Take Your Best Shot: Hawaii

From a Waikiki rainbow to a wedding on Waimanalo Beach, here are some of our favorite Hawaii shots from the Travel Channel community.

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A classic car and a Sonoran hotdog food truck called Chuyitos
Chevy 1955 Bel Air and Sonoran Hot Dogs

Chevy 1955 Bel Air and Sonoran Hot Dogs

Michael (Voltaggio) is obsessed with classic American cars. In fact, he owns this exact same model — a Chevy 1955 Bel Air. He wanted to drive it down to Arizona, but since we had to make sure he actually arrived in time for the shoot, we decided to rent one instead. Our first stop was a truck that sells the famous Sonoran hot dogs, which Michael insisted we eat several feet away from the car so as not to get it dirty.  That whole morning, I felt like we'd been transported 60 years back in time! 960 1280

Mariana van Zeller  

US-Mexico $2 Billion Border Fence

US-Mexico $2 Billion Border Fence

I've been reporting on border and immigration issues for years, but this was the first time I got to see the $2 billion border fence from above. Border Patrol says it's been effective in preventing the movement of illegal goods and people from Mexico into the US, but opponents call it a boondoggle. They say that all it does is drive immigrants to more dangerous (fenceless) terrain, which means more deaths along the border for those pursuing a better life for themselves and their families. 960 1280

Mariana van Zeller  

649-Mile Fence

649-Mile Fence

The brown line you see is part of the 649-mile fence. Since it's not a continuous fence, it covers less than a third of the 1,954-mile US-Mexican border.   960 1280

Mariana van Zeller  

The Border From Above

The Border From Above

Flying over the US-Mexican border on a 4-seat Cessna. I look calm and collected, but this is where I learned that having a chef as the co-pilot is never a good idea. You can't be good at everything, Voltaggio! 960 1280

Mariana van Zeller  

View From the Other Side

View From the Other Side

This photo was taken in Nogales, AZ. On the other side of the 18-foot fence is Nogales, Sonora, in Mexico. I've been here on reporting trips before, but the sheer size of the fence never ceases to surprise me.     960 1280

Mariana van Zeller  

'Breaking Bad'?

'Breaking Bad'?

It ain't Breaking Bad; it's Breaking Borders. Oh, and it airs every Sunday at 9|8c on Travel Channel. 960 1280

Mariana van Zeller  

Michael Voltaggio, Excited for Cuisine & Compliments

Michael Voltaggio, Excited for Cuisine & Compliments

Michael is excited to try authentic Mexican food in Nogales, Sonora. Or perhaps it's because a 70-year-old Mexican lady just said, "Qué gringo más guapo!" (“What a handsome gringo!”)   960 1280

Mariana van Zeller  

Bottoms Up!

Bottoms Up!

Yes, they were all for me — 10 shots of pure gold. What happens in the field stays in the field. 960 1280

Mariana van Zeller  

Mountain Minutemen

Mountain Minutemen

In Arizona, we spent a few hours one night with members of the Mountain Minutemen, a group of armed men and women who camp out in the desert, hunting for illegal border crossers. This man asked us not to show his face or reveal his identity, but the leader of the group, Robert Crooks, was one of our dinner guests on the episode. 960 1280

Mariana van Zeller  

Photos

There are only three ways to get onto the Kalaupapa National Historic Park on the Kalaupapa Peninsula: by mule ride, a hiking tour or a small commuter airplane. This scenic area was once home to Belgian missionary Saint Damien, the selfless priest who devoted his life to caring for exiled victims of Hansen disease. 960 1280

The Hawaiian Islands  

As you look toward the north coast of Molokai, you can see the Kalaupapa Peninsula in the distance. The peninsula is isolated by towering cliffs that stand up to 3,600 feet high and are the tallest sea cliffs in the world. 960 1280

The Hawaiian Islands  

Hike into Molokai's East End's classic cathedral valley to see Hawaii back in time. It's believed that ancient Polynesians settled in the lush Halawa Valley as early as 650 A.D. Roughly two miles up the trail is the impressive double-tiered 250-foot Mooula Falls. The one and a half hour drive to the valley from the airport is an adventure in itself, with ancient fishponds, Kumimi Beach and Kaluaaha Church along the way. 960 1280

The Hawaiian Islands  

Only 38 miles long and 10 miles wide, Molokai has more than enough land to explore by foot, bike or car. Follow the roads along Molokai's rugged coastline and you'll see far more birds than cars, and probably even less people. 960 1280

The Hawaiian Islands  

Western Molokai features some of Hawaii's largest and least visited beaches. Papohaku Beach Park is three miles long and one mile wide, a perfect crescent of shimmering sand. Kapukahelu Beach is a small sheltered cove. 960 1280

The Hawaiian Islands  

From the Kalaupapa Peninsula, the North Coast of Molokai presents a stunning vista. 10 years ago we would have reminded you to bring enough film to capture all the gorgeous scenery. Now it's memory cards, which seems a little ironic considering Molokai is the kind of place that makes you happy to escape your electronics. 960 1280

The Hawaiian Islands  

Kepuhi Point

Kepuhi Point

On Kepuhi Point off Papohaku Beach you can occasionally catch a wave in front of the Kaluakoi Resort. Although Molokai isn’t known for surfing, you’d be surprised how good it can get. 960 1280

The Hawaiian Islands  

Avid and novice cyclists alike will enjoy Molokai's lack of traffic. From one end of the island to the other, just follow the roads. But don't look for a convenience store on any corner, because we're proud to say there aren't any. So, bring water, snacks, and a supply of sunscreen to protect your ear-to-ear grin. 960 1280

The Hawaiian Islands  

It's quiet as you ride on your mule along the 2.9-mile trail to Kalaupapa Peninsula. You'd be speechless too if you were descending from 1,700 feet with steep drops and the Pacific before you. Three miles, 26 switchbacks and 90 minutes of magnificent views later and you're back to sea level in the historic town of Kalaupapa. 960 1280

The Hawaiian Islands  

As you approach the Halawa Valley, Halawa Beach offers a secluded bay that is great for swimming. However exercise caution during high surf and winter months. If you think it looks picture perfect, that's because it is. 960 1280

The Hawaiian Islands  

Art in Motion

Art in Motion

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Getting the Shot

Getting the Shot

Croman, a competitive bodysurfer, explains that there is a lot that goes into getting the shot in big wave photography, including strong swimming skills and a lot of patience. Croman also advises wave photographers to have a solid understanding of the ocean: “How it breaks, where it breaks. The tides, the rips, the undertow. It’s dangerous, but knowledge is key.” 960 1280

Kenji Croman  

Waimea Shore Break

Waimea Shore Break

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Kenji Croman  

Glassy Wave in Slow Motion

Glassy Wave in Slow Motion

How does Croman capture waves in slow motion? “I used a slow shutter speed for this image, the sun was positioned in a way that made the wave look very illuminated, plus the motion of the wave all came together for this photo,” he explains. 960 1280

Kenji Croman  

Diamond Head Sunset

Diamond Head Sunset

Croman recalls the happenstance of some of his photos: “I thought the camera’s focus looked really cool in this shot. I didn’t alter or do any tilt shift effect for this photo. It was accidentally taken this way and I liked it.” 960 1280

Kenji Croman  

Duck Diving a Passing Wave

Duck Diving a Passing Wave

“I saw a bodyboarder ducking through a wave when I captured this shot. The colors looked very refreshing,” says Croman. 960 1280

Kenji Croman  

Green Wave North Shore

Green Wave North Shore

As the sun was setting, Croman captured this mesmerizing green wave at Keiki Beach on Oahu’s famed North Shore during a very big swell. 960 1280

Kenji Croman  

Keiki Beach in Slow Motion

Keiki Beach in Slow Motion

One of Croman’s favorite beaches on Oahu is Keiki Beach. “This was taken after the sun set behind the mountains. I used a slow shutter to create the movements of the man walking and the waves.” 960 1280

Kenji Croman  

Milky Wave Beach

Milky Wave Beach

Croman remembers another instance when patience (and a bit of luck) paid off: “I made so many attempts over the years to photograph the Milky Way here in Oahu, but found it very challenging since there’s not too many very dark places that do not have a lot of cloud coverings. I got very lucky on this clear night.” 960 1280

Kenji Croman  

Pipeline Breaking

Pipeline Breaking

Located on the North Shore of Oahu, Pipeline is considered one of the most famous and dangerous surf breaks in world. “This shot was taken in April when ‘Pipe’ was going off. This was a big set that rolled in that I happened to snap while in the water,” Croman remembers. “This was the same day, just hours earlier, where the famous whale surfing photos at Pipeline went viral.” 960 1280

Kenji Croman  

Swimming With Sharks

Swimming With Sharks

“I took this shot while free diving with sharks on the North Shore,” recalls Croman. “Amazing experience swimming with dozens of sharks with no protection.” 960 1280

Kenji Croman  

Flying Turtles

Flying Turtles

A less daunting animal to swim alongside than a skark? A “honu,” which means “turtle” in the Hawaiian language. “These beautiful creatures look like they are flying under water. They’re very graceful,” expresses Croman. 960 1280

Kenji Croman  

Underwater Vortex

Underwater Vortex

“I love this photo,” shares Croman. “ I took it while the sun was in a perfect position above me and it just really lit the wave up well. You can see the vortex bands in the wave. Not many people know they exist, and if you don’t have goggles on you won’t see it either.” 960 1280

Kenji Croman  

The Spit Effect

The Spit Effect

“Spit, that’s what surfers call it,” explains Croman. “When the wave is so big and the wind that follows it passes you, it creates this effect.” 960 1280

Kenji Croman  

Wave Falls

Wave Falls

Croman captions this shot: “A wave crumbling to create a waterfall effect; the sun was positioned perfectly to illuminate the wave and the falls.” 960 1280

Kenji Croman  

Maui Dolphins

Maui Dolphins

Another instance when Croman says patience paid off for him: “I made so many attempts to catch this school of dolphins when I lived in Maui. I would wake up early so many mornings to try and catch the school of dolphins. The morning I moved back to Oahu, I gave it one last attempt. I was successful and swam with the dolphins for a few hours. A great experience.” 960 1280

Kenji Croman  

The Lush Na Pali Coast

The Lush Na Pali Coast

On Kauai’s northwest side lies the 17-mile Na Pali Coast, a jaw-dropping sight whether you are taking in its panoramic views from a helicopter, boat or on foot along the famed Kalalau Trail (a challenging 11-mile trek for experienced hikers only). With 3,000-foot towering cliffs plunging into white-sand beaches along the emerald Pacific Ocean, Na Pali Coast is definitely a must-see on Kauai. 960 1280

Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson   

Untamed Kauai

Untamed Kauai

The fourth largest of the main Hawaiian Islands, Kauai, also known as the Garden Isle, has developed only 3% of the island for commercial and residential use. Since most of Kauai’s 69,000 residents live along the coastline, the island’s interior remains an untouched paradise. And the locals want to keep it that way—no structure can be built taller than a palm tree (that's about four stories high). 960 1280

M.M. Sweet/Getty Images  

The Grand (Waimea) Canyon

The Grand (Waimea) Canyon

Dubbed "the Grand Canyon of the Pacific," the 3, 567-feet-deep Waimea Canyon is one of Kauai’s most breathtaking natural wonders. Extending 14 miles across the western end of the island, Waimea Canyon is filled with numerous hiking trails for beginners to expert trekkers alike. If you aren’t a hiker, you can still experience the spectacular views from the main road, Waimea Canyon Drive, which takes you to Waimea Canyon Overlook, where you’ll be wowed with sweeping panoramas of the deep gorges and craggy cliffs. 960 1280

Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson  

Wet and Wonderful Mount Waialeale

Wet and Wonderful Mount Waialeale

Just as the landscapes are diverse on the island, Kauai’s weather is likely to be dramatically different depending on the location. So while beachgoers might be basking in the sunshine on the shore, mountains hikers will be trekking through a downpour. In fact, Kauai is home to Mount Waialeale, one of the wettest areas on Earth, which receives about 450 inches of rain per year. Usually shrouded in mist, Mount Waialeale is best viewed on a helicopter tour, much like most of Kauai’s natural wonders you’ll find. 960 1280

Liysa/Getty Images  

Wailua Falls: Drive-By Wonder

Wailua Falls: Drive-By Wonder

Kauai is known for its beautiful waterfalls, but many of its falls can be viewed only by helicopter or by hiking miles deep into the rainforests. While it is one of the easiest cascades to get to, Wailua Falls is just as awe-inspiring as some of the more hidden waterfalls in Kauai. Even though you can view Wailua Falls from the road, take the more adventurous route and hike the steep but short path down to the waterfalls where you can marvel at the rushing 80-foot cascades. 960 1280

Kauai Visitors Bureau, Damon Moss  

Hanalei Bay

Hanalei Bay

One of Kauai’s must-sees is Hanalei Bay, a half-moon bay on the North Shore with almost 2 miles of palm-tree lined beaches framed by lush green mountains. Also worth a stop, Hanalei Town is dotted with art galleries and surf shops and is so beachy-cool that it looks like it came right off a movie set, much like the rest of Kauai. 960 1280

Monica & Michael Sweet/Getty Images  

Manawaiopuna Falls/Jurassic Falls

Manawaiopuna Falls/Jurassic Falls

Manawaiopuna Falls, or Jurassic Falls as it’s now known after it was featured in Jurassic Park and Jurassic World, plunges 360 feet into a lush valley. The best way to see this colossal cascade is on a helicopter tour as the falls are on private property—and not Steven Spielberg’s, if you’re wondering.  960 1280

Jack Harter Helicopters  

Movies Filmed on Kauai

Movies Filmed on Kauai

It’s not just travelers that are inspired by Kauai’s picture-perfect paradise. Hollywood is so taken with the Garden Isle’s scenery that it has filmed over 65 movies here, including South Pacific, Blue Hawaii, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, Tropic Thunder, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, The Descendants and Jurassic World. Polynesian Adventure Tours offers a six-hour cinematic tour of Kauai’s most famous movie sites. 960 1280

Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson   

Helicopter Tour of the Island

Helicopter Tour of the Island

Only 10% of Kauai is accessible by car, so the best way to see the rest of the island is on an aerial tour. Jack Harter Helicopters was the pioneer in helicopter tours on Kauai (now a thriving industry) when Jack Harter starting offering tours of Kauai’s inaccessible terrain in 1962.  For maximum thrills, take the no-doors helicopter tour. Not only will you get well-earned bragging rights for this high-adrenaline ride, you won’t have to deal with window glare interfering with your jaw-dropping photos. 960 1280

Jack Harter Helicopters  

Endless White-Sand Beaches

Endless White-Sand Beaches

With 50 miles of golden strands, Kauai has a seemingly endless amount of beautiful beaches—more beach per mile than any other island in Hawaii. Some of the most popular beaches include Hanalei Bay and snorkeling favorite Tunnels Beach, both on the North Shore, and the sun-drenched Poipu Beach on the South Shore. But the beauty of Kauai is that you’ll likely stumble upon a hidden beach all your own that will rival any of the more well-known beaches. 960 1280

Kauai Visitors Bureau, Kicka Witte  

Kauai's Wild Waters

Kauai's Wild Waters

Visitors must keep in mind that Mother Nature calls the shots in Kauai. No matter how peaceful and inviting the water looks in Kauai, the island is notorious for its strong currents and dramatically changing conditions. So it is strongly advised to only swim in lifeguard-protected areas and to take beach safety warnings seriously. 960 1280

Matthew Micah Wright/Getty Images  

Fly Straight to Paradise

Fly Straight to Paradise

You can reach Kauai via a short 25-minute flight from Honolulu; Hawaiian Airlines has more than 30 daily flights into Kauai’s Lihue Airport. Due to rising demand, Hawaiian Airlines also has non-stop service between Los Angeles and Lihue throughout the year, with an increased schedule around the holiday season. This is another indication that the island’s popularity is growing, so now is the time to plan your vacation to Kauai, while it’s still not as touristy as the other islands. 960 1280

Hawaiian Airlines  

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