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Alvea Studios

Capturing your experience in Hawaii with photographer Harold Alvea

The Seek Spot team recently sat down with a new member of the Seek Spot partner family- Harold Alvea from Alvea Studios.

Tell us about a recent experience shooting photos that expresses why you do what you do?
A family from San Diego flew to Hawaii a couple of weeks ago to have a little break from their busy lives and have their little one enjoy the beach for a while. Taking their photos reminded me how amazing photos can be – it captures the little things long after you have forgotten those details.

It preserves the memories and the moments that are passing. Then, when you look at them later, you are taken back to the time when it was photographed. Sort of like a time machine.

What makes photography in Hawaii different?
A vacation in Hawaii will always be in anyone’s bucket list. Beautiful beach, fine sand, peaceful ocean and a good Mai Tai – it is the perfect escape! And if you are blessed enough to be in this paradise, there is no better way to preserve it than to have amazing photos.
Do you have a favorite setting for portrait sessions?
My portrait sessions usually take place in the famous Waikiki Beach with the majestic Diamond Head as the backdrop. Sessions can be done anywhere on the island that a client desires. Waikiki beach is my favorite spot for this kind of portrait session. Aside from the ease of being near where the guests are staying, Waikiki has a gorgeous sunset!
You said earlier that you get emotional sometimes when you work on a project, tell us more?
I realize that when I take a photograph, I sort of become part of someone’s life. I remember tearing up while editing photos of a family portrait session. One day, that family will look back at those old photos and relive that moment. They might forget my name and who I am but it was my vision that preserved that moment – and I was able to capture that through my lens and vision.
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Lomilomi Hana Lima

Lomi lomi Massage

We so often hear people exclaim “I need a vacation to recover from vacation!” after returning from an amazing trip.  With so many fun activities to do and sights to take in, it’s no surprise that your Hawaiian adventure can leave you feeling exhausted by the end.  But there’s something you can do to relax, recharge, and help yourself enjoy your stay to its fullest, and it’s rooted in Hawaiian tradition to boot!

What are we talking about?  Lomi lomi Massage !  Lomi lomi, which means “healing hands” in Hawaiian, is a traditional Polynesian technique that focuses on total rejuvination and healing.  The aim of this practice goes beyond just soothing one’s sore muscles – the focus is to clear the body and soul of any bad energy or blockages, all while improving the immune system, circulation, healing, and flexibility.

R’lax Beauty & Wellness Spa offers lomi lomi massage in addition to all of its other wonderful spa treatments.  Booking a session there during your stay here on Oahu is a must.  Every session is different as lomi lomi is truly focused on the unique physical and spiritual needs of those that receive the practice.  Carve out a little time to treat yourself and reap the benefits of Polynesian history and healing so you can return home after your vacation truly rested!

R-Lax coupon

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Capture Your Hawaii Vacation

We all wish our vacation could last forever, don’t we? What better way to do just that than by having a photo shoot in paradise? Capture the beauty of Hawaii and make your family photos stand out in the crowd! Below are five celebrations worthy of a tropical shoot by Monica Lau Photography:

Wedding Anniversary in Hawaii

1. Anniversaries
Celebrate another year together and all the changes that can bring! Use props, such as a chalk board or wood numbers to show how many years you’ve been together. Perhaps the kids can hold the sign as mom and dad kiss below the palm trees!

Family reunion Hawaii

2. Family Reunions
The perfect excuse to get everyone together – a Hawaiian trip and photo shoot! Hold up photos of old reunions or signs saying where each family hails from.

3. Retirements

Years of hard work deserves to be remembered! Bring tokens of your or your loved one’s career to feature in the shoot or keep it simple with a sunset session signifying the end of an era.

4. Engagements
Announce your engagement in style on the beautiful white sandy beaches of Lanikai… or go all out and pop the question during the shoot! She’ll be so focused on enjoying the session that she’ll never see it coming!

Oahu Family  Portraits

5. Christmas at the beach
Be the most talked about Christmas card next year – ever heard of Christmas in July? Well, we have that year round here! Don some Santa hats at the beach, make some sand angels and sand people and guarantee yourself a spot on everyone’s fridge come December.

Family photos in Hawaii

Whatever it is you want to celebrate, do it in paradise and let me capture the magic! Call today to set up your Hawaiian photo shoot! Monica Lau Photography




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Planning Your Special Day

It’s that time of year: Many of us with nuptials on the horizon or graduations in May are starting to plan our special events. MYSTICAL SOUNDS PRODUCTIONS has been in business for over 29 years and has done more than 5,000 successful events. People always ask owner Joe Ho how he does it.  “I always tell them, it is like making a great dish. A lot of ingredients go into it,” Ho says.

Mystical Sounds Productions company has been setting the standard for Oahu events, large and small. From DJs for wedding receptions and corporate events, to full sound and lighting decor for night club type venues, Mystical Sounds Productions can truly do it all: sound systems, DJ’s, VJ’s, lighting decor, emcees, magicians, hypnotists & video projection and big screen rental and videography services. Mystical Sounds is the choice of Hawaii’s professional wedding and event planners. “Like our customer service, we only provide top of the line quality  in everything we offer,” Ho says. “We offer veteran experience, great ideas and value. Our company is like a one-stop shop. We offer great value and all services needed for a special event.” Mystical Sounds offers free consultations to those planning events.


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A Day on the South Shore of Oahu, Sample Itinerary

While many choose to simply “hang out” on the beaches of Waikiki, there is much more to see on this southern side of Oahu! Start with treating yourselves to a relaxing massage at Life Centered Acupuncture, where you can unwind and rejuvenate your body. Then take in some history and visit the only royal palace in the U.S, Iolani Palace, which has been restored to its former glory in the days of Hawaii’s monarchy! Afterwards, take a drive south, heading towards Diamond Head and around to Kahala. As you drive through this affluent neighborhood, you will see some very impressive homes on the hillsides overlooking the ocean. Further up is Hawaii Kai and Maunalua Bay Beach Park overlooking Koko Head Crater. Keep heading towards the southeastern point of Oahu, stopping for a snorkel at beautiful Hanauma Bay and then out to Makapu‘u Lighthouse for a fantastic view and some great photos! Returning back into Honolulu, stop by JJ’s Bistro for a delicious lunch. Make sure to try their authentic French pastries and delicacies. Then prepare yourself for an awesome adventure with Xtreme Parasail. Choose from Jet Ski’s, Parasailing, a Pirate Ship Cruise, or try the Honolulu Screamer, a twin- jet, water-propelled boat that will take you for high speed twists and turns along the Waikiki Coast, like a roller coaster on water! It’s a great way to end the day before catching the sunset and a delicious dinner at one of the many fine restaurants of Waikiki!

For more information on sights and activities, dining and shopping, on the South Shore of Oahu CLICK HERE

*See itineraries in other regions for more ideas!

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Here’s to Health and Wellness in the New Year!

Many of us make promises or resolutions that in the New Year we will do things differently. We will make better choices, take better care of ourselves, and be a better, healthier, more fit person. Yet these good intentions often fall quickly by the wayside because, to be honest, change is hard! We need to accept that lofty goals are admirable but making resolutions we can more easily achieve will, like steps on a ladder, help us to reach those higher goals.

Some of the most common resolutions are to eat healthier, exercise more, lose weight, and “get in shape”. Here are a few realistic resolutions to try…

  • Get Active…30 minutes a day is the recommendation, and here on Oahu there are so many fun ways to stay active! Find what you like, whether a daily walk or jog on one of our many beautiful beaches, a swim, or maybe something new like yoga. There are many options, but it is only going to happen if you like what you do!
  • Stay hydrated!…. Our warm climate means you need to drink more water. Water helps your body function more efficiently too!
  • Decrease the portions on your plate, but increase the ratio of fruits and veggies …. We are blessed because our choices of fresh fruits and veggies are almost limitless here in Hawaii!  Having some of these choices readily available when you get hungry makes it easier to eat healthy, so look for a farmer’s market near you and stock up!
  • Get your zzzz’s…..sleep is when your body re-energizes and repairs! If you are near the ocean, open those windows and let the sea breeze and ocean surf lull you to sleep! If you are only visiting, there are some wonderful cd’s with that ocean background that will remind you of our Hawaiian nights.
  • Slather on the sunscreen and wear those sunglasses….we love the sun but the sun doesn’t love us, and it can cause real harm to your skin!
  • Be KIND to yourself….surprised you with that one huh?  The truth is, we all need to remember that no one will keep a resolution if it feels like a punishment! Give yourself rewards for accomplishments, like a pampering massage, a manicure or pedicure, or a night out in Honolulu!
  • Most importantly, you have to Believe to Achieve! If you already think you can’t before you even start, then odds are you probably won’t!

These suggestions are just a place to start. In the Services section of each region in the Seek Spot Directory you will find a number of businesses that specialize in Health and Wellness and can offer you the individualized help and advice you need to keep you headed in the right direction. Make your resolutions a reality and become your healthy best in the New Year!

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Ocean Safety…Jellyfish Stings and other Things

The ocean around Oahu is relatively safe in terms of dangers from critters and the like, but there are still a few to be aware of, as well as some cautions worth a word of warning. In this last of our series of blogs on Ocean Safety, we want to offer you tips on what to watch out for and what to do if you get hurt by any of the following…

Sea Jellies

Portuguese Man of War…this bluish-purple floating bubble w/a long tail can definitely pack a sting, but only one in 1,000 requires any medical attention. If stung, carefully remove any visible tentacle pieces (with stick or gloved hand), rinse with salt or fresh water, and apply ice. Please consult a lifeguard if available to notify of danger and to help if needed.

                Box Jellyfish…these transparent, square-shaped jellies tend to appear in cycles, generally coming close to shore 8-10 days after a full moon, but they can be hard to spot! Their sting can be extremely painful, as well as dangerous to people with sensitivity to the toxin. Many beaches, when affected, post signs and since it is so predictable, even the local news/weather channels will often give warnings of beaches to avoid. However, if stung the recommended treatment is to pour vinegar on the sting, do not rub, and, again, carefully pick off any tentacles (w/stick or gloved hand), and always consult a lifeguard if available to notify of danger and for assistance.

Hydroids…less well known, these organisms are generally attached to ropes, rocks, sea grass, and other stationary objects in the water. Yet often, after a storm or high surf, they get torn from their home and float freely in the water. Like jellyfish, they can sting on contact. If stung, rinse well and apply ice, and again, consult a lifeguard for assistance.

Sea Urchins

There are some sea urchins whose spines are very sharp and can contain toxins. Since they wedge themselves between rocks or coral, you can easily step on one and the spines may cause puncture wounds, or even break off in your foot. They can cause burning, swelling, and discoloration around the area. If you step on an urchin carefully pull out any protruding spines and apply ice. Consult a lifeguard for assistance. Watch for signs of infection.

Cuts and Scrapes

Ocean waves can cause you to fall and cut yourself on the coral or sharp lava rocks found near some beaches. It is important to get out of the water, rinse the wound well, and avoid going back into the ocean with an open wound. Watch for any signs of tenderness, redness, or swelling that may indicate infection. Cuts from a marine environment can quickly become infected from bacteria commonly found in ocean waters.

The Lifeguards at Oahu’s beaches are always ready and willing to help and also want to be informed of any possible ocean dangers such as jellyfish or other beach hazards, and the Lifeguard Association website has additional useful information for beachgoers. Be assured that none of these “critters” in the ocean around Oahu are what we would term dangerous, but please remember that if any wound shows signs of infection you should consult a doctor promptly! We hope your time in the ocean is trouble free, and we hope our ocean safety tips help you to enjoy the beautiful waters around Oahu without mishaps!

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Massage, Acupuncture, or Spa Day


Traveling can really tire your body out! We all know about “jet lag” and that loss of
energy we experience. Then again, it may be your busy schedule of fun in the
sun, here in Hawaii, that is wearing you down. All the surfing, hikes, and
other activities that you are enjoying can also make you sore and achy!
Whatever the reason, don’t let your fun be ruined by fatigue, aches, and pains.
Give yourself that rejuvenation you need while pampering yourself at the same
time! There are some wonderful places we can recommend in our Seek Spot by Be Our Guest
Directory that will help relieve any stress or strain and leave you feeling
renewed and ready for more Oahu island adventures! Perhaps a relaxing massage
is all you need, or maybe you feel a nutritional or herbal supplement would add
to your well-being while here. From the ancient art of Lomi-lomi (hawaiian
healing massage), to acupuncture, nutritional analysis, traditional massage, or
simply a day spent at the spa, there are many options available to choose from!
So take some time out to rest, while also enjoying a little pampering! For the
best places to get a massage, and give your body that special attention it
needs, go to

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What are you doing for Mother’s Day?

mothers day pic

Perhaps you are here visiting on the North Shore and want to celebrate this special day set aside for our moms, or maybe you are looking for a great gift for the mom in your life. Either way, we have some good ideas for you!

First, if you are looking for a Mother’s Day Brunch, here are four options to choose from…..

  • Luibueno’s  has seatings at  9, 11, and 1, if you are in the mood for Mexican
  • Hawaii Polo Club is offering Brunch at 11 with a game following at 2, but seating is limited. The food will be prepared by Breakers Restaurant with music by Jungle Rocket
  • Waimea Valley will be having a Brunch in their Pikake Pavillion from 11-2
  • Turtle Bay Resort has Brunch seatings at 9:30 and 11:30 , and will be offered in the Kuilima Ballroom

For that special gift we would  like to suggest North Shore Salon and Spa. What mom doesn’t deserve a day of relaxation? Here moms can experience a rejuvenating day of pampering in a luxurious and intimate environment! They offer many services from Hair, Nails, Massage, and Facials to Spray Tanning, Lash and Brow Tinting, and Full Body Waxing. North Shore Salon and Spa is the largest  full service salon and spa on Oahu, with 3,900 square feet and even a Boutique! They use organic and natural products as much as possible and, for the month of May, they are offering some specials such as 50% off haircuts, a shampoo with blow dry/style for $25, and 10% off when you schedule your appointment online at North Shore Salon and Spa.

Whether enjoying a meal together, a spa day, or just a day on the beach soaking up the beauty of sea and sun, we hope all moms here on the North Shore have a Mother’s Day which is filled with love and happiness!


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Jack Johnson’s Kokua Hawaii Foundation

Jack Johnson helping out at a Kokua Hawaii beach clean-up day

Jack Johnson helping out at one of the Kokua Hawaii beach clean-up days

Begun in 2003, by singer/songwriter Jack Johnson, and his wife, Kim, the Kokua Hawaii Foundation is an organization whose efforts are helping make Hawaii a leader in caring for our environment. They are encouraging our youth to be responsible caretakers of our Earth! Their `Aina in Schools, 3R’s School Recycling, and Plastic Free Schools programs are creating lasting, positive changes by providing students with an overall understanding of ways they can be valued contributors to the stewardship of our island home. `Aina in Schools teaches them hands-on gardening and the value of healthier food choices. The 3R’s Recycling helps them set up and maintain recycling programs, waste-composting, and sometimes even vermi-composting (raising worms)! The Plastic Free Hawaii program even takes them out into the community by organizing and hosting quarterly beach clean-ups

As a visitor, you might wonder why this is of any great interest to you. Director of Program Development, Natalie McKinney, would like you to know that even visitors, here to enjoy the beauty of the North Shore, often volunteer to “give back” by helping with these beach clean-ups. Those of us who are blessed to live here, and all who visit, need to be aware of the fragility of the beauty that surrounds us! This foundation strives to make sure that now, and in the future, our islands are cared for and protected. If you would like to help by volunteering your time/talent, or even just by purchasing a copy of Jack Johnson’s album…Jack Johnson and Friends-Best of Kokua (proceeds benefit the foundation), you can go to for more information. On Saturday, April 20th, from 8:30 to 1, you can come help restore a Hawaiian fishpond in Haleiwa! Contact for details. Also, on Thursday, April 25th, from 3-7, you can visit the Haleiwa Farmers Market in Waimea Valley where Kokua Hawaii Foundation will be having free activites for children and giving out free totebags in honor of Earth Day! Taking care of our planet can be fun as well as fulfilling work and Kokua Hawaii Foundation is an example in action that we are very proud to support!

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