a hike down the Kalalau Trail to see the coast in its full glory. This is Kauai’s premier attraction, and you will want to see it, and photograph it, in as many ways as possible.
These are just a few of the many beautiful locations on Kauai for Instagram photos.