Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum Birthday | Airplane Themed Party

Fun First Birthday Party Idea

Over the years I’ve noticed that my clients seem to fall into one of two camps – the planners and the spontaneous. I’ve even had people tell me they were flying out the next morning and ask if I could fit them in for a family photo session that afternoon. That’s a bit stressful, but at the same time, I kind of love it. Usually, these families didn’t plan to have photos taken, but their trip has been so amazing that they want to take home a beautiful souvenir from their time together in Hawaii

On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve had planners scheduling their sessions over a year in advance. In some cases, that’s driven by necessity. Some of the best birthday party locations on Oahu book early. So much that if you are planning a first birthday luau, you may need to make arrangements when you’re still pregnant.

Laura contacted me about her son’s first birthday party. We tossed around different location options – inside vs. outside, a restaurant, the zoo. None seemed to fit until she stumbled across a post about the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum. Yes, an airplane-themed birthday party would be perfect!

Watch Ethan’s first birthday film by clicking play above.

Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum – All to Yourself

Evening sunlight dappled the tarmac when I arrived at the museum in Pearl Harbor. An evening party was a bit of a risk for a one-year-old but a solid nap would hopefully give him enough energy to make it through.

We took a few quick photos of the birthday boy donning a stylish bomber jacket and aviators before heading inside. Indoors, the museum was bustling with activity. A crew was stationed at the entrance handing out flight badges and activity bags.

Meanwhile, Baby Ethan sat quietly in his tiny airplane. Normally shy and reserved around crowds his parents weren’t sure how he would react to the festivities, but he was ready for his grand entrance. His face glowed with excitement and he flashed smiles at everyone in his vicinity.

Finally, it was time. A hush fell over the group as “Flight attendants” welcomed the crowd and announced his arrival. Chubby feet propelled him along the twisting hallway past historic photos of Hawaii and into the big room where he was met with raucous applause. He wasn’t afraid. Instead, he stood tall and waved to the crowd before him which erupted into laughter.

Airplane-themed Fun

Bright balloons and ribbon brought life to the stoic airplanes lining the museum floor. Tables were thoughtfully set with everything from personalized passports and geography games to tiny luggage. Decadent desserts wait tantalizingly on tables nearby.

But, first there were games. The bold (or strong-stomached) jumped into flight simulators to test their skills. Others decorated paper airplanes or made faces in the photo booth. Everyone trained for the big event – a paper airplane contest.

Through all the commotion, baby Ethan smiled and pumped his fist excitedly. He joined the games and partied with rest of them as if he knew it was his big day.

See a sample of their photos from the Pacific Aviation Museum below –

pearl harbor aviation museum hangar
family portrait at Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum Birthday
toddler with a bomber jacket in an airplane for his first birthday party
toddler wearing aviators for his first birthday party
pearl harbor aviation museum
pearl harbor aviation museum birthday party
pearl harbor aviation museum birthday party
first birthday party at pearl harbor aviation museum
airplane themed first birthday party
airplane themed birthday party cake
playing games at a first birthday at pearl harbor aviation museum
hots dressed as flight attendants for a first birthday party at pearl harbor aviation museum
making airplanes during a party at pearl harbor aviation museum
first birthday party locations in honolulu
great party locations in honolulu for first birthday celebration
first birthday
making airplanes during a first birthday party
games for a first birthday party at pearl harbor aviation museum
games for a first birthday party at pearl harbor aviation museum
mom and son with an airplane
birthday party decorations at pearl harbor aviation museum
games for a first birthday party at pearl harbor aviation museum
decorations for a first birthday party at pearl harbor aviation museum
airplane-themed birthday party ideas
first birthday party at pearl harbor aviation museum
birthday party
favor boxes after an airplane themed first birthday party in hawaii

Do You Have an Important Birthday Coming Up?

Contact me today to tell me all about your big party. I will capture all the details and fun with photos and video so you can finally relax and enjoy the day.

Family Snorkeling Beaches Oahu | Hawaii Electric Beach Park

Under the Water

After a few fish-filled days at Lanikai Beach, the kids have gotten more confident and more interested in snorkeling. I don’t know if it’s the lower visitation or my imagination but the water has been clearer with more fish than I ever remember seeing. Sadly, low wind days suitable for snorkeling are rare on the windward side. On one restless summer day, we headed west to Electric Beach.

Hawaiian monk seals lounge at Family Snorkeling Beaches Oahu

Snorkeling on the Sunny West Side of Oahu

The west side of Oahu tends to be less windy and sunnier than the north and windward sides of the island. In summer, the waves are subdued making it prime snorkeling weather. Although Kahe Point Beach Park is the typical snorkeling destination in the area, crowds and big surf led us to quieter, unassuming Electric Beach. Just a note – Kahe Point is often referred to as Electric Beach but they are separate, adjacent beaches.

Electric Beach is named for the Hawaii Electric plant located directly behind the beach. Constant road noise and smoke billowing from the plant are at odds with the idyllic ocean scene just across the road. To punctuate the sentiment, an oversized truck rattled by as two fat Hawaiian monk seals chose that moment to haul out onto the empty beach.

A Morning at Electric Beach

Waves breaking on the shore encouraged the kids to grab an abandoned bodyboard and play. When it got too warm we all donned snorkel gear and entered the cool underwater world. A toothy eel watched us cautiously before slipping out of sight. We saw a variety of fish including some species (boxfish, lei and lagoon triggerfish, and more) I rarely see in windward waters.

Real beauty comes when you swim further offshore. There you can find abundant coral and fish in a beautiful underwater garden. We made the kids stay closer to shore because a mix of offshore winds and currents were pulling us away from shore. Beware of conditions and your abilities before heading out. Check out this Snorkel safety guide if you’re unsure.

boy playing in the surf at electric beach oahu
waves crashing at electric beach in oahu
closeup of girl snorkeling at electric beach in oahu, hawaii
girl snorkeling at good family snorkeling beach oahu
kids playing in the shallows of electric beach oahu
view of electric beach in oahu from the water

A Mellow Alternative

If the surf is up, head to nearby Paradise Cove – the most natural and least resort-like of the Koolina lagoons or mellow, family-friendly Pokai Beach Park.

For more ideas of Oahu family fun, sign up for the Little Bird Post below and keep exploring!

Oahu Family Photography and Films | Joys of the Ocean

Going for the Record

My 3-year-old niece screamed in protest. A look of pure terror washed over her face before she dissolved in a puddle of hysterical sobs. All this because my sister walked too close to the water. I looked out at the seemingly benign expanse of blue ocean as it lapped gently at the shore and wondered about her fears. Why does the ocean foster such great passion both in favor of and against? Even babies seem to have strong opinions on the matter.

Debbie and her family fall on the opposite end of the spectrum. From youngest to oldest they are undoubtedly a water-loving family. In fact, they love it so much that they set a record for how fast an entire family was drenched during a family photo session. Just minutes into their session the oldest approached the water. I was unpacking my gear as he tested the waves gingerly with his toe and when I looked back he was completely soaked. Rivulets of water streamed down his polo and face reflected a combination of mischief and joy. As if he thought it was completely worth it.

No one yelled or screamed. They simply shrugged their shoulders and joined him in the shallows to play in the waves and look for treasure. The morning unfolded gently as curiousity and joy drove the session.

A Tropical Ending

We were spending a clear morning at Paradise Cove Beach. The gentle water was perfect for the baby and the tidepools and rocky outcrop created enough adventure to keep the older boys happy. So happy, in fact, that they didn’t want to leave the water.

We ended the session in a burst of energy. The grabbed intertubes, nets, and goggles and jumped fully into the ocean on a mission to catch a fish. Although their attempts were unsuccessful, they had the best time trying. And with the baby fast asleep on the sand, we decided to end the morning, but they made plans to come back the very next day.

You can watch their sweet family film below.

And see a sample of their family photos here –

family walks out to paradise cove beach just after sunrise
mom and toddler daughter portrait of her first time at the beach in hawaii
Family hug at paradise cove beach during a family photo session in hawaii
boy jumping in the shallows during a family photoshoot in oahu
mom and baby snuggle during a morning photoshoot at the beach
dad and son play in the sand at paradise cove koolina as the sun starts to rise
mom and son share a hug in a hawaii tidepool during a family photoshoot
toddler gives dad love during a beach photoshoot by little bird photography and films
dad plays with sons at a beach in family-friendly beach in oahu
family plays in the shallows of paradise cove beach
closeup of mom snuggling toddler daughter during a beach photography session in koolina lagoon
brothers explore the rocky intertidal area during a family photo shoot in hawaii
boy enjoying hugs from mom at koolina beach during a family photo shoot
family hug during a portrait session in hawaii
mom and sons enjoying a beautiful beach morning at koolina
over under portrait of boys fishing in koolina lagoon oahu
underwater portrait of a boy with a net and needlefish at koolinas paradise cove
boy having fun in a rainbow intertube during a family photo session in koolina oahu
boys playing in the shallows at paradise cove a kid-friendly beach in hawaii
over under shot of a boy in an intertube splashed by his brother Oahu Family Photography and Films

Do Your Children Love to Play in the Water?

No need to keep them dry. I’m happy to recommend great options for different levels of adventure or even suggest some tricky spots that keep kids dry for part of the session before turning them loose in the water. Learn more about booking your own fun family photo and film session here.

Horseback Riding Oahu | Family Adventure at Gunstock Ranch

Too Much Paradise?

It feels wrong to complain when a beautiful beach is within walking distance from home. The beach has been a source of much joy, but our family is getting a bit stir crazy. With everyone at home in cramped quarters, the noise becomes overbearing. The sound of piano, movies, and video chatting with friends competes with the incessant buzz of traffic, leaf blowers, and construction.

I catch myself daydreaming of mountains and open spaces. Even though we live on a tiny, crowded island there are still places that feel far away. Gunstock Ranch is one of those places.

We took advantage of the Gunstock Ranch kamaaina deals and set out for a sunset horseback riding tour. The kids both spent a week at horse camp this summer and are smitten with horses. Without summer camp at the YMCA this year, no travel, and limited interactions with friends planning special days like this have kept up their spirits.

gunstock ranch kamaaina deals

An Evening at the Ranch

We arrived a little early to spend time at the free petting zoo. The kids had been cranky and bickering all day, but animals make everything better and they immediately began naming each of the goats and sheep in the pen. One lamb, christened “Cow” was especially cuddly and Mila made plans to sneak her into the car to take home.

As our departure time drew nearer, the kids wriggled with excitement and introduced themselves to their trail horses. Finally, it was time and they mounted with glee. With straight backs and impeccable posture, they rode over the hills with an intense mixture of concentration and delight. As we wove through tree-lined trails past long-horned cows and wild pigs, they talked incessantly to our very patient and kind trail guide. At the summit, we took in the big views and cool breezes before making our way back. An hour and a half on horseback was enough to make our legs wobbly and satisfy our need to be far away.

petting a lamb at the gunstock ranch petting zoo
enjoying the petting zoo at gunstock ranch
a ram at the petting zoo at gunstock ranch in oahu
horses saddled at the gunstock ranch for their sunset trail ride
boy petting a horse before horseback riding lesson at gunstock ranch
girl petting a lamb at the gunstock petting zoo oahu
horse peeks out from the watering hole sign before horseback ride on the north shore
begging of the trail ride
horses set off for a sunset horseback ride on the north shore of oahu
boy riding western style at gunstock ranch
a group heads out for a horseback trail ride at gunstock ranch oahu
horse pasture in oahu
longhorn bull watches horseback trail ride pass in hawaii
view along the horseback trail ride in oahu hawaii
fun family activities on oahu
longhorn bulls in a clearing
stormy sky over gunstock ranch in oahu
family horseback trail ride oahu hawaii

Looking for More Ideas for Family Fun on Oahu?

If you’re looking for more places where you can feel far away and enjoy solitude, head to Makua Beach on the Leeward Coast or grab a kayak and play in the middle of Kaneohe Bay. For more tips on Oahu family fun, sign up for the Little Bird Post below.

Hawaii Family Adventure Session | A Perfect Evening in Laie

A Final Photo Session

It would be my last family photo session, although I didn’t know it at the time. It was early March and news of the coronavirus was escalating quickly. Campaigns on handwashing and “shakas not handshakes” had just begun to circulate and visions of our own upcoming travels still danced in our heads.

It turns out Melissa had great timing. Her family of 7 was at the tail end of a whirlwind, multi-island vacation. They had been hiking and snorkeling, ziplining and boating. She wanted to finish their epic trip with one of my adventure photo sessions. She said they were up for anything including playing in the water. The older kids had taken a surf lesson in Waikiki the other day and were excited about waves. Since they were staying on the north shore, I had the perfect place – Laie Beach Park.

portrait of a girl with her family behind her

Hawaii Family Adventure Session for a Perfect Afternoon

The parking lot was buzzing with activity when I arrived. As usual, the warm, clear afternoon had attracted crowds of beach-lovers. Fortunately, a favorite little spot of mine tucked under a canopy of trees was vacant. We made our way to the shade and started with some games as a warm-up. I noticed the kids looking longingly at the rope swing and perfect climbing trees nearby. “Can we climb?” they asked. “Of course!” Seconds later the tree was filled with the entire family, nimbly making their way from limb to limb and exiting via rope swing. They were fearless and competitive but kind, looking out for one another, making space, and offering words of encouragement.

The thing about large families is there is always something interesting to photograph. Every direction I turned was a photo opp – kids in trees, building forts, jousting, and giving spontaneous hugs. I spun about trying to keep up and capture it all.

As the crowds began to dwindle, we moved down the beach, ready for our turn in the cool blue water. The oldest kids had been eyeing the bodyboards I brought and were eagerly waiting for this moment. Into the waves they charged, unafraid of their size and intensity. Each large foamy wave crested and crashed around the bodyboarders shooting them to the shore. We continued like this long after the sun had set and the beach had emptied. It was a memorable way to end their trip and a perfect last photo session.

family portraits at laie beach park with evening sunshine
portrait of a girl in hawaii with sunflare
dad and daughter portrait during a fun photography session by little bird
boy climbing a tree with a rope swing in hawaii
family of 7 in laie looking out at the ocean view during a portrait session
portrait of a boy at laie beach park
brothers playing on a rope swing
boy climbing a tree in the jungle like laie beach park in oahu during a photoshoot
sisters play together during a hawaii family photo session by little bird photography
mom tickles daughter during a beach photoshoot at laie beach park
family exploring the beach park in laie
portrait of a girl with wind blown hair
brothers portrait at the beach in black and white
girl playing in the water at sunset
dad hanging from a tree during a fun photo session in hawaii
girl building a driftwood fort on the beach in hawaii during a photo session
twin brothers wrestle during a family photography session in oahu
mom and daughter cuddle and laugh during a family portrait session at the beach in laie
parents holding son on their shoulder during a photoshoot
girl in a tree watches her brothers climb another tree in the distance at laie beach park
girl builds a driftwood fort at pounders beach oahu
family sitting close shares a laugh
boy hangs from a rope swing at laie beach park
climbing trees at laie beach park during a Hawaii Family Adventure Session
family of 7 races the waves along the beach at pounders in laie
black and white portrait of a girl snuggling her mom
sisters build sand castles at the beach during a photo shoot in hawaii
brothers bodyboard during a Hawaii Family Adventure Session in oahu
boy body boarding at pounders beach oahu
girl with a body board walking alone down the beach in laie
boy catches a wave into shore on his yellow bodyboard
boy on a wave during a Hawaii Family Adventure Session at pounders beach
girl with a makeshift driftwood slingshot at the beach in hawaii
boy jumps a wave on his bodyboard
dad takes turns throwing his kids in the air during a family photoshoot in oahu
kids take turns on a rope swing during a Hawaii Family Adventure Session photoshoot
little girl standing in the rough waves at laie beach
dad helps kids as they play on a rope swing in laie
mom and daughter play in the surf in laie at sunset during a fun photo session

Do You Have an Energetic, Fun Family?

Bring the fun for a morning adventure! Find out more about my fun family photography sessions here.

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