As an adventure elopement photographer, there is nothing I love more than exploring this beautiful island with my couples. Even after living on Oahu for over a decade, I still get chills when I wake up every morning and see the incredible beauty that Hawaii has to offer. There truly is nothing like waking up at sunrise and walking barefoot along the beach, or hiking up the mountains with my family and basking in the afternoon sun.
But over the years, severe overcrowding and lack of care from visitors have caused damage to this pristine island. Places that once were small and peaceful are being turned into social media hot spots, causing destruction beyond repair.
That is one of the reasons I believe in Leave No Trace. This is a framework that protects our environment and ensures that these incredible places continue to be amazing for generations to come. It’s essential to take only pictures and leave only footprints!
So today, I wanted to share five ways to Visit Hawaii’s beaches like a local! These are easy ways to visit our incredible islands while also maintaining respect for the landscape.
Don’t Geotag Your Location on Social Media
One of the simplest ways to preserve Oahu is not to geotag! Geotagging has resulted in serene, photogenic landscapes into overcrowded spaces slowly getting destroyed by tourists. In some areas, it has resulted in irreplaceable environmental damage.
When you geotag a spot at your elopement or photoshoot, it is no longer a private space. We can keep that place special by not geotagging it and keeping our beautiful Island the treasure that it is. In today’s age of instant gratification, it is a fresh approach to find your own special spot without seeing it on Instagram!
When you share your photos on social media, you can simply tag the whole Island, Planet Earth, or even just the city! This way, we can keep our natural treasures pristine for the next time you come to visit.
Use Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Products
Hawaii is so much more than a pretty place. It is a home and a wildlife haven! So this is why I believe in using sustainable and eco-friendly products day-to-day and for my elopements. These are my favorite products that I use to keep this Island beautiful.
Reef Safe Sunscreen
In July 2018, Hawaii banned the sale of sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate because it is poisonous to our reef and other marine animals. There’s nothing worse than being at a beach and seeing a film of tanning oil and sunscreen floating on the top of the water. My favorite reef-safe sunscreen is Reef Repair. This sunscreen is chemical-free and safe for marine and aquatic life.
Aloha Bags are great for stashing pretty much anything! These Splash Proof bags come in many colors and sizes for all of your items. Trust me, I have tested these bags out many times! My favorites are the beach tote, medium zipper bag (I throw our wet swim suits or sandy slippers in there!), fanny pack, and mini pouch for my wallet and lip balm.
These are my go-to when traveling or snacking! They are waterproof reusable bags, so they cut back on plastic waste. Instead of throwing away hundreds of Ziplock bags every year, get a pack of Stasher Bags instead!
Reusable Water Bottle
This is a must-have for traveling and visiting Hawaii. Plastic bags are detrimental to our ecosystem, so I always have a reusable bottle handy. I love Hydro Flask, but anything will do! Fill it up at your place you’re staying before heading over to the beach or adventure day to cut back on plastic use!
Check The Surf Report
Always make sure you check the surf report before going into the ocean. It’s important to know what to look for in the ocean before heading out to stay safe. We have so many ocean rescues and casualties that are often from visitors underestimating the ocean’s power.
Some generals tips:
- Check the surf report before heading out to know what to expect. I love O’ahu Surf Report & Forecast – Surfline.
- If the ocean is pretty rough, avoid wet rocks. That means a wave has been there recently, and a large rogue wave could quickly come up and sweep you off. Whenever I am shooting on the beach, I always look out for wet rocks!
- A lot of whitewash usually means pretty strong waves. Some waves have a tall wave height but aren’t super powerful. Others are seemingly not as bad because they look smaller but are really powerful and can suck you out. So always check before diving in.
- Look up reviews of the locations you are planning to revisit for safety precautions and to know what to expect! Avoid the surfer havens if you are looking for a quiet spot, since those will have much bigger waves.
Be Aware (and courteous!) Of Your Surroundings
Oahu is a small island, and we all need to be considerate of others while visiting. Be aware of how loud your music or conversations are, and always be respectful to others using the beach. Space yourself out, so everyone has room to enjoy the area. Always dispose of all trash, and leave the space the same or better as when you arrived.
Keep Your Distance from Wildlife
This is so important! Yes, seeing marine animals like dolphins and whales is so exciting. It really is a beautiful sight to behold! But please refrain from getting too close for photos. Hawaii has around 190,500 visitors each day, according to the Hawaii tourism authority. Imagine if even just a fraction of the visitors break the rules and go in for a photo op! It can be incredibly detrimental to the wildlife and dangerous.
Please stay at least 10 feet from turtles and 150 feet from seals (they are endangered monk seals). While dolphins might look very cute, you need to stay 150 away from them so they can rest and feed in their already quickly disappearing environment. Hawaii is their home!
Besides it being the responsible and safe thing to do, it is also illegal to get close to the wildlife. It is not uncommon for you to get reported or told to step back.
Visit Hawaii’s Beaches Like a Local
Oahu and the Hawaiian islands are captivating and beautiful places, making it the perfect spot for elopements and vacations. But, when you visit, make sure to visit like a local! This is our home, and deserves to be treated with respect, and keeping it the picturesque Island we have all grown to love. The spirit of our home is something you will never forget, and I am so grateful to call this place home and share it with you. Reach out!-I can’t wait to celebrate your next adventure.