Exploring the eastern coastline of O’ahu
Today Jack and Libby took me on a tour up the eastern coastline of O’ahu. While planning this trip, Jack was originally out of town this first weekend and with Libby starting a new job, I thought I would be excluded to Honolulu for foot distances. So I didn’t really plan anything major to do or see. So it was particularly awesome getting the Jack and Libby tour around to the North Shore!
First we stopped at Makapu’u Beach, with Koko Crater looming above and the Makapu’u Lighthouse peaking out. It was a scene out of a movie. The sand was stunningly bright white, the water every shade of turquoise, and there were even hang gliders and paragliders drifting through the sky above us. We stopped to catch some waves, soak up some sun, and people watch. The tide was coming in and started breaking right on the beach, and two sea lions swam up to play just off the beach in the breaking waves. It was so neat! And then there was this older couple who set there stuff down right in the impending surf zone, and it was cute watching them. The man had all white hair and big giant chops. He was standing in the break zone and getting taken out by the waves. He would just stand up and restake his footing for the next one. He looked so happy, with the biggest smile on his face, each time he came back out of the water. And then occasionally he would stand back by his wife and they would hold hands and watch the waves. If only they had figured out their stuff was going to be repeatedly soaked as they kept moving back little by little but never out of the surf zone. I almost wanted to walk over and tell them, but you would think the ever increasing waves and fact that the high tide wash zone is lower than the first sand barrier would have been fairly obvious. I still really enjoyed watching them frolic. After feeling thoroughly baked, we continued up the coast.
Just along Waimanalo are the steep spiring cliff-peak ridge-lines from the Ko’olau Range. We were on the windward side of the island where there is more rain and moisture. So the valley by Waimanalo is a luscious green. No wonder several scenes from Jurassic Park were shot here! It is also supposed to have great horseback riding. Maybe on another trip…
Next we drove into Kailua for a Kailua Beach drive by. We were really aiming for Lanikai, a small neighbor town. Libby and I took a quick hike up Pillbox vista to look out over Kailua Beach and the Mokulua Islands, as well as up the ridge line to Mt. Olomana. We stopped at a Thai restaurant in Kailua for lunch and made a Target run for road snacks.
The next portion was mostly driving. We stopped near Kane’ohe at the Byodo-In Temple. We didn’t go in but went up to the cemetery behind the temple. It was a phenomenal manicured area with extravagant gravestones and mausoleums. There was a decorative fountain with big crazy plants that were little walkways to various tombstones. We drove to the very top where there were stunning views out at the bay. Incredible piece of reality.
We took a side trip and scoped out the LDS Temple in La’ie, where Jack and Libby had a crazy experience previously. Then drove to Kahuku and bought food at a food truck dining center market area. Everything smelled great, but Aunty’s Lil Green Shop looked like the right ticket. I got a Southwest veggie salad rice bowl and home brewed lemon-ginger kombucha. There is a sugar mill and enormous Polynesian Cultural Center nearby. Maybe I will visit on a future trip.
After grabbing supper snacks, we finally arrived at our final destination, Sunset Beach on the North Shore, to watch the most magnificent sunset. I know I love the changing colors of clouds as the sun sets, but this beach is aptly named! I don’t know when I saw such a stunning beach sunset. We were at the perfect spot, technically Rocky Beach, were the sun would shine through the waves and light them up like fire with the cloud streaked rainbow growing across the sky. A group of guys showed up right as the sun became its most beautiful form and they provided nice scale on the water with that glorious sunset backdrop. We met one of the guys surfing, he broke his brand new board and came out and sat by us while his two friends finished. He seemed really nice. Once the sky was dark, it was time to drive back via the island interior, a much faster route than we drove up.
We were all pretty tired after a day of sun and driving, so it was straight to bed when we returned.
Plant sightings of note. Plumeria, a genera of flowering plants in the dogbane family Apocynaceae. It has a sweet fragrance and vibrant colors, though I love the white ones best, and it is clearly an iconic Hawaii flower for lei strands. Also two types of ginger: Hawaiian Red Ginger (Pua ‘Awapuhi refers to the stunning blossom). We saw these for sale in abundance at the cemetery near Kane-ohe. It is apparently a popular blossom to put on gravestones. Another name used is “jungle queen.” Hawaiian royalty would wear leis of red ginger at ceremonies. The other is the White Butterfly Ginger. The blossoms are clusters of pure white, butterfly-like, fragrant blooms atop stocky lush stems. I saw as we left The Rockies (i.e. Sunset Beach) tonight. I could smell it and leaned in, not knowing the stamen stuck out so far, and literally got flower pollen up my nose.
I also learned some important language details. “Mauka” mean toward the mountains, and “makai” means toward the sea. People will use those when giving directions instead of cardinal terms. “Kai” means “sea,” which explains why I thought every area along Waikiki Beach had the same name, the signs were referring to beach access points.