Kauai Elopement Photographer
I’m Lucy – a Kauai Elopement Photographer with a passion for exploration. I’m basically if Steve Irwin was an elopement photographer. It’s no secret that I LOVE Kauai. And after planning 3 trips to visit the island over the last 5 years, I am finally able to share this magical island with you. Kauai is the furthest west of the major Hawaiian islands and is known as “The garden Isle.” The greenery is real, y’all. This is a hiker’s paradise, an adventurer’s dream, and a perfect match for an outdoorsy couple’s elopement. All my favorite spots are ready and waiting for your footprints! More than just locations, I’ll share a sample timeline and a Kauai elopement budget breakdown in this post to make this the ultimate Kauai elopement guide.
The Complete Guide to the Best Kauai Elopement Locations
The best Kauai elopement locations are all here! The most famous part of the island is the Northwest side, called the NaPali Coast. The jagged cliffs descend right into the ocean, and there are no roads in this part of the island. The North Shore is home to some of the best beaches, trailheads, and dining. On the east side, resorts make relaxation easy while the beaches are more rough. The south part of Kauai has a mix of everything: caves, beaches with cliffs, ocean tours, a tree tunnel, and off roading. The interior of the island is where hikers go to explore Waimea Canyon, waterfalls, and thick jungle.
Here is my Kauai Elopement Locations map:
This map is like a virtual tour of Kauai with color photos I’ve taken of each place. So you can see all the 30+ great spots without leaving your living room. If you’re planning from afar, this is a visual key to picking out the elopement spot that works for you. Get access to the map by booking me as your Kauai elopement photographer. Details like what seasons and time of day are best for each location are included. It will help you plan your activities, accommodations, and your day’s itinerary. Lastly, it’s easy to have a great backup location picked out with this map in front of you. Having that Plan B in your back pocket will keep your planning stress-free! I can’t wait to share all my tips for how to elope in Kauai with you!
How to Elope on Kauai
Planning a Kauai elopement from afar can seem like a daunting task at first. Hang in there – I’ve got you! While there is lots of red tape concerning where you can and can’t get married, there are plenty of great options. Planning can be broken down into a few simple steps.
Steps to planning a Kauai elopement
- Choose a season and date range
- Buy your flights, reserve a rental car, and book your accommodation ASAP.
- Hire a Kauai elopement photographer with experience on the island. They will help answer all your questions as they come up and make the rest of your planning smooth sailing.
- Work with your photographer to select a location & time for your ceremony and apply for your location permit.
- Hire any additional vendors: Florist, local officiant, makeup or hair services
- Pick up your Hawaii marriage license and elope!
Being Pono in Kauai & Hawaii
First things first – Hawaii is sacred land. If you’re not committed to leaving the place better than you found it, don’t visit. It’s that simple! Luckily, it’s pretty easy to not be a terrible human. Follow Leave No Trace principles, pack in what you pack out, and don’t tresspass. Take the Pono Pledge to familiarize yourself with the island of Kauai’s needs.
Do we need an officiant to elope in Kauai?
The short answer is no, but it will definitely be easier if you do! While Hawaii recognizes most of us that are ordained, the process for submitting a marriage license is best handled by someone who does this every day. Professional officiants in Kauai are experienced with elopements and work hard to give you an authentic experience by incorporating native Hawaiian traditions. I definitely recommend hiring an officiant in Kauai.
Beach Elopement Locations in Kauai
The most well known beaches to elope in Kauai are Tunnels beach and Hanalei Bay on the North shore, and Shipwrecks Beach on the south side near Poipu. These are stunning areas, but of course not your only options. More north shore beaches are scenic as palm trees come right up to the ocean’s soft waves. The south side of the island has many beaches that are good for snorkeling or playing with kids – but that makes them very busy. The best Kauai elopement locations on beaches are on the east side. Because the ocean’s surf is rough, these sandy stretches are free of crowds. See Matt & Jaden on an east side Kauai Beach here!
Rules for Eloping on the Beach in Kauai
Good news! Eloping on the beach is the easiest place to elope on Kauai. While you can’t set up an arch or chairs on the beach, you don’t need to. The beauty of the ocean will be all you need! Pulling a permit for a beach ceremony can be done through the Department of Land and Natural Resources of Hawaii website. These are known as Wiki Permits, and are relatively easy to obtain. I’ve already got an account with the state of Hawaii’s website, so it’s even easier for me to sort out the necessary paperwork. Tip for beach elopements: be mindful of incoming tides, and plan after consulting a tide table!
Eloping at Waimea Canyon State Park
This is by far the most beautiful state park in the entire USA! It blows all others out of the water, and really it deserves National Park status. On a sunny day, I could spend hours just admiring the view. However, It is often cloudy or rainy in this high country on this remote west side of the Island. Since it is a long drive from the North shore or the airport, you can stay within the park at the Cabins at Koke’e, which I recommend – so long as you are comfortable with a rustic experience! The many hiking trails make this the outdoor lover’s dream elopement location. BUT – it can be very difficult to work with the state to approve your elopement or photos here, so planning well in advance (8+ months) is key.
Can you elope at the Kalalau Lookout?
At the end of the road beyond Waimea Canyon is possibly the most iconic place in all of Kauai. The Kalalau lookout is both world famous and instagram-famous, and for good reason. It’s absolutely stupidly beautiful. Looking out over the Kalalau valley below you, the Na Pali coast and the pacific ocean all at once is a sight to behold for sure. However, it is not possible or legal to get married here. You may not have your ceremony at the Kalalau lookout. It’s a great photo spot, with clearest views in the morning. If you are able to catch a sunset here on a clear day, it’s jaw dropping! Pssst- some amazing hikes start from here!
Boat Tours of Kauai
If you’re getting tired of reading about the rules – me too! Luckily, there are still lots of options to enjoy your elopement on Kauai. One of my favorite ideas is to charter a boat cruise of the Na Pali coast. Get married by the ship’s captain on the boat as you set sail. Many boats offer chartering options that include dinner at sunset. You’ll want to find accommodation on the south shore of Kauai to make this happen, as the best Na Pali coast tours leave from there. Bonus adventure: explore sea caves and waterfalls right from the boat!
Best Kauai Elopement Locations in the Mountains
Not a beach person? You should still consider having your destination elopement in Kauai! I love hiking and this island is a dream for outdoorsy couples. The mountain terrain takes up the entire center of the island, and as much as 80% of the island is inaccessible even by foot. The jungle is rainy and hard hikes should not be attempted after recent rain. This stunning couple chose to have their session with the mountain peaks in the background and it came out so gorgeous- and perfectly Kauai.
The Kalalau Trail & Hanakapai Falls Photographer
Another reason people visit this island is to hike the strenuous and one of a kind Kalalau trail along the Na Pali coast. This trail starts from the end of the road on the north shore, beyond Princeville and Hanalei. Due to increased use, the state now sells permits to hike this trail and shuttle bus tickets to the trailhead. Unfortunately, these sell out instantly in almost every season, so you’ve got to be prepared if you want to cross this epic hike off your bucket list. Elopements are generally not allowed on the trail, but if you’re already married you may visit. I did the 9 mile round trip hike to Hanakapa’i falls and it was one of my favorite hikes of all time. If you’d like to marry at a waterfall in Kauai, I know of one you can rent for a small hourly fee.
For the Adventurous Kauai Elopement Couple: Take a Helicopter Tour
My #1 MUST DO recommendation is to take a scenic helicopter tour of Kauai. This is a great mid-day activity, when the bustle of sunrise is over and the sun is beating down. The 1 hour tour will be one of the best hours of your life, so doing it together on your elopement day is the most epic thing I can think of. The views are beyond gorgeous, and you can see into the inaccessible high mountains in the center. Tip: Plan to take your heli tour early in your trip. In unpredictable weather, you may have to reschedule the tour to a later date. Plus – I’ve got a tip on how to book the right tour so that you can tell the pilot where you want them to fly!
South Shore & Lihue Kauai Elopements
Lihue is the city you’ll land in when you arrive in Kauai, and it’s the central hub on the Island. All the biggest shops, restaurants, and markets are here as well as a few hidden gems for your elopement! There is a cave, various rocky coastal cliffs, palm trees galore, rivers to play in or tube down, and fun activities everywhere. Some beaches on the south side are reached only by boat or by hiking, so consider that if you’d like to be really alone in Kauai for your elopement.
North Shore & Hanalei Bay Elopement Locations
The world famous Hanalei Bay is one of the best Kauai elopement locations, and it’s not as crowded as I’d expected. In the mornings, it’s common to see rainbows here on the north shore. And the sunsets are to die for! Many locals have a campfire on the beach at dusk – wouldn’t that be a fun place for a first dance in the sand? Some adventure tours leave from this area, and there are many places to explore, like Queen’s Bath. Caution: some of the coastline on the north shore can be very dangerous with high surf – never turn your back on the ocean!
Sample Kauai Elopement Timeline
You’ve traveled all the way to Kauai to get married, so don’t cut your elopement short by planning something that lasts just 2 hours. What are you going to do with the rest of your day? You’re going to fill it with amazing activities and experiences that will make your day memorable! Treat your elopement day as the most exciting day of your honeymoon, and plan a full day of things you both enjoy.
6:00 Wake up in Koke’e Cabins and see the sun rise at Waimea Canyon together
7:00 Eat breakfast at the Kalalau lookout & hike out to one of the ridge trails.
9:00 Change into your wedding clothes and have a first look on the ridge
11:30 Scenic drive to Lihue. Stop for a Lilikoi smoothie
1:00 Helicopter tour of Kauai
2:00 Lunch time! Dig into some traditional Hawaiian barbeque then drive to the North Shore
4:00 Elopement ceremony at a private waterfall in Kauai
5:00 Sunset dinner cruise on a catamaran on the Na Pali coast
My Kauai Elopement Photography Packages
I offer both photography & planning Kauai elopement packages, or All inclusive elopements for a one stop shop option. There are no travel fees, download fees, watermarks or other hidden fees. These prices are for 2024.
2 Days of elopement photography in Kauai – $9900
1.5 Days of Kauai elopement photography – $7900
1 Full day of Kauai adventure elopement photography – $6900
Where to stay on Kauai?
This is where your experience really comes together! Will you choose a 5 star resort, a rustic cabin, or a jungle bungalow for your getaway? Picking accommodation that suits your vibe is the best way to wake up on the right side of the bed. Here’s my list of fun an unusual Airbnbs on Kauai to make your elopement start off right!
How much does it cost to elope in Kauai?
So, how much does it cost to elope in Kauai? The answer, of course, is that it depends! You could stay at the nicest resorts and go all out with adventure activities for a week and spend 20k to 30k on the best dang time of your lives. Which would still be 5k less than the national average cost of a wedding!! Alternatively, you could save up and search for the all the best deals on cabin rentals and car shares, and still have a week of incredible experiences and local food for $10k to 15k- less than half the cost of a traditional ballroom wedding. Here is a sample budget breakdown for a Kauai Elopement with no guests.
Luxury Kauai Elopement Budget
$2,000 2 Roundtrip flights to Kauai
$5,000 Accommodation at a resort 1 week
$5,000+ Wedding clothes: dresses, tuxedos, accessories.
$6,000 to 10,000 Elopement photography
$1,000 Rental car
$1,000+ Hair, makeup & flowers
$4,000+ Adventure Experiences (Helicopter, boat cruise, +)
$1,500 High end food for the week
Essential Kauai Elopement Budget
$2,000 2 Roundtrip flights to Kauai
$1,200 Accommodation at a cabin rental 1 week
$1,500 Wedding clothes: dresses, tuxedos, accessories
$6,000 Elopement Photography
$800 Car share rental
$300 Simple flowers, DIY hair & Makeup
$1,700+ Adventure Experiences (Helicopter, boat cruise +)
$700 Local food for the week
About Lucy – Kauai Elopement Photographer
I’m a colorful Kauai elopement photographer with an obsession for mountains, hiking, and green mosses. My photography style emphasizes the epic landscape of your dreams and the authentic moments that make you two.. well, you two! I love my job and my nature-loving clients. Kauai is my favorite of the Hawaiian Islands and is one of my very favorite places to explore in the USA. Maybe I’ll see you there!
I offer full day, 1.5 day and 2 day elopement photography in Kauai. See my pricing and package details here. I would love to chat with you and help see if an elopement with me is what you’ve been dreaming of. Get in touch below!
See my other Hawaiian Island Guides for more tropical goodness:
Maui & Haleakala Elopement Guide
See my map and guide on where to elope in Haleakala National Park and the Island of Maui. This area is a honeymooner’s paradise.
Island of Hawaii Elopement Guide
See my map and guide on where to elope in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the Island of Hawaii. This island is large, peaceful with many opportunities for adventure!