Visiting Oahu, Hawaii
In November Crosby and I did the unexpected (by us, anyway – everyone else seemed to expect it!) and eloped on Oahu, at Turtle Bay on the North Shore. It was a stunning experience and I blogged about it here. The entire stay was incredible and I thought I’d share a bit more from our trip. I’ve been to Oahu 3 times now and I’ve enjoyed each time tremendously, though this last one including the North Shore was particularly magical. Here, my recommendations for visiting the Island – beyond the bustling streets and beaches of Honolulu.
- Tour the Island. By land and or by air. We had the pleasure to doing both. We were staying on the North Shore, at Turtle Bay, and took a leisurely car trip up the East side of the Island (highly recommend going counter clockwise touring islands – tends to be less traffic that direction. Why? Idk.) and I was immediately struck by the contrast of the jungle covered, jagged mountains and the pristine, palm-tree decorated beaches. Having never ventured out of Honolulu on Oahu, it was clear there was much more to the island than I had known.Then, on Thanksgiving day, Ethan, Amanda, Crosby and I took a helicopter tour of Oahu. To say it was incredible (and somewhat terrifying) is an understatement. Seeing the ocean from above that way – flying through the canyon the Japanese used for attacking Pearl Harbor, hovering over the world’s tallest waterfall, and cruising over the shores of Waikiki was unforgettable. Particularly special for us was seeing Turtle Bay Resort, including the beach where we’d been married the day before!
- Learn how to surf With Uncle Brian. I’ve had three surf lessons while visiting Oahu. The first at Waikiki Beach – where surfing was “invented” – and I got up twice. The second was through Turtle Bay – on a rough surfing day – and got up once. With Uncle Brian’s capable instructors, I got up 7 times – and it would have been many more if I had stayed out there. With Uncle Brian, I felt like I actually learned HOW to surf. Not that I’m an expert, but I know the next time I surf, I’ll have a very productive time.What makes surfing with Uncle Brian different? His surfing instructors are there to instruct. We practiced numerous times on dry land, correcting my tenancy to stand up too fast by reminding me a wave is 150 meters long – staying balanced for an extra 20 meters will leave me with plenty wave to surf. Once out on the water, my instructor paddled me back out most of the way, helping me save my strength for the next round. That made a *huge* difference – I consider myself to have strong arms and to be in shape, but surfing muscles are different! Just the act of paddling from wave to wave kicked my ass the first two times. Uncle Brian & his instructors also have the respect of the locals, who treat you with kindness when you are learning the ropes.
- Eat like a local. There is some great food to be had on Oahu. There is also some really overpriced, crappy food to be had, so here are a few of my favorite ways to avoid the latter. The Elephant Shack dishes up fantastic Thai Food using local, organic produce. It was my first choice for wedding-day lunch and I would have happily eaten there every other day (but sadly they closed around the Thanksgiving holiday). Another great spot to grab a bite is Waialua Bakery & Juice Bar, across the street from Elephant Shack in Haleiwa. Along with refreshing smoothies, sandwiches and salads, they have incredibly delicious baked goods – including gluten free options. And their turkey is *real* roast turkey, so super delicious. Finally, a trip to the island isn’t complete for me without a visit (or two or three) to Bill’s Hawaii. All items are delicious, especially the breakfasts, but the kimchi fried rice takes the cake.
- Visit Waimea Valley. One of our last tourist activities and not to be missed. Wandering through the lush valley felt about as close to paradise found as you could get. The trees growing on trees, giant leaves and papaya trees dripping in fruit were just magical. We all had fantasies of being on set there for Lost or Jurassic Park. While the waterfall wasn’t all we’d hoped it would be, the gift shop provided a fantastic opportunity to stock up on Hawaii paraphernalia, including black salt, the perfect Hawaii ornament and the most delicious honey-macadamia nut butter.
Sweet shot on the helicopter ride by Amanda