Malaikahana Recreation Area, on the north shore of Oahu

V’s idea today was to give us a tour of the island and give us a sense of where we are on Oahu and the setup of the island. It was a very good idea. His condo is smack in the middle of Honolulu, and so we headed north-east-ish out the Pali Highway and began our counterclockwise loop of the island.

The Pali Highway (Hwy 61) on Oahu

ginger flower

Right away we were in the jungle forests I recall from my one other visit to this archipelago state. V chose the winding roads vs. highways when possible. In between drooping dripping vines, we spotted fog-topped peaks in the distance. The scenes kept reminding me of the movie King Kong. Ha ha! One constant delight through the day was the scent of ginger blossoms. We saw golden and white ginger, each with different but intoxicating aromas.

wild chickens

We stopped for a grand vista at the Pali lookout. In the parking lot we were delighted to find wild chickens pecking through the grass. I assume they were domestic birds at some point in their heritage, now the hens clucked to their chicks to keep out of the way of tourist children. The view from the Pali lookout was pretty awesome, and very windy. This was the site of a significant battle in Hawaiian history, in 1795.

View from Pali Lookout

At the Pali Lookout. It was windy!

Chinaman’s Hat

Our next stop was at the Kualoa Regional Park. The park sloped gracefully onto a wide empty beach and then opened up into a vast expanse of brilliant sun and sea. Not too far off shore is an island V calls Chinaman’s Hat, whose name is also Mokolii. Tara and I were equally eager to spend time walking this beach, splashing through the water, picking up broken pieces of coral for souvenirs. We eventually left the beach and walked to a nearby ruins of the Kualoa Sugar Mill, the first sugar mill built on Oahu. It was closed in 1871 when owners realized there was not enough rain in that spot to grow cane for sugar.

V and T on the beach at Kualoa Point

ruins of sugar mill

We drove through Kaaawa, and I was delighted to hear that one pronounces all three of those a’s in the name. After that we found our favourite beach of all on the north shore (photo at the top). We loved the Malaikahana Recreation Area beach so much we decided then and there to make it an actual destination on Friday, and spend hours there. The appeal of this beach is that it has all the stunning scenery and almost NO people! We walked a long way down the beach and spotted three people lying on towels, and one person in a vehicle parked for the view. Other than that, it was our beach. V said usually he didn’t see anyone at all there. It is truly mystifying to me that people are thrilled to be shoulder-to-shoulder on the popular beaches, yet leave this equally stunning beach to the sand crabs. Since we didn’t surf Monday, we made plans to try to surf here on Friday (which might also give our sunburns time to heal).

red-crested cardinal

We stopped for a great meal near the beach in Laie and I had fish and a banana daiquiri, in keeping with the vacation/island theme. Then we moved on to continue our tour. We came back through an island valley again, and the highway rises overlooked Pearl Harbor for a brief time, long enough to spot an aircraft carrier and several Navy ships docked. They looked so impressive. I wanted to take a look, but on the highway we were removed from the shore and traffic was a mess, so we drifted past. V took us up into the hills in hopes of a good view of Pearl Harbor itself, but houses understandably crowded the slopes, leaving no good views for us tourists.

crepuscular rays over Honolulu

Sunset over Waikiki

Our final stop of the day was on Round Top, which V had been lauding since even before we made the trip. A Must-See View! So we made our way up there, growing weary from our long day but still ready for continued adventure. The late day approach turned out to be a boon, since we hit the overview point right at sunset, and captured some truly stunning photos all along the shore: of Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, Waikiki, and Diamond Head.

Diamond Head made golden by light

Another sunset photo from Round Top showing a plane leaving the Honolulu airport (sorry for all the sunset pics, but they were just so awesome!)