Lumaha’i Beach, Kaua’i

As a photographer, I think of this beach as a “target rich environment,” but most people who know it will identify Lumaha’i as an iconic Hollywood location. You know the song from South Pacific, “I’m gonna wash that man right outa my hair”?  Gotta love the lyrics! That scene was filmed here many decades ago. Today it is an intimate crescent beach, found at the foot of a mud-rich trail on the north side of Kaua’i. Honeymooners and native fishermen and even the ever-present wild chickens love this beach, too — so we share it, especially at sunset. I climbed up on to the lava shelf just before sunset and set up my tripod with my back against the lava wall as the tide was coming in. Waves crashed into the cove before me and onto the shelf where I stood, sending white rippling water across the puddles in the lava. Clouds picked up the color of sunset as the sky evolved, growing golden, then rosy and more dim.

Showing my view to the left, this image features the fisherman on the lava cliff, and the light as a golden mist toward the right side of the frame. (ISO 100, f/22, 1 second)

Golden light on the fisherman at Lumaha'i Beach, Kaua'i
Golden light on the fisherman at Lumaha’i Beach, Kaua’i


Looking to my right, I kept my eye on the waves crashing toward me and the reflection of the clouds in the puddles. This was an exciting location with the tide coming in. I bumped up the ISO to 400 so I could freeze the wave’s motion (f 2.8, 1/100 sec)


As the sun slipped below the horizon and the light levels fell precipitously, this longer exposure shows the power of the surf — within the cove and along the shelf.  Settings: ISO 100, f/11, 0.3 second). Every evening will be different; it would be hard to duplicate this image another time. So grateful we were there that evening, June 21, 2014.

Incoming tide after sunset at Lumaha'i Beach, Kaua'i
Incoming tide after sunset at Lumaha’i Beach, Kaua’i


Author: cathykellyphotography

Independent photographer based in Pittsburgh PA and Naples FL. Nature, landscape and portrait photography. Portfolio includes international work in USA, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Email to review work in your area of interest. Nature portfolio includes flowers and wildlife. Prints and digital files for sale. See website: