Back to my childhood summers in Hawaii. When I was probably around 10, my paternal grandmother announced that I was going to take hula lessons. No one asked if I was interested, but I was driven once a week to a group class where I quickly descended to the most hopeless member of the class and I was so miserable I petitioned to drop-out before the summer ended. I never heard about hula again until much later when my grandmother admitted she danced hula as a child and well enough that her group would perform for visiting tourists at the local hotels on Oahu. She described the end of performances, when the tourists would throw pennies up on the stage and the girls would all scramble after their tips. Finally, I understood why I had taken hula lessons. My grandmother had 4 boys. I was the first girl to come along, but unfortunately I (still) have none of the grace or coordination required of a dancer.
I’ve been to the islands over 20 times and I’ve gotten a little jaded when it comes to visiting Hawaii. I mostly see family and I can’t quite get excited about it like everyone else who visits from the East Coast. After my great aunt (a septagenarian that knows a thing or two) recommended sunset on the lanai at the House Without a Key as a true old-style Hawaiian expreience, I was determined to visit the Halekulani on our next trip… I couldn’t agree more. The Halekulani is such a welcome oasis of beauty inside the heart of bustling Waikiki. Without a doubt, photographing the hula dancer Kanoe Miller was my favorite, though most challenging, shoot of our trip. This former Miss Hawaii has been performing at the Halekulani’s House Without a Key for over 30 years. I certainly hope to see much more of her my future trips to Honolulu.
The performance takes place under this craggy kiawe tree.The House Without a Key offers a lovely selection of cocktails and lighter dining options to enjoy while you wait for sunset. We nibbled on some poke sliders! (Sorry, no photo)Yes, cockatil in hand… when the late afternoon sun hits you, you will feel as radiant as this guest.I recommend getting here around 5 pm, you’ll want to get a seat and the crowd grows as sunset nears.While Kanoe Miller and the Sunset Seranaders were the main attraction in my book, even they know when the sun nears the horizon, it’s time to take a break. Guests suddenly stampede to the edge of the Halekulani property to take photographs over Waikiki Beach.This is Hawaii, so we had some rain after sunset. Most people moved on to dinner or other plans, but when the showers ended the hula continued under the night sky.There are some things that the camera will never capture. Even this short video from my point and shoot will give your more insight on Kanoe Miller’s magical performances.