It’s been a number of years since I visited the North Shore of Oahu. It’s a stark contrast from Waikiki Beach, an area packed with high-rise hotels and condos. And for the first time, my family and I went to Waimea Valley, an easily accessible botanical garden that looks like a tropical rain forest. Its standout feature is a 45 foot waterfall which is only 3/4 of a mile from the entrance.
There’s a lot to do. In addition to the garden and waterfall, there are archeological sites, cultural activities, a snack bar and even a restaurant. It was raining on the day we visited. Moderate rain from an approaching tropical storm cut our visit short. While my wife opted to stay dry at the patio, my two boys and I ventured the 1 1/2 mile round trip to the waterfall.
Though the overcast day and the rain made it less than ideal, it worked well for photography. The even lighting made for vibrant greens, rich details and no dynamic range challenges. We had a steady and sometimes moderate rain but luckily with very little wind.
I was able to use my Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II without any problems, and the deep lens hood on the Olympus 12-40mm Pro, kept any rain drops from hitting the front element. Since the E-M5 Mark II is weather sealed, I used it with confidence throughout the day. It’s the first time I got to test it in the rain and it worked without a hitch.
As usual, I could have spent many more hours taking detail photos. But being a family vacation, I made do with quick snaps as it walked along the trail. My older son was disappointed. He was expecting a challenging hike, the kind that he experienced in Nevada. Instead, Waimea Valley has paved roads with gentle hills. While not challenging for an energetic teenager, it’s not meant to be. Rather, the place is fit for all ages and gives a wonderful sense of walking through a tropical forest.
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