Oahu Christmas Tree Hunt | A Hawaii Family Tradition

Christmas on Oahu

Now that Thanksgiving has passed, we’re finally getting to the business of Christmas. Living far from family and coming from mixed cultures, we’ve experimented a bit over the years with our own family traditions. Some traditions, like the trolley ride in Honolulu, we’ve outgrown. Others, involving elaborate confectionaries in a humid climate have been abandoned due to repeated failure. Seriously, why is it so hard to make good fudge? Along the way, we discovered our shared favorite tradition – the great Oahu Christmas tree hunt.

Watch a video from a visit to the farm here –

A Hawaiian Christmas Tree Farm

The tradition started off low key by trading our boxed Target tree for a live version. Not the bushy, fragrant fir and spruce trees you find in parking lots around Oahu, but the spindly, fast-growing Norfolk Island Pines. The type with so much space between the branches, you could hang a small child. These quirky trees stole our hearts.

I’ve occasionally seen these beauties for sale at Whole Foods, but your best bet is to visit Helemano Farms in Wahiawa for a pick-your-own Christmas tree situation.

The hunt is really the best part. After a long drive to the north shore, the kids stretch their legs and begin the hunt where they will drag an endlessly cheerful farm worker to and fro in search of “the one”. Weather patterns quickly shift between sunshine and rainfall tattoing bold rainbows on the sky. We end the trip with hot chocolate and candy canes and get excited to decorate our charming new resident.

Into the Forest – Taking it One Step Further

After visiting the Christmas Tree farm for several years, we discovered that we could obtain a free permit from DLNR to cut our very own Norfolk Pine from an approved forest reserve. The first year we were able to visit Peacock Flats which has a decidedly winter feel and is full of prime Christmas tree candidates. An ambitious friend even got permits to scavenge for Cypress and Cook Pine along with the Norfolk and we spent the afternoon happily weaving the branches into Christmas wreaths in the cool mountain air.

The permit method was free and infinitely more fun, but the next years weren’t quite as successful. The access road to Peacock Flats was deemed impassable and we’ve struggled to find a suitable alternative. DLNR guided us to Nuuanu, but we found that most of the trees were packed too tightly or not strong enough to hold ornaments on their spindly branches.

The search becomes more challenging each year, but sometimes we clamp two trees together and call it a win.

Want to Beautifully Capture Your Own Holiday Traditions?

I would be happy to tell your family’s story through photographs and video as a special keepsake. Reach out and tell me your favorite traditions here.

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Kailua Mini Session | All the Last Bits of Fun at Kalama Beach Park

Hold on to the Fun

It was easily their best vacation ever. For two weeks they submersed themselves in island life. A beach rental on Kailua Beach made it easy and they quickly fell into a new daily routine involving vast amounts of salt, sand, and sunshine. The boys couldn’t get enough of the beach and even the baby, reluctant at first, had taken to the ocean; charging waves like a bulldozer whenever he had the chance.

But now the end was in sight. Only a few days of their tropical Hawaiian vacation remained and they were missing island life already. A photo session, they decided! The perfect way to hold on to their magical trip.

About the Kailua Mini Session

Since they were staying in Kailua within walking distance to Kalama Beach Park it felt like a natural choice for their session. I joined them on a weekday afternoon beautiful enough to draw large crowds. The boys were in high spirits and full of energy. To keep them dry – for at least part of their session – we hung back and played in the park. They were happy to climb trees and run laps around the lawn but were careful to check in on their baby brother to remove leaves from his curious mouth and give him words of encouragement.

As the temperatures began to cool and beach crowds dispersed, we followed the sound of the ocean to Kailua Beach. The surf was up and waves were crashing with salty fury on the shore. By this time, the boys were expert beach-goers and were happy to spend the rest of the evening jumping and racing waves. A great end to a great trip.

family portrait at kalama beach kailua
siblings snuggle during a family photo session in hawaii by little bird photography
dad hugging his sons at kalama beach park in kailua during a family photoshoot
portrait of brothers on the ground taken from above
baby crawling away on the grass during a photo session
portrait of a boy at kalama beach park
family playing at kailua beach in oahu
dad and son playing at the beach
boy leaping at kailua beach park
fun family portraits with dad at the beach
couples portrait at kailua beach park

Want to Capture Your Best Moments with Your Favorite People?

Photo sessions don’t have to be painful. Let’s visit your favorite place or we can explore somewhere new for a day filled with laughter and sunshine. Find out more about my adventure family photography sessions here or if you need something short and sweet you can reach me here.

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Honolulu Photographer | A Family Group on Vacation in Ko’olina

Paradise for a Honolulu Photographer

Her perfect blond ringlets bounced in the sun as we walked down the long, sandy path to a favorite beach, Paradise Cove Beach in Koolina. Here, the sun always seems to be shining with a light breeze rustling palm trees overhead. The water is calm and filled with colorful delights from curious sea turtles to bright butterflyfish. It’s a beginner beach; perfect for wave wary babies and toddlers and an ideal ocean playground.

An Ideal Baby Beach

The girls were shy at first. Independently, they explored their surroundings in the cool light of sunrise. At first, they weren’t particularly excited about this early morning adventure but soon they got caught up in our games and forgot to worry. Further, into the water, they ventured to splash and laugh among the tiny waves until they were fully submerged.

fun family portrait with palm trees in hawaii
portrait of a toddler girl with long lashed from above
landscape with mom and daughter splashing in the shallows at koolina
mom tickling toddler daughter at the beach during a fun family photo shoot
couples portrait at the beach in koolina oahu
mom and daughter at the beach
black and white portrait of sisters at the beach
dad tossing daughter in the air with palm trees behind
family sharing a laugh at the beach during a portrait session
baby splashing in the shallows in hawaii by honolulu photographer
couples portrait at koolina lagoon in hawaii
toddler with blond ringlets at the beach in hawaii
girl standing in shallow water at a beach in hawaii with reflection

Safety in Numbers. The Joys of an Extended Family Vacation

Traveling to Hawaii with extended family. The rest of the group jumped in near the end of the photography session for quick photos and some cousin beach fun. The boys stopped abruptly mid-water fight to gawk open-mouthed at the sea. Their tiny faces flickered between delight and terror and they stood together motionless. And then we saw them. Three curious sea turtles cruising around the cove gobbling up bits of algae. In the end, curiosity won them over and they laughed as the turtles glided effortlessly around their toes. When the desire to splash and run became too strong, they were off to explore a new part of the beach.

family portraits at the beach
dad and son portrait at the beach by little bird photography
oahu family portrait at koolina lagoons by honolulu photographer
black and white landscape with boys running in the water at paradise cove in oahu, hawaii
sea turtle swimming near mom and daughter at paradise cove
boys watching sea turtles at paradise cove in koolina during a family photography session
mom and toddler playing in the shallows during a family photoshoot in koolina
boys laughing and splashing in the water at paradise cove koolina
portrait of a laughing girl playing in the water at koolina
family splashing in the water at paradise cove in koolina oahu

Are You Traveling to Hawaii with Extended Family?

It can be hard to wrangle a large family group, but the payoff is worth it. Family photos just may be the best grandparent present ever. We can keep it simple and stay close or we head off on an adventure. Take advantage of your time together with an easy, laid-back family photo session.

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Hawaii Family Photos at Waimanalo Beach| Moving Day

Goodbye Hawaii

In the midst of packing to move overseas, Dennis and his family realized they wanted family photos. They needed them. Only two more weeks remained in a home they loved. Soon there would be no more warm evenings at the beach with the girls jumping waves and building sandcastles. They didn’t want to forget how tightly the girls clung to their hands as they stood by the shore. Or how their sandy faces lit up as they chased the surf back and forth endlessly. And so, in the mire of cardboard boxes and moving checklists, they reached out for a family photo session.

Hawaii Family Photos For the Win

And so we set out for one last beach day. One last big celebration of Hawaii in all its tropical magic. We lucked out with the weather and pulled into the parking lot of Sherwood Beach on a clear evening. Crowds of beach revelers were also enjoying the great weater so we ducked into the forest.

The girls were shy and reluctant at first, barely lifting their eyes to the new stranger. However, after a few games, they couldn’t help themselves. Quiet giggles quickly escalated into big belly laughs and they were fully absorbed in the joys of a family beach day.

We laughed and played under the golden light of the forest and as the summer heat became more bearable, we traded the shade of the forest for sand feet. Waves crashed dramatically on the sloped shore sending the girls running for cover. They squealed with delight and ventured further and further offshore. We stayed until the sky turned pink and the air began to cool. It was a perfect beach day.

family walking in sherwood forest in waimanalo oahu
mom and her girls during a hawaii family photo shoot
mom swinging daughter in the forest while laughing
toddler girl in the forest with mom in the background by little bird photography
mom swinging laughing daughter during a family photoshoot in oahu
closeup portrait of a toddler exploring the forest at sherwoods in waimanalo oahu
dad holding daughter in the air at sherwood beach in waimanalo
mom hugging daughter during a family portrait session at sherwood beach
toddler daughter dances on moms feet during a family photo session at sherwoods by little bird photography
couple laughing at waimanalo beach
mom and daughter share a moment during a family photoshoot
sisters hugging during a family photo session in oahu
girl ding a happy dance at waimanalo beach
little girl with big slippers on the beach
sisters hugging on the beach
dad throwing daughter in the air at sunset during a family photo session in oahu
hawaii family photos at waimanalo beach oahu

Does Your Time In Hawaii Have an Expiration Date?

Let’s make the most of it and plan a fun family evening to remember! Hawaii family photos don’t have to be painful. Find out more about my fun family photography sessions here.

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Hawaii Lifestyle Films and Photography | Journey to the End of the World

A Long Journey

Sweden is nearly at the opposite end of the world from Hawaii. Not only in distance but in terms of weather and culture. But that was part of the appeal. Jenni was planning an epic, multi-destination family trip and decided that Hawaii would be the ultimate final destination. And what better way to document their journey and this stage of their lives than with family photos and a film? The ultimate souvenir.

They wanted something mellow, beautiful and infused with a bit of adventure so they put me in charge of planning. We started with sunrise at serenely beautiful Lanikai Beach and finished with an easy family hike to a nearby waterfall for a contrasting splash of green.

The Perfect Weather for a Photo Session

Although I don’t have a favorite beach for photo sessions, I do have favorite weather. The most stunning on the windward side are those rare ones without wind. I might curse those calm, muggy days at midday, but at sunrise, it’s perfection. Without tiny wavelets rippling the oceans surface, the water sparkles and dances. The girls were happy to play and dance alongside it. When it got too warm, we simply jumped in. The girls took to the beach life immediately. Both delighted at the warm water and sand and played until they couldn’t keep their eyes open.

A Short Waterfall Hike

After lunch and a nap we met again in the afternoon for a dramatically different backdrop. This time we headed mauka and into the forest for a short waterfall hike. Quietly, we explored mossy tree limbs and dangling vines. We were alone save for unseen shama birds filling the trees with their song. As our grand finale, we splashed under the waterfall.

Watch their Hawaii Lifestyle Family Film here.

See a Sample of their Image Gallery here.

a sunrise family photo session at lanikai beach in kailua
mom kissing baby at the beach
sisters dancing at lanikai beach during a sunrise family photo session
family out of focus in shimmering light of sunrise
mom and daughters at lanikai beach at sunrise
family lounging with views of the koolau mountains behind
mom holding baby by the hand
baby learning to walk at lanikai beach oahu during a photoshoot by little bird photography
family hug at the beach
family playing in the water at lanikai beach during a family photography session
dad and baby at lanikai beach during a family photo session
dad and daughter swimming in calm water at lanikai beach

to likeke falls

family hike in windward oahu
baby in a carrier on a family hike in oahu hawaii
baby at likeke falls in oahu
family at likeke waterfall hike in oahu

Do You Have an Adventurous Family?

I like to play travel guide and match families to great locations so they can simply play and explore. What type of adventure are you up for? Find out more about my fun family photos and films here.