Category Archives: Hawaii

Kihei and South Maui with a Toddler

Kamaole Beach Park III, Kihei, Maui, Hawaii

After Hana, we traveled around the empty and rugged southern end of Maui, up over the shoulder of Haleakala and back to Kahului, where we then proceeded south to Kihei, one of the most touristified places in all of Hawaii. Our trip was winding to a close, but we came for one reason: humpback whales. Continue reading

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The Best Beach on Maui: Hamoa Beach

Family on Hamoa Beach, near Hana, Maui

To me, the beauty of a beach lies in its circumstance. It’s not the fineness of the sand, or the amenities, or the people-watching. It’s whether the beach has a wild side to it — that’s where the appeal lies for me. Clinging to the edge of a landmass — the lone barrier from the inhospitable ocean — a great beach for me is more akin with a wilderness lake in the mountains than a local neighborhoods pool. I want to sit there, alone with my thoughts, the concussive waves and the whispering wind — and feel the majesty of nature.

On Maui, Hamoa Beach is that beach for me. Continue reading

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Staying at Travaasa Hana: Sea Ranch Cottages

Sunrise over the Hana coast, Travaasa Hana, Maui, Hawaii

Here are some more images of Travaasa Hana and its beautiful grounds. The resort is divided into two parts: the main area (where the lobby, restaurant, lounge, spa, art gallery and the Garden View Suites are) and the Sea Ranch Cottages, a more exclusive area where luxury cabins trickle down a hillside to the wild coastline. On our first morning, this is where I headed for sunrise, and I was treated to an extraordinary scene. Continue reading

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Staying at Travaasa Hana: Garden View Suites

Travaasa Hana Resort Hotel, Maui

In 2003, shortly after a crazy wedding that included a bridesmaid going into labor at our rehearsal dinner (and her husband, the best man/my brother, rushing her away to deliver their first born), my wife Hailey and I headed to Hawaii for our honeymoon. We had initially considered Trinidad & Tobago, but when a travel agent specializing in T&T told us to go to Hawaii instead (thereby giving up any hope of a commission), we saw it as a sign: This place really must live up to the hype.

Still high off the pura vida of a 2002 trip to Costa Rica, I insisted we focus on the wet sides of the Big Island and Maui. I was fascinated by jungles, wanted nothing more than to see waterfalls, and was happy to dodge the crowds and trade in postcard beach scenes for rocky coastlines and black-sand. I was also, sadly, going through a tropical shirt phase thanks to a sale at Mervyn’s. (Yes, I just wrote that).

Long story short, we ended up spending five nights at the Palms Cliff House north of Hilo, and four nights at the Hotel Hana Maui, now rebranded as the Travaasa Hana. It was time to return, family in tow, and reconnect with the rugged coastline and end-of-the-earth splendor of Hana. Continue reading

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How to Photograph the Hana Highway

The Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii

(Click on each image for a larger view)

Running 42 miles from Paia to Hana, the Hana Highway is considered one of the top scenic byways in America. But I think that’s misleading. It’s not really a highway, and “scenic” doesn’t do it justice.

Frequently, two lanes become one, and for several stretches, 15 miles an hour seems too fast. Blind curves segue into fleeting waterfall views, and for nearly its whole stretch, dense tropical forest enshrouds the steep hills. In fact, I’d bet that if the Hawaii Department of Transportation left the highway alone for a month, the forest would swallow the pavement. From start to finish, its wild, unkempt, and wonderfully free of everything that defines the rest of Maui.

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A Big Bust: Photographing Haleakala National Park

Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

Any travel photographer worth their salt can still create great images in terrible conditions: Low light, rain, overcast, smog … volcanic fog. Right?

Let’s just say sometimes things don’t go as well as you hoped. Continue reading

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The Moment: Sunrise at Travaasa Hana

Travaasa Hana at sunrise. Hana, Maui, Hawaii

I just returned from a week-long shoot on Maui. The anchor of the trip was a three-night stay at Travaasa Hana, formerly known as the Hotel Hana Maui. I’ve done a lot of content development work for them in the last year, and while I was out there, they had me shoot editorial photography of the grounds, their unique programming, and the beautiful surroundings of Heavenly Hana.

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The Best Food and Drink in Kauai

Plate of Kalua pig with poi and lomi salmon, KauaiI had heard that Kauai’s food was the type of thing to inspire obsession. Actually, I hadn’t heard that. I saw it manifested in my brother, who goes to the Garden Isle almost every year, and who — as a result — now hosts an annual luau with more than 30 menu items from there.

Well, here I am, two months after the trip, and I still have the international/sometimes kooky/always delicious flavors of Kauai on my taste buds. Here’s the best of what we had:

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The Road to Waimea Canyon and Kokee State Park

Red dirt cascade descending from the Waimea Canyon area, Kauai.

On the Friday morning before Thanksgiving, I had a feeling my brother was trying to talk us out of going to Waimea Canyon. It was a long drive, he noted. Time on Kauai was precious, and Varenna — our 8-month-old daughter — would be facing backwards for the whole ride. Poipu had a baby beach.

But I acted like the typical younger brother: the more he discouraged it, the more determined I was to go. This was a verdant miniature Grand Canyon, and at the end of the road was a window to the Na Pali Coast. Yes, time on Kauai is precious. But for me, that meant not letting a week slip by without seeing this magnificent sight.

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Kauai Through a Tilt-Shift Lens

Hanalei Valley Lookout, Kauai, Hawaii (tilt-shift)Hanalei Valley Lookout; Canon 45mm TS-E, ISO 400, 1/3200 sec, f2.8

I’d hesitate to say I’m “into gear.” I’d rather read a personal finance blog than the Digital Photography Magazine Buyer’s Guide. In writing, gear is just not interesting.

Where things get interesting for me is when gear enables new techniques. Last year, I used BorrowLenses.com to rent a 200mm prime lens and a 24mm tilt-shift for Holy Week in Mexico. To have two new weapons in my bag made the week’s imagery 100% better. The 200mm allowed for more intimate candid shots during the processions, while the tilt-shift opened up hundreds of doors of creativity for my cityscape and architecture. It was like shooting in a third and fourth dimension.

For Kauai, I once again rented two lenses: this time, a 24mm–105mm zoom lens (a must for the helicopter tour) and a 45mm tilt-shift lens. Once again, the tilt-shift rocked.

Continue reading

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