Paradise by the Camera's Light
'Aloha' is a familiar word to almost all people whether they've been to Hawai’i or not. A greeting to welcome or say goodbye. For me, since the very first time I visited the islands, aloha has meant, "until next time". I can't get enough of Hawai’i and always feel like I am home when I get there. Everything about it brings me peace from the moment I walk off the plane into the warm, exotically fragrant air, to the lush green landscape with the turquoise ocean in the background. The beautiful and friendly Hawaiian people are wonderful hosts as they welcome visitors to their paradise.
My 8th and most recent visit was a year ago for our 17th anniversary. My husband Ryan's first visit was on our honeymoon, then for our 5th and 10th anniversaries. We plan to go back again for our 20th and can hardly wait. In that time we have ventured to four of the Hawaiian Islands, each familiarly Hawaiian, but each is also very different from the others.
O'ahu, or "The Gathering Place", is occupied by 75% of the population of the Hawaiian State, and is the busiest of all the islands. It is is a must see with lots of beautiful beaches and stunning views. A visit to the sobering Pearl Harbor Memorial with it's history and proof of world changing events during WWII is a must. Of course Waikiki Beach, one of the most popular beaches in the world, with its view of Diamond Head, is a playground for sun-seekers and people watching.
Maui is absolutely breathtaking and has much to offer such as the scenic Hana Highway, sunrises from the crater of Haleakala, whale watching in the winter months, beautiful beaches, lots of shopping is great to visit and experience. It is a slower pace then O'ahu, but still affords those that enjoy nightlife some terrific bars and restaurants where you can enjoy live music with the gentle ocean breeze on your face.
The Hawai’i Island, more commonly known as "The Big Island" is large enough to hold all of the islands with room to spare. Therefore, lots of places to travel without seeing another soul, which is a glorious escape to enjoy the calm the islands bring. It also has 11 of 13 of the world’s climatic zones, from desert, to amazing rainforests and even snow on the tops of two of the highest mountains in the world, (measured from the sea bottom that is). One of those, Mauna Loa is also the largest active volcano on the planet. With all this island has to offer, it easily makes for a photographers dream!!
Our accommodations at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, were spectacular, perhaps the nicest that we have ever experienced on our travels together.
The route between the two mountains to the rainforest climate of Hilo on the windward side of the island has become one of our favorite drives with dramatic changes in weather sometimes within minutes on some of the most interesting highways.
Kaua’i was our most recent island, also known as "The Garden Isle", and it comes by this monicker honestly. It is home to the wettest spot on earth, Mount Wai'ale'ale with over 475 inches of rain on average per year. That much rain falling on the top of mountains creates the perfect recipe for waterfalls...and lots of them. Some can be seen by road or hiking, but most are mainly accessible by air, as is the beautiful Na Pali coast, accurately referred to as "The Grand Canyon of the Pacific". We knew before we began our vacation that this was a must-see, and planned a helicopter trip with Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Tours to experience the splendor from a birds-eye view.
I had to put my fear of heights aside for an hour, as did our pilot...wait, what?! The scenery through the front bubble of the helicopter was absolutely breathtaking!! It was a spiritual experience for me when our pilot flew us into the heart of Kaua’i, which is the remnants of the crater that created her. We saw waterfalls all around us cascading down almost 3000ft from the top of Mount Wai'ale'ale, called "The Weeping Wall" by the locals.
One last thing to mention about Kaua’i are the chickens…yes, chickens. We’ve never seen so many chickens. They are everywhere and cock-a-doodle-doo all day and night. They are on the roads (crossing them, maybe?), highways, beaches, hotel grounds, stores, and even restaurants. You pick a spot and they are there, with just as many stories about how they came to be on the island to begin with. These chickens are beautiful, however, in their colorful plumage with deep hues of blue, red and orange.
Last but not least, our stay in Lihu’e was fantastic and we were definitely spoiled by the hotel and staff of the Kaua’i Marriott Resort.
For the next two weeks, I will post an image or two a day from Hawai’i and add it to the Hawai’i Collection on my website. If you have never visited Hawai'i, I hope that what I will present makes you want to visit there one day. I know you wouldn't be disappointed.
Keywords: Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, Garden Isle, Hawai'i, Hawaiian Islands, Hawaiian State, Hilo, Kaua'i, Kaua'i Marriott Resort, Lihu'e, Maui, Mauna Kea, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Mauna Loa, Mt Wai'ale'ale, Na Pali, Na Pali Coast, Rhonda Galloway, The Big Island, The Gathering Place, Weeping Wall, aloha, blog, photography blog
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