I met Tirzah and her husband Troy in college and thanks to Facebook, I’ve been able to keep up with their adventures since then. I love their passion for adventure and connecting with nature.
Troy is a photographer and his incredible images create instant wanderlust. Tirzah has an adventurous spirit and a heart of gold. After viewing pictures of their trip to Hawaii, I invited them to share about their bucket list adventures during their visit to the islands of Oahu and Kauai.
Where did you go/What islands did you visit?
Oahu for 5 days, then we island hopped over to Kauai for 5 days.
Was this trip on your list for a long time?
Yes, we had it booked for 8 months, after we were hired to photograph a wedding at Turtle Bay, so one of those days was a work day. Normally, our children come with us on all our adventures, but this trip we decided to make it a getaway for the two of us – our first in 15 years of being parents. Troy has been to all of the islands over the years & used to live on Maui for 2 years. This was my first time to the islands.
What were your favorite experiences?
– Swimming with sharks (cage-free) off of the North Shore of Oahu. We went with the small family-operated company Island view Hawaii out of Haleiwa. Check out their Instagram for more photos of the incredible experience.
– We spent one morning hiking the incredible Pu’u Manamana & Crouching Lion trails, which overlook beautiful Kahana Bay on the east side of Oahu. It wasn’t the easiest hike, but it was fun! The way up is a steep bun-burning incline, often requiring the use of tree roots & limbs to pull ourselves up. The soil was somewhat loose & slippery, so not the best to grab a hold of on the extra steep parts. It was also very hot & humid, a big change from our dry & moderate Colorado climate, so we were soon drenched in sweat. But, the climb up through the thick jungle-like vegetation was beautiful & the incredible views we were rewarded with were absolutely worth every step! Definitely one of our favorite hikes & views!
The 11 mile Kalalau Trail along the Na Pali has been on our bucket list for a few years. We plan to get permits & hike the whole thing as a family in the future, Lord willing.
- Seeing the absolutely stunning Kalalau Valley, undoubtedly one of the most beautiful & epic landscapes we’ve witnessed.
- Staying with my friend in Kauai. She’s pretty special … marine biologist extraordinaire in charge of the monk seals for the Hawaiian islands, gracious host, & dear friend for the last 28 years. I met her when I was 10 & she was backpacking through Africa. Her heavenly homeland island of Kauai had been on my bucket list ever since. She immersed us in Kauai history & its Polynesian legends, local flora & fauna, wild, bird, & marine life, like our own personal tour guide. It was awesome!
- Snorkeling in Kauai … loved all the variety & color of fish!
- The beauty of the Monkey Pod trees. They’d stop me in my tracks every time!
What experiences taught you something about yourself?
In 2016, I was able to conquer my two biggest fears. The first being my fear of heights when I climbed down a 200 ft rock face to reach Mooney Falls in Havasupai in the Grand Canyon. Climbing down was the only way to really see these majestic falls & all the incredible scenery downriver from the falls.
In Hawaii, it was being out in the deep blue ocean with sharks, minus a cage or any form of protection. Troy had been planning on doing the swim for months, but it made me nauseous with fear just thinking about it. But, it came time for booking the swim & I was more afraid of staying behind on shore & missing out on an incredible opportunity so we went ahead & booked & paid for the two of us.
Once the boat stopped a few miles out, we could see the sharks circling under the boat. I was terrified, but feeling shy about causing a scene once the 5 other people we were with had entered the water. Our guide advised us, “Throw out every scary story you’ve heard, every documentary you’ve seen, every preconceived idea, & go in with the heart of a child. And don’t act like a flailing fish in distress.” I took that advice to heart & pushed my fear out of my mind, calmed my heart, & slipped into the water.
It turned out that being able to see another side of God’s incredible creation like that was one of the single most awe-inspiring, amazing, beautiful, & surprisingly peaceful experiences of my life … and the water was so warm, like bath water! I wasn’t expecting that. I am very thankful and proud of myself for overcoming these two big fears in my life & not allowing them to have the last say.
(Oh, & on a personal & private note, my period started that morning! I was so afraid the sharks would sense it was that time of the month, & I asked the owner’s wife who’s dived for years with sharks & periods, & she said they’d never noticed a change in the shark’s behavior. I did have a couple of sharks that came within a handful of inches of me, but they just swam away.)
I was reminded again & came to a deeper realization that the world we live in is full of wonders & beauty that I have an intense desire to experience & learn from & capture.
I learned the significance of the changes in tide on my first evening there when I wanted to get as close as possible to the breaking waves for a dramatic shot of the sunset, when consequently I got blasted by a wave & my expensive camera got drenched with salt water.
What/where were your favorite meals?
We ate a lot of fresh fruit – coconuts, pineapples, bananas, mangoes, avocados, starfruit, etc. The fruit there was delicious – organic, fresh, & a lot bigger than the fruit sold here in our grocery stores.
What did you learn from planning your trip?
We spent a lot of time researching, organizing & planning our days to be full of exploring & seeing as much of the islands as possible, so much so that we didn’t get the opportunity to lay out on the beach & relax. We didn’t really want to see the big tourist attractions, but wanted to hike & explore the actual land. We were glad we did what we did, because we felt like we did things a little off of the beaten path, but we discovered we needed a lot more time to see all there was to offer & maybe relax a day or two on the beaches. We’ll just have to go back – & plan to!
Do you have any tips for saving money on your trip?
On Oahu, we stayed in a very affordable airbnb on the north shore. It was just a room in a small house. It was fun staying with locals & getting to know them & the Hawaiian lifestyle. Our host taught yoga each morning & spent each afternoon surfing. Definitely an envious lifestyle!
On both islands, we also saved some money by renting our cars from locals through an app called Turo which is like airbnb but for cars.
On Kauai, we stayed with a local who has been a friend of mine since childhood.
We bought our food from grocery stores & local farm stands to save money, cooking light & simple meals, eating sandwiches, meats & cheeses. We ate out a couple of times. We also got fruit for breakfast from our friends’ backyard. We took our Kleen Kanteen water bottles with us (we try to stay away from plastic) so that we always had water available to drink.
Is there anything that you would have done differently?
*See “What did you learn from planning your trip?” but, really? Nothing.
What advice would you give to someone who doesn’t think their dream trip can become a reality?
It’s really important to think & remain positive. Don’t call it a dream. Call it a plan! Put yourself in the way of the things that you dream about or that attract you or stir your heart, surround yourself with those things … think about, read about, research, write about, hang out with like-minded, encouraging people who support you, & pray about those things. For us, a life rich in experiences & not things is important. Live a simple, minimalist lifestyle & reduce the amount of things you buy & own, saving money as you work hard & remain focused on what you want. There’s a lot of hard work & sacrifices that go on in between our adventures.
How can someone stay connected to your adventures?
Specific Blog Posts from the trip
Thanks again to Tirzah and Troy for sharing their adventure!