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Favorite Photo Locations – “Heavenly Sea,” Hawaii’s Lanikai


See-your-toes-ocean along mile-long powder sand, it’s easy to see how Lanikai means “heavenly sea” in the Hawaiian language. Tucked away on the Windward side of the island of Oahu, 21 miles from Waikiki, Lanikai is one of the hidden jewels of beach resort Kailua.

Locals and tourists call Lanikai “one of the best swimming beaches in Hawaii.” Offshore reefs protect the beach from high surf making Lanikai a favorite. Tourists, that is the savvy tourists who find remote Lanikai, sprawl on towels and beach chairs soaking up sun letting gentle waves lap their toes while children build castles in the sand.

Lanikai is frequently rated one of the most beautiful beaches in the U.S., so picturesque it’s a favorite photo location for pro and amateur photographers, weddings and American and foreign commercial photo shoots.

Wading, swimming or snorkeling there’s a rainbow of fish among the coral, and if you’re lucky you may come upon a sea turtle. Please remember not to touch coral since it’s a living organism, and keep your distance from any sea turtle you may encounter since they are an endangered species.

Adding to the tropical ambiance, coconut palms sway in soft trade winds and cast photogenic shadows onto Lanikai’s beach.

Looking for adventure, paddle an outrigger (ocean-going) canoe or kayak. For the more adventurous, windsurf aboard a sailboard or float wind currents kite surfing.

The Moku Lua Islands are a Lanikai landmark. The bigger isle, Moku Nui, distinguished by its double hump is a favorite spot for kayakers. Smaller Moku Iki is the second island. Both islands are bird sanctuaries but nesting birds on Moku Iki make it off limits to visitors.

Early morning photographers watch the sun rise over the Moku Lua’s casting colorful reflections onto waves and the beach along Lanikai.

Be warned Lanikai has no public facilities such as toilets, showers or refreshment stands. Parking is limited and found only on the narrow streets of this posh neighborhood.

Aqua blue ocean, tropical flora, rainbow-hued canoes, framed by coconut palms, Hawaii-green islands and blue sky give Lanikai a technicolor aura making it a photographer’s paradise.


Location Information

The beach is located on the Southeast coast of Oahu, Hawaii, about 14 miles from downtown Honolulu.

Contributed by Paul Hughes

Paul Hughes has trekked 65 countries and now lives at Kauhale Beach Cove on the Hawaii island of Oahu.
Paul uses a variety of Red River paper for fine-art-photography prints and cards he sells in Hawaii galleries.

Original Publication Date: August 24, 2013

Article Last updated: August 24, 2013

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