Hawaiian sunsets: A cliché worth witnessing (and photographing)

Some moments in life just take your breath away. It sounds so cliché, but there is magic in Hawaiian sunsets. Photographer Catherine Opie said, “The biggest cliché in photography is sunrise and sunset.”

Sunset at Anaehoomalu Bay on the Big Island

Sunset at Anaehoomalu Bay on the Big Island

There’s this legend of the Hawaiian green flash—an optical phenomena of a blast of green that occurs right before or immediately after the sun sets. It’s there and then—poof—it’s gone in a split second or two. Intense. Fleeting. Elusive. I can’t say for certain I’ve seen a green flash, but I could easily spend my days trying. I know it exists.


On a visit earlier this year, we caught the most magical sunset at Anaehoomalu Bay—also known as A Bay—near Waikoloa on the Island of Hawaii. The brilliance of the most amazing purple sky I’ve ever witnessed. Shades of red and blue combined to a purple hue like I had never experienced before.


Then, the sky turned a deep and peaceful red and orange.


Someone lucky enough to be a Hawaiian resident told us that over the course of a year she took a photo of every single sunset. That’s 365 days of ever-changing, magical moments. Long before the days of the iPhone camera, she had the images printed and put them in a book. I can only imagine. She told us that some of the best sunsets happen in August. I think this is a good excuse to plan a late summer visit.

These untouched, no filter (and yes, iPhone) photos show the progression over the evening of that sunset. It started out innocently enough. And then…whoa. By the end of the evening, everyone was trying to capture the moment with cameras. People were giddy. A young girl on the beach asked me to take a photo of the sunset and text it to her. If trying to capture the cliché of a Hawaiian sunset is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

A reminder, once again, that the best things in life are truly free.



Orchid memories

IMG_6110It’s May 1 and we are once again bracing for a winter snow, sleet and slush storm. Yes, another winter storm in spring.

The forecast is for six to nine inches of snow. Yes, it’s May 1 and the tulips and daffodils in the Upper Midwest were just starting to make an appearance. Poor things. So, instead of snow, I’ll dream of orchids.

These photos are from March at the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden. The Garden has a fantastic collection of orchids.


To see orchids in a natural garden setting instead of potted is a thing of beauty—something to hold onto until spring decides to arrive.


Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden

IMG_6089In the Onomea Valley in Papaikou, on the Hilo side of the Big Island, you will find the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, described as a garden in a valley on the ocean. It’s difficult to describe the beauty of this Garden. You must visit to experience this nature preserve and sanctuary. Over the years, we have taken many photos during our visits, so I plan to do a series of posts on this Big Island treasure.

IMG_6100When you visit, you feel as if you are on the edge of the earth. Along the trail you will discover an orchid garden, an anthurium corner, the Onomea waterfalls, a blowhole, an amazing monkey pod tree and so much more. The boardwalk entrance is 500-feet long and you will want to stop and take it in during your time along the 1.25 miles of Garden trails.

The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden was founded by the late Dan Lutkenhouse. His wife and co-founder, Pauline Lutkenhouse, continues to be involved and serves on the organization’s board of directors. There is a plaque when you enter the gardens, which describes the vision, mission and dedication of these two individuals to preserve and create such a beautiful setting and world-class attraction for others to enjoy.

IMG_6118The Garden website describes how they discovered the beauty of Onomea Bay while on a vacation in 1977. For 8 years, Mr. Lutkenhouse would spend the days clearing paths by hand, and cleaning and restoring the property without disturbing the environment. The website history states that all of this was done by hand; no tractors were involved to ensure that tree roots and natural plants were not destroyed. I cannot fathom the work involved in restoring this tropical paradise.

The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden opened to the public in 1984.

A newsletter I picked up on a visit in March of this year describes the founder’s vision that the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden be a self-sufficient entity so that visitors from around the world would be able to enjoy its natural beauty. It is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit entity and the Gardens have never asked for or received government funding of any kind.

IMG_6125The newsletter also reports that they have welcomed 87,000 visitors from across the world in the past year and they have 1,256 members, who help sustain and preserve this treasure. I am always amazed at what can be accomplished by vision, dedication and hard work. To protect Hawaii’s natural beauty is truly something to be admired.

IMG_6134The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden is located about 7 miles north of Hilo off Route 19 off the Scenic Route, two miles down on the left. From Kailua-Kona, the drive is approximately three hours. But, it is a lovely three hours with many interesting stops and sights along the way.