Honolulu is a photographer’s dream. Between stunning beaches, gorgeous waterfalls, huge waves on the north shore, and the urban cacophony of Waikiki, there is no shortage of photographs. With so many options, it can be difficult to know where to start.
If you are staying in Waikiki, one easily accessible location is Magic Island. I recently spent a few hours exploring Magic Island, a small man-made peninsula near the harbor. I was impressed by the variety of shots that this location offered.
My primary reason for visiting this location was to try and capture a twilight shot of Waikiki. I scouted out locations in the afternoon and eventually decided on a spot on the east side of the peninsula. I wanted to create a panoramic stitch of the shoreline. Actually capturing the shot provided some unexpected challenges. Each shot required a 30 second shutter speed. In addition, I was shooting towards an active harbor. In between shots I had to wait for passing boats since otherwise the lights on the boats created unnatural streaks in the water. For these reasons, it took seven minutes to capture the seven shots in this panorama. Seven minutes is a long time during twilight when light and color are constantly changing. However, in the end I was pleased with the result.
After dusk quite a few spectators started staking out spots along the eastern shoreline. Every Friday night the Hilton Hawaiian Village runs a fireworks show. I waited around after twilight for the show to start and was able to capture some nice images of the fireworks from the same location.
In addition to night vistas, Magic Island offers some great views and shots during the day as well. I particularly liked the waves crashing into the rocks on the southwest face of Magic Island. I stacked a polarizer on top of a 6-stop neutral density filter to enable a long exposure and capture the water with motion blur. The waves varied widely so taking multiple shots yielded different looks.
Other subjects of interest during the day were more shots of the Waikiki skyline, the Magic Island lagoon, palm trees, banyan trees, and boats passing by on their way to and from the harbor.
Overall, Magic Island was a great place to go for photography. It’s very easy to get to from the main Waikiki hotel area. Depending on your hotel, you may be able to walk. I took “TheBus” which is easy to use with Google Maps.