Elope in Kauai
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In 2013 I discovered the island of Kauai. I immediately fell in love. Since then, my wife and I have returned each year, occasionally for intimate weddings or elopements. While it is impossible to explore every inch of the garden island, I have made my best effort over the years and have discovered everything from lush rainforests to Mars-like desert soils in the canyon.
NOTE: In a recent conversation with the Kauai Visitors Bureau I have learned there has been a dramatic increase in commercial photography traffic to the island which has spurned a lot of illegal drone activity and damage to some of the islands most beautiful areas. Some hikes are now no longer permitted due to erosion. For the foreseeable future I will not be photographing on Kauai as the well being of this majestic island and its fragile ecosystem is of the utmost importance. The below serves as a resource for couples planning their elopements on Kauai however if any part of your day involves a national or state park, I suggest contacting the DLNR and the state Film Office to ensure you obtain the proper permits and licenses. Mahalo!
Can you elope in Kauai?
Yes, you absolutely can! Weddings are one of the largest tourist attractions for the Hawaiian Islands and people come from all over the world to tie the knot. It’s a perfect way to celebrate your nuptials and then enjoy your honeymoon exploring the island in the days or weeks that follow. To obtain a marriage license, you can contact the Marriage License Office. Marriage licensing agents are often good resources to connect you with someone who can perform the ceremony.
Where can we exchange vows?
The number of possible ceremony locations is endless and diverse on the island of Kauai. The best part of eloping in Kauai is that you can visit several of these locations on the same day. For instance, I have done shoots that started on the north shore and circled the entire island hitting spots along the way, culminating with portraits peering down into the Kalalau Valley. Because there is so much to see, if one day seems rushed, extend your photo session over multiple days! This allows you to take in all of the majesty this island offers. Although the island is relatively small, it can be divided into several main areas with their own pockets of beauty as follows:
• Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail has a rocky and rugged feel to it as you traverse cliffs peering over the vibrant aqua blue of the south shore.
• The Waimea Canyon was once dubbed the ‘Grand Canyon of the Pacific’ by Mark Twain. It offers some of the most stunning views on Earth from a multitude of viewpoints and offshoot hikes. Consequently, it is easy to find a private spot with a backdrop of rich Kauai red dirt, punctuated by green cliffs and, if you are lucky, rainbows.
• Polihale Beach is the westernmost public place one can travel in the Hawaiian Islands. In addition to this it is also the longest uninterrupted stretch of beach in Hawaii. The waves crash and the sand dunes provide an ever-changing set of textures.
• Kalalau Valley is in my opinion the most beautiful view on Earth. Standing in front of the two-mile-wide, 4000-feet-deep valley is both humbling and inspiring. Clouds occasionally float in and out of the valley, but when it reveals itself, it is something to behold.
• Sleeping Giant (Nounou Mountain) is a well trafficed out and back trail starting near Kapa'a.
• Kuilau Ridge is a lightly trafficked trail ending in Jurassic Park views towards the interior of the island.
• Ke’e Beach looks down the Na Pali Coast with layer upon layer of mountain falling into the ocean. This is the start of Kauai’s most famous hike, the Kalalau Trail.
• Hanalei Bay with its iconic pier and Bali Hai off in the distance offer a wide perspective that is perfect at sunset. I know a secret beach nearby with the same view and no one else around. It’s a perfect spot to exchange vows on Kauai.
What is the best time of year to elope in Kauai?
This is an easy one: any time of year! Kauai’s weather is quite stable and consistent year-round. I have often visited the island in April, May and June, and although there are some rainy days through the spring, you can always find sunny spots on the island within a relatively short drive. The north shore of Princeville and Hanalei typically get more rain than Poipu’s south shore and you may want to consider this when planning accommodations.
How do I plan an elopement?
The beauty of planning an elopement is that you can do it however you want! There are no rules or expectations and you can build your day around exactly what you like to do together. If you are considering Kauai for a destination elopement, you are probably adventurous and love the outdoors. Without the structure of a typical wedding day, you will have far fewer obligations and consequently a lot more time to enjoy the moments with your partner and everything Kauai has to offer. Your photographer will likely give guidance on when the best light will be available, and this is typically at sunrise or sunset. If we work together, I may have you taking in both on opposite ends of the island!
What else can we do in Kauai while we are there?
If you are coming to Kauai to elope, that is only the start of the adventure! Below is a list of my favourite activities on the island: