My friends, Shane and Nina, asked me if I was available to shoot their wedding in Kauai, Hawaii "the Garden Isla". Weddings are not typically what I shoot but for these lovely people and a chance to revisit Kauai, I happily accepted. I stayed a few days after the wedding and reached out to a freerunner, circus performer and instructor on the island named, Flip. While shooting for the wedding we had seen an entrance to the Coco Palms Resort off the side of the road but ran out of time to go in and shoot. Luckily, Flip was available for meeting up and exploring with me!
On the side of the road there was a hole more than big enough for us to walk through and it felt like we entered a lush, apocalyptic scene. Once a high end resort that catered to celebrities such as, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and Elvis Presley, it was built on a coconut grove planted in 1986 with trees imported from Samoa. In 1856 Coconut palms became a hotel but in 1992 Hurricane Iniki changed that. Movies such as the Pirates of the Caribbean have shot on the land and there is talk that the Hyatt will rebuild and open in 2017 but i didn't spy any progress for those plans.
The damage from Iniki was no joke, even though we were exploring the damage 14 years later I can't image it was much different from when it actually happened. Every corner we turned another "Wow" came out of my mouth. The feeling of being somewhere you knew so much life had once taken place and you could tell due to the attention to detail, the that was put into it. We had to watch our step from stairs, bridges, to roof tops and spider webs. I love being on high risk alert. It forces you to be present, take in as much detail as you can and be quick and efficient with your time. Not how I normally live my life.
The sinks were made out of giant shells that have been removed.
I have a new life goal of learning how to climb coconut trees after being inspired by Flip. We tried many tricks and flips in amazing unique places but to me the image of him climbing the tree is my favorite. Simplicity always seems to win.
The chapel with seats still set up, a drooping fan, and left over christmas decorations. Over 500 people have gotten married at the chapel and can be scene in the movie "Blue Hawaii" with Elvis Presley.
Im looking forward to going back to Kauai in September with my family and taking a guided tour to learn some more about the property. I'll bring mosquito repellant next time.