Today, we spent the day exploring Oahu’s beautiful north shore. After participating in lifeboat testing in the morning, we caught a cab from the port of Honolulu to the nearest U-Haul rental center. As a 19 year old, it’s nearly impossible to rent a car. U-Haul, however, rents trucks to anyone over the age of 18. We rented a Ford F-150 pickup truck and set out to drive around the island of Oahu.
Our first stop was in the center of the island, at the Dole Pineapple Plantation. We had heard that it was a must-see. Although Dole no longer grows pineapples commercially in Hawaii, they have preserved their original plantation, complete with fields of pineapple plants and informative exhibits on pineapples and how they are grown. We learned that pineapples grow only one per plant, and take nearly two years each to fully develop. An extensive gift shop sells just about every pineapple-themed item you can think of: pineapple cakes, pastries, gummies, jelly beans, juice, tea, hard candy, and more. One of the most delicious creations we found was pineapple soft-serve ice cream. We also sampled some locally-grown fruits at a nearby farmers market, including starfruit, coconut, papaya, apple bananas, and (of course) pineapple. Apple bananas are smaller, sweeter bananas that have an almost apple-like taste, and are found almost exclusively in Hawaii.
Next, we continued on through Oahu’s farm country, where fields of pineapple and other fruits and vegetables grow in vast fields of red volcanic soil. We drove on to the small north-shore surfing town of Hale’iwa, where we rented a two-man kayak from a small, beachfront surf shop. After paddling around the clear blue waters of Hale’iwa’s protected bay, we made our way about a mile up the Anahulu River, Oahu’s longest river, where we saw sea turtles swimming beneath us and sunning themselves on the banks of the river.
After our kayaking adventure, we explored the small town of Hale’iwa, full of eclectic shops and restaurants. For lunch, we had some delicious burgers. For dessert, we enjoyed classic Hawaiian shave ice at Matsumoto’s Grocery, a favorite spot among locals and tourists alike. We continued on to Hale’iwa’s surfing beach, and watched surfers ride Hawaii’s famously massive waves, before retreating to the more protected bay for an afternoon swim.
After some down time at the beach, we jumped back in the truck and continued driving along the north shore, past the famously dramatic landscapes of Waimea Bay and Shark’s Cove. Along the way, we enjoyed the area’s surprisingly diverse radio stations, ranging from Sinatra to traditional Hawaiian to funk. We stopped at a small, roadside beach and discovered some amazing tide pools in the volcanic rock along the shore. By this time, it was nearing sunset, so we decided to stop at Sunset Beach to watch. As the name suggests, the sunset was incredible. As the sun set, we watched surfers catch twenty-foot waves at the nearby Pipeline, one of the most famous surf spots in the world.
As it grew dark, we continued our drive around the island back towards Honolulu. Hannah and I were both glad to see the north shore, as it felt more authentically Hawaiian than the highly developed and touristy south shore. We returned the U-Haul and headed back to Waikiki, where we walked along the waterfront and did some shopping. For dinner, we enjoyed some delicious fresh fish at the Duke’s Canoe Club, a famous restaurant on Waikiki Beach. For dessert, we had Hula Pie, an amazing combination of vanilla ice cream, chocolate, oreos, and crushed macadamia nuts. Afterwards, we caught a cab back to the ship to get some rest after an incredible day in Hawaii.