Sunrise Waimea Canyon Elopement


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Hi, I’m Megan and your story matters to me. You deserve to break your wedding day from the traditional mold into something that is uniquely you.

I specialize in intimate mountain weddings and elopements and love working with people who are stoked to get married in nature surrounded by their closest family and friends. I am here for you and to organically tell your story. 

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couple taking wedding photos for their waimea canyon elopement

TJ and Gabby’s Kauai elopement was a beautiful, intimate celebration that truly captured the spirit of their love. Choosing to exchange their vows on the stunning island of Kauai, Hawaii, they made the most of the breathtaking scenery the location had to offer. Kauai is peaceful and has many beautiful spots that are perfect for capturing an elopement. One of these spots is Waimea Canyon State Park, which is often compared to the Grand Canyon because of its stunning views. TJ and Gabby later took a trip to Waimea Canyon. Here, they were able to capture some incredible photos that showed off the joy and love of their special day. Please note that it is seen as disrespectful to the local community to get married in Waimea Canyon and you should only be taking photos here.

In this blog, I’ll guide you on how to plan your elopement in Kauai and Waimea Canyon.

How To Elope In Kauai

Eloping in Kauai can be an easy and stress free process. Here are some general steps that I recommend:

  1. Choose a location: Kauai is known for its beautiful beaches, but the island also offers other stunning settings like lush jungles, waterfalls, and dramatic canyons.
  2. Secure a permit: If you’re planning to have your ceremony on a beach, you’ll need a permit. The process to get one is usually simple and can be done online.
  3. Obtain a marriage license: Both parties must apply for a marriage license together. You’ll need to provide proof of age and identity.
  4. Plan your day: Think about what you want to do before and after the ceremony. Kauai offers many activities like hiking, boating, or simply relaxing on the beach.
  5. Hire Vendors: There are companies that specialize in elopement packages. Consider hiring an experienced photographer (like myself), an officiant, and anyone else you need to make your day perfect!

Remember, this is your special day! Make it as simple or as elaborate as you wish. The most important thing is that it reflects your love as a couple.

The Best Time To Elope In Kauai

The Season

The best time to elope in Kauai depends on a few factors, including your preferences for weather and crowd size. Kauai’s peak tourist season is during the summer, which can bring larger crowds but also offers stable weather conditions ideal for outdoor ceremonies. Alternatively, the off-peak season from late fall to early spring has a quieter atmosphere, but with a slightly higher chance of rain. However, Kauai’s tropical climate means that the island enjoys warm weather year-round, making it a suitable elopement destination no matter the season.

The Time Of Day

When considering the time of day, early morning or late afternoon are often the most beautiful. The soft, golden light at these times adds warm lighting, and temperatures are usually more comfortable than at midday. Sunrise elopements have the added advantage of fewer crowds, offering more privacy for your ceremony. Sunset photos, specifically at Waimea Canyon can create stunning shots. TJ and Gabby took their photos at sunrise and it made some perfect images!

Ultimately, the best time and season will depend on your personal preferences and the specific location of your elopement.

couple taking wedding photos for their waimea canyon elopement

Things To Know About Waimea Canyon

Location: Waimea Canyon is located on the western side of Kauai.

Size: The canyon is approximately 14 miles long, 1 mile wide, and over 3,600 feet deep, making it the largest canyon in the Pacific.

Nickname: Due to its immense size, it’s often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.”

Formation: The canyon was formed by the erosion of the Waimea River, which was further enhanced by a catastrophic collapse of the volcano that created Kauai.

State Park: Waimea Canyon is part of Waimea Canyon State Park, which spans about 1,866 acres and offers numerous hiking trails.

Flora and Fauna: The park surrounding the canyon, Koke’e State Park, is home to Norfolk pines, Koa hardwoods, native plants, and wildlife.

Scenic Lookout: The Waimea Canyon Lookout provides panoramic views of the canyon’s crested buttes, rugged crags, and deep valley gorges.

Cultural Importance: The canyon holds significant cultural importance for native Hawaiians and showcases the island’s volcanic origins and biodiversity.

Tourist Attraction: It is a popular tourist attraction offering various recreational opportunities, including hiking, sightseeing, and photography.

Entrance Fee: There is an entrance fee to enter Waimea Canyon. It is free to Hawaii residents and children under three. Non-Residents have a $5 entrance fee.

Sacred Land: Waimea Canyon, like many natural sites in Hawaii, holds sacred significance for the native Hawaiian people. It is seen as a living testament to the island’s ancient volcanic origins and the powerful forces of nature that have shaped its landscapes over millions of years. 

**Due to Waimea Canyon being sacred, eloping on the land is HEAVILY discouraged. However, I recommend eloping elsewhere in Kauai and staying to take photos in the canyon. It is truly a beautiful spot.

How Long Should You Spend In Kauai?

The duration of your stay in Kauai and Waimea Canyon for an elopement largely depends on your personal preferences and the activities you wish to engage in. However, it’s generally recommended that you spend at least a week. This allows for a couple of days to settle in and adjust, a day for the wedding, and the remaining time to explore the island, enjoy some adventures, relax, and soak up your first few days as a married couple. Remember, Kauai is not just a great place to elope, but also an amazing honeymoon destination.

couple taking wedding photos for their waimea canyon elopement

How Long Should You Spend Visiting Waimea Canyon?

The amount of time you spend exploring Waimea Canyon can vary greatly depending on the activities you want to do. If you’re just driving through the park, stopping at a few viewpoints, the journey can take around two hours in good weather conditions. However, if you plan on hiking one of the trails, you may need to set aside 3-4 hours or even 5-7 hours for longer trails. Some people choose to spend an entire day exploring the park and taking in the views.

Adding To Your Elopement Experience

Adding activities to your Kauai elopement can make the occasion even more memorable and fun. I love capturing couples doing activities they love together! Here are some ideas:

  • Hiking: There are numerous trails in Kauai like the Kalalau Trail along the Na Pali Coast or the trails in Waimea Canyon.
  • Beach Time: Spend some time relaxing on some of Kauai’s beautiful beaches. Some favorites include Tunnels Beach, Hanalei Bay, and Anini Beach.
  • Boat Tour: Enjoy a boat tour along the Na Pali Coast. You’ll see incredible sea cliffs, waterfalls, and wildlife.
  • Snorkeling or Scuba Diving: Explore Kauai’s underwater world. Tunnels Beach and Poipu Beach are popular spots for snorkeling.
  • Visit a Botanical Garden: Kauai is home to several beautiful botanical gardens.
  • Luau: Experience Hawaiian culture at a traditional luau. Enjoy Hawaiian music, hula dancing, and some local food.
  • Spa Day: Relax and pamper yourselves with a couples spa day.
  • Surfing: If you’re adventurous, why not try surfing? There are many places in Kauai where beginners can take lessons, and experts can surf. For more info on Kauai Couples Photography that includes surfing, check out my blog!

Is There A Permit Required For Photography?

Yes! If you are wanting to take photos at Waimea Canyon you will need to get a permit for photography. Prices are always changing but you can find an updated list here. Photographers (like myself) usually can help you with this process and provide knowledge!

couple taking wedding photos for their waimea canyon elopement

The Best Hikes In Waimea Canyon

Kukui Trail

The Kukui Trail is a challenging but rewarding 4.5-mile out-and-back trail that descends the west side of Waimea Canyon. As you go through the steep switchbacks, you’ll be able to see panoramic views of distant waterfalls and the canyon’s dramatic landscape. The trail typically takes around 3 hours to complete, making it an ideal choice for a half-day in Kauai.

Lliau Nature Loop Trail

The Lliau Nature Loop Trail is a short, 0.3-mile loop trail located near Kekaha. This moderately challenging route is an easy walk that shows you the unique landscape of the island, including the Iliau plant, found only on Kauai. It takes an average of 8 minutes to complete, making it highly recommended for light walkers who want to enjoy good views!

Waimea Canyon Lookout

The Waimea Canyon Lookout is a prime viewing spot for the Waimea Canyon. This lookout spot stands on the western rim of the canyon and offers views of the canyon’s landscape. It’s an easily accessible area. It’s less than a quarter of a mile to view the scenery! TJ and Gabby’s elopement photos were taken at this lookout and it was absolutely perfect!

Waimea Canyon River Trail

The Waimea Canyon River Trail is a challenging trail that stretches approximately 15.7 miles out and back. Known for its steep inclines and hot conditions, it’s a popular choice among backpackers and adventure enthusiasts. The trail follows the Waimea River through the Pu’u ka Pele Forest Reserve, requiring hikers to hike through the river several times, adding an element of fun and challenge to the hike. On average, it takes about 7 to 9 hours to complete this trail. It’s important to note that an entry permit is required for this hike. The trail offers breathtaking views of the canyon, the river, and the surrounding forest reserve.

couple taking wedding photos for their waimea canyon elopement

The Next Step

Overall, Waimea Canyon and Kauai can be the perfect tropical elopement spot you have always dreamed of. If you are wanting a mix of mountains and beaches in your elopement I cannot recommend this spot enough!

Are you ready to take that next step? If so, fill out my contact form here. From there we can set up your free consult call and put together your own Waimea Canyon Elopement today!

couple taking wedding photos for their waimea canyon elopement
couple taking wedding photos for their waimea canyon elopement
couple taking wedding photos for their waimea canyon elopement
rainbow during a couple waimea canyon elopement

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