by Justin

Cromwell's is a popular local spot near Diamond Head. Cromwell's is a man-made cove constructed of black rocks. It was originally built by Doris Duke and her husband James Cromwell and this cove fronts their former winter estate called Shangri La, constructed in the 1930-1940s. Now Shangri La is owned by the Doris Duke Foundation, which operates public tours at a fee. The cove, like any beach front in Hawai‘i is free for the public.

    Cromwell's Jetty and Cove

The Cromwell's Cove is one of the most unique spots in Hawai‘i , which makes for an excellent photography spot. First, the color available at the cove is much greater than your typical beach. The black rocks, which make up the cove and the rock path are coupled well with the never ending blue ocean. In addition, the wall that protects Shangri La is primarily brown, which adds to the green Naupaka bushes and palm trees. Secondly, there are many powerful subjects at the cove that can capture the attention of the viewer and these are just some examples, (1) The leading lines of the rock jetty. (2) The action shots from people jumping into the cove. (3) The rock steps leading into the ocean.

    Rock Path

The rock paths that take you around the cove can be a powerful addition to your photograph. Typically, paths are used as leading lines to draw in the viewer and to direct the viewe's eye. As you compose your photograph, remember to have your leading line culminate on a subject to reward the viewer. For example, have your rock path photo end on the sunset or to your human subject.

Best Time to Shoot

The best time to shoot is at sunset and just after sunset. It is recommended that you get to the spot an hour before the sunset to scope out your composition at to make your journey along the rocks. If you come here during the week at sunset, there should be very few people. On the weekend, this is a popular local hang out spot. But most people leave before sunset, in order to avoid the walk back during the night.

Local Tips

Parking on Kulamanu Place is typically safe and I have not experienced any break-ins, but just to be safe please take your valuables with you and lock your vehicle. When walking on the rocks, be careful for loose, slippery and sharp rocks. Always be mindful of the power of the ocean and do not get swept in or knocked down. Also, the waves crash onto the rocks, creating a salt spray that can be harmful to your photography equipment. Get an idea for the winds and the distance the spray travels, before removing your lens cap.

How do I get there?

Parking Address: Kulamanu Pl, Honolulu, HI 96816

From the airport:

  • Head east on the H1 for 9 miles
  • Take the 6th Avenue Exit (Exit 25B)
  • Turn right onto 6th Ave.
  • Continue onto Alohea Ave. Follow this road till it ends.
  • Make a right at Makapu‘u Ave. [Diamond Head Theatre]
  • Then make a left onto Diamond Head Road (this road makes a loop around Diamond Head Crater)
  • After Triangle Park (Fort Ruger Park), Proceed straight onto Kulamanu Street. Park on this street.
  • Walk onto Kulamanu Place towards the ocean. At the water proceed left along the rocks for nearly 500 ft towards Kupuikipikio Point as shown in the map below.