Hawaii’s beauty is so unusual that everyone takes pictures, but not everyone takes good photos. Here are some tips from a pro and photos taken with a Nikon Coolpix camera (circa 2001-2) — the kind of shots anyone could take on a Hawaii Vacation!

Keep your camera handy- and the battery charged

The only bad photograph is the one you didn’t take, so remember your camera! Charge your battery every night to make sure you never miss a shot. To protect your camera from sand and moisture, keep it in a water resistant carrying case.

Remember your favorite spots

Keep your pictures organized by location by taking a photo of signs on the trailhead, beach, or park.

Be in the photo

If you’re always behind the lens, don’t forget to hand the camera over so you make an appearance in your vacation album. And don’t be afraid to ask someone else to take a group shot.

Use your camera’s scene modes

Landscape mode’s depth of field makes scenic shots sharp. Portrait mode uses a shallow depth of field and adds fill flash to highlight faces. Use snow/beach mode for bright white Hawaiian sand and sparkling turquoise oceans. For nights on the town, “party mode” creates fun portraits.

Get up close

Zoom in on tropical orchids, hibiscus, plumerias, and birds-of-paradise- your camera’s macro setting can capture wonderful details.

Go panoramic

At scenic locations like Kauai’s Hanalei Valley or Waimea Canyon, take several overlapping photos to capture a wide field of view. Use software to “stitch” your photos together into a single panorama.

Use your phone’s camera

In a pinch, your phone can capture the moment. It’s perfect for sharing that Waikiki mai tai sunset on Facebook or Twitter.

Fun shots

Photograph your feet in the sand, your spouse floating in the ocean, your drink in the sunset, and the flower in your hair. Capture the texture of banyan trees and the color of surfboards (or slippers) in a line. Be creative!

Dive underwater

Even if your camera isn’t waterproof, you can still take photos underwater with an underwater case for compact digital cameras. Local shops also stock underwater film cameras. If you plan to snorkel, an underwater camera is a must have.

Print your photos

From stylish home decor to brightening your office cube, your vacation photographs will make you smile. Gift friends and family with Hawaii calendars, greeting cards, stickers, and mugs created by you.


  1. Ive been going back and forth on a digital underwater camera. thank you I'm gonna buy some film ones when I get there and then have them developed and put on disk there I've been told to get my film developed there because they can get closer to the true colors. Is that true?

  2. Aloha Mary,
    Color can vary slightly depending on where you have your film developed and printed, but any photo lab should be able to reproduce good color. When using film while traveling, always make sure to keep rolls in your carry-on and ask if the screening will affect the film. Having your film developed while traveling is a good idea, as the negatives aren't harmed by X-Rays. Wishing you a wonderful vacation filled with photographic opportunities!

  3. I have to say the charging is what I always get caught up on.  I'm so tuned into capturing every moment I forget to capture some power. 

    It can get pretty moist here, placing a silica packet (like those in your shoes or that come with food packages) into your camera and phone cases will help keep the moisture away and your electronics in tip top shape.

  4. Using your camera's scene mode is a great tip. Do you have a setting for sunset? Be sure to use it. Also, try bending down low for a unique perspective, This works especially well when taking beach shots.

  5. Lisa,
    Thanks for the tips. I'll put them to use on my next trip. Last time I had problems  figuring out which settings to use & forgetting to switch them, so a lot of my photos didn't turn out as sharp as they should have. However, i did get some great orchid photos with the macro setting. Is there a minimum number of megapixels that you would recommend? I had a 7mp sony point & shoot & I was happy with most of my pics.
    Here's the link to my Big Island photo album – https://picasaweb.google.com/barbisu/HawaiiBigIsland2011?authkey=Gv1sRgCLyr26vqmKiDXw#
    and the Kauai photos – https://picasaweb.google.com/barbisu/Kauai2011?authkey=Gv1sRgCPDU8uyQ4bLBwQE#

  6. Its worth the investment to buy a back up battery pack for your camera.

    I used my favorite floral hawaii pics to make a calendar to give as Christmas gifts the year we vacationed there!

    When printing for scrapbooking or putting in a photo album…try printing your favorite shots in bigger sizes to really emphasize the beauty of Hawaii 🙂

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