Secret Beach Koolina Family Photographer | Waiting in Paradise

Dangerous Marine Life Spotted

My go-to spot for photo sessions in the Koolina area is Paradise Cove. However, on this particular morning, the public parking lot was roped off with a curious sign that read “Dangerous marine life spotted in this area.” Dangerous marine life? My mind reeled. What on earth could it be? Visions of sea snakes, toothy eels, and hungry fish raced through my mind. None of it made sense. In fact, I’ve only heard of beaches closing after a shark attack or maybe a heavy jellyfish inundation. Neither of which were plausible at paradise cove. I had a feeling what this dangerous sea creature might be, but I had to know for sure.

Fortunately, I was early for my session. I found alternate parking and ran back to the cove to investigate. As the familiar path opened to reveal the beach it was just as I suspected, the dangerous creature in question was sunning herself in a lazy heap on the sand. She stretched and rolled slightly revealing a small bundle of fuzz beneath. It was an endangered Hawaiian monk seal and her newborn pup. Not exactly scary, but a special and delicate event. I walked over to talk to the seal team who beamed with pride. This pup was the first born in Koolina in over 20 years. These volunteers make daily forays around the island to locate and protect endangered monk seals in need of a rest.

Not So Secret Beach

The new life around us felt like a fitting backdrop for a maternity photoshoot. We quickly changed plans and met at nearby Secret Beach. Of course, Secret Beach isn’t really a secret. How could it be when it’s surrounded by towering resorts and well, nothing can hide from the internet. Ahem. But it’s small and wild and tucked out of the way making it feel special and lovely. It was an ideal spot to meet up with one of my favorite families. Each time we meet they exude patience, curiosity, and humor. They are unphased by toddler meltdowns, mosquitoes, or anything the day throws at them. They simply laugh and hold on to each other a little bit tighter. I always leave their sessions feeling the world is a bit brighter.

secret beach koolina family photographer
maternity portrait at secret beach koolina oahu
family portraits at secret beach in oahu hawaii
boy holding a crab during a photoshoot in hawaii
dad and son share a laugh during a family photo session by little bird photography + films
family portrait at secret beach on oahu
maternity portraits at secret beach in koolina oahu

What Does Your Perfect Day Look Like?

Let’s plan an easy day where you have the time and space to enjoy your favorite people and make sunny memories. Find out more about my Hawaii family photography and film sessions here.

Sunrise Family Portraits on Oahu | A Day to Remember

A Day to Remember

The twins were celebrating their eighth birthday. It was one of many reasons for their trip to Hawaii. They would start with photos at sunrise and then head deep into Kualoa Valley to fly down ziplines with Jurassic Park vistas. You can almost feel the dinosaurs hiding behind the trees or about to crest a distant hill. The kids were excited and full of energy about the day’s plans, but first photos. It had been a difficult year and Lillian wanted to start the day with a short photo session to pause for moments of reflection and connection. It was a way to celebrate life.

Morning at Kuoaloa Beach Park

They made the long drive from Aulani Resort in Koolina to play under the verdant Kualoa mountain range. Kualoa means “long, large back”. A reference to the mountain’s resemblance to the back of a giant lizard. Legend has it that Hi’iaka, sister to Pele the fire goddess, was chased by this large lizard or mo’o as she passed through the area one day. She killed him in a great battle, chopped off his tail, and threw it into the ocean where it is still seen today as Mokoli’i Island or Chinaman’s Hat.

Mokoli’i Island was immediately evident as we entered Kualoa Regional Park. A layer of fluffy clouds stubbornly surrounded the island. No wind stirred to move them creating a soft, contemplative mood. The mood was quickly disrupted by fits of laughter, as you should expect from any good family photo session. After all, eight is an age for making crazy faces and telling bad jokes. It’s the age you perfect the art of the eye roll in the face of all those bad jokes. Fortunately, it’s not all silliness and wild energy. There are still hugs and cuddles in abundance.

family watching the sun rise over the beach during Sunrise Family Portraits on Oahu
mom and daughter hug at sunrise in oahu during a beach photoshoot by little bird photography
mom and daughter portrait at sunrise with mountains behind at kualoa beach in oahu
portrait of a boy laughing
a couple snuggles at sunrise with chinaman's hat behind
portrait of a girl at sunrise at kualoa park in oahu
twin siblings play along the shore at sunrise during a hawaii family photo session
daughter hugging her dad during a family photo session in hawaii
family playing along the shore at kualoa regional park in oahu
mom and twins sharing a laugh during a family photoshoot at kualoa beach
family portrait with mountains behind at kualoa park
portrait of a mom and son being silly during a beach photo session

Do You Have a Big Reason to Celebrate?

Let’s plan a fun morning to capture beautiful images so you can make your memories last. Find out more about my fun family photography and film sessions here.

Ko olina Lagoon Photographer | The Best Kind of Swimming Pool

The Trials + Tribulations of Family Photography

My images showcase happy families playing, exploring and loving one another. And yet, I don’t want to give you the impression that all family photography sessions are butterflies and rainbows. The little people in our lives are fickle creatures, especially when traveling and in a new environment. These sensitive souls may show their unease with clinging hugs, fat tears, or flat out disagreement. But that’s okay. With a few extra hugs and a bit (a lot) of patience, we can find our way back to happy.

Pinky knows the drill. It was the third time I had the opportunity to photograph her beautiful family. Each time we had to overcome a few tears to reach unfettered joy. That’s why my sessions are a bit longer. I want to give your family the space it needs to connect and play.

A Little Bit of Paradise

Paradise Cove is such a great beach for babies and toddlers. The entry is shallow and the surrounding reef buffers big waves leaving calm, clear waters to explore. The tide pools are an added delight as tiny fingers can examine hermit crabs up close and search for camouflaged fish. The cove is small which is a nice way to keep kids contained, but challenging for photo sessions. We started just after sunrise when the beach is normally empty. However, on this particular morning, several jet-lagged families were scattered around the cove. High tide added to the trouble leaving us constrained to a small space near the water’s edge. The kids couldn’t be distracted. They looked at the water longingly and even tried to make some sneaky moves around legs to get to it. Being so close, but not allowed in was torture.

And so we relented. Everyone changed into swimsuits and the mood dramatically shifted. Now it wasn’t a photo session, it was a beach day. There was nothing to protest, only fun to be had. After an hour or so, the crowds dissipated and we had the cove to ourselves. We even saw a sea turtle before home.

dad and toddler at koolina beach
mom and daughter at the beach in hawaii
toddler portrait at the beach in ko olina oahu
beautiful family playing at the beach during a portrait session
boy playing in the sand in hawaii
mom hugging daughter in the water in hawaii bnw portrait
dad leading kids into the shallow blue waters in hawaii
fun family photograph in the water at ko olina lagoon in hawaii
family portrait at paradise cove with a palm tree shadow
a family plays at paradise beach in hawaii on a sunny day
a fun family portrait taken in the water at Paradise Cove in Hawaii
daughter snuggling mom at the beach during a fun family photo session
girl yelling in joy while wearing rainbow sunglasses at the beach
baby and dad in the clear waters of paradise cove ko olina
family portrait session in hawaii with a ko olina family photographer
mom and baby in the water at paradise cove by little bird photography

Do You Have a Beach-Loving Family?

If you have a fun, water-loving family there’s no need for static family portraits on the beach. You can jump in, play, explore and enjoy a great day with your family and take home beautiful images. Find out more about my fun family photography sessions here.

Sunrise Photo Session | Energy and Light at Laie Beach Park

A Sunrise Photo Session at a Favorite Location

As I wound my way up the windward coast, I could tell it was going to be spectacular. Although it was a full half-hour until sunrise, the horizon was already glowing a deep red-orange. I don’t like driving. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that I h ate driving. Oh, but that coastal road that winds through sleepy neighborhoods with intermittent glimpses of the ocean is a different story. It’s like a sneak peek of the coming attraction and it’s just lovely.

A northwest swell was creating the first wave action the coast had seen in weeks. Salt spray hovered at the edges of the shoreline because the wind was too lazy to whisk it away. It was a beautiful morning for photos, but it was going to be hot. As I pulled into the empty parking lot, a resounding boom filled the space. Welcome to Pounders Beach in Laie.

About the Session

At nine and seven-years-old, the boys are at wonderful ages for a photo session. They’re equal parts curious, mischievous, and snuggly, but the latter was on the decline. They’re approaching that border of adolescence. In a few short years, mom and dad will be (gently) pushed aside as they seek their independence. I made sure to capture every snuggle and every handhold I could because those moments will become priceless.

Of course, the boys didn’t know any of this. They simply enjoyed a morning at the beach with their family. It was full of tree swings and wave jumping and left them with beautiful memories of Hawaii.

family walking at laie beach at sunrise
mom hugging her son on the beach during a family photo session
sunrise photo session for a family in hawaii
little boy hugging his mom during a family beach photoshoot
mom and son sitting on a tree with reflections in the clear water during a hawaii family photo session
portrait of a boy at laie beach park
mom sharing a laugh with her two sons
mom pushing her son on a tree swing in hawaii during a family photography session
mom kisses her son as he plays on a tree swing in hawaii
brothers running on the beach in hawaii
mom and son playing in the surf in oahu at laie beach park during a photo session
mom chasing son on the beach
boy plays in the surf in hawaii
boy playing in the surf at laie beach park oahu by little bird photography
couple cuddles with waves splashing against cliffs in the background at pounders beach in laie

Photos are the Best Kind of Souvenir

Make the most of your family vacation. I’ll match you with a great location where you can play, explore, and make memories under the tropical sun. You’ll take home beautiful images so you can surround yourself with warm memories all year long. Find out more about my family adventure photography sessions here.

4 Fun Oahu Family Activities for Rainy Days – Don’t Despair!

Driving rain and wind gusts have kept us cooped inside the house for days. People are wearing pants outside, sweaters even. That’s how you know it’s winter in Hawaii. But I know, I’m not allowed to complain. In fact, a client from Minnesota scoffed at me the other day when I mentioned the chilly, gloomy weather and said, “Oh, you’ll survive”.

Although long stretches of rain can be annoying for locals, if you’re visiting the islands on a family vacation, it can feel devastating. Your vision of a tropical vacation destroyed. But fear not. There’s still fun to be had. Below you will find four fun Oahu family activities for rainy days to keep everyone happy.

storm clouds at sunset in hawaii

Seek the Sunshine

Sometimes all it takes to find some sun is to wait a while. Hawaii’s weather changes quickly and showers often pass in a flash. If you’re lucky, the rain will leave rainbows in its wake. However, if the clouds are stubbornly staying put, you may need to drive to another part of the island in search of the sun. Waikiki on the south shore and Ko Olina on the leeward side have the driest climates and are your best bets for finding pockets of tropical warmth.

Dark Sky is a great app for hyperlocal weather information with down-to-the-minute forecasts for your exact location. It can be eerily accurate and help you decide to wait out a rain squall or seek a sunnier spot.  

seeking the sun at koolina lagoons in oahu

Embrace the Water

Light or intermittent rain is perfectly fine hiking weather and it adds a little extra adventure. After all, that’s when waterfalls like to show off. For a family-friendly hike visit Manoa Falls. Skip the hike if it’s been pouring all day as flash floods can be a concern.

Explore marine life while staying dry with a visit to the Waikiki Aquarium. The small but charming aquarium is home to fish, giant clams, coral, jellyfish, and Hawaiian monk seals. Plan to spend an hour or two at most.

If you’re up for a drive, Interstate H-3 is a must. The highway takes through the Koolau Mountain Range where waterfalls spill from every crack and crevice. Keep an eye out for the Haiku stairs – an impressive staircase to the summit that clings to impossibly steep cliffs (currently a closed hike).

If you were planning to swim anyway, you might as well head to the beach and play in the waves. You just might have the beach all to yourselves. Avoid swimming near stream mouths after heavy rains. Brown water from runoff often indicates a high bacterial load.

Oahu Family Activities for Rainy Days

Experience Culture

Visiting museums is a great way to get to know the island’s history while avoiding the rain and you have three great options.

The Honolulu Museum of Art is the largest fine arts museum in the state, focusing on Asian Art and American and European works. View over 50,000 pieces, spanning over 500 years of art in their permanent collection. Admission is free every first Wednesday of the month but the best time to visit is every third Sunday of the month for Bank of Hawaii Family Sundays when they offer free crafts and activities.

Bishop Museum is a family favorite and offers something for everyone. Their Hawaiian Hall is a treasure trove of Hawaiian history, culture, and artifacts. The Planetarium programs are excellent and kids will especially enjoy the interactive exhibits in the Science Adventure Center.

Airplane lovers and history buffs will enjoy a day at the Pacific Aviation Museum. Occupying two seaplane hangars on the historic Ford Island, which survived the December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor. The 1930s era hangar exhibits vintage aircraft and artifacts from World War II. Self-guided audio tours and docent-led aviator and B-17E Swamp Ghost tours are available.

rainy day family activity at the honolulu museum of art in oahu

Visit Ala Moana Mall

I wouldn’t normally add shopping as a family-friendly activity, but Ala Moana Mall is an exception. A visit might include some kid-friendly shops like the Lego or Disney stores followed by a hula show on the center stage and a visit to the arcade. Dessert opportunities abound so save room to try something different. Make sure to look for the Shirokiya Japan Village Walk on the ground floor for a taste of Japan. There are 32 food stalls serving everything from musubi and pasta to yakisoba and bubble drinks. When you’re full, browse the surrounding stalls for collectible toys and adorable stationery and end with a visit to the rows of toy capsule vending machines.

visit to ala moana mall for a rainy day family activity in oahu

Looking for more family-friendly activities on Oahu? Sign up for the Little Bird Post below.

[email protected]

tel : 808.783.3602

Serving Oahu + all Hawaiian islands

Sign up for our newsletter