Until April, I'd never been to Hawaii. I never went as a child, never craved the hot, sandy beaches as an adult--other places have always beckoned to me more. Banff, New Zealand, Scotland, Ireland, Iceland, Rome, Nepal... Hawaii never quite made it to the top of my list, until Jen & Tyler, dear clients and friends, invited me to join them and take their maternity portraits.
I flew from Portland to Honolulu first, gliding over the rich turquoise waters on the descent into the airport. I'm always mesmerized by my first glimpse of a place (New Zealand gave me chills all over as it came into view out my window), and seeing the exquisite color of everything made me very happy. I walked through the Honolulu airport, over the ghastly dated carpet and past all the macadamia nuts and pineapples, and sat for awhile at a little bar while I waited for my flight to Kauai. The bartender told me I looked too young to order an Old Fashioned. I grinned.
I flew past my hotel-to-be just before landing in Lihue, after a quick forty minutes had passed from Honolulu. It was stormy, the palm trees blowing in the wind as the gray clouds galloped silently above. Walking out of the tiny airport, I felt like I was in an old movie. Time seemed to slow. Nothing felt urgent. Ah, Island Time.
I met Jen at the hotel and, after I'd dropped my luggage, we ran out to find a sunset before dinner. The hilarity of sunset on the tiny island of Kauai is all the randomly-facing beaches, so sunset doesn't always set where you think it might. We found the perfect spot, and were regaled with a quadruple rainbow as we waited for the sun to go low. Everything turned tangerine orange as the big ball of fire sunk below the horizon, framed by dark clouds and a few boats.
The next few days were spent adventuring and photographing and hiking and exploring. We kayaked up the river and hiked to a waterfall, where we all swam under the falling water and laughed and eventually ate lunch. There were cats and chickens in the most unlikely places (mostly just everywhere). We hiked the Na Pali Coast on an epic, humid, hot trudge through mud and up hills to a gorgeous cove, where mud squelched through my toes and the blue of the water below us blew my mind. We took a sunset cruise, where Jen and I stood at the very front of the boat and were blasted with warm air and wild wind. There were dolphins and whales and deep blue, blue, blue water. We skirted the edge of the Na Pali cliffs, where more rainbows and dazzling colors awaited us. And oh, the moss-covered cliffs... I lost my heart.
The landscape reminded me more of New Zealand than home. The weird trees, the jungle greenery, the red sand, the flowers, the familiar-yet-foreign look of nature, the compactness and variety of the wild wonderful landscapes. There were also so many birds, one of the first things I'd fallen in love with at Lake Tekapo on the South Island of New Zealand. It was good to feel that way again.
The final morning, I got up at 4:30 and went out for sunrise before heading to the airport. I sat on the sand, waiting for the sun to poke through the storm clouds, and witnessed the most beautiful sunrise of my life. Purples turned to fiery oranges then golds. The warm wind felt delicious as opposed to humid and awful as it had for much of the trip.
Despite the deep humidity, near-constant heat and unpredictable weather, Kauai won my heart. Its waterfalls, landscapes, cliffs and the said-same unpredictable weather made it incredibly magical, and I look forward to another trip where I can explore and dive deeper into its non-touristy places and wonders. "Island time", where everything just happens as it needs to, is addicting. I loved long walks in the early morning on the beach, turquoise water lapping at my toes, and little beach cats coming out to say hello. I also loved the evenings, filled with delicious food and torches everywhere. The hospitality and friendliness are perfect, and the coffee is amazing. I even got to try Roselani ice cream.
Here are some postcards from my journey. Enjoy!