What to Expect
We live on the Windward Side of the Big Island, where we enjoy night-time rains and ocean breezes. Our weather varies more with the winds than the seasons: summer and winter are pretty much the same. You can have a nice cool day in the middle of summer and there could also be a heat wave in January. It's a tropical thing.
With our varied micro-climates and elevations, though, we can pick our weather most days. On a warm day we just head up the mountain a little ways and enjoy a day like Old Saddle Road Outing or Volcanoes National Park . A little rain brings out the beauty of the jungle around us; a lot of rain makes for a great waterfall day . Too much rain, and we simply head to the dry side of the island less than two hours away. Beautiful pixels abound.
I like to wear light clothes and sandals for shooting closer to sea level. Bring along a windbreaker and fleece for shooting up higher. Although it rains 100 inches a year here, it mostly rains at night... mostly. So the days are usually quite pleasant.
Some of the most dynamic shots can be of our rugged coastline and the pounding surf. Waves push salt into the air. So, unless you invest in a camera bag, you probably won't be doing your camera any favors. Personally, I pay the price and take the photos. It's why I have my cameras. When it's really salty, like choppy surf and wind at the same time, I put on my weatherproof case. It might be a good excuse to get that foul weather cover or waterproof housing you always wanted.
On this shore, the biggest surf comes with the winter storms in the northeast Pacific. November through February, we can have waves with up to 20 foot faces. Unlike coasts with reefs, the land drops steeply into the ocean. The waves crash close to the cliffs.
On the Kona (west) side of the island, big storms north of Japan can deliver powerful swells from South Point northward. In the summer, our attention turns to storms near Antarctica, which bring epic surf to Tahiti. Those swells often end up on our southern coasts.
We have fun snorkeling nearby our house at Kapoho Tide Pools. Where we like to camp in Kona, and at many spots along the Kona coast, you'll find good reasons to stick your head underwater and look around . There is fun snorkeling in Hilo too. Another reason for that underwater camera?
The lava is active these days. Two years ago it was headed right to our house, and our town of Pahoa had a close call. But today it offers fantastic opportunities for epic photography. We can hike or bicycle down the coast to see the ocean entry. We can drive up to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park day or night (night is my favorite) and see Halemaumau in Kilauea crater: a 200-yard wide hole full of boiling lava.
Going shooting with me, expect more leisurely walks than full-on hikes. I'm all about the pictures. Even the hike to the lava's ocean entry is a long walk over nice, even terrain 🙂
That said, wherever you go along the coast or up in the mountains, the rocks are volcanic and pretty sharp. We stick to the roads and footpaths. And it's best to wear shoes instead of open sandals when trekking.
It's generally warm on the coasts, so your priorities will tend toward sun protection and occasional rain. As you go up in elevation, you'll want some warmer layers and a wind breaker. Of course, plenty of water all the time, lots of snacks, spare batteries and memory cards...
Hawaii is tropical so it would be silly not to expect mosquitoes. If you come from Michigan or Florida, you'll laugh at our idea of mosquitoes. That doesn't mean that everyone takes them lightly; they're here. More so in the dense jungle than the open sun, and mostly in the early morning or at cocktail hour.
Of course, we have the usual civilized pests that want to share our food. Because of this, and the humidity, keep your snacks closed up tight and your living space tidy. Other than that, the usual bees, the occasional-but-mostly-mythical centipedes, and Kona's more-possible-but-still-rare scorpions and centipedes, Hawai'i island is pretty benign. Mouse says,"Hawai'i: mostly naked most of the time," but puts on her long pants to root around in the jungle.
Mouse says we follow our bellies around all day long . And it's true. In our household, she grows most of the food we eat. When you go out taking pictures with me, she'll make sure we have water, tea, coffee, and cookies or little snacks. It's her way. If there is good food along the way, we can certainly stop for a meal. If there isn't a restaurant on our route, I'll let you know ahead of time so you can bring lunch, or we can stop at the store for supplies. Mouse always sets us up with a cooler and ice packs.
Eating out is a treat we enjoy fully but rarely. We have our local favorites.
- Ning's in Pahoa, our favorite Thai food
- Kaleo's in Pahoa, for more mainstream tastes -- and live music at night
- Suisan Fish Market or KTA in Hilo for poke
- Lucy's in Hilo for Mexican
- Naung Mai or Sombat's in Hilo for Thai
Come edit with me, and you get to sit at the desk where I do myWeekly Edit. You'll be using all the software I do and enjoying my large, color-corrected, professional monitor, while I sit right beside you at another professional monitor. If you bring a photo buddy and there are two of you editing, you'll each have your own desk and monitor, side by side. I'll be right there, working with you. It's a pleasant, airy office in our Tiny Home.
We live a block from the coast. It's a friendly and maybe half-populated suburban neighborhood outside of Pahoa Town. We have grandchildren living a few blocks away, and of course their mother 😉 but it's the kids you might be lucky enough to meet when they stop by to show off bike tricks or get a snack. There is a big, happy family across the street. We have a sweet Boxspring dog named Little One. She's not a puppy anymore, but that picture is too cute to resist sharing again. Our house is surrounded with gardens, with jungles, and the quietly contented chaos of retirement in Hawaii. You will feel warmly welcomed here.
If part of your trip is centered around shooting with me, I suggest you rent a place nearby so we can get in as much time as possible doing just that. There are plenty of vacation rentals close to us. If you'll be staying somewhere else on the island, I'll be happy to meet you most anywhere.
Both my wife and I are enthusiastic about shooting with new people. It's what we like to do.