Family Friendly Beaches on Oahu | Kaiona Beach Park, Waimanalo

A Change of Plans

We were supposed to be on an airplane, flying over the Pacific, engrossed in a movie with ample snacks stowed in the seat pocket. Instead, our carefully packed luggage sat by the door at home while we wandered the length of Kaiona Beach Park slightly dazed and lost.

First, there were the wildfires in Australia whose effects were felt in New Zealand and I thought, “I hope things improve by March”. And then the rain came. Torrential affairs that wiped out trails and huts throughout New Zealand’s south island leaving us scrambling to make alternate plans. “I hope things improve by March”, I said. But as the date of our trip came closer, so did the coronavirus. We nervously followed the news trying to figure out what to do and the night before our trip, New Zealand instituted a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all arrivals. We wouldn’t be going to New Zealand after all.

Unsure what to do, we went for a drive with no particular destination in mind. As we drove through Waimanalo, traffic began to slow. A keiki football tournament coupled with weekend traffic was causing a massive traffic jam. We pulled over to escape and found ourselves at Kaiona Beach Park

school of fish in waimanalo with palm trees and mountains behind

One of the Best Family Friendly Beaches on Oahu

It’s been years since we last visited this stretch of beach and I had forgotten just how lovely it is. This is a locals beach with large crowds gathering each weekend to celebrate but relatively few visitors during the week.

The views from this stretch of palm-lined beach are unparalleled. In the distance, Olomana shows off its toothy peaks while turquoise waters stretch to the horizon punctuated by offshore islands.

The gently sloping shoreline and small waves make Kaiona a family-friendly beach. If you have babies and toddlers head just south of the park entrance where you will find Pahonu Pond. This ancient Hawaiian stone enclosure was an active fish pond until a chief transformed it into a turtle pond. In Old Hawaii, turtle meat was considered a delicacy, and only the aliʻi (Hawaiian chiefs and royalty) were allowed to eat it. The enclosure was used as a turtle holding area so they would have easy access to their favorite food.

Today, the pond makes a convenient holding area for different creatures – babies and toddlers. They can easily explore the shallow, sandy-bottomed pool without getting too far away.

On a low wind day, it’s a perfect spot to kayak and snorkel so we returned to do just that.

heading out to paddle in hawaii
kayaking in waimanalo on a beautiful clear day in hawaii
best Family Friendly Beaches in oahu
waimanalo mountain view from the ocean with sunflare
girl kayaks in clear calm water in waimanlao with olomana peaks in the distance
kids taking a break from snorkeling at kaiona beach in waimanalo
brown booby flying overhead in hawaii
mountain view from the water at kaiona beach oahu
taking a paddling break at kaiona beach one of the best Family Friendly Beaches in oahu
family of three paddles in waimanalo with the mountains behind

Looking for More Family Friendly Beaches on Oahu?

Check out nearby Lanikai Beach for more family fun. There are several beautiful, family-friendly activities in this corner of the island. If you want a land option, you can hike up to the Makapuu Lighthouse Trail or Visit nearby Sea Life Park.

If you want more ideas sign up for the Little Bird Post below for monthly updates on family fun around the island.

Family Photographer | Sunrise Over Makapuu

Family Photographer Favorite Time of Day

I stood on the sand dunes taking in the scene. Birds skimmed the surface of the water and a smattering of pink clouds painted the horizon. Sunrise was still 15 minutes away, but it promised to be exceptional. I dug my feet further into the cool sand and mentally located the best patches of sand, the smoothest rocks and the most photogenic tidepools for the morning ahead.

I was excited to meet and photograph Evelyn’s family of three. They were visiting from the Pacific Northwest and were looking for a laid-back experience in nature – a beautiful place to explore and be themselves. Surprisingly, they specifically mentioned a love of plants. As a botanist by training, I couldn’t help feeling that we were kindred spirits.

As an added bonus, they had a toddler. Photo sessions with toddlers are some of my favorites. Yes, the little creatures can be unpredictable and tantrum-prone, but they also explore the world with unbridled joy and enthusiasm. That stuff’s contagious.

About the Session

They pulled into the gravel-studded parking lot at Makapuu Beach Park just as the sun touched the horizon. The rocky coastline at Makapuu is not exactly a botanical paradise, but it’s a scene that stops you in your tracks and demands open-mouthed stares of wonder.

The morning lived up to its promise and we explored the dunes and tidepools under a golden sky. Each rock was carefully overturned. Each puddle tested. All that beauty was balanced with a good dose of goofiness and humor. Laughter rang out over the little beach and the session felt like family. Almost like an advertisement for what a family could be. It was a good morning.

mom and toddler daughter watch sunrise in hawaii during a family photo session by little bird photography
family photographer captures moments of joy for a family on vacation in hawaii
silhouette of a family at makapuu beach
family hug at the beach
family portrait at sunrise over makapuu beach oahu hawaii
dad and daughter joyful portrait during a hawaii beach photo session
mom and toddler beach photo session
mom snuggles close with toddler during a family photo session in hawaii
family walks along the shore at sunrise in oahu at makapuu
family searching tide pools for treasures in hawaii
mom and toddler share a laugh against beautiful hawaii beackdrop
dad and daughter play in the water at makapuu beach with islands in the distance
family plays during a golden sunrise at makapuu during a fun family photo session
toddler grabbing dads hands
family explores tide pools in oahu during a family photo session by little bird photography
family plays at the beach in oahu
mom cuddles toddler daughter in the tide pools in oahu hawaii
family plays at the beach during a photo session in oahu with rabbit island in the backdround
toddler playing in the sand
family shares a laugh at the beach
family snuggles close at the end of a sunrise photo session in hawaii
mom and daughter play pattycakes in the tidepools of makapuu beach in hawaii
dad holds daughter in the air during a hawaii photo session with rabbit island behind

Do You Need Your Own Little Corner of Paradise to Explore?

Let me plan a fun adventure for your family so you can enjoy the day and freeze perfect moments through beautiful photos and films. Find out more about my fun family photography sessions here.

Four Seasons Family Photographer | Relaxation Vacation

Relaxing at the Four Seasons

As much as Adrianne longs for beautiful family photos, they’ve always proven to be a struggle. Her family didn’t fit that static mold. Past attempts to stand still, follow directions and smile always proved disastrous. She reached out because she wanted something different. After all, they are a mellow family and wanted to relax and actually enjoy their vacation. Not stress about photos. She hoped to experience a lovely morning together and capture more personality and love and less stress.

About the Session

To keep things as easy and stress-free as possible, I recommended meeting at Paradise Cove Beach in Koolina. They made the short walk from the Four Seasons to the quiet cove for a morning of possibility.

At first, the kids eyed me warily as if I were about to ruin the promise of beach fun. However, it didn’t take long before they were too absorbed in their own explorations to worry about the strange person with a camera. The baby delighted in all the textures at the beach – the sand, the water, the rocks. She dug her pudgy feet into the sand and grinned with delight. Over time, she became more daring and ventured further into the water. Eventually, she was fully sitting in the water, laughing as waves passed by tickling her neck.

Meanwhile, her brother was engrossed in his own activities. That morning he discovered the joy of skipping rocks. Everyone once in a while we convinced him to take a break to play or cuddle and although these breaks were fun, he was always eager to return to his happy place and skip more rocks.

Before we left, a few sea turtles entered the cove. They swam around our legs hungrily chasing bright green leaves of algae. It was a great way to end the session. No tears, no drama. Just a wonderful little family making memories in a beautiful cove in Hawaii

Click the play button to watch their lifestyle family film –

And see a sample of their family photos here –

Four Seasons Family Photographer photo session
family playing on the beach in hawaii during a family photo session
b&w photo of mom and baby looking for flowers in hawaii
toddler on the beach in hawaii with sun flare
dad throwing sun in the air during a family photo session in paradise cove oahu
mom and baby portrait in hawaii
family exploring paradise cove in koolina hawaii
mom and daughter watching dad and son play in the water during a family photo session.
family cuddling at the edge of the water during a family photo session
mom walking on the beach in hawaii with toddler girl by little bird photography
sea turtle swimming near a family at paradise cove oahu during a family photo session
boy playing in the shallow water of paradise cove in koolina
dad and son playing in the water in hawaii
mom cuddling baby in the blue water of paradise cove lagoon in hawaii
mom and baby portrait in the water of paradise cove in koolina oahu

Want to Capture Your Own Happy Family Moments?

Let’s plan a day that’s perfect for your family. We can head off on an adventure or stay close and keep it easy and mellow. Find out more about my fun family photography and film sessions here.

Family Photos at Lanikai Beach

A Beautiful Lanikai Sunrise

Life under quarantine has shifted our morning routine. I’m not normally a morning person, but one or two sunrise sessions a week kept me on an early morning ritual. But now, with no sessions and no school in sight, we seem to wake up later and later each week; shifting into night owls. If my husband didn’t use our bedroom as a temporary office, mornings would probably stretch into the afternoon.

It’s one of those weird things. I love being at the beach at sunrise, yet I won’t do it unless forced. Us humans are strange that way. If you’re a morning person, maybe you can pull it off. The payoff for early risers is a vivid, ever-changing sky over an empty beach. If you’re lucky you might see seabirds foraging quietly offshore and crabs digging fresh holes for their daytime naps.

Beach Babies

Fortunately, Allison and her family are early risers. Plus, coming from California means they have jet lag in their favor. We made plans to meet before sunrise at Lanikai Beach in Windward Oahu. Not only is it a famously beautiful beach, but it’s also great for kids. She wanted me to capture a little snapshot of their Hawaii family vacation. It was a gift for her parents who they were traveling with and for herself.

Since they live near the beach in California the kids are quite comfortable in the water. As soon as the sand tickled their toes, they knew what to do – dig and splash and chase waves – which they did with great exuberance and joy. The baby tried hard to keep up with her big brother but it’s hard when you’re not very mobile. She crawled through the sand at top speed. Even when she fell behind, she still clapped and cheered wildly for his antics. Actions he rewarded with fat kisses on her baby cheeks.

Big energy comes with a cost and before long the duo were exhausted. Time for a quick nap and the rest of the day was open for more adventures.

mokulua islands at sunrise at lanikai beach oahu
mom holding baby at sunrsei at lanikai beach
big messy family hug during a lanikai family portrait session
boy surprises mom with a big kiss during a sunrise photo session in hawaii
mom and baby portrait at lanikai beach
family portrait at the beach
happy baby
grandparents play with grandbaby at the beach
happy baby on the beach at lanikai
dad and son portrait
family portrait at lanikai beach in kailua
mom and baby cuddle on the beach in hawaii
baby portrait on the beach

Want to Capture a Snapshot of Your Life in This Moment?

Let me plan something fun and painless so you can enjoy a lovely morning together as a family and take home beautiful memories. Contact me to start planning today.

Oahu Child Portraits | A Kawainui Marsh Sunset in Kailua

The Best Compliment

As the golden sky faded to a cool blue and we walked to our respective cars, he called out in an earnest tone, “When can we see you again?” “Soon, I hope” I called out and drove away with a smile on my face. That may be the biggest compliment you can get from a 9-year-old boy.

Portraits ticked off the must do list

Shannon reached out for a family photo session at the end of last year. They are a busy family involved in multiple sports and activities at different schools in different parts of the island. There is a lot to juggle on any given week and the year was rapidly drawing to a close.

They needed to update their annual family portraits, but their regular photographer had just moved off the island. A bit frantic, Shannon reached out for a last-minute session. She wanted something simple and easy that not only captured her children’s (sometimes serious, sometimes goofy) personalities but also fit their hectic schedules.

Since they aren’t a big beach family, we chose something greener and met on a sunny afternoon at Kawai Nui Marsh trail. The kids are about the same age as mine and we had fun talking about their lives and playing silly games.

I sometimes worry about keeping older kids entertained if we’re not doing an activity – catching waves or climbing trees – but the conversation flowed and time passed quickly. Asking if we can meet again really was the best compliment. Hopefully, we can meet again soon for more laughs and another mini session.

portrait of a girl swinging her hair during oahu child portraits session
portrait of a boy
kids play on a tire swing at kaha park in kailua
girl standing on the levy in kailua
portrait at kawainui marsh in kailua by little bird photography
siblings hug at kawainui marsh in kailua during a family photo session
siblings standing on the levy in kailua
siblings share a laugh during a oahu child portraits session in kailua
boy on a tire swing in hawaii
girl walking on the levy with mountains behind during a kailua photography session

Does Your Family Have a Hectic Schedule?

No worries! Let me plan something that fits your needs and keep it simple and fun. Find out more about my fun family and child photography sessions here.

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