Tuesday Nov 30 – Saturday Dec 4
These days somewhat blurred together, so there’s no sense in going day-by-day. I will just highlight some experiences, since I can’t necessarily remember when we did them, lol! (A good result of a vacation, I think!)
Lanikai Beach – absolutely gorgeous, the prettiest beach we saw. The water is the most brilliant, almost neon turquoise, but very clear, and the sand is like powdered sugar. From Kailua you can walk but carrying all the beach stuff, and the sun, it is easier to drive. Unfortunately it rained fairly steadily and was super windy in Kailua Wed-Friday so we only were able to spend one day at this beach. It’s very popular for kayaking to some small offshore islands, but the winds prevented us from doing that. We did look into a half-day kayak rental in preparation for the activity and it was $55/day from Kailua Beach Rentals.
Sandy Beach Park – We passed this park on the way to Kailua from Waikiki and the inviting spread of sand and nice waves looked great. I looked up the beach and my guidebook and it is described as “one of the most popular beaches for body boarding, and also the most dangerous due to a viscous shore break. The lifeguards make more rescues here than any other beach.” And … we went there three days! LOL! Let me explain … I am a very poor swimmer and only go in the water to cool off and splash around a little, so I was content to just get my feet and lower legs wet in the surf and let the constant breeze keep me cool. My husband, who grew up surfing and body surfing was right at home in the water, though I worried a bit! It was amazing to see these skilled body boarders and boogie boarders slide down the huge waves, getting pummeled and flipped end-over-end just as often as they made spectacular rides. It was definitely more of a local, “cool” beach, and we enjoyed just chilling out there. (I was kept occupied reading on my Nook – an early Christmas gift – which I highly recommend!)
North Shore – We drove up route 83 (also the Kamehameha Highway) to see the promised monster waves and the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing event up there. Along the way the climate changed again: wetter, greener – very verdant. We saw the surfers and walked down the beaches a bit (Sunset Beach, Ekahai, Banzai Pipeline). The waves were big, but not as ferocious as at the Sandy Beach Park. We continued west to …
Waimea Bay Beach (North Shore) – This beach looked so inviting that we had to stop and hang out for a bit, even though it was late in the day by then. It’s in a fairy deep cove so it feels private and quiet. Supposedly it gets some really big waves, but not at that time. (I was able to go in – the undertow is amazingly strong, though, so you have to just wait for a wave to push you to the sand if you want to get out). There were several smaller kids in the water, too, so I wasn’t too worried. The waves were big enough to have fun floating (providing someone held you to keep you from floating away!) We also got to have an amazing experience when it started raining gently while we were in the water, and a rainbow stretched overhead (one of four we saw during the trip) on one side of the cove while the sun was setting on the other. Gorgeous.
Dole Plantation – We stopped here but it is VERY commercial, mainly tons and tons of mini shops within a large building. We had a pineapple smoothie and walked around the pineapple garden, which was interesting.
Haleiwa – we hit this part of the North Shore by driving up through the center of the island. Again, the ‘climate’ was different; it reminded us of Napa Valley a little. This little town has tons of unique shopping options. I got a beautiful, hand-painted sarong of excellent quality at Pineapple’s, a little boutique there. We had lunch at Jameson’s by the Sea which was not great. There were just a few fresh fish options with a market price of around $20, which, for lunch and for the setting, seemed a bit much. My seafood salad sandwich was $16 as it was. The setting was nice, though, across the road from a beach.
Shave ice, wherever you can find it. We stopped at Keneke’s on the way back from Sandy Beach Park to Kailua
Leonard’s Bakery – this deserves all the recommendations and hype it gets. The malisades were delicious (and much bigger than I expected), and we picked up a loaf of Pao Doce for breakfast – delicious!
Ted’s Bakery Haupia Pie – We grabbed a slice from a market to have after lunch one day and it, too, merits the hype. One slice is plenty, though, as it gets a little sweet …
Buying fresh young coconut from a roadside stand – so refreshing!
Having pineapple nearly every day after walking into our rental and encountering the amazing smell from the pineapple our thoughtful ‘landlord’ had included in a lovely welcome basket of Hawaiian treats. We bought one for every day and cut it up to take to the beach. Heaven.
Finally, one of the craziest things of the trip at Heeia National Park … we pulled into a parking area and saw at least 50 feral cats and about 30 wild chickens, just hanging out! They were co-existing, eating some type of meal scatted around. It was so funny and weird!
We flew back to Raleigh on the red eye (again through Atlanta, and again a very pleasant flight) and got back yesterday around noon to SNOW! Quite a shock but oh well. It helps to jump-start the holiday spirit. Aloah, Hawaii, and mahalo for an excellent time.