• Part 1 | Volcanos, Waterfalls & Plane Rides

We surprised them on Christmas Eve with a trip to Hawaii and to be honest, it seemed like it was FOREVER away! At Christmas time, you think that Easter is so far away but somehow it creeps up on you! We left Easter Sunday and we started our trek to the west coast! We made it to LA and spent the night there! It was a GREAT way to break up the trip! Michael planned everything and he did such an amazing job! There is no way we could have made it and accomplished so much without his travel agent skills!!! He made sure we all made it through the airport and that all of our lodging and days were planned out!

So we spent the night in LA and then took everyone to the Santa Monica pier to show them where I shot one of my all time favorite destination weddings! You can view it HERE! Then we got lunch with our sweet friends Troy and Aimee (and Kean!)!! We unfortunately didn’t gauge the LA traffic very well and we RUSHED to catch our flight that afternoon!! We made a mad-dash through security and boarded our flight to Hawaii…. which was another 5.5 hours! Hawaii is WAY out there!!! I used to think it was so close to California but I was way off!

We made it to Hawaii and the adventure began!!! We spent Monday night through Saturday morning on the Big Island and then we headed to Oahu for two days! It was everything we hoped it would be!! I loved seeing some of the world’s most impressive scenery but more than that, I loved experiencing all of it with our parents!! I can’t possibly highlight every little thing that we did but I am going to recap some of the trip today and then again next week!!! Today is focusing on the Big Island of Hawaii and next week will be all about Oahu and will hopefully include our combined Snaps from the trip!!

Before we dive into the pictures, if you’re ever planning a trip to the Big Island, here are some things you may need to know:

– It’s huge! It’s not like driving around Oahu!
– It takes time to find the good stuff so allow plenty of quality time in the rental car together!
– It’s full of lava rock… EVERYWHERE!
– It has 11 of the world’s 13 climates and so the scenery changes constantly!!
– I know it’s pricey but the airplane tour was WORTH the investment! I’ll share all of that part of the trip soon!!
– Black Sand Beach is awesome… but not for laying out on. It’s HOTT!!!
– The valley lookouts are incredible!
– Huggo’s is a nice night out on the water!!
– This island is very different from the others but it’s worth seeing!!!
– Give yourself a FULL 10 hour day to drive and see all of the island highlights!!
– Volcano National Park is awesome but it’s a lot of what we like to call “Devastation”. If you want to see LAVA, either do a sunset air tour via Big Hawaii Air or do the park volcano overlook at sunset and you may see the GLOW from the lava! You have to be there at sunset though!!

So here we go! I hope you enjoy these!! …..

Not a bad first stop right?!

I love this one!

I love this picture!!!!

Akaka Falls! So beautiful!

Black Sand Beach!

Momma checking out the old lava flow!

It’s cool to see! …. Hard to walk on!

So then we headed to Volcano National Park… And we forgot that with the elevation change, the temperature changed also! So we used towels!

Annnnnd then we realized that “Devastation Trail” was LITERALLY NOTHING! So we turned around!

An old laval flow!


This lava bubble looks like a dinosaur!



Momma liked these things… haha

oooohhhh a LAVA TUBE!!!

Steam seeping up from the cracks! 

Time to wait for sunset… in the rain! …..


New day! This is our Hilton resort….

She loved putting her feet in!

That WATER color!!!

My only request was that we take a few portraits on the beach! And my wish came true! 

YAY for an in-focus group shot! 

Love this one!

Awwww daddyyyyyy….

They’re good at the “walk and laugh” shots!

So many more to come!! There are still THREE full days that you haven’t seen yet! I can’t wait to share!!!

View other travel posts, here! 

Our first trip to Hawaii! Part I, Part II, Part III

xoxo, Katelyn
17 Comments Personal, Travels
  1. Lauren Swann reply

    Look at you rocking the romper!!! Love all of these Katelyn!!!

  2. Kati Mallory reply

    Hi Katelyn! Love this post – I’m headed to Hawaii for the first time in July with my family and am SO excited! This post just made me wish it was sooner! I have two questions – one, what lens(es) did you use? I tend to carry only 1-2 when I vacation since they’re so heavy, but it looks like you had a good variety. Did you use a zoom lens for the variation? Would love to know!

    Second, I’m obsessed with your sweet little black romper in your beach portraits! Would you care to share where it’s from? I’ve been looking for something exactly like that!

    Thank you so much! Love your work!

    Kati Mallory

  3. Manisha Surani reply

    I absolutely adore these photos Katelyn!!!! Such a great idea; maybe one day we’ll plan one like this with my parents and husband! So personal travel question – what camera/lens did you take these all with? What settings do you keep it on so other people can take pictures of you two?

    • Katelyn James reply

      Great Questions Manisha! I’ll be doing a post on that lens and other questions like those soon!!! :)

    • Johane reply

      These are just gorgeous memories!!! Can’t wait to see your post on which lens you bring on vacation as the camera plus one lens is pretty heavy. Last Summer I only bring the 50mm. Also how were you able to have such great in focus group pic ? Did you bring in your luggage another photograph ? Ha-ha!

  4. Kristina W. reply

    LOL! Glad to know we should avoid the Devastation trail! :)

  5. Jennifer Krieg reply

    Absolutely gorgeous! Now I want to go!! :)

  6. Anna Burke reply

    Love these!!! Looks like you all had a great trip, and I may have gotten teary eyed looking at the portraits… Mike still being here and making that trip is SUCH a miracle :) So thankful for how God has continued to use that man!!!

  7. Michelle Stoker reply

    SO Sweet!!! What a blessing to be able to do this as a big family.

  8. Alex Robertson reply

    Katelyn, I love these! Especially the night ones! Did you bring a tripod with you for those night shots? How did you get such great sunset images? Looks like an amazing trip!

  9. ashley reply

    These are so fun! What a great gift to your parents! I know they’ll treasure it! So many awesome memories! :)

  10. Ashley Yantes reply

    Oh Katelyn I just love this so much! So amazing that you got to spend this time with your parents! Also, I think I just bought that same romper this weekend ;) xo!

  11. Yasmin reply

    You should do a blog post on personal travel photography! I have a trip to Europe soon and I always get excited to take pictures but I’m always sad when I’m not in the pictures because I’m the one behind the camera! Or we can’t get a good group shot!

  12. Sydni reply

    Love seeing these! Can’t believe you got to see an active volcano… so cool. And that resort looks awesome!

  13. Annamarie reply

    Awhh I love all these!!! That pic of you and your daddy is my fave!!!!!! And way to rock the romper ;)

  14. Amy lessly reply

    Loved looking at these. I grew up on the Big Island so it felt like a walk down memory lane. ❤️

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