Earlier this month I was in Kauai for a couple weeks and another seven days on the Big Island of Hawaii. Although my wife had some silly expectation that I would spend all of my time with the family, I did manage to sneak out and take shot or two (actually, more like 15,322 of them…but who’s counting?)
Yes, yes, I took a lot of family shots…and my wife hasn’t divorced me (yet)..but you read this blog because of your interest in landscape photography, so here are some of my favorite (non-family) images from the trip:
1) Kauai is my favorite of all the islands. It isn’t as developed as Oahu or Maui, plus it must have been made on a day when God had just bought a new camera because it is blessed with an incredible variety of photographic riches. For example, Waimea Canyon isn’t what you would expect to see on an exotic Pacific island…
2) I’ve loved the old Wai’oli church from the first moment I saw it years ago. Built back in 1912, it is quaint, cute and very, very green. It gets photographed by every single tourist that drives up to the north side of Kauai so it is hard to capture a shot that hasn’t already been done a million times. So I thought a night image with the Milky Way rising behind it might be a new twist on an old favorite. I like the result.
3) Then there is Hanalei Bay…which is simply postcard perfect. The old pier makes a great foreground subject and the mountains in the background are breathtakingly riddled with waterfalls. Although it may rain a lot on the north end of Kauai, the showers are brief and you are treated to rainbows as compensation.
5) I was in heaven on the north shore of Kauai…dozens of incredible locations all within 20 minutes. Queen’s Bath in Princeville, for example, is another beautiful spot. This sunrise nicely lit up the sky and illuminated the twin waterfalls on the right side of the image.
6) Of all the beaches in Hawaii, Tunnels beach is my favorite for photography:
7) The Hawaiian name for the pyramid-shaped mountain peak is Makana, which means “gift from heaven.” It was called ‘ Bali Hai’ in the movie South Pacific but no matter what name you use, it is dramatic and beautiful.
8) Tunnels may have been my favorite, but there are no shortage of beautiful beaches. Some of them, like Moloaa Beach (see below) are small in size (a total of three parking spaces) but pack a huge visual impact.
10) 11) & 12) The NaPali coast on Kauai’s northwestern shore might be the most dramatic meeting of mountains and ocean in the world.
I went on a couple hikes with my son and son-in-law to explore and photograph the area. The first trek was on a trail called Kalepa Ridge.
This wasn’t your average hike. In some stretches the trail was only couple feet wide and fell away on both sides nearly straight down for over a thousand feet. But the views…my God!
13) The second hike we tackled was the Kalalau Trail.
I had read that many consider this to be one of the premier trails in the United States, in fact quite a number of folks consider it to be the best in the country. Kalalau certainly lived up to its reputation…an incredible hike.
14) The trail is 11 miles each way and although we weren’t able to secure one of the scarce permits for the whole hike, we were able to do the 8 mile round trip trek to the 300′ tall Hanakapi’ai Falls:
15) After two weeks in Kauai, we hopped over to the Big Island of Hawaii. I would have loved to have stayed in Kauai longer, but there is one thing the Big Island has that Kauai doesn’t. LAVA!!!
16) The Kilaeau volcano has been continously erupting since 1983 and photographing lava was certainly on the old bucket list! We booked tickets on a boat that takes you out to where the lava pours into the ocean. I booked this particular boat (LavaOne) because I had heard that it gets you close to the lava:
17) Well, it did….real close…like 20 feet away! It was incredible to watch the lava pour into the ocean and explode on contact!
18) I had two cameras with me and shot non-stop for the twenty minutes the captain kept the boat on station. You could feel the heat sweep across you in waves…I had a blast!
19) Ryan and I made a run down to the southern tip of the island where 75′ tall cliffs rise starkly from the ocean. Some of the local kids were showing off and diving into the clear Pacific. This young man was particularly graceful:
Ryan gave it a try as well. I would have done it too… but, well someone had to take the pictures;)
20) Ryan and I wanted to see more lava so the next evening we took the land route out to the ocean entry location. At the end of the trail, a group of 50 or so folks had gathered in silence and watched the birth of new land as the sun fell. I found it to be a peaceful, powerful and profoundly emotional experience. After an hour or so we turned around and headed back in the darkness 5 miles to the car (fortunately, we had rented mountain bikes, so the trip back was a lot faster than hoofing it!)
21) Of all the locations I had dreamed of shooting, the Kilaeau crater was at the top of the list. It didn’t dissapoint. I spent the better part of three nights photographing there. Surprising, the view is a bit boring during the day, but at night the glow of the lava reflects off of the steam and low clouds and puts on quite a show. The full moon was a bonus as well.
Not a bad shot to end this blog with.
I know this was a short article and not long on details. I plan to write follow-up blogs about the spots I photographed in Hawaii but haven’t decided on which ones yet. Let me know if a particular location interests you and I’ll select the next topic based upon the feedback I get.
PS: If you would like to see more of my photographs from Hawaii, just click on this link! If you are specifically interesting in Milky Way photography in Hawaii, check out this article. Finally, if you really liked the shots of NaPali, you might want to see some aerial views I shot from a helicopter.
A Landscape Photographer in Hawaii: 21 Days, 21 Photos
Kauai and Big Island Hawaii Photo Locations
photo locations on Kauai and the Big Island of Hawaii