Recently, my best buddy Tom visited me on Kauai. This was his third trip to the island and I wanted to show him some locations that he had not previously visited. One afternoon, we hopped in my truck and drove around to the other side of the island in order to go hiking in Kokee State Park. On the drive up, Waimea Canyon was pretty socked in with clouds. We continued on to the Kalalau Lookout and glimpsed dramatic views of the valley below as the clouds swirled around us. Deciding to take our chances, we grabbed our gear and hiked down the trail to my favorite viewpoint which is not for people who have a fear of heights. As the sun lowered towards the horizon, the clouds cleared out and this spectacular scene was revealed. I had photographed this same composition years ago and still love how it frames the landscape. Also, my five previous attempts to photograph the valley in 2019 were all thwarted by thick clouds, so I am happy that we got to experience this magical sunset together.
It is difficult to adequately describe what it is like to visit the Kalalau Valley on Kauai. Most tourists only see this spectacular location from a boat or a helicopter, but they miss out on the authentic Kalalau experience by not camping on the beach or in the valley. I have been fortunate to be able to visit the Kalalau five times over the last 14 years, including four nights a little over a week ago. I tried to photograph this composition during my previous visit in May, but was thwarted by the afternoon clouds which obscured the ridges and blocked the sunlight. By returning again so soon, I was rewarded with the necessary conditions to create this dramatic image. I hope that viewers of this photo will take a few moments to appreciate the serene energy that is the Kalalau.
I am often asked what is my favorite location that I have photographed. This is a difficult question to answer, but one of the places that I would consider to be towards the top of my list would be the Na Pali Coast of Kauai. This otherworldly landscape with its 4000′ jagged ridges emerging from the tropical Pacific is simply breathtaking to behold. During my recent visit, I returned to the top of the island for the first time in almost a decade with my friends Patrick and Marcus. We set out to hike Kalepa Ridge before sunset. I would like to point out that this is not a trail for anyone who is afraid of heights, since much of the trail hugs the knife edged ridge which drops straight down into the Kalalau Valley. Towards the end of the trail, I discovered this ethereal composition and set up my camera to shoot sunset. For my effort, I was rewarded with golden light, dramatic clouds, and a deep sense of satisfaction to be able to spend time in such an amazing place.