Sunday, June 2, 2019

Hawaii 2019: Oahu - The Grand Circle Tour

The morning kicked off with a hike up Diamond Head, shower and hotel check-out, and a trip to the mall.   Our next hotel was only 40 minutes away but it took us 6 hours to get there.  That’s because we turned right instead of left from Honolulu to head east for a day of touring.  Our route would follow the highway to the North Shore then back down to the Ko’olina resort area. 

Of course we encountered a mostly overcast day with a few drizzles in between.  Not a good day for pictures along the coast.  GyPSy Guide told us about the areas we were driving through and gave us some good tips.   Our first pullover along the road was to get a view of Rabbit Island.   Not sure why it’s a thing, but it was.  

On Holly’s must-see List was the Byodo-In Japanese Temple.  The original Magnum P.I. show did some filming here and she always wanted to see it in-person.  The temple is on the grounds of a multi-national/multi-faith cemetary.  The building, built in the 1960’s to commemorate Japanese immigration to the island is very ornate and stands out from the sourrounding mountains with its red frame.  Inside is a pretty statue of Buddha.   In the moat are a gazillion koi.   For a few dollars you can buy a bag of koi food and feed them.  These guys are trained for feeding time.  The black swan was an added bonus.

Further up the road we passed through the beach town of Kanaha. It’s a place we only knew about because Kona Brewing named a beer after the area.   You should try it. 95 calories and full of craft beer flavor.  No reason to stop due to the rain. 

Somewhere along the way we caught a glimpse of a monk seal on the beach.  We pulled over for a closer look (not too close). A volunteer was present to be sure folks kept their distance and to inform visitors about the seals. This particular seal came here a lot. 

Also along the route we saw the Chinaman’s Hat island and the Kualoa Ranch made famous in many movies like Jurassic Park.  We also made a stop at the Turtle Bay Resort to take a look at the coastline and see the site of a tv show we used to like - The North Shore.

Finally time for lunch.  We stopped in Kahuka where a bunch of little cottages and food trucks gathered. We chose the popular Giovanni’s for their famous garlic shrimp.   Excellent choice! Your fingers will get greasy here but worth it.

We checked out a few more surf beaches including The Bonzai Pipeline. The horrible weather kept the crowds low but the extremely tight parking areas were full of cars.  We arrived right before a competition started. 

Our final stop before arriving at Aulani was for shave ice at Matsumoto’s in Haleiwa - the main town of the North Shore.   Besides shave ice the town has a lot of shops, galleries, and a few restaurants.  We don’t spend much time in town this visit since we plan to have an outing back to the area a few days later.  The ice below is fully loaded with ice cream, boba balls, bean sprouts, and creme topping.

The trip to our hotel from Haleiwa took about 40 minutes.  We had a great time exploring Oahu and we were looking forward to seeing what else the North Shore had to offer.  
A few days later we needed a break from all the children at Disney Aulani’s Resort (more on that in a future post).  Our first stop was the Dole Plantation for a tour of their pineapple fields.  The first thing you notice here is the massive souvenir / food shop.  Everything touristy Hawaii is here. We bought tickets for the Pineapple Express ~$11 each to take a 20 minute tour of the fields on a tiny train.   Of course they take your picture pre-boarding to sell to you later.    It’s obvious these aren’t the real production fields.  Everything looked kinda neglected.   The best part of the tour is the stupid theme song, available exclusively on CD for $5 in the store.   We didn’t buy one, but then regretted it upon returning home so we asked a friend to procure us a copy on their trip a few months later.  It’s actually a good album for the money.    The Plantation is as cheesy as you would expect it to be and we hesitate calling it a must-do.   If it fits in with your itinerary then make a stop, but don’t plan a trip around it.

We made a quick stop at the Green World Coffee Farms.  The line was too long to wait for a drink so we just browsed the shop quickly and Dave drank a few free samples.

Back in Haleiwa we spent some time browsing the shops and galleries.   We found we really liked the art of Nick Kuchar - some great retro style Hawaiian based art.  We made another stop for shave ice at Matsumoto’s before hitting more shops.  For lunch we stopped at Haleiwa’s Beach House and shared a beef stir fry and pork grilled cheese.   Excellent food and location across from the beach. 

That covers all of our outings outside the resort.  The next post in our Hawaii series will cover Disney’s Aulani Resort and the area of Ko Olina. 

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