DAY 1 – Thursday
If you’ve been keeping up from my previous post, you already know that we shot our dear friends’ Rachel and Joshua’s wedding in Hawai’i. If you haven’t been keeping up, shame on you. Man I don’t know how we were able to fly to the Philippines. I’m beat after a 15 hour flight from DC. Rachel + Josh arranged transportation from the airport for us. Little that we knew, they had a limo pick us up. And this is no ordinary limo. It’s a supers-tretch limo. Woohooo! It was mao’s second time in a limo. The first was when I proposed to her in vegas. This time we didn’t have to share with anyone else. We stayed at the Hilton Village in Waikiki. They upgraded us to an ocean front room. Oh, the weather in Hawai’i was 100x better than Jamaica. Anyway, we went to Outback on our first night because we wanted something familiar. I was craving a nice bloody piece of red meat.
DAY 2 – Friday
We missed the surf lessons the following morning that were compliments of Rachel+Josh. I had a hard time getting up. Just tired from traveling, I guess. We basically just shopped after breakfast then had lunch. Hilton gave us lunch vouchers because we had to wait for our room.
After lunch we signed up for a nature hike on the other side of the Oahu Island. It was a two hour hike with moderate climb. It was ok but it was nice to be out in nature and away from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki. I thought it was worth it and we had a really cool 50y.o. guide who needs to support his surfing habits. Our guide wass 15% Filipino from Ilocos. We had sushi for dinner at the Hilton Village (quite overpriced of course) and called it in early. We have to start shooting at 8a the following morning. The good thing is that the wedding ends at 2p so we have the rest of the day to do whatever. Mao wants to go to a Luau after.
DAY 3 – Saturday
We had an early start to shoot the wedding starting at 7ish to scope out the facilities. It was a garden wedding and the ceremony was short. I took the bride and groom out to the beach for a brief shoot then headed to the reception. Josh, the groom is also a photographer and videographer for the Pentagon. Just like me for my own wedding, it took him some adjusting to being on the other side of the lens. There were about 130 guests and quite a bit of them are Filipinos and Japanese.
The wedding ended at 2pm, probably the earliest wedding I’ve had to shoot. It was odd trying to find something to do after the wedding other than going to Canton Cafe for duck noodle soup (usually around midnight). We took a quick nap and headed to the strip which is a good 15min walk to search for a decent restaurant. The Hilton Village was nice, but we need a new scenery. They had all the high end shops you can imagine including my favorite, the watch stores. Mao of course window shopped at the purse stores, LV and Fendi. You also have a few chain restaurants like Cheesecake, SeA�or Frogs, etc. mixed in with the retail stores. The strip was a happening place on a Saturday night. It’s reminiscent to LA’s strip and somewhat to Miami. It definitely had that feel. Most of the tourists here are Japanese and of course Americans, mostly from CA.
We had Japanese food last night but it was just your typical sushi joint, but overpriced. While in desperate search for a restaurant, I say desperate because you can’t starve a pregnant woman. Well we found a place that was promising based on a quick peek of their posted menu. You guessed it, yet another Japanese restaurant. Could we redeem ourselves with somewhat acceptable food this time? They sat us at a corner window overlooking a busy intersection of the strip from the third floor. We searched through their menu for what could be a perfect meal for our last night in Waikiki. Mao quickly pointed out my favorite Japanese dish of which I would’ve never found until my man Anthony Bourdain featured it on his trip to Japan (or was it NYC?). It was the fish cheeks or jaw. This is how I judge the authenticity of a japanese resyaurant. The fish jaw is usually of salmon or yellowtail. It is by far the best part of the fish. The meat is fatty and absolutely delcious. Served grilled with some rice and a nice sake, I was in Japanese restaurant heaven. I ordered the yellowtail and Mao order a roll that followed out seared tuna appetizer topped with a Hawaiian relish and a special sauce. I savored every bite of the yellowtail until I could no longer pick any more meat off the bones. I had some sake left, so I ordered the salmon next. This my friend is good eating.
We ended our night with drinks with Rachel+Josh at a beach front restaurant, Duke’s Canoe Club, sharing stories over drinks.
DAY 4 – Sunday
I tapped on the non-tactile keyboard on my iPhone while sitting at the balcony of our room when I entered my last entry. It was 7:30am. I watched suffers, 52 to be exact, catch the waves this early. Two days prior, I woke up at 5a and peeked out the window to see surfers out on the water at dawn. The light was soft blue with the sky adorned by picturesque clouds. The moon was still out and it was round and full.A� It seemed to have been looking down on the surfers below. I’m still jet lagging with the 6 hour time difference to EST. My eyes were bloodshot for two days and they’re just now getting back to normal.
Mao made a run to the ABC general store located within the Hilton Village for a popular meal for locals and what has been a staple breakfast and snack for us, a slice of fried spam atop a loaf of rice wrapped in sea weed. It’s nothing new to us since I grew up eating this and I had introduced Mao to this unhealthy food. It’s a convenient and inexpensive bite. Today we fly out to the island of Lana’i situated southeast of Honolulu and almost a halfway point to the Big Island.
We were picked up at the resort sporting another stretch limo. It was possibly the shortest flight I’ve been on at only 30min. Check in at the interisland airport was a breeze. We stepped off the plane and went in to a small terminal. The Four Seasons had a booth and we took the shuttle to the Four Seasons Lodge. It was a four mile and ten minute drive but we stepped back in time a century back. There are no mega structures here. No, you will not find the latest Trump Tower or luxury condos in the horizon. This feels like old Hawaii. The homes are plantation style built in the 1920s. The roads are very well kept.A� At least the paved roads.
Lanai’i is known as the Pineapple Island. It was owned by Dole Foods (1922) then purchased by David Murdock (Castle & Cooke) in 1985. There’s only one hotel and two resorts in the whole island and both resorts are ‘managed’ the Four Seasons Hotel. One is situated inland (the Lodge at KA?’ele) and the other at a beach front (MA?nele Bay). There are only 3,193 in population plus visitors at any given time.
We checked in and went to our room. The bed was adorned with flowers in a heart shape with a few goodies. This was a complimentary perk from our wedding package. Nice huh? We ate lunch then walked the breathtaking landscapes surrounding the Lodge. Absolutely incredible.
After the quick stroll we took the shuttle to MA?nele Bay. I was just taken by the lobby and terrace area. As you enter, the main lobby, you step down to a great sitting room, then onto a terrace overlooking the pool, then onto the pool overlooking the beach. We rested at one of the cabanas for a bit, then hiked down the beach and onto the cliffs. We then had dinner at one of the restaurants at MA?nele Bay.
DAY 5 – Monday
The Lodge offers so many activities including golf, clay shooting, archery, swimming, etc. We decided to go hiking after breakfast. It was a good hike that overlooks a valley and you can see the islands of Molaka’i and Maui. After our hike we went to check out Lana’i City. I was told more than 50% of the population are Filipinos (my peoples). For lunch, we found a Filipino restaurant and talked with locals. The rest of the day pretty much involved sleeping, swimming and spending quiet time at the library. Oh, the great thing about this Four Seasons resort is that it’s not packed. After spending some time in Waikiki, it was nice to get away from the crowd. At the pool, you’ll be unlucky to have more than one other group. It’s a nice place to getaway and get your r&r.
DAY 6 – Tuesday
Ok, we leave for home the following day and after we got our much needed rest the previous day, we decided to make it more adventurous this day. We did clay shooting and archery. I’ve never shot a gun in my entire life. The first shot just freaked me out and I didn’t want to shoot the 24 remaining shots. Then I man’d up and had a good time. I was slightly bruised on my shoulder.
The rest of the roads on the island are dirt roads and only accessible by 4×4 vehicles. So we rented a Jeep for the day and drove out to all of the scenic spots including the Garden of the Gods, Polihua Beach and Shipwreck Beach. What an experience! You’ll know what I mean when you see the shots below.
Getting jerked around on the Jeep wore us out and headed out to MA?nele Bay to watch the sunset. BTW, it was almost always cloudy at the Lodge. I hiked to the Sweetheart Rock to watch the sunset while Mao rested before dinner. This guy hiked up with a bagpipe and played it on top of the cliff. It was nice having him play while we waited for the sun to set. I was also able to use him as a subject. How many times will you experience watching and listening to a bagpipe player on top of a cliff in Hawai’i? Once again, we had dinner at MA?nele Bay.
DAY 7 – Wednesday
Today is the day to back home. It’s been a wonderful trip and definitely quite a memorable one. Lana’i quickly climbed up to my list of favorite places to visit. It’s quiet and a photographer’s dream. Throughout our stay, I took some pictures at the horse barn near the lodge. Here are some of those photos.
I can’t wait for another chance to visit Hawai’i.