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Hawaii Trip | Part II

Oahu, Hawaii | Travel Photographer

If you missed Tuesday’s blog post, I covered part I of Brandy and my Hawaii Trip, a day in San Francisco! Now we get to move from the city photos to the island life! The majority of our trip took place on the island of O’ahu. Not to confuse, O’ahu is an island of Hawaii, but it’s technically not THE main island of Hawaii. In a way, it is since ~90% of the population lives on O’ahu, but it’s a smaller island compared to the Big Island where all of the volcano action is currently happening. Every island is unique and should be explored, but comparing O’ahu to the Big Island, O’ahu is my FAVORITE! I would love to go visit Maui in the near future as I’ve heard incredible things as well!


Day One: Hawaii // Settling In

We flew into O’ahu, our ultimate destination of this trip! First thing was first … We went straight for an acai bowl! ;) Actually, we started AND ended the trip with this and encourage you to do the same! Oh, and just so you seem like you know what you are doing, acai is not pronounced ass-ah-yee, but instead ass-i! Learned that on my last day. ;)

Oahu, Hawaii | Travel PhotographerMy gracious friends/past bride + groom offered us their place while we were visiting. If you don’t have connections, I HIGHLY recommend staying at an AirB&B! I did that last year and it was great experiencing the Hawaiian life without the tourism influence! This time around, I stayed with friends, except we were sad to find out at the last minute that Natalie was called out of town for business. Her husband, Chris, was a great host though. I’m glad we were able to keep him and Henry, their cute pup, company last week! We all missed Natalie, but she was definitely there in spirit!!! <3 Speaking of Chris and Natalie, if you don’t remember, I photographed their engagement, Hawaiian photos, and their wedding day last year!!! They are so darn CUTE together! And look at their pup, Henry!

Oahu, Hawaii | Travel PhotographerOahu, Hawaii | Travel PhotographerOahu, Hawaii | Travel Photographer

After settling in, we took the day easy and went grocery shopping after visiting a North Shore beach. Brandy enjoyed checking out the surfer town, which is an edgy destination on the island! I would love to explore the cute shops in the future. Groceries on the island are pricier compared to Virginia, but it makes sense since everything has to be imported. The cost of living is pretty expensive as well, but I’m appreciative of the traveling opportunities with friends!! The local grocery stores offer unique seafood fresh in the stores from Vietnam and Japan, which was fun to explore! Although, I wouldn’t have a clue how to prepare the food! So obviously, we left that for the pros to cook at restaurants. ;)

Oahu, Hawaii | Travel Photographer

Day Two: Hawaii // Explore

Day two started with a great 4-mile run after realizing day one in Hawaii involved zero exercise and swollen feet from traveling. Yikes! After getting our blood flowing, we deserved some beach time! My friends recommended Bellows Beach, which was my first time hearing about it! It’s BEAUTIFUL!!! Gorgeous wooded areas along the sand provided plenty of shade. For those who love waves, this beach is for you! The waves were pretty big, but it might have been coincidental timing. The water was blue and beautiful, and the best part was the minimal crowds! A huge plus for those who really want to escape from the city! Tip! Even if you have a base tan, wear sunscreen! The UV index is high over there, and it’s dangerous because you cannot feel it when you are in fact roasting. After literally roasting in the sun (my poor front side!), we headed out to a studio in Honolulu where we spontaneously signed up for a fun dancing class! Why not find deals on Living Social/Groupon and take on a challenge? It was SO much fun and loved the spontaneity!

Oahu, Hawaii | Travel PhotographerOahu, Hawaii | Travel PhotographerThat night, we ended up in “town” (P.S. if you really want to sound cool, apparently locals call Honolulu, “town”), with my past clients/friends!!! :) We enjoyed a rooftop dinner at Tommy Bahama and “Andrew’s special” drink! You must remember Beth Ann and Andrew from last year’s November wedding? It was so great to be reunited with some of my favorite couples (again, Natalie was there in spirit!!!) in paradise! After great conversations, we continued the night at one of Chris’ favorite hangout spots, Tchin Tchin. It reminded me so much of Chris and Natalie’s Richmond engagement session with the exposed brick and pretty, classy details! Ultimately, jet lag caught up around midnight in Hawaiian time (6 a.m. in Virginia), but it was a great first day out around Hawaii!

Oahu, Hawaii | Travel Photographer

Day Three: Hawaii // Koko Head

Finally, hiking time! Brandy and I promised each other that there would be plenty of hiking/beaching time. First hike of the trip? Naturally, Koko Head. The trail is not a super long hike, but it’s challenging in its own way. The distance is short but STEEP. Basically, the Stair Master on steroids. Going up and going down Koko Head is a unique experience. The 1,000 steps up are about leg strength, momentum, and endurance. The 1,000 steps down are about balancing and resisting impact on your joints. The trickiest part is the drop down section for about 20 yards. This particular section of the hike, you balance on the railroad boards over a ~20-foot drop. STAY confident and don’t overthink your steps! I found that steering to the right side (going up), left side (going down) with your feet on each side of the rail is the best strategy! There’s a great view of the city from the top, but I love this hike for the challenge and work out. :) Be sure to hydrate and go in the morning!

Oahu, Hawaii | Travel Photographer

Below on the right, is the drop down section! You cannot tell from the photo, but for those who checked out my Instagram stories for the video know what I’m talking about!!

Oahu, Hawaii | Travel PhotographerOahu, Hawaii | Travel PhotographerOahu, Hawaii | Travel PhotographerOahu, Hawaii | Travel PhotographerOahu, Hawaii | Travel PhotographerOahu, Hawaii | Travel PhotographerOahu, Hawaii | Travel PhotographerOahu, Hawaii | Travel PhotographerOahu, Hawaii | Travel PhotographerAfter a rewarding hike, we went straight to Lanikai Beach (my favorite beach in the world!!!)! Although we went on a busy Sunday afternoon, we still found a spot to enjoy the views/water. I’m not a fan of open water, but I felt 100% comfortable seeing my surroundings of crystal clear blue water and sand! Hawaii has spoiled me!!

Oahu, Hawaii | Travel Photographer
My favorite shaved ice spot was just around the corner, so of course, we headed to the Local Hawaii! They don’t use fake flavors, but instead real extracts, which makes a HUGE difference in taste! If you’re not a fan of shaved ice, you might change your mind after eating this!! :) Our satisfying our sweet tooth, we headed back to rest and relax for the evening before the BIG day on day four (coming tomorrow on the blog!!).

Oahu, Hawaii | Travel Photographer


Here’s a quick run down:

— As far as a rental car goes, find a connection at the airport because pick-up and drop-off are seamless!!! We went through Budget and they upgraded us for free because they ran out of smaller cars! NICE.

— Try to book an AirB&B for an authentic Hawaiian experience, unless you have a connection!!

— Move around after traveling to avoid swollen feet and drink PLENTY of fluids!!

— When you go out for the day, expect to be out all day! A tip from Chris and we found it was true! So pack your hiking gear, bathing suit and an outfit to go around the island.

— Acai bowl is a MUST when you arrive!

— Pronounce acai, ass-i, not ass-ah-yee

— Bellows Beach offers blue waters, waves, minimal crowds and plentiful shade

— Eat dinner/grab drinks somewhere with scenery (rooftop, ocean view, etc.) in Honolulu for a night!

— Try something new and adventurous! Check out Living Social/Groupon Deals!

— Lanikai is my favorite beach, but avoid weekends! No waves, picture perfect beach with white sand and the clearest blue water you have EVER seen! Bring a floaty!!! :)

— Want a challenging hike? Visit Koko Head! Drink PLENTY of water before the hike and be prepared to work out your legs!! Also, go early in the morning since the trail is fully exposed to the sun and it can be HOT!

— Check out the Local Hawaii for shaved ice! Local and FRESH ingredients!!

Look out for Hawaii Part III on the blog next week!!! One of the BEST and scariest hikes I’ve ever done will be featured then! :)

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  • Beth Ann Tindall

    Wow! Amazing photos!!! Henry photos are precious-Natalie will love them! “Andrew’s special drink” LOL!! So glad we got to meet up! :) hope you can come visit again soon! Aloha!