Aloha, Part II: Beaches of the North Shore

NOTE: These blog posts are written in three parts, approximately a week since I visited. I still have to figure out the travel-while-blogging balance.

We designated Wednesday, our second full day on Oahu, for the beach. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you view it), we weren’t able to spend much time swimming with the waves, as it was a big surf day. When Hawaii says it’s a big surf day, they mean it: even with my experience with Atlantic coast waves, they were no match for the strong current of the Pacific.

To fuel up for the day ahead, we stopped at Kono’s, famous for their breakfasts in Hale’iwa. They didn’t disappoint, though it isn’t your traditional pancakes, waffles and eggs joint. I had coffee and a vegetable breakfast burrito, which was delicious. The small restaurant in a strip mall had one enticing benefit for locals: if you get a surfing pig tattoo, you get 25% off for life. There were pictures of various tattoos on the wall of the store, which were neat to see!

As if that wasn’t filling enough, I decided to beat the shave ice lines at Matsumoto Shave Ice by being one of their first customers. It was strange to be the only one in line, as on our first full day, I noticed lines often stretched halfway across the courtyard on the property. I had heard a lot about shave ice, and was told that if you want a true Hawaiian experience, order your shave ice with azuki beans. After much deliberation, I decided, why not? The small, with beans, was $3.50 and extremely delicious!


At this point, I told my friend she would probably have to roll me to the car to get to the beaches, though in the end, it wasn’t necessary.

My co-workers gave me a few suggestions to visit in the North Shore, and one of them was the popular Waimea Bay Park. It was fairly busy even though we got there early. The lifeguards did a good job of driving around on their ATV to tell folks about the high surf warning, and to encourage folks to not go swimming, only to dip feet in water.

Around lunchtime, we moved down the street to Ted’s Bakery, a recommendation from my coworker for their plate lunches and pie. Too full for a meal, I opted for their signature chocolate haupia cream pie. I don’t know what haupia is, but the pie was sweet and creamy with a deliciously flaky crust.

I waddled from Ted’s to Sunset Beach Park. The big surf at the beach offered great surfboard watching for me while I read my book. After a time, I noticed a big brown thing in the water, slowly floating to shore. At first, I thought it a log, but then it moved: a seal! He didn’t look well, appearing to let the waves push him onto the beach. Surprisingly to me, none of the beach-goers moved from their chairs or towels as the animal swiggled closer, finally laying to rest midway between the water and the people. A crowd gathered, myself included, to take pictures. Not knowing what to do, my friend googled ‘finding seals on beach,’ and I called the seal hotline to report him. They asked me where the seal was and promised to check in on him in a little bit! We didn’t stay long enough to see if they arrived, as by this time, I had enough with the big surf and wanted to swim in the ocean.


There was a good place to do that safely, in a natural cove called Shark’s Cove, just down the street. The smart swimmers were wearing snorkle gear and flippers or feet protection. I, however, was not: but it was fun to be able to swim with views of the waves lapping across the volcanic rocks. I didn’t swim long in the cove, but not for lack of want: the salt got into my eyes, making it difficult to stay.


My friend had heard from a local about an ancient burial ground high on the hill near the beach. We would never have found it without their instructions: tucked away high on the hillside on tight turns and steep cliffs, the burial site appears to still be in use. I can’t pronounce it, but legend goes that the volcano god jumped off the cliff to save the town (I think. I should’ve written it down). The site was impressive in three stages on the side of the hill, though I only could see the top part since I didn’t have appropriate footwear (ah, beach day). Offerings are still left at the site, which is nice to see.

Thanks to an Instagram follower, we stopped by Lani beach (not sure on the correct name), to see turtles: we arrived right on time to see a 37-year-old sea turtle taking in the midday sun. While the beach is known for turtles, I was surprised to see that a volunteer is always manning the shore in case one shows up to ensure tourists stay back, answer questions, and identify the turtle, if possible. We also learned that touching a sea turtle would cost you $1,000.

We went back to the condo to recharge, because laying on a beach is exhausting in the hot sun: I realized how much I burned, despite frequent sunscreen application.

Still full from the day’s food adventures, we opted to eat a light meal at The Beachhouse in Hale’iwa because they offered views of the beach. Unfortunately, the second story of the restaurant was closed for restoration (or for the spring, it’s not clear). It didn’t matter: the first floor bar area offered not just sea views, but coastal bay views too. We ordered seaweed seasoned curly fries; me, a Mai Tai and later vodka lemonade. I learned Mai Tai’s are not my favorite: too much rum, though the presentation was great! My motto is sometimes ‘there’s always room for dessert,’ so I made room for an entire deconstructed banana split, which was worth the addition to my stomach.


Even though she probably won’t ever read this — here’s a shout out to our waitress, Ashley, was awesome: she even tried to help me find my mystical drink-in-a-pineapple!

All in all, it was a great day, despite the sunburn! Though, as I write this, I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned the chickens! They wander around like they own the island, with no way of controlling the population, except for the homeless people who probably eat them for dinner.




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