In April I was lucky enough to fly to Kona – not once but twice – to scout and shoot on the lava fields and black sand beaches of the Big Island. Kona’s terrain can be unforgiving: miles and miles of razor-sharp blackened ground, radiating unrelenting heat, that lead to a coastline buried in a thicket of thorny kiawe trees. In the past, it was not my favorite of Hawaii destinations, but I’ve come to appreciate its hidden beauty. Plus the day shooting Kona-native and charmer Paloma Field in the latest swim fashions could not have been more of a breeze. Here are some of my favorite outtakes from the shoot, now featured in HILuxury’s latest issue.
It’s almost Christmas, and usually this means that I’m already at home in Hawai’i, soaking up the sun on Kaimana beach or hiking to Maunawili Falls. This year it looks like I’ll have to survive on friends’ Facebook posts instead… In the spirit of being homesick, I dug up some photos I took a few years ago while on vacation on the Big Island.
While you may remember my last visit to Hilo and the tidepools of Pahoa, these are instead from a road trip taken from the northern-most point of the island down to the southeastern corner of Volcanoes National Park. When it comes to having a variety of landscapes, there is nothing like Hawai’i, and the Big Island truly has it all – from the snowcapped peak of Mauna Kea to the black sand beaches near Kapa’au (pictured above) to the desert heat of Kona. My favorite spot has got to be Volcanoes, though. It is surprisingly cold, damp, and foggy and houses some of the most striking plants on the planet. Plus, it’s got lava. I mean, come on. What more can you ask of a Hawaiian holiday?
I haven’t been often, but Hilo has a certain something that appeals to me. Landing in Hilo Airport is like stepping into your tutu’s 1970s living room with its olive green carpeting and aloha print couches, and if you’re digging the retro vibe then the town will not disappoint. Set on the mouth of a bay, downtown Hilo’s plantation-style storefronts belong to a different era. Like you wouldn’t blink twice if a pirate ship docked so a salty sea dog could have a brewsky, and neither would the leftover bearded hippies and European backpackers loitering on the main drag. Needless to say, there are some killer antiques to be had – my lastest score was some tiki-print bark cloth to reupholster my chairs.
I’d also recommend checking out the farmer’s market on the corner of Mamo Street (best visited on Wednesdays or Saturdays) to get your fill of cheap papayas, rambutans, and anthuriums. And if you’ve only got a few hours in town, the Pepe’ekeo Scenic Drive is only a short drive north of Hilo and a must-see. The 4-mile scenic detour will take you through the rainforest, past waterfalls, and lead you to a spectacular view of Onomea Bay. Park here and take a short hike down on the Onomea Beach Trail to get better access to the rugged and dramatic coastline.
Over the holidays we made a quick island hop from O’ahu to the Big Island of Hawai’i to visit my dear aunt and uncle. They previously lived up north in Kapa’au, but this time we got to visit the southeastern point near Pahoa where they currently reside. People often assume that Hawai’i residents travel frequently between the islands, but the truth is that it is expensive (airfare, costly hotels, renting a car, etc) and we mostly go only when we have someone we know we can stay with, which made this short trip all the more worthwhile.
From the sleepy village of Pahoa, Aunt Jeanie took us on a scenic tour of the coast that was truly spectacular. A one-lane road leads you from the open lava fields into the dense canopy of an old-growth mango grove, where every tree branch seems to be covered with bromeliads and orchids. Into a quiet time-share development we went, parking in the residential neighborhood and popping out at a set of huge, calm tide pools filled with angel fish and sergeant-majors and coral heads and locals having a beer.
After a few hours hanging on the lava rocks in the sun and drifting back and forth with the tide, we got back on the scenic road that ends at Isaac Hale Beach Park and watched some surfers catch a pretty big set off of the concrete pier. The perfect ending to a perfect day: A slice (or three!) of Aunt Jeanie’s lilikoi cheesecake. It pays to know a local!