Waikiki in Hawaii is beloved for the high-end shopping on Kalakaua Avenue, the Honolulu Zoo, the fine dining, and of course, Kuhio Beaches and the many others that dot the landscape.
If you have a trip to Waikiki on the horizon, you may wonder if you can bring your drone.
Can you fly a drone in Waikiki?
The FAA permits drone usage throughout Hawaii, including in Waikiki, as the neighborhood has no local drone ordinances forbidding it. As always, follow FAA guidelines and be respectful when operating your drone.
Join us as we dig further into the drone laws in Waikiki and recommend some exceptional places for flying your drone.
There’s lots of great information to come, so don’t miss it!
Can you fly a drone in Waikiki?
Hawaii is a top travel destination for many. It has the faraway feel of an exotic island but allows you to stay within the United States, where you’re already familiar with the FAA’s drone rules (and if you aren’t, keep reading until the end).
You don’t have to worry so much about language barriers, huge flight expenses, and collecting your passport.
Although getting on the plane to Waikiki is a breeze, what can you do when you get there? Can you take your drone out of its bag and fly it around?
You can, as the FAA permits drone use throughout Hawaii, including Waikiki.
While cities, towns, neighborhoods, and villages throughout Hawaii can enact local ordinances and drone laws, you may recall from our drone laws in Hawaii article that there’s only one local law in the state.
» MORE: Drone Laws in Hawaii
That’s from the Division of State Parks and the Department of Land and Natural Resources. The law states that “The use, launching or landing of drones and other types of aircraft is prohibited.”
You’ll have to avoid visiting nearby state parks like Kaaawa’s Ahupua’a ‘O Kahana State Park and Ocean View’s Manuka State Wayside.
Additionally, you cannot fly within five nautical miles of airports or military installations, which is standard across the US.
The 9 best places to fly a drone near Waikiki
Okay, so where exactly can you fly in the Waikiki area and greater Honolulu? Here are some of the most coveted spots that drone pilots flock to.
1. Lanikai Beach
Ka’ohao Beach, also known as Lanikai Beach, is a beach in Kailua that you should make it a point to see when visiting the Waikiki area.
It’s acclaimed as the most beautiful beach in Oahu and has won the distinction of being one of the most appealing beaches on the planet.
If that’s not a reason enough to want to visit this slice of Hawaiian paradise, that drones are allowed here ought to motivate you!
2. Sunset Beach Park
On Oahu’s North Shore is the beloved Sunset Beach Park or Paumalu as the natives refer to it. The beach consists of two miles of beautiful, beige, soft sand.
You only have to drive 39 miles from Waikiki to get here. Once you do, dunk your toes in the sand, stroll along the surf, and watch the surfers, swimmers, and sunbathers.
Just keep in mind that the surfers don’t quit, even in the winter, so plan your visit when the crowds thin out.
3. Kawela Bay Beach Park
Kawela Bay Beach Park in Oahu Kahuku is referred to as a hidden treasure, which should incentivize you to visit!
Beloved for swimming, stand-up paddleboarding, and kayaking, the beach features beige sands and tree-lined paths.
The trees provide some canopy from the sweltering Hawaiian sun and give you a chance to capture footage of something beyond palms and shorelines.
The banyan trees at this beach park were featured on the hit TV show Lost.
4. Waimanalo Beach Park
Honolulu County’s Waimanalo Bay Beach Park features plush white sands and gorgeous, crystalline blue waters.
The beach has a pavilion, ironwood trees to provide shade, a public shower and restroom, lifeguard stations, and picnic areas.
The low-key attitude of the beach and the lack of development around makes it a great place to fly a drone. Keep in mind this park can get incredibly crowded, so plan your flights accordingly.
5. Kaiaka Bay Beach Park
Haleiwa’s Kaiaka Bay Beach Park features a grassy area, sandy stretches, trees for shade, restrooms with showers, camping sites, and miles of picturesque ocean.
Measuring 53 acres, Kaiaka Bay Beach Park remains quiet since it’s isolated from major roads on its own tranquil peninsula.
Some parts of the park afford views of the Waianae Mountains, and you might even be able to spot some other beaches nearby.
You won’t be bored flying a drone here, that’s for certain!
6. Koko Head Neighborhood Park
If you’re longing for more greenery during your exploration of Waikiki and surrounding areas, make a beeline for Koko Head Neighborhood Park.
This Honolulu park is wide open and green, with views of tall, mountainous hills and tree species outside of palms.
You can take to the clear, blue skies with the utmost freedom at Koko Head. The paved paths and playground do bring crowds here, so beat the heat (and the people!) and plan to get here with your drone earlier in the day.
7. Kapi’olani Park
We recommend Kapi’olani Park in Honolulu if you want greenspace similar to Koko Head Neighborhood Park. Known in full as Queen Kapi’olani Regional Park, it’s among the oldest and biggest parks in the state.
Measuring approximately 300 acres, the park is a hop, skip, and a jump from Kuhio Beach Park if you’re in the area. You cannot use your drone around the Honolulu Zoo or the Waikiki Shell bandstand.
8. Ko Olina Lagoon
Ko Olina is more than 640 acres of natural land with four lagoons. Each connects with one another via pathways affording dreamy views of the sea. The paths are over a mile and a half long.
If you have an afternoon, you can plan to see each lagoon and take lots of photos and videos with your drone. As always, be cautious when using your UAV around open bodies of water like the lagoons.
9. Waikiki Beach
You can’t miss Waikiki Beach when in Waikiki, as it’s the crown jewel of this Honolulu neighborhood. The beach is split into nine parts, so here’s a list of each:
- Duke Kahanamoku Beach with the painted Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort on the grounds
- Fort DeRussy Beach Park, a less busy part of Waikiki Beach
- Gray’s Beach, which is very eroded
- Royal Hawaiian Beach, which the locals call the Waikiki Beach Center, adjacent to Gray’s Beach
- Prince Kuhio Beach, which has a natural saltwater swimming pool
- Queen’s Beach, which features the walking pier known as the Waikiki Wall
- Kapiolani Beach Park, another quiet stretch of beach
- San Souci Beach, a family-friendly area great for snorkeling
- Outrigger Canoe Club Beach, which is a private beach
Drone laws when using your drone in Waikiki
Now that we’ve given you some awesome places to use your drone throughout Waikiki, keep the following drone laws in mind when in flight.
- You must have a valid drone license when visiting Hawaii. Recreational pilots, your TRUST license never expires, but commercial pilots, your Remote Pilot Certificate is only good for two years after it’s issued to you.
- If your drone weighs more than 0.55 pounds, register it with the FAA.
- You must always keep your drone in your visual line of sight or use a spotter or visual observer who can do it for you.
- Do not operate your drone above 400 feet from the ground.
- Only fly in uncontrolled airspace. Use a drone map to determine restricted and warning zones, and do not fly in them.
- Give way to manned aircraft.
- Do not interfere or interrupt other aircraft.
- Fly no closer than five nautical miles from military installations and airports.
- Do not use your drone in inclement weather.
Waikiki is one of the most beautiful places in the world. This slice of Hawaiian paradise welcomes drone pilots, but you’re still required to follow the FAA’s guidelines.
You have plenty of exceptional places to explore with your drone in and around the area, so have fun on your travels!