Svenler's Photography Blog

Travel: Kauai

Last month, I went to the Hawaiian island of Kauai, which is a bit away from the main islands and less touristy (especially in the Northern and Western parts). I stayed at the St. Regis in Princeville, which is very secluded and right at the Hanalei Bay, which offers stunning views at all times of day. One of the amazing things about this place is that you can see all kinds of weather systems coming through. Within two minutes you can go from a torrential rainfall to a clear and sunny sky.

Hanalei Bay

Hanalei Bay at Night

Another cool spot is Poipu Beach on the south side of the island. It's quite a bit more touristy, but still worth a visit, especially if you have children. Poipu Beach has a small bay and a coral reef that result in very calm waters and lots of colorful fish swimming around right below the surface.

Popiu Beach Sunset

On the north-west side of the island, you have the Napali Coastline, the Kalalau Valley, and the Waimea Canyon - all of which are worth a visit. When you look at a map, it looks like a short drive to get to the north-west but the entire north-west is a mountain range with canyons, so you have to drive around. Island traffic can be slow and congested around Lihue, so prepare for a 2-3 hour drive if you are coming from the north-east side.

Kalalau Valley

To get to the bottom of the Kalalau Valley (Kalalau Beach), you need to hike the entire length of the Kalalau Trail, which is considered one of the toughest hikes in the world with its steep and muddy slopes. I approached the first few miles of the trail and it's well worth it. Expect to camp overnight at Kalalau Beach since the 11+ mile hike will take you most of a day.

Kalalau Trail

After a little more than two miles on the trail (the easy portion), you get to Hanakapai'ai Stream and Hanakapai'ai Beach. The stream is great to just jump in for a quick refreshment, but don't even think about bathing at the beach. The tides and shore-break are strong and can pull you out quickly.

The Kalalau Trail starts at Ke'e Beach, which is all the way at the end of the road (literally). There is some street parking right by the beach that tends to fill up quickly during the day, but there is also a parking lot down the road.

Ke'e Beach

At Ke'e Beach, you can see the waves create some awesome shapes.

If you like to surf, a great place to go is Lumahai Beach. These pictures are just some screenshots from a GoPro video as the waves were pummeling me.

Unfortunately, I had less than a week on the island, so I didn't get to go to many of the places that I wanted to see. But hey, at least now I have an excuse to go back.

Aruba Beach Wedding

Last year, I had the great opportunity to shoot a stunning destination wedding in Aruba for one of my favorite families in the Washington DC area. I met the mother a few years ago when I did her portraits and since have shot both her daughters' weddings and will hopefully soon have the chance to do some baby portraits.

The wedding was beautifully low-key right on the beach at the Hyatt Regency Aruba.

During that wedding, I also got one of my favorite wedding pictures ever with the couple embracing in front of a beautiful sunset with a sail boat passing by...

Los Angeles Stopover

On the way to Kauai (Hawaii), we made a quick stop in Los Angeles to spend some time in the city and on the beach.

Our first stop took us to Manhattan Beach for some time on the pier and dinner. If you have kids, the aquatic center on the pier is really worth a visit.

Manhattan Beach Pier during Sunset, Los Angeles

Considering the warm weather, I was surprised how much into Christmas Californians are. While everything was still bleak in DC, the houses and streets in Los Angeles were all ready for Christmas...

Christmas Time in Manhattan Beach, Los Angeles

The next day greeted us with an awesome sunrise and a trip to East Los Angeles...

Sunrise over Los Angeles as seen from the Sheraton Gateway LAX

And of course I never go to LA without driving on the PCH (Pacific-Cost Highway) and ending up at Matador Beach...

El Matador Beach, California

The pictures from Hawaii are coming soon. Stay tuned...

Weverton Cliffs (Fall Foliage Hike)

The Weverton Cliffs are a 750 foot high overlook on South Mountain in Gathland State Park (Maryland), which is part of the Apalachian Trail. The cliffs overlook the Potomac River and the nearby mountains and valleys. The hike is approximately one mile with some steep and rocky inclines.

Click any of the pictures to see a bigger version...

The hike is fairly easy due to its short distance of about a mile one way, however, the trail itself ranges in level of difficulty from very easy to moderate, as you can see from the impressions below...