Kualoa Beach Park Photos – Best for Mountain Views

kualoa beach park photos

Kualoa Beach Park is one of the best spots to get both mountains and beach in one location – but its different than Waimanalo. Kualoa Beach Park sits just across the road from Kualoa Ranch – a popular tourist destination and where much of Jurassic Park was filmed.

Kualoa Beach is 51 minutes by car from Waikiki on the Windward side of Oahu. It sits on the north end of Kanehoe Bay overlooking Chinaman’s Hat. Compared to other beach parks, Kualoa Park is far bigger with lots more to do – including camping! See my top 3 things to do a Kualoa Beach Park.

Where is Kualoa Beach?

Kualoa Regional Beach Park is on the windward, or northeast side of the island of Oahu on Kamehameha Highway. It sits directly across from the well known Kualoa Ranch or Jurassic Valley (where Jurassic Park films were made).

Kualoa Beach Park is a sprawling county-maintained park with wide grassy fields, stunning views of the Ko’olau Mountains and Kaneohe Bay.

Kualoa Beach Park Hours

Like most city and county parks, it is open from dawn to dusk year round. Gates are locked at night.

Is Kualoa Beach Park Good For Swimming?

Short Answer: YES! Kualoa Beach Park is good for swimming. It sits on the eastern side of the island facing the Kaneohe Bay. It does receive strong current, particularly in the winter, so always check water conditions. The surf is typically calm and safe enough for very young children.

You can kayak or paddle board out to island Mokoli’i, also known as Chinaman’s Hat.

How do I get to Kualoa Secret Beach?

There is a Secret Beach or secret dock on Molii fish pond, at Kualoa Regional Park that you can get to on foot. Its about a 20 minute hike from the parking lot along the beach. At high tide it can be difficult to access. But the dock has stunning views of the Ko’olaus! I would not recommend taking a stroller or wagon to the dock.

The secret beach is on Molii fish pond.

Photos at Kualoa Secret Beach

Doing family photos at Kualoa’s Secret Beach can be gorgeous. There is a stunning view of both the dock, Molii fish pond and the mountains in the distance. But there are several considerations.

I personally do not offer photos sessions at Kualoa’s Secret Beach because of several factors:

  • Its a long hike. The kids will start off tired. We don’t want that for a fun family photo session!
  • Its limited in scenery. You’re hiking just for the dock & mountains. There are other, easier ways to get photos with the mountains.
  • Its dark. From dark water to dark mountains, the final images don’t fully line up with my artistic vision and shoot style.
  • Most importantly, the dock is naturally very narrow and not a fun place for a family. My top priority is to have fun during your photo session and falling off a dock, or keeping the kids wrangled works entirely against my approach to family photos.

Secret Island Tours from Kualoa Ranch

Another way to experience Kualoa Beach is through the full and half day tours from Kualoa Ranch. Their property sits directly across the 83 from the beach. They call it “Secret Island tour.” Obviously not very secret if its on Google Maps, right?

But the tour is just a day at Kualoa Beach!

What I look for in beach photo locations

As a mom, I want my kids to have the freedom to move and be themselves (read: loud) during their photo session. Most kids cooperate with cheerfulness when we work WITH them instead of against them.

As a photographer, I want:

  • Easy accessibility
  • Few crowds
  • Soft sand to play in
  • Good light. Always good light!

Kualoa Beach Park brings all of that together in one place.

What to wear for Beach photos FREE guide by Alison Bell, photographer

What I love about Kualoa Beach Park Oahu

My favorite thing about Kualoa Beach is having both the mountains, the beach and the palms in one location. They’re not close enough to photograph in the same frame, but you could certainly use both settings in the same session!

Kualoa beach has soft sand and wide beaches are perfect for running and playing – even for babies. The water is gentle year round (unlike the North Shore). The water is several shades of blue and Chinaman’s Hat (an islet) sits out in the harbor. There are tall palms too!

What’s unique about Kualoa is the KoOlau mountains just across the road. There’s a large grassy field just inside the beach park that gives a spectacular view of the mountains. They’re close so they give dramatic scale in the photos – and its safe! You’re not on the road, or even close to a road. There’s space to run and scream!

Kualoa beach is pretty far from Waikiki but, its a BEAUTIFUL drive through the mountains on Likelike Highway.

What I don’t love about Kualoa Beach

Kualoa Beach Park has a lot going on but it is not the prettiest beach.

While the water is beautiful and calm, theres a cement barricade in the middle of the water! Its can be difficult to not get this eyesore in the background of photos. Its visible in in the background of photos from most angles (but not all). Its very difficult to edit the barricade out.

Crowds – This place is super popular on the weekend. Its next to a major tourist destiation (Kualoa Ranch) with free entry and free parking. Any given evening there are 2-5 photographers with families in the field. On the weekends local families will set up tents and cook outs for hours and hours.

Dirty sand – Kualoa beach has dirty sand. I don’t mean dirty with trash, but just natural, black organic matter in the sand – leaves, bark, rocks, palm fronds, etc. It makes the sand look dirty, and it shows in photos. If you’re willing to drive to Kualoa Beach Park for family photos, drive a little further to my favorite photo spot.

Oahu-family photograpeher alison Bell,

Have you thought about family photos while you’re in Hawai’i?

Its photo season year-round here in Hawaii and I want you to take advantage of it!

Take home the bright skies, warm air and blue water to relive it over and over because you’ll never experience this place with the kids these ages ever again.

This is your one shot. Take it!

As the ringleader of my own 4 boy circus, I know how hard getting family photos can be. I’m here to change that.

If I could dress your kids and literally hang your family photos on your walls, I would …but I can’t, so I do just about everything else in between. That’s why I take the time to hold your hand from start to finish.

Because what good are family photos if your kids never see them?

I only accept two families a week, so if you have dates, reach out to Alison Bell, Photographer now.

How do I get to Kualoa Regional Beach Park from Honolulu or Waikiki

Getting to Kualoa Beach Park is super simple!

From Waikiki, take the H1 to exit 20 A for Highway 63 or Likelike Highway. Follow Likelike through the tunnel. Highway 63 will merge with 83 and you’ll simply follow the road until you reach Kualoa Regional Beach Park on the right!

Kualoa Beach Park Family Photos

These are some of my favorite mountain view family photos taken at Kualoa Beach Park.

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kualoa beach family photos
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kualoa beach park photos
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kualoa family photos
kualoa ranch photos

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I'm a USMC spouse, South Carolina native, recovering homeschool mama of a 4 boy circus. They've taught me the most important facet of family photography: KEEP IT FUN!

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I find joy in chaos. The louder, the better!

I'm a USMC spouse, South Carolina native, recovering homeschool mama of a 4 boy circus.

They've taught me the most important facet of family photography: KEEP IT FUN!

hey, I'm Alison!


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