Just in time for our first wedding anniversary, we headed to Hawaii to photograph Emily & Andy - not only for their amazing beach wedding, but we also had the opportunity to shoot their engagement photos in this unreal paradise! Mixing up our normal routine of doing the engagement session six or more months from the big day was a MUST when we found out where these two were tying the knot. Oh, and we were able to sneak in our own little trip as well, but more on that another day!
After our own adventure on O’ahu, we met up with the bride and groom on the ‘Big Island’ (fun fact: this is the one that is actually called ‘the Island of Hawaii’) on Friday before the wedding for their engagement photos.
We had no idea what to expect when we took off on our two hour drive across the island from Kailua-Kona over to Akaka Falls State Park. The highway on this island encircles two massive volcanoes, so we crossed over huge desert-like areas with black lava in place of the grass and cornfields we’re used to seeing on road trips. We could see a big rainbow in the cloudy mountains we were headed for. As we approached, the climate did a 180. The temperature on the dashboard kept dropping the further we went, trees got greener and roads got curvier. Soon enough, it was sprinkling and wet. As we parked our cars, we knew the rain wasn’t going to go away. We added a few layers of clothes as the temperature had fallen a good 10-15 degrees. However, we weren’t going to let this ruin our planned photo session. We headed onto the path that took us past huge banyan and bamboo trees and eventually to a breathtaking overlook of this 422 foot high waterfall. Needless to say, the weather was no dampener for these beautiful photos.
Our next stop took us into the town of Hilo. We made a stop at Coconut Island and the Liliuokalani Gardens before stopping for lunch. Again, the climate had shifted. Things were a little warmer and we had left the rains in the mountains. We continued south to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.
It was pretty amazing to look right into an active volcano. While we were there, some fiery red lava even spewed up out of the volcano! It was quite a sight to see with Mauna Loa, the largest volcano on earth, displaying its vast beauty in the distance. We made one more stop at Volcano National Park to walk through the Thurston Lava Tubes. Yes, this is a thing. 500 years ago, a river of lava formed solid walls and a ceiling. Once the lava stopped flowing through, it left this massive lava cave. These are just some examples of the amazing history that we learned about Hawaii. Some might imagine coming here and just spending all their time on the beach, swimming with turtles and drinking Mai Tais, but there is truly so much more to learn and explore. This day was everything we could have imagined and it didn’t stop here!
Our final adventure of the day was a little further south to Punalu’u Black Sand Beach. The black sand was created by lava flowing into the ocean and exploding as it reaches the water and cools. Although our time with Andy & Emily ended here, Brooks and I stuck around to capture some beautiful images before continuing our drive around the southern point of the island and back up to Kona. We were looking forward to another big day ahead of us and after all the excitement, some rest was needed.
We can't tell you enough just how amazing it was to explore every corner of the Big Island. Not everyone gets the chance to go to Hawaii and we are so thankful that these two chose to bring us along. Have you ever been to Hawaii? If so, where did you stay? What did you do? Let us know in the comments below. We'd love to hear your stories! And don't worry, these photos are just a taste of what is to come! Keep an eye out for more from Emily & Andy's beautiful beach wedding later this week!