Holiday in Hawaii #12
Oahu’s North Shore is famous for big surf and tasty shrimp, and it’s definitely a place we want to visit. It’s only an hour’s drive from Honolulu but there’s so much more to see on the way; we spend a whole day getting there.
Oahu is divided by the Ko’olau mountain range, the remnant of a massive shield volcano which is thought to have last erupted only 10 000 years ago. The Pali Highway climbs from Nu’uanu Valley through several tunnels to Nu’uanu Pali Lookout before descending to the coast on the windward side of the island. It was at the sheer cliffs of the lookout that King Kamehameha I defeated the army of Chief Kalanikupule in 1795.
Kane’ohe is the largest community on the windward side of the island. Tucked away at the base of the mountain range outside Kane’ohe are the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens, where lush tropical plants from around the world cover 400 acres..
From the gardens we continue on Highway 830, which heads north along the coast. There are reminders of Oahu’s volcanic past all along the highway. Tiny Mokoli’i Island, a volcanic cinder cone, rises out of the ocean just off shore. We stop for a snack at Kane’oha Bay, where black lave flows separate the road from the narrow strip of white, sandy beach and the ocean.
We might have just eaten, but we’re still thinking about lunch; it’s shrimp we’ve come for. Giovanni’s shrimp van is the most famous of Hawaii’s unique dining experiences; consequently the queue is very long.
We’ve heard there are plenty more vans on the highway and we’re too hungry to wait, so we travel a few kilometres up the road to another one. The menu is tempting and it’s difficult to choose. Eventually we order a serve each of buttery garlic shrimp and crisp coconut shrimp to share. Along with the shrimp vans there are market garden stands on the highway, laden with fresh tropical fruit and vegetables for sale.
At Waimea Bay, where board riders pay homage to surfing legends Duke Kahanamoku and Eddie Aikau, the surf is up and the water is wild. The beaches are closed, but that doesn’t stop some swimmers from taking risks in the pounding waves.
Our round trip continues on to Waimea Valley, an historical area with a beautiful tropical garden. It’s almost closing time when we arrive so we just wander around the gardens, admiring the monkey pod trees with their vast spreading canopies. The resident peacocks and the wild roosters, both sporting beautiful plumage, compete for our attention.
We return to Honolulu via Highway 99, past sugar cane fields ready for harvest. The mountains are lit by the setting sun, and by the time we’re home the sun is gone and the lights of Waikiki are twinkling.
We’ve journeyed from Honolulu to the North Shore and back again, on an all day round trip – a distance of just 136 kilometres!