The housework was complete, the sheets on the beds were crisp and clean, the refrigerator is stocked with healthy food and the gas tank was filled before I headed to the airport to pick up guests from the mainland. They are the family of a very dear friend of mine, which is why I went beyond the call of duty to help with all the preparations. I wanted to make sure their vacation in Hawaii is one they’ll always remember.
Coming to Hawaii for the first time is very impressive, especially if you’re coming from the cold state of Michigan. Brr-r-r. They were happy to feel warm sunshine on their skin and pull out the shorts and sundresses from their suitcases.
I played the tour guide all week and honestly it was a pleasure to revisit some of my favorite spots on Oahu. It seems as though I’m so busy working, I don’t get out to enjoy Hawaii as a tourist anymore! To simply relax while breathing in the beauty rather than hurrying past on my way here or there while mentally writing my grocery list for this or that is the norm for me these days. This week I was ‘on vacation’, well as much as possible, while being a hostess, tour guide, cook and servant, too. Oh, don’t think I’m complaining. I’m not. I had a great week. It was my intention to provide a wonderful vacation for them and I’m happy that I succeeded, while getting in some relaxing time (and a little photography time, too).
Of course, turning three adults into photographers for the week helped achieved my goal. Putting a camera into someone’s hand with instructions on how to use it on the manual setting opens up many possibilities. They begin to look at the world a little closer with the zoom lens while holding the view in focus as they tried and tried again to keep the horizon straight. (A tough one for me, too!)
We stayed at one place three or four times longer than normal as they listened about camera techniques and basic skills, eager to learn, excited to have a photographer to coach them.
I relaxed as they snapped.
Learning anything new is exciting and motivating and photography is the ultimate subject… with subjects to capture in any style your imagination can conjure up. Photography is limitless. Well, at least it is for me… a passionate photographer that prefers being with a camera more than anything else (well, almost anything).
They were here for the Martin Luther King, Jr. festival, although we just caught the end of the performers on stage in Kapiolani Park at the clamshell there were still quite a few people enjoying the event. The vendors were wrapping up their wares, but we still had time to shop around.
We took photographs and listened to the surf at Koa’lua Beach, Kailua and Lanikai Beach (no surf there), Waikiki Beach (it was in the evening) and Waimanalo Beach (playing on our boogie boards there). The waves at Turtle Bay were great for our model shoots and we loved eating sushi and snacks by Sharks Cove at the North Shore. Oh, playing on the rocks at Eternity Beach taught them a good lesson about ‘turning your back on the ocean’: not a wise thing to do. You might get soaked, or worst yet, get pulled into the raging sea below. Safety is a must if you want to live for another day of adventure. (She luckily just got soaked!)
The Makapu’u Lighthouse hike was absolutely beautiful. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can was repeated several times as we neared the ¾ point. There was no turning back. We’re going all the way, baby. One of the guests seemed to be a bit dare-devilish as she scaled a rock ledge-jetting out over the ocean. It was great to see her confidence rise but it wouldn’t have been so great to see her plunging to the ocean far below. In my younger days, I would have been right there, too, but I’ve become wiser in my ‘old age’.
Although, I am convinced that hand guiding looks absolutely thrilling to me… someday, I will try it. How do you get it to land exactly where you want it? Not against a rock cliff or in the ocean?? I’ll need to look into the requirements before I set off soaring through the sky with the birds.
Spending an evening browsing around Waikiki’s International Marketplace for souvenirs was interesting. So many people crowding the streets, watching the street performers (musicians, artists, mimes and vocalists) with caps or suitcases placed before them collecting dollar bills from the tourists. Waikiki has it all, shopping galore with all the high-end stores tempting you with the latest fashion in clothing, bags, shoes and jewelry, as well as a lot of stuff you’ll donate to your local charity within a year. How many bright, colorful aloha shirts do you wear in Pittsburg, PA? And the cute, little hula doll playing a ukulele and swinging her hips is just another item to sit and collect dust along with your finer collection.
Of course, you’ll love the photographs you can frame and hang all around your home as souvenirs, especially if you have a photographer telling you how to set your shutter and aperture speeds. Believe me, this is the perfect souvenir of Hawaii!
If you’re looking for action; hot surf instructors, skimpy bikinis and lots of bodies sunbathing on the beach, you’ll love Waikiki during the day. In the evenings, the restaurants, the nightclubs and just people watching on the streets will keep you from getting bored. There is a wide assortment of faces; a melting pot of tourists mingling together as they savor a vacation in Hawaii.
Round Top Drive is a hairpin turning road leading to Puu Ualakaa State Park with breathtaking views of Honolulu from the Diamond Head Crater to Pearl Harbor. The old-growth trees are fantastic (I’m a tree-hugger and lover). The cactus are the tallest I’ve ever seen, easily competing with the trees. This is another perfect picnic spot or to enjoy a hike on a marked trail or simply to relax and enjoy the view. Do take a few minutes to capture this scene for the record.
The Valley of the Temples in Kaneohe, just 35 minutes from Waikiki, is impressive with the Buddhist monastery set upon magnificent grounds at the base of Ko’olua Mountains. We spent much longer than planned here; my guests just couldn’t stop taking photographs. (Yes, it is addictive.) A local man took the time to give us some inside knowledge about the kukui nut tree. Did you know before electricity, the kukui nut oil is used to light the evenings on the island? The nuts are polished and used for leis and its oil is superb for your skin. No wonder its Hawaii’s state tree. Did I mention the koi fish are as plentiful as they are colorful? They originated from Japan (a mixture of carps created the koi) and the meaning of these fish is beauty and serenity. That is exactly how I felt watching them with the black swans swimming above them. Do swans eat koi? That wouldn’t be so pretty, to watch, now would it?
Of course, the Dole Plantation was a quick stop with a couple of my guests enjoying a dish of pineapple ice while I took photos here and there, planning on my own dish before I left. The plantation also offers the world’s largest maze, but I wasn’t about to get lost in there before I had my treat. Be aware they close the market exactly at 5:00 pm, so don’t wait until the last minute. The door was locked and my tongue was dragging for the famous pineapple ice cream. Darn. Do you know how many mainlanders do not know how pineapples grow? From a tree? Beneath the ground? Nope. Not at all. All 21 varieties grow top side up from the strong, narrow leaves surrounding its base. A week is not long enough to enjoy paradise, especially when you need time to have a birthday party, eating and doing laundry, too. There are so many places and activities we didn’t have time to enjoy, they’ll need to return.
Oh, I didn’t mention the waterfall stop off the Pali Hwy: just breathtaking with sunlight shining through the banyan trees.
Next year they’ll be coming again and I’ll plan a new set of adventures to fill them with the aloha spirit.
Oh, we certainly had time for a ‘modeling’ photo shoot at Turtle Bay. It was the highlight of the trip, as it should be an activity for every tourist visiting Hawaii. A photo shoot is empowering. You have the opportunity to stand proud and confident (and sexy and seductive, too) with a backdrop of paradise behind you.
These are not just photographs… these are works of art that will inspire you… frame them and hang them. You’ll smile and feel beautiful every time you pass ‘your masterpieces’.
The sunsets were gorgeous and they met a sea turtle, which seemed bigger than life itself! I think they will remember their week in Hawaii.
Aloha from Hawaii.