I took my second trip to Hawaii in November 2015, after choosing it as my work 25th anniversary gift. A trip to paradise outshone any other possibilities. The first photo is of the Olympic mountains that we passed as I left Seattle.
Previously, I never expected to go to Oahu, even though I did want to see the North Shore, as I love photographing waves and surfers. But the other islands have features that make them even more appealing.
Still, I’m glad I had the opportunity to explore Oahu, despite it being a rushed trip. First, I connected with my old buddy Chris, which was a lovely evening and a great way to begin a vacation. I was staying in Waikiki and when I got to my hotel, I wasn’t even aware it was 2 blocks from the beach. But when Chris came over for dinner, we walked to the beach, so I could establish my sense of direction.
When we went to the Big Island several years ago, I fell in love with but didn’t get a chance to shoot the Banyon trees, so I was so happy to see they populated Oahu as much as the Big Island. The first morning I was there, I took the time to walk along the beach to the nearby park, and spend hours with the Banyons. They are so magnificent and unusual – I could spend another entire day with them.
I only had 4 days on the island, and my instinct is to start early and go all day. But this was Hawaii, where one should relax when on vacation. So I was determined to spend time relaxing, whether I had to force myself to or not. I had to keep reminding myself, that being on my own, I could stop at any time and draw, or go in the opposite direction from my original plan. My only limitation was that I couldn’t go very far from the car, as I was carrying everything on my back: camera & lens, long (read: heavy) lens, drawing pad, watercolor supplies, etc.
So I spent as much time as I wanted at the Banyons, in the park just east of Waikiki beach.
After grabbing a fresh salad at the local ABC Store, which are literally on every block of Waikiki, I headed east, to scout sunrise and sunset locations. I was planning on a sunrise shoot, but they exhaust me and compromise my day, so I decided to pass on that idea. But I still wanted to see the windward beaches, so I drove up the coast and passed by Sandy Beach, but stopped at the Halona Blowhole and Makapu’u point, then landed at Lanikai beach. I headed back to the hotel way before sunset, but it looked cloudy at sunset time and I lost track of time, so I didn’t go down to the beach.
Day two was the last day with definite sun, so I wanted to pack in as much as I could, just in case. But I really wanted to pack in some R&R, so I got coffee and headed to the beach in Waikiki again to draw. Before I headed to the North Shore, I was a little frustrated that my iTouch cable was broken. The only radio stations I could get in the car were country and oldies. I tolerated them the first day, but I was going to be driving much longer, so when I saw there was a Radio Shack (you never miss your water until your well runs dry) nearby, it was on the itinerary. After buying a cable at the Ala Moana RS, I headed to the bathroom, which was in the food court. Right. Food Kingdom maybe. A ramen store, and someplace amazing called Curry House where they have something like 20 options you can get with Japanese curry. Yes, I got some curry. Nirvana. Also, got caught up in a little shopping (Lush – I shake my fist at you), but eventually headed north. I stopped at Haleiwa, mostly to see Clark Little’s gallery, which was something like a pilgrimage. I also stopped at the parking lot of Waimea Valley Botanical – that’s where I found the strange wooden vine-thing that has become part of the tree. I didn’t go into the park, as it was getting late. I found Sunset beach, and dodged rain showers by popping into the car until they were over. Got some nice sunset shots despite clouds.
Odd tree vine at Waimea Botanical
Day three looked happily like sun again, so I headed to Foster Botanical Garden in Honolulu. This was a highlight. They have a sausage tree (like in Bangalore, though much smaller), a Cannonball tree, elephant trees, and most amazingly, a Baobab. Ever since I read The Little Prince as a kid, I’ve wanted to see a Baobab.
I spent longer than I expected at the garden, so it took some time to eat lunch and head north, this time to see green sea turtles. I went to Laniakea Beach. Not easy to find, but worth the trip. There were two Honu basking on the beach, a perimeter around them roped off in the sand by a turtle docent. They are so gorgeous – I enjoyed every moment with them. One eventually dragged himself back into the water, but as far as I could tell, the other hung around until the high tide found her. I stayed for sunset where the clouds provided always-welcome crepuscular rays.
I’ve never been snorkling, and although the ocean is my favorite place to go, I tend to observe and document it, not go into it. I used to go into the Atlantic when I was a kid, but it doesn’t appeal any longer. However, Hanauma Bay is supposed to be among the top 10 snorkling locations in the country, so I had to suspend my fear and do it. Day four was rainy, but who cares when you’re snorkling.
I contacted Ike and got a ride to the beach, the equipment, and instructions, then was left to myself. I was surprised that he had prescription goggles! I had to leave my glasses with my wallet in my locker. The most difficult part of the experience was getting the fins on while being knocked over by incoming waves, knocked on my butt, feet flying upward, and trying to see out of the goggles while they fogged up. I had one eye clear, but the other not so much.
However, once I got everything seemingly on, I just started floating, and that’s when it got easy. All you have to do is float and move around a little. I really didn’t need the fins, I only used my arms to move. And you just breathe, and watch the fish – it’s pretty amazing. I had a GoPro, but the visbility was pretty poor, so nothing I shot came out. I stayed in the water, checking on my location occasionally, for 1.5 hours. I could have stayed longer, but my mask was giving my trouble, and I had to meet Ike at a specific time. So I got out, cleaned up, got my stuff and walked around until pick up. The rest of the day was all rain, so I went shopping. Ala Moana mall is larger than I thought, and Ward Centers has a lovely tea shop, which I spent some time drawing in.
More wonderful trees in the park at Hanauma Bay.
Unfortunately, the next day I had a flight home, and my adventure was over. But I still have the photos to prove I was actually there.