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Hawaii: Part 1 || Kaanapali, Lahaina, and the Road to Hana || Destination Elopement Photographer

When John and I were first engaged in 2009, we wanted to elope in Hawaii. It was a place we’d always talked about going to together, and we thought eloping there would be magical. Well, one thing led to another and, as you know, we had a wedding instead of an elopement. But we never stopped thinking about Hawaii. John and I are kind of obsessed with traveling, and we try to take a big trip every other year. So last summer when we started thinking about where we’d like to go this year, we both happily agreed that it was definitely high time to go to Hawaii.

(Top two: View from our hotel in Kaanapali  ||  Bottom left: Banyan tree in Lahaina  ||  Right: House in Lahaina)

 

We really didn’t know much about Hawaii and kind of picked the two islands we visited – Maui and Lanai – randomly. We would have happily gone to any of the islands, but I’ve had a lot of friends who have come back from Maui and raved about it, so Maui it was. Lanai was a little bit of an afterthought when, after researching, we realized it was only a short ferry ride from Maui. And so we planned this amazing trip for a year, and I can’t say it felt real at all until we were actually on the plane.

(Top three: From the whale watch boat  ||  Bottom three: Luau)

 

Our trip was nineteen and a half hours door to door. Which seems like a lot, but isn’t when you really think about it. Flying to Hawaii at night is kind of amazing because below you the ocean is dark and black, and then all of the sudden, Maui’s lights just appear out of nowhere. A sudden shining light in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Because it was dark when we landed and drove across the island to our hotel, we had no idea the gorgeousness we were passing through. It wasn’t until the next morning when I woke up – obscenely early, thanks to jetlag – and looked out the window that I really got to see where we were and how beautiful it was. It just didn’t look real – it looked like a completely fake postcard. If someone said, “Draw a picture of a beautiful, tropical island” – the scene out my hotel window is exactly what you’d draw.

(Above: Road to Hana)

 

We stayed in Kaanapali for the first part of our trip, and mostly spent the first few days relaxing, swimming in the pool, sitting under an umbrella reading – properly trying to relax and decompress. (And totally ignoring our inboxes.) I have a fascination with pretty much all sea creatures, so whenever there’s an opportunity to go whale watching somewhere, I jump on it. So our third day there, we spent the morning exploring the nearby town of Lahaina, and the afternoon on a whale watch boat. Unfortunately we found out it was literally the last day of whale season, and we didn’t see a single whale. But it was still amazing to be out on the water in the sunshine. Whales or no whales, we had a great time.

(Above: Road to Hana)

 

We also discovered something in Lahaina that I am still dreaming of – Hawaiian shave ice from Ululani’s. I know what you’re thinking… shave ice is just a fancy name for a snow cone – but you are wrong. Shave ice is the stuff dreams are made of. Ice cream, covered in shaved ice, covered in naturally flavored syrup… it was one of the top ten best things to ever happen to me. I don’t even like sweets, but Ululani’s shave ice was unbelievably good. I had mango and peach, and now I have to stop writing about it because my mouth is starting to water.

(Above: Road to Hana)

 

That night we took a walk on the beach, and found the water kept washing up bioluminescent creatures of some kind. I have no idea what they were – some kind of plankton maybe? But they made the beach glow green. It was so cool. We laid out and stared at the stars for a long time – since we never get to see them in New York City – and even caught a few shooting stars.

(Above: Black sand/pebble beach in Hana  ||  Bottom right: Cave on the black sand beach)

 

The next day we took the Road to Hana, and to say I was apprehensive about the drive would be an understatement. But it was amazing and totally worth doing, and not nearly as scary as I was expecting. We drove through a rainforest, stopped to see waterfalls, had a picnic at a gorgeous spot overlooking the Pacific, and ended up at a black rock beach in Hana. The drive back was much less scary because we knew what to expect, but I was really feeling nauseous by the time we got back to our hotel. Too many curves for my stomach to take.

(Top: Black sand beach in Hana  ||  Bottom: There were feral cats everywhere in Hawaii)

 

The next day we were off to Lanai… and I’ll be back with those photos next week!