Wish You Were Here

What good is a tropical vacation on the most beautiful island in the world if you don’t have amazing photographs to prove it?!?  Today, with the explosion of GoPros, iPhones, disposable point and shoot and fancy underwater cameras – there are no excuses!  Here are a few tips for capturing those special moments:

Set The Scene:    Rainbows, waterfalls, rich green mountains, black lava, endless ocean…Hawaii offers the most scenic backdrops.  It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of shooting friends and family but make sure to take some picturesque stills.  Some of the most gorgeous photos are panoramic.  We can take you to some fantastic locations off the beaten path for a view that is to-die-for.

Timing:    Sunsets, sunrises, ocean waves crashing…sometimes you need a little patience and timing to pull off a special photo op.  Try not to rush.  Everyone understands the importance of getting “that” shot.  Bring your camera or phone everywhere – our tour guides are happy to take your picture.


Variation:  Candid, group, individual, selfies…it is important to mix it up!    Don’t get in a rut of taking the same type of photo over and over.  Zoom in, zoom out.  Take some night shots as well as day shots.  Take photos of interesting architechture, food, nature…anything that you really like.  These photos will make you smile for years to come.


Lining Up the Shot: Don’t worry about the “Rule of Thirds”. The eye likes a little more visual interest/things a little off skew – so get creative. Instagram, Twitter and other apps have crop functions so you really can’t go wrong. More is more so take a bunch of photos and delete the ones you don’t like.

Movement: Vary up your poses. Looking straight at a camera and saying, “Aloha!” is great but make sure to add some life. Get those arms in the air, throw a shaka, jump off the rock at Waimea, cross your arms and lean against a banyan tree, leap in the air, look sexy…capture the feeling!

Lighting: Shadows and reflections can make for stunning photographs. Make the lighting work for you instead of against you and check different directions. If the sun is directly overhead sometimes you can play with cool shadows and shapes. Try a silohuette shot if you are facing the “wrong” direction.

Magic: Sometimes you just have to be lucky…like the time I tried and tried to get a good dolphin photo and kept taking them a second too late – then I looked at my Dad and said, “I bet if I take a selfie a dolphin will magically appear!” – but that is another story…


-Meredith Novack

Hawaii Must Eats

As I was eating dinner last night I got to thinking about must eat food when you visit Hawaii. Everyone has a favorite Hawaiian food. Take my favorite: poke. Poke is a Hawaiian staple. Go into any grocery store and you can find rows of cubed fresh ahi or salmon marinated with shoyu (soy sauce), a spicy mayo blend or oyster sauce, tossed with limu (seaweed), onions, avocados…really the options are endless. I have three favorite kinds. Counters let you sample the different varieties. The best option for one is to order a poke bowl – a bowl-full of rice topped with a generous scoop of poke at an affordable price. The biggest debate on the island isn’t politics…it’s who makes the best poke bowl!


Ofcourse poke is just one of the many amazing delicacies found in this corner of the world.  Let’s explore a few more!  You can’t go to Hawaii and not have a Shave Ice.  Everyone has a Shave Ice…even the president of the United States has Shave Ice when he visits.  Shave Ice is shaved ice in a cup (unlike snow cones which consist of crushed ice) and resembles snow.  It’s topped with different flavored syrups which evenly flavors the ice.  No straw is necessary – just a spoon.  Hawaiian shops seem to have an endless array of tropical flavors…guava, mango, lilikoi, pineapple, coconut…special flavors like bubblegum and li hing – the combinations go on and on!  They are the perfect treat after a swim at the beach.

Drive down Kapiolani near Waikiki and you will see tour buses stopped and a line out the door at Leonard’s.  Leonard’s is a bakery famous for their malasadas.  They have been selling malasadas for more than 60 years.  Malasadas are warm, doughy and fried…kind of like a cross between a beignet and a donut.  Originally from Portugal, Catholic Portuguese immigrants working in Hawaii’s sugar plantations started making these delectable sweets in Hawaii in the late 1800s.  Originally coming in just one flavor, today you can buy all kinds – “original”, custard, haupia, chocolate, li hing, pineapple…


Another truly Hawaiian option is the “plate lunch”.  Plate lunch is a plate of lunch – brilliant!  A traditional plate lunch consists of a two scoops of rice, one scoop of macaroni and some type of meat…terriyaki chicken, shrimp…  There are a few food trucks that specialize in selling plate lunches.  My favorites are at the North Shore…you can literally enjoy your plate lunch and watch some whales!  True story.

A food native to Hawaii is Spam Misubi.  Spam Misubi is one of those items that can be a snack or a quick meal on the go.  It gained popularity after World War II where Spam was offered as a main course for the troops.  Spam Misubi is literally a slice of cooked Spam on a block of rice, wrapped with a piece of nori (dried seaweed).  You can find these delicious and inexpensive options at any convenience or grocery store.

Why have Starbucks when you can drink some of the world’s finest coffee right here?  Hawaii is the only state in the United States that is allowed to grow coffee commercially.  While Kona is most famous for it’s smooth arabica bean flavor, coffee is also produced on Maui, Oahu, Kauai and Molokai.  Enjoy it at a local cafe and have a delicious lilikoi pastry of banana and cream cheese scone while you are it!


If you have time to enjoy a proper luau – a traditional Hawaiian party with food and entertainment…you may run into a whole feast of things to eat: kalua pig, laulau (pork wrapped in a taro leaf), poke, poi (a dish made from taro), lomi salmon, seaweed salad, Hawaiian sweet potato (it’s purple!), haupia (coconut custard), Chicken long rice, etc.   No eating utensils were needed in olden days..nowadays they are provided.  Dig in!

Surrounded by the ocean, you can’t help but have the freshest, finest seafood on the planet!  Every day, Hawaii’s fish market provides the best tunas, blue marlin, swordfish, mahimahi, long tail red snapper, pink snapper, sea bass, shrimp, tako (octopus)…and this beautiful tropical island also yields an abundance of fruit…lilikoi, guava, lychee, mango, pineapple, apple bananas.  A nice option is to try an acai bowl – frozen acai berry puree with granola, strawberries, blueberries and banana…as you can see – when it comes to Hawaiian food you are guaranteed to find something you’ll love!


Surf Board Central


Today, I am literally surrounded by surfboards!  I am cleaning them off so that our guests can enjoy them this afternoon.  It is an absolutely gorgeous day.  It’s around 84 degrees with a light breeze that fills the air with the scent of plumeria and pikake flowers.  The sky is so blue and little puffs of white cloud gently float by…it’s the kind of Hawaii day where you just can’t wait to go to the beach!

It is overwhelming sometimes when you think of the amount of equipment needed for a fun outing at the beach.  For an afternoon of surfing you would need to travel with a surfboard, straps for the car, wax, sunscreen, rash guards, hats, GoPro…the baggage fees would be enormous!  Thankfully, Keawe Adventures is a full service company and with one phone call you can book an all inclusive customized tour in which every detail is accounted for.  You can rest easy at your hotel and let us pick you up in style with all of the equipment needed for an incredible time in the water.


It is a great day to load the family up and head off to the rugged beauty of the North Shore or the gentle waves of Waikiki or perhaps a unique look at the country side in Makaha to the West…our guides are experienced surfers, fishermen and swimmers and they know all the best spots. I have many favorite spots! There is a special place where you can go surfing and then swim out behind the break and to the left and find some amazing caves and coral filled arches…but that is another story…

Manning the Rails

Simply put – Pearl Harbor is a must! Visiting Pearl Harbor is always special…not just because of the historical significance of the events that occurred here in the 1940′s but because it is an active military base and you never know who you might meet or what you might see!


Case in point: last week. Last week, I could not believe my eyes! I was doing some training at Pearl Harbor and was studying the USS Missouri. The USS Missouri is an 887 foot battleship, most famously known for being the location of the official surrender of Japan ending World War II. I happened to be in the control room when I looked outside the window and saw something I will never forget. The USS Carl Vinson pulling into port.

The USS Carl Vinson, an American supercarrier commissioned in 1982, was coming back from a very long deployment (nine and a half months) to the Western Pacific (they supported strike operations in Iraq and Syria and successfully flew 12,300 sorties, including 2,382 combat missions). They were coming to Hawaii for a few days to prepare for a Tiger cruise. A Tiger cruise is a special occasion for friends and family where the crew of the USS Carl Vinson run special ship tours, gun shoots and put on a sea power demonstration. 1200 “Tigers” will have the honor of traveling from Oahu back to San Diego with 6,000 of the Navy’s finest.

What made this such a memorable moment, one that I will never forget, is that all 6,000 sailors, in crisp, white uniforms, lined the deck. They stood in unison as the USS Carl Vinson pulled into Pearl Harbor, passing by me on the USS Missouri and by the USS Arizona Memorial. It is called “manning the rails”. It’s a method of saluting, dating back hundreds of years…the crew is evenly stationed along the rails when honors are rendered and it is a spectacular sight! I had only seen it in movies and now it was happening in real life! I couldn’t have been more proud of our country’s military or impressed…

It reminds me of the time I got to sit in the actual fighter jet that Tom Cruise used in the movie, Top Gun. But that is another story…