When I left you last we were on our way over to Oahu, where 2/3 of Hawaii’s population reside. Which is mind blowing as we were coming from Kauai where 80% of the island is undiscovered & uninhabited. From one extreme to the next we knew we’d be in for a bit more traffic and a lot more people, but we knew it wouldn’t be something we bothered ourselves with too much as our “home” for the remainder of our trip was up on Oahu’s North Shore. Known for it’s insane surf, having annual resident contests including The Eddie, and the 3 events that make up the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. It was through a movie that I first learned about The North Shore (cue my girl crush on Kate Bosworth in Blue Crush) and immediately knew that one day I would need to see those swell for myself. And man did we ever get the best Aloha welcome from The North Shore! During our time on Kauai, Mikey was getting weather alerts about the high surf warnings back on Oahu and we were hoping & praying that things settled down a bit for our arrival, but in the end I’m pretty sure we were both equally as stoked that the surf kept its height up.
When we arrived at Honolulu International airport we were greeted instantly by heaps of people which was something we’d anticipated, so we took our time in picking up our rental (again from Hawaii Discount but not as awesome as our car on Kauai, learned a lot about cars traveling around with a mechanic I’ll tell ya that ;)) and prepped ourselves for the hour and thirty five minute drive up the coast to the North Shore. Getting out of Honolulu is a bit of a headache, especially at close to 5pm, but it wasn’t long before we were off the ever changing 2-7 lane motorway and on a 1 way “highway” along the coast. Now on Kauai there were mountain, incredible cliff faces peaks stretching up to the clouds, but on Oahu you felt like you could reach your hand out the window and simply touch them
We immediately felt so much closer than we could have ever imagined, and here is where we first noticed just how serious those high surf warnings were.
Driving along a stretch of highway right on the ocean we noticed a lot of yellow caution tape as well as people slowing down, and we quickly saw why that was – the surf was coming up over the metal barrier and onto the road! Not high enough to cause us a major accident or meltdown, but just high enough to notice the sand and debris covering the road. We took our time the rest of that stretch of road and managed to make it up to our condo without any issue. Our condo, the cutest little beach studio one could imagine right on the edge of ‘Sunset Beach’ and close enough to hear the surf at all hours, was found using this awesome website VRBO . Like Air B&B this is where individuals with rental properties, or second homes can rent out to travellers like ourselves for a fraction of the coast of a hotel, with far more amenities. A secluded ground unit with full bathroom, and kitchen amenities (minus a stove) a BBQ, laundry facilities & secure coded entry, it was definitely a great spot in terms of relaxation factor, but maybe not so ideal when we realized all the hikes & activities we wanted to take part in were in the lower half of the island. A big shout out goes to my main travel partner in crime for all the driving he did throughout the whole trip but especially on Oahu (B, I swear one day I’ll get my licence and repay you for all the driving!).
With our late arrival into the North Shore, we figured a quick bite to eat and some planning would be the way to go for us so we made a pit stop at the grocery store where we quickly realized that the insanely high surf had brought out an insane amount of surfers..and none other than one of my faves & legends – Kelly Slater!! My inner pro surfer fan girl was going ballistic, but I maintained composure and smiled his way still awestruck that I had actually seen him in real life (dude is SERIOUSLY tanned & toned). It wasn’t until we got back that we figured out why the surfer crowd & Kelly Slater may have stampeded their way to The North Shore – The Eddie. Also known as The Quicksilver Big Wave Invitational, this contest calls the infamous Waimea Bay home base after one of surfing’s greatest legends; Eddie Aikau. Between December 1st and February 28th/29th the contest officials keep their fingers crossed for ideal conditions, swells 25 ft and above (the bigger the better) and 28 invited surfers from around the world are asked to surf in Eddie’s memory. And as lady luck would have it the contest organizers were calling for perfect conditions for the following morning! So for the first time since 2009 the contest was a go, and we we’re going to be there for it. Bright an early the next morning we realized that leaving the car parked at our condo probably would have been our best bet, but regardless we found a parking spot and made our way out along with hordes of other people to see a few sets. We found a sweet little spot at the top of someone's drive way where we could see straight out into the oncomming surf.
We decided to head off after about an hour & a half and get our legs back in hiking mode. Heading down from the North Shore about an hour we found ourselves in a pretty residential area, parking our car a few feet from a pretty schwanky golf course, which was a bit confusing to us as we were meant to be going on a hike. But, after a a turn away from the golf course we had found what we were looking for - The Lanakai Pillboxes hike!
These "pillboxes" were once used as shelters during WW II for soldiers along the coast and are now used as wicked viewing platforms for the tourists who battle the steep dry terrain to get to the top. We had gotten pretty used to the lack of humidity on Kauai that it pretty much knocked the wind out of us on this afternoon when it was probably about 32 degrees (celsius) sun high up in the sky (but thankfully a breeze once we got to the top). But we managed to make it to all 3 of the pillboxes taking break along to the way to take in the insanely beautiful views of the Oahu coast including the Pacific Ocean, Mokulua Islands, Kailua and The Enchanted lakes. Apologies in advance because I'll tell you right now that photos do not do a bit of justice to the colour of the ocean surrounding Oahu. It really makes you feel like you are in the most tropical of destinations.
There is every possibility that if not for Mikey I would have spent the entire day up there and been hard pressed to make my way back down. I couldn't tear my eyes away from this view and it's still something I dream about now that we're back. But we did have another stop on our agenda for that afternoon so I reluctantly started the 40 minute descent (the whole trail is about 90 minutes return, without stopping to pick your jaw up out of the dirt of course) and onwards to find some waterfalls! Not even 20 minutes east of Lanakai we found ourselves in yet another residential area (further proving just how populated Oahu is in comparison to Kauai) which we had read about, and looked to find a good location to leave the car that wouldn't result in us getting a ticket or worse, having the car broken into (theft is apparently quite common in Hawaii, however we thankfully never experienced that). Round trip this trail is about 2.5 hours depending on stops along the way and if you jump in for a dip at the falls once you reach them, so we started off when Mikey mentioned to me that he read somewhere about the trail being quite eroded...and then we saw just what the good ol interwebs was talking about. It basically was just a giant mudpit with branches and rocks stuck in it - not exactly a hiker's vision for a trail that's for sure. But with my own personal Bear Grylls we managed to make our way through the muddy "trail" until we reached a stream, where we met a guy who rather than getting wet decided to stay back but give us directions on how to reach the falls, and in not too long we reached a river bed and could hear the water! Pretty proud of ourselves and already a little wet from the multiple stream crossings we found ourselves in the midst of a little rain storm, which quickly cleared the rest of the tourists out and left us to enjoy the falls to ourselves before heading back towards the car.
And that brings us to nearly the end of our Hawaiian adventure (cue sad faces all around)...BUT! lucky for you guys (and for me who is still reliving this adventure through these posts) there are still a few more jam packed days on Oahu to tell you about.
I'll let you sink into the tropical mud & crazy surf that was our first two days before I jump into the most intense hiking day we experienced as well as our farewell to Hawaii.
Until next time guys, hang ten🌊🏄