North Shore – Oahu
Our day exploring the North Shore and also our last full day in Hawaii! I was excited for this for a few reasons but everyone seems to love the North Shore and everything it has to offer. The drive was roughly 45 minutes away cutting through the island since there is no way around on the west side.
The first business item of the day was a surf less with Uncle Bryan’s Surf Academy. Two things with this: I wanted to do it but then Kevin didn’t think it was necessary so I did not look into anything. Then we watched a Bucket List Family video of them surfing and Kevin was all in… only a few days before we left. I quickly searched the best island and Oahu seems to be a better option than Maui, at least in the winter when the waves are not as “epic”. I had joined a fun Facebook group “Disney’s Aulani Trip Planning” and everyone highly recommended Uncle Bryan’s Surf Academy so that was an easy fix.
We made it to the town to Haleiwa for breakfast before we hit the water. The weather is already not looking so great and I have to say i was nervous about getting in the water and how cold I was going to be! But alas, acai bowls were on the menu at Haleiwa Bowls and we both ordered Mana Bowls – a base of frozen acai puree (like a sorbet) | topped with granola, local bananas, raw coconut flakes, and local raw honey.
Unfortunately there was not a great area to eat these and the rain joined us once again so we ate these in the car. For all the acai bowls we had on this trip, this one was definitely the most difficult to eat… and of course we were in the most difficult place trying to eat these without making a mess. These bowls were way too over filled so it was impossible to mix this bowl up and reach acai. It was tasty but this was some points off – difficult to eat and cant get everything in the bowl in one spoonful.
As the rain continued to come and go, we made our way to Pau’ena Point Beach Park to meet our instructor, Mike. He was a great instructor and surfed his entire life here in Hawaii. Thankfully these guys give our rash guards as a layer of warmth cause I was getting worried.
We practiced on the beach before heading into the water with the basics – hands under armpits, push up like a cobra, bring knees into belly button, step left foot forward in between hands, turn feet and knees, keep knees bent, and lift arms – all while continuing to gaze straight ahead. This reminded me of our time trapezing! I was feeling good about this.
My first wave, I did all the steps, I stood up, and road all the way in – this was awesome! My second wave I feel off the board and it was the most horrifying feeling! Unfortunately that feeling stayed with me longer than the confidence that I already got up on the board. I was satisfied watching Kevin with my new turtle friends that kept me company! While I got worse with time, Kevin actually improved and improved really well! I was so happy for him and he had a great time. I enjoyed the time on the water, just me and the adolescent turtles that seemed to keep me company. These guys are fantastic though! Highly recommend going out with Uncle Bryan and request Mike – he kept us safe, entertained, and got us catching lots of waves. It did start to get crowded towards the end of our session – it was a Saturday morning and one of the most popular beginner surfing beaches – so I would recommend getting an early session during the week.
Kevin and I were both more exhausted than we thought we would be! We were absolutely drenched from the rain… I was really hoping it would be sunny to help us drive off a bit but instead to sat in the car on our rain jackets freezing cold (well I was at least!). At least we got a glimpse of our best rainbow of the trip!
After the rain had finally stopped, we cleaned up a bit and set off to our next activity – paddle boarding with Rainbow Watersports.
Ever since we tried it for the first time in Galapagos, we looked forward to the next opportunity we had to paddleboard. I was so surprised how much we enjoyed it. I was hopeful that we would dry off by staying out of the water and basking in the sun on a relaxing paddle board up river.
I wish I had my camera on this one because we had some great turtle spottings on this paddle. While it was a bit rough getting from the ocean to the river, it was smooth sailing once we were there. We made it to the half way point where we would turn around and head down stream when the sky opened and it began to pour… and not just rain but deluge! My hopes of drying off were long gone. Nothing we could do about it so just kept paddling and laughing about it.
Now the second time getting in the car soaked, we were quickly running out of dry towels and clothing items. At this point from both physical activities we were pretty beat and hungry. I recalled that the food trucks, specifically the garlic shrimp ones, were a fun north. We passed a lot full of them just at the start of town so we headed that direction. The traffic in this area was getting a bit out of control… I guess this is what the concerns were for coming out on a weekend but I have to imagine that would be the case anywhere in the tourist/local loop.
There was no parking in the lot so we were able to find some parking walking distance (not sure if it was permitted but it worked). We got ourselves in line for Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck (cash only), ordered ourselves some garlic shrimp (comes with a dozen shrimp), and then it started to pour again.. again!!! I thought it had to be done for the day… everyone said how it rains like Florida where it pours for fifteen minutes and then its over. The rain was here to stay… and the rain jackets were draped in the car trying to dry from the extensive use as a seat cover for most of the morning. It took about ten minutes for our food to be ready – this place is quite popular – and we noted a break in the rain so we made a run for the car. Kevin popped into Haleiwa Bottle Shop for a single can of beer to enjoy with our shrimp lunch.
Oh boy these shrimp were something else – smothered in garlic and butter, and peel your own, We ended up sucking all the juices off the shell before removing it and eating the shrimp. This plate was a great portion size too, very splitable for us. This was a very get your fingers dirty kind of meal – we even ended up eating the rice with our hands, the fork was just in the way. I am sure there are more preferred shrimp trucks among locals but Giovanni’s was pretty darn delicious.
Since we had been unsuccessful with shave ice yesterday, we had the opportunity to get what would be our last one of the trip in Haleiwa. Kevin had several people reach out to him explaining that Matsumoto Shave Ice was their absolute favorite spot for the treat so we made our way to another insanely packed parking lot – lucky to have found someone pulling out on our first attempt – it was so odd to see so many people all the sudden! They have quite an assembly line producing these bowls – the line when we arrived was super long and we made it into the store in five minutes. We ordered a small with guava and papaya and condensed milk on top.
I have to say, this version was more what I had expected shave ice to be like – more of a water ice consistency, and it was just ok. I know that is blasphemy for some people but I so much preferred Ululani’s on Maui… by a lot. So this showed me that there is definitely preferences in the shave ice community – see which you prefer for yourself.
I had so many more plans for the north shore – Ehkai Pillbox, Waimea Falls, Ka’ena Point Hike – the traffic going beyond the Pau’ena Point Beach Park was grid locked and there continued to be rain. We made the tough decision to skip these as we were done being soaked for the day. These will be high on the list for a return visit. There is so much to do in this area of the island – you could probably dedicate two full days here depending on what your priorities are. While it may not have been the perfect day we planned, but for what it ended up being with the weather, I think we salvaged quite a good sampling of what the north shore has to offer.