Kirsten Whatley is an award-winning author, photographer, and essayist based in Hawaii who specializes in food culture, identity, and environment. Since 1993, she has written for publications and journals including Tin House, AFAR, Orion, River Teeth, Honolulu Magazine, Wine & Spirits, The Washington Post, and elsewhere.

Her photojournalism and nature photography have been featured in Black and White Magazine (, winning two Single Image Awards in 2017, including one People's Choice Award. Her image of a young hula dancer at the East Maui Taro Festival took first place in the 2016 Hana Festivals of Aloha Photography Competition.

Kirsten is also director of communications for award-winning nonprofit Ma Ka Hana Ka 'Ike (, a youth training program that teaches skills of self-sustenance to at-risk Native Hawaiian youth, and shows them they have the power to change their future. 

For seven years, Kirsten edited books on culture and counterculture for Hawaii publishers Island Heritage, Inner Ocean, and Bess Press. In 2008, she wrote Preserving Paradise: Opportunities in Volunteering for Hawaii's Environment (Island Heritage) — in 2009, it won a national merit award for "Best Travel Guide" from the North American Travel Journalists Association.

Kirsten has an incurable case of wanderlust. It has taken her from Lisbon to Ubud, Papeete to Cusco, Havana to Marrakech. She has studied flamenco in southern Spain, obsessed over street photography in New Orleans, hand pounded curry paste in the garage of a Thai chef in Chiang Mai. She is planning her next adventure as you read this.