Hawaii has been a prime vacation destination for a long time now, to the point where it’s the litmus test for island getaways. I point that out as a sort of catch-22. Hawaii is a known entity and being the “quintessential island paradise” isn’t considered a good thing for us solitude-loving-vagabonds. The state’s pristine beaches and flawless mountains attract us, yes, but the mega hotels, lush resorts, and naked hillside roaming hippies give us pause.
Unless you aim to be one of those topless guava-feasting hippies (or package tourists), Hawaii may not have a spot on your bucket list. Other destinations in other corners of the world aren’t quiet as “touristed” as Hawaii, which you are encouraged to read as they aren’t as expensive as Hawaii. Other places also don’t come with the colonialist history and sugar-blasted tiki drinks, either. Though, many do.
The point I’m getting at is that I didn’t feel much need to visit. It’s not hip. It’s been done.
I invite you, to look at the images that follow and see if you still hold with those “truths.” Yes, Hawaii is home to a shameful European involved history, lavish resorts, and those damn tiki drinks (that mangle their original recipes). It is also home to big price tags and already discovered beaches. That is all true. But Hawaii is vast and various and not easily summed up.
Recently, photographer Jenelle Kappe and I booked flights to Kaua’i with the intention of camping, surfing, and hiking. We went searching for a more secluded experience and found it. The campsites were lush and free, but we had to look for them. The hiking was stunning and remote, but we had to keep off the “hippie highways”. The beaches were pristine and secluded, but we didn’t go to the ones right in front of the resorts.
We learned as much as we could about the islands and their histories. We talked to locals and learned where to go and how to do it right. Here’s what we found: Preconceptions can shove off. Hawaii, Kauai in particular, is every bit as awesome as everyone says.
Parker Hilton and Jenelle Kappe have been traveling and photographing together for almost two years now. Their work as wedding, product, and portrait photographers tends to keep them busy while they travel. Their work can be found on both of their individual websites and Instagram feeds (@ParkerHilton and @JenelleKappePhoto) as well as their shared account, @TogetherWeRoam.