Return to Maui – after 2.5 years

On the day we arrived, after checking in and unpacking, we headed down to the resort’s Sea House Restaurant for an early dinner. While waiting to be checked in (required by state law to show our proof of vaccination) we were treated to this spectacular sunset. The saying among photographers is, “The camera you have with you is the best one for the shot.” So I captured several images of this view with the only camera I had with me — my Samsung phone.

Followers of this blog, and/or those who visit my photography website occasionally, are likely aware that we try to visit our favorite place to just relax, Napili Kai Beach Resort on the Hawaiian island of Maui, every year usually just before summer. Like many others, we’ve avoided unnecessary travel during the pandemic so our last visit prior to this one occurred in May of 2019 (two and a half years ago). We decided, being fully vaccinated and boostered, that it was time for a return. And, to make this trip even more special for us, we were joined after a few days by our eldest son Clint, his wife, Elizabeth, and the youngest member of our extended family, their 26 month-old son, Brooks.

During the time we were there before Clint’s family arrived, I went out early a couple of mornings to see what photos I might capture. As the sun started to provide more and more light, I took a few location establishing shots like the ones in this slideshow.

This might be a good place to digress slightly and provide some overarching location information. The Hawaiian Island chain forms a kind of diagonal line from the most southern of the islands, the big island of Hawai’i, northwest toward the most northern island, Kauai. Of all the islands, Maui has some nearby island neighbors easily seen from the beaches of West Maui, Lanai to the west, and Molokai to the northwest as you can see in the Google map in the top-left image below (these maps can be seen in more detail by clicking on them). Napili Kai Beach Resort is located almost at the north tip of the western shore as you can see in the Google map on the lower-left. Finally, I’ve included the Google map of some of the resort detail. You can probably figure out where I must have been standing to obtain each of the images in the slideshow above (and the top of the post)

Readers of this blog may remember that in September of ’21 we took a brief trip to Half Moon Bay (blog post of “Finally, a (brief) trip to blog about“) and I got a bit mesmerized by long-ish exposure images of moving ocean water (“long-ish” is my ‘technical term’ for shorter long-exposures of less than a second but longer than 1/30th of a second, like 4/10ths or 1/8th of a second). Well, I guess I haven’t gotten over it because my next move was to setup in the corner of the beach, where the fairly light surf of this beach might provide some interesting images. Here’s the one (of several attempts) I captured that morning that I liked the best (1/6th second). I was fascinated by the way the water, coming around that large rock in the center of the image, would appose itself with water coming from both sides.

Napili Bay, Maui, HI

I went down to the same place the following morning (and about an hour later than the photo above). I used a wider angle lens that second morning to increase the breadth of the point of view; the surf was a bit more intense than the previous day, as well. I setup my tripod at a different angle than I had the previous day and set the camera to take a burst of multiple images at 1/4th of a second exposure so I could pick the best one of a set. This is the second to the last image of that burst; I love the spray streaks and the captured motion of water in several places in this photo.

What you don’t see is the last image of the burst which is extremely blurry. Why was that last image from a camera mounted on a stable tripod so blurry? Because you can see from this image, where that wave is going and so could I in the moment — I started to grab the camera / tripod during this shot and yanked it away just in time to avoid dousing them both with salt water (something to be avoided when expensive electronics and glass lenses are involved). That last image fired off as I was rapidly moving the camera away — thus very blurry.

On that first morning, I decided it was still early enough for more so I decided to hike a part of the Kapalua Coastal Trail (which trailhead is right next door to our resort). Take another look at that Google map (lower left image) and click it once to see it in more detail to show how that trail goes. An interesting thing that often escapes notice is that hiking or walking along the shore of an island can tend to obscure one’s direction of travel; you simply follow the shore and don’t see that your direction of travel may have changed dramatically.

As you can see on the map, I started out walking due north along the trail, past Kapalua Bay Beach and on toward the point and after awhile (once again) I realized that I was no longer walking north but due east. One great help with direction finding in this area is that there are landmarks in the ocean that can help. In this case, it is those close by islands. When I’m standing on the beach at Napili Bay looking at the ocean, I know I’m facing west, I can see either the northern end of Lanai (sometimes the entirety of the coast of the island depending upon where I’m standing) and what appears to be the western edge of Molokai where it hits the water. As I follow the Kapalua Coastal Trail I see less and less of Lanai and more and more of Molokai until Lanai is no longer visible but I can see what appears to be edge to edge of Molokai.

I took a couple of shots as I traveled north along the trail. The first (on the left, below) was as I was passing all the high-rise condominiums that are a part of Kapalua. The other was as I left the main trail and followed some marked paths out onto the point at the top left of the map (called Hawea Point).

I happened to see a couple of small birds, looking for an early morning breakfast. I took the picture for almost no reason but later thought it might provide some diversion for readers to try to locate the two birds in the photo since their coloration seems to provide some protection for them. Can you spot both of them? (It will probably help if you click the image to see it a bit larger). I took the second photo because I sometimes like to record images of patterns found in nature. In this case, it is what is probably volcanic rock, that has been worn down by wind, rain, and the ocean.

The northern end of Maui gets a bit more action from the ocean (as it is more exposed to the windward side of the island the waves are more constant and usually larger). I stopped along the trail and spent some time trying to capture ocean movement again but this time with shutter speeds designed to freeze the actual moments of movement rather than extend them through longer exposures.

Wind blown result of a wave hitting the cliff. Molokai in the background.
Multiple waves crashing against the cliffs. Molokai in the background.

Not long after this, our visiting family arrived and I put away my camera gear to just enjoy the time together with them and to continue to become better acquainted with young Brooks. We live a few hundred miles away from our extended family and so don’t get that much face to face time with any of them (and the pandemic reduced that even further). Having five days with this part of the family for meals, beach-time, and just hanging out, was especially wonderful.

If you got this far, thank you for sticking with it. I hope you enjoyed another chapter in this not-so-frequent blog. If you want to see these photos in a larger, more detailed form, please visit my photo website and just click on the “What’s New” menu choice. Some of the photos in this post are not included on that website but you can also (or alternatively) visit my Flickr pages where most images are also available (those on my photo website and those others that may have been shared via this blog). My Flickr site is organized into albums by year; that link above will take you to the 2021 Album.


    1. Thank you for the very kind words. I will give it a try (communicating with you ahead of time), if we can swing it. Mike, have we met before? Or is it just the Pickett name seems familiar because I read a lot of the Joe Pickett series books (by C.J. Box)?


      1. When I was at Duke and maybe while I was at Brown, we used to get together with Tim McGovern and others at IVY+ meetings and Common Solutions Group meets (maybe). We retired to Maui 9 years ago to be with our family. Love to catch up sometime. Again, wonderful photos!


      2. Mike,
        Thank you for clearing that up. Once you mentioned Duke, I remembered you (and that I was not confusing you with the fictional Joe Picket). When we visit Maui, we generally stay at the very north end of West Maui. Can you give me an idea of the area in which you live. I think meeting up could be a great idea.


      3. Hi Ced, we live in Kihei, on the south side. We could have a beer at Maui Brewery (Kihei) or I’d be happy to drive up your way. Shoot me an email when you’re here and want to get together. Cheers.


      4. Mike, As it turns out, we will be on Maui in the near future. However, we (you and I) need to get out of this kinda overly public method of communication. So, assuming you remember the school I represented at the IVY+, you can send me email at ced.bennett – I still have that address and use it as my primary address. In that more private email, you can share your actual email address with me. Best, Ced


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