I have been mostly a reader of this forum, picking up a lot of hints, which helped our trip. So I would like to pass along my family’s experience on Oahu. Perhaps I can help out another family. So you can see where this is going, we stayed on the North Shore for ten days and I like to drink, snorkel, and eat
We arrived from LAX late afternoon, which meant by the time we had our luggage and a rental car, it would be dinnertime. My husband had done some Internet research and found Tadashi on the idine website. Now in LA, idine has never done wrong by us and you get 15% off of your credit card bill. Not bad. Well, Tadashi is a great little neighborhood Japanese joint in Aiea, perfect for us because we were on our way to the north shore. We had about a ten-minute wait for dinner, it was Friday night, and the locals were out in force. Good sashimi and great noodles. The Sushi that came with the udon noodle bowl was not too fresh, like they had been made earlier in the day. But my husband loved his sashimi. We also had the lobster and potato coquette. Everyone in the place had one on their table. Really yummy!
Tadashi, (808) 485-8535 Pearl Kai Shopping Center, 98-199 Kam Hwy, Aiea. We were the only people wearing closed shoes in the whole place. So be sure to ditch your shoes for some “rubber slippers” ASAP.
After dinner it was up to the north shore. The main market in Hale’iwa had closed but we found a 7-11 for beer, milk, cereal, sugar, coffee to get us through till we could do a big shop.
We stayed in a beach house, “The Endless Summer”, which was nice, funky
and right on a very nice beach. It was a rental handled by
www.hawaii-beachhomes.com. This is just between Chun's Reef and Leftovers, two surfing areas. About a 10-min walk up the beach to each. The beach in front of the house had some rocks where almost everyday 6-8 turtles would come to eat. Our house had two and 1/2 bedrooms and could sleep 5 for $275.00. Right next door, there was a smaller rental that would be nice for two, called the surfer's cottage. They said it rented for $200.00.
The only down side to this location was that the Kam Hwy (two lanes at this point) did run right behind it. So there was traffic noise, even at night. (Oahu is a very busy little island) First night I was kind of freaked out, the house was hot as it had been shut-up, my 11 year old daughter saw a 3 inch long cockroach (hey it’s the tropics and we never saw one that big again), and all the car noise. I also was sleeping in the bedroom closest to the road, with my daughter because of the roach. Was this a mistake?? Should we have gone to Turtle bay?? Next morning, the home was cool, and the beach was beautiful. It was the right place to be. The next night I slept in the bedroom closest to the beach, and all I heard were waves all night long and birds in the morning. I slept so well. The location of the house was about 5-10 min from just about everything on the north shore. The house had a coffee maker, BBQ, and a washer/dryer, you know, all the important things. It even had nice pots and pans for cooking and soft towels in the bathroom. The living room had two walls that were nothing but windows so we had a fabulous view of the beach and the ocean.
With my first cup of coffee I walked down to the nearly deserted beach. I met Gilbert, a nice local guy from Wahiawa, who had come down to throw his net and catch some fish for dinner. I was impressed that he was very careful about the legal size of the fish that he caught. We chatted for a good 45 minutes, talking about places to snorkel, life in Hawaii and all his skiing trips to California.
A trip to the local Foodland that morning stocked the kitchen. They had sushi grade Ahi for poke. I like to make my own. And we picked up marlin for the BBQ. The market had a great selection and we found everything thing we wanted, except for Whaler’s rum! How can a Hawaiian market not have the best Hawaiian rum? Oh well.
Over the next few days we explored all the snorkeling spots in the area starting with Kuilima Bay at Turtle Bay. A nice place for first time snorkelers as it is very protected but has a lot of interesting things to see. You pay Turtle Bay $2 to park all day. If you have lunch at their wall-less, bay side restaurant, parking is free with a validation. Bare feet and swimsuit no problem. The food was good and not too pricey considering you almost have your feet in the sand. Good poke.
Then it was on to Shark’s cove, 3 Tables, and Waimea. All were exceptional and each one was unique. We saw more turtles than we can count, an octopus, a huge puffer, and a first for us…baby cuttlefish!
Waimea, because it below a canyon, seemed to get more rain than the other beaches father to the east. When it rained, people would clear out. If only they had waited ten minutes, they would have had a lovely afternoon. When we went back another day, I brought our rain umbrellas. My husband thought we were pretty silly, but my daughter and I enjoyed not getting our towels or lunch wet.
The reports of getting to places on the North Shore early for parking are absolutely correct. During the week we had no problem before 10. Over the 3-day weekend, we had to be parked by 8:30. The cool thing about Waimea is that because the beach is so big and parking is so limited, the beach never gets full. 3 Tables has a smaller beach and can get pretty tight. You can find shade under the trees that line the beach. At Shark’s Cove, you are limited to sitting on rocks.
I can’t tell you where I enjoyed snorkeling most as each location was unique. I do know that it is some of the best snorkeling that I have done in Hawaii (Big Island, Maui, Kauai and Moloka’i) Only Fiji has been better. And no, We could not drag ourselves down to Hanauma Bay, so no report on that spot.
Eating out in Hale’iwa was an interesting mixed bag. We had one dinner at Breakers (Entertainment Book AND idine discount!) and we really enjoyed it. My daughter had the rib eye steak and demolished it. I had the fish and chips, good dipping sauce, and my husband ate ribs. We all shared a slice of Maui pie. I asked the waitress what type of rum they put in their mai tai’s. She went to the bar to ask and came back with the answer: dark and light. She was sweet.
Another night we tried Cholo’s for Mexican food. I think it was supposed to be Tex-Mex. But by California standards, we did not like it at all. I had to add sugar to my margarita just to make it drinkable. The shredded beef enchiladas and tacos were made from the same beef and they were so spicy they were almost uneatable. Of course watching the hostess chase away the feral chickens from the outside tables made it all worth it.
Hale’iwa Joe’s was a nice location. Food was ok but the ambiance made up for it. My daughter did like her sashimi and we all liked the Key-lime pie. I had the tai fish wrap which was anything but memorable.
On Wednesday we went in to Honolulu to explore. We started at the Aloha Swap meet. What fun! My husband bought a plain coconut to decorate and mail back to his office. I found lots of beautiful hawaian fabric by the yard. The shave ice there was more like a snow cone, heavy not light. But it was cold, so I enjoyed it.
From the staduim we drove to Waikiki, expecting to have luch at Duke’s. Well after 5 days on the North Shore, it was culture shock. My husband compared it to Miami and I thought it looked like Rodeo Drive meets Orange County. It made Kaanapali, Maui look down right primitive. So we made a hard left turn and found our way to The Willows for lunch. What bliss! A beautiful garden oasis with a tasty buffet lunch. It’s a nieghborhood white collar resturant that I remembered from my youth when my family house-sat for a U of H prof while he was on sabadical, 38 years ago. 901 Hauston St, Honolulu.
From there we drove by the university and up Manoa Valley, where we found an old chinese cemetary up a hill. Very neat! But then again I like cemmetaries.
Driving back to the North Shore, we stopped at the Pali Lookout on Hwy 61. It’s a must do. It is so windy. Hold on to you small children!
We also went to the Dole Plantation. My daughter liked the maze and I got a lead on where to buy an inexpensive hawaian quilt for my bed, the Walmart in Mililani Town. Once again the forum is right, Walmart is a good place to shop in Hawaii. We picked up a lot of little things, and my quilt. The sales lady that helped me said my quilt may have not been made in Hawaii. I looked at her and said, “ Um, we are in a walmart, and I kind of figured that.” The price at Dole was $700, and I paid $130.00 at Walmart. Me happy!
Ten days went so fast. Before we knew it,we needed to get dinner before our red eye home and we ended up back in Aiea at the Monterey Bay Cannery in the Pearl Ridge Center, over looking a watercress farm. I know it’s a mainland chain, but the food was tasty and the service was very friendly, and it is in the Entertainment book! An other nice nieghborhood joint.
Over all, it was a great trip. I enjoyed meeting the locals: what sweet people, always ready to laugh.
And for the person who stayed awake and read all this: Mahalo
Aloha and I hope you enjoy your trip too.