Fun family waterfall hike | Manoa Falls

Oahu for kids

I recently discovered Meetup and found lots of fun clubs and activities on the island from beer-swilling running clubs to business  mixers and board games. There’s a little something for everyone.  Oahu photography group combined my love of hiking with photography and I immediately signed up for a trip to Manoa Falls – a fun family waterfall hike. It’s been over a decade since i’ve made the short hike. In my mind it was a crowded, over-hyped trail due to its proximity to Waikiki and ease of access. Once they started charging $5 for parking, I never returned.

But that was a mistake. With children in tow, I experienced it with fresh eyes. It’s an exceptional hike for families with young kids. It’s short, easy to access, clearly marked, and ends with a waterfall. That alone makes it a unicorn among hikes; prefect for the reluctant adventurer. The trail itself packs an impressive amount of diversity. Roosters clamber for food scraps in the parking lot and their calls ring through the valley as you set off on the path. Everything is wet, lush, dripping. Street signs are overtaken by thick layers of moss. Impossibly large vines crawl over every surface while brightly colored blooms accent the scene.

The trail follows the burbling stream past towering albizia trees with cascading purple flowers. You pass a knotted hau tree that will beckon you climb its tangled branches. You pass through a bamboo grove where you can play hide and seek among the smooth, strong branches. Be on the lookout for tiny treasures. Fungi are hidden in plain sight. You only have to slow enough to see them.

It took us a full 3 hours to complete this hike. Instead of the typical hike, snap a photo and sprint ahead to re-join the group, we went slow. My oldest had taken a recent interest in photography so I gifted him an old DSLR. We fully geeked out with the other “hiking” photographers and explored the world with cameras in hand.

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Looking for more family fun on Oahu?

You can find another easy family waterfall hike here. And don’t forget to sign up for the Little Bird Post below to receive monthly updates on adventures on Oahu with kids!

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Oahu photographer | Pink

Some sessions I look back and can’t help but smile. With this one I can still hear the tiny giggles over the roar of the ocean. Little toes eagerly seeking the water after a long drive. I remember a toddler who seemed wise beyond her years (year?). A toddler who shared mischievous smiles as she explored the world around her. Then there was the gap-toothed smile of a free-spirited girl all dressed in pink. She was ready to take on the waves. Further and further she crept until she was knocked down. She bounced back with an even bigger smile and started the game again.

Lindsay fell in love with the beauty of Laie Beach Park. Even though they were staying on the opposite side of the island at Disney’s Aulani Resort, they made the long morning drive to the country. The girls were a little shy at first; hesitant at their new surroundings. The lure of the ocean quickly overcame any shyness and the raced off to explore – climbing rocks, searching for treasure, sand castles, and then it was time to jump in. We spent a lovely morning making the memories of childhood. It was a good day.

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Want to capture your family at play?

Let’s head to your favorite places and or let me take you on an adventure so you can make beautiful memories. Find out more about my fun family photography sessions here.

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Hawaii photographers | Makapuu Beach

From Alaska to Hawaii. It’s a big move and one Brittany was excited to make. For years, they had been coming to Hawaii for a little sunshine to break up the long Alaskan winters. Finally, it was official. They were moving into their new island home. They scheduled family photo sessions regularly but this was a special one to mark the big occasion.

Choosing a location was easy. Makapuu Beach has long been a favorite spot of theirs. They’ve spent many happy hours searching the tide pools for treasure, finding fish, crabs, and even an octopus. We met at sunrise on a still morning. Salt spray hovered above the beach and clung to our skin and eyelashes while we set out to explore. The kids led the way down to the tide pools and immediately discovered treasure in the form of shells and crab claws. We finished by immersing ourselves in a large tide pool and watched fish swim around our feet. Welcome home.

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Now is a great time to capture memories of your favorite people doing something they love.

Let’s plan a trip to the beach, a park, a hike, or even hanging out at home. Let’s make it fun so you can enjoy your time together and I can leave you with beautiful memories. Find out more about my fun family photography sessions here.

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Waikiki family portraits

The morning at Kahala Beach started off as a cool blue. The sun hid stubbornly behind a sheer layer of clouds as we talked and took in the scene. The kids were eager to share the adventures they had in Hawaii already and plans for the rest of their trip. It was fun to see each personality emerge over the course of the morning – from outgoing performer to silly and shy. Although they were each so different, they were quick to hug and laughed often. Their closeness and love as a family was evident.


It wasn’t until late in the session the sun finally made an appearance. The full force of the sun warmed our skin; driving us into the water to cool off. We managed to fit in some serious splash fights and races before grumbling bellies demanded breakfast. Another day, another adventure.

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What does a great day off look like for your family?

Do you head to the beach on weekends? Head out for a hike in some place impossibly green? Maybe a picnic along a rocky, wind-swept shore? Let’s head out for a fun day with your family. You make the memories and i’ll make the pictures.  Find out more about my fun family photography sessions here.

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Lanikai Beach photography | Family time

Ah, how to choose between majestic lava rock shores washed with white sand at Makapuu Beach or the clear, turquoise waters of Lanikai Beach? Tiffanie was torn between the two. “Why not both?” I suggested. We can take in the dramatic sunrise and then hit the beach. I was excited about this plan. Makapuu is one of my favorite spots for sunrise, but Lanikai is one of the best, kid-friendly beaches to play in the water. I met them as the sun began to peek over the horizon and we set out to explore. We discovered that having a strong dad means you can fly (again dad! again!) and that driftwood makes an excellent beach horse. As the sun became bright and surly we made our escape.

After a short drive, we found ourselves navigating a narrow beach path towards the ocean. Here the ocean sounds were different. No crashing, splashing roar, but a gentle splash and swish as the fine sand was pushed and pulled by waves. Still, the kids weren’t sure. They decided to sun themselves on beach towels first; stylish with their bright colors and sunglasses.  As the began to warm up, they grabbed an inter-tube and jumped in for a fun morning.

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What kind of beach do you love to explore with your family?

Choose from mellow and blue to fun waves to rocky tidepools. We can plan a fun day in the water and you can take home happy memories that will keep you smiling. Find out more about my fun family photography sessions here.