After a great day of snorkeling at Hanauma Bay we were ready to see more beautiful beaches. On Sunday, December 21, Merri Beth, Zander, Coco, my mom, and I loaded into the rental car and headed to the east side of Oahu to drive up the coast and to relax on the beach. Our first stop was the Nu‘uanu Pali lookout.
Before heading out to the east side I got in a surf session at Diamond Head. I was out of our apartment in Waikiki around 7:00 am. By the time I got to Diamond Head (just a short drive) there were cars everywhere. The surf was really good today and it was packed.
I walked down the path to the beach and paddled out. There must have been about 50 people on each peak. Getting the good waves were hard because the long boarders would snatch them up on the outside. I caught a few waves, then went on a dry spell for about 30 minutes or so. I finally caught a few more waves and headed back to the beach.
Nu‘uanu Pali lookout and the east side
We took the Pali Highway over the mountain and made a short stop at the Nu‘uanu Pali lookout. What a spectacular view of Kaneohe. The view is green and lush, and the water sparkles different shades of blue.
We enjoyed the breathtaking view and avoided the man with the parrot on our way back to the car. Back on the Pali Highway we went through a few tunnels and picked up 83 through Kanehoe, Heeia, Kahalu’u, and Waikane. Our destination was Kualoa park.
Kualoa park is a regional park with excellent beaches and great views of Mokoli’i Island, better known as Chinaman’s Hat. I saw people kayak and stand-up paddleboard (SUP) over to Mokoli’i where you can hike to the top.
Our crew set up on the beach and enjoyed the calm waters protected by a swimmers wall. The rocky bottom still takes some getting used to. Zander found a coconut on the beach and was determined to get it open. We didn’t tell him that the coconut husk he found was just the outer layer of the fruit.
Our time on the beach went by too quickly and it was time to find some lunch. We enjoyed the sand, sun, and water for almost two hours. Then I was on Yelp looking for some grinds.
We continued driving along the coast and really enjoyed seeing the different beaches and being able to drive right next to the water. We ordered lunch at Papa Oles Kitchen. What a great find—traditional Hawaiian style plates! We got our food to go and planned on finding a beach park to eat at.
Sunset Beach and sea turtles
Our drive on the Windward side of the island eventually lead us to the North Shore. We ate our food from Papa Oles at Velzyland near Kawela Bay, Hawaii—which is near Turtle Bay. MB and I enjoyed the garlic shrimp, very flavorful and just the right amount of garlic.
After we ate, we stopped at Sunset Beach to watch the surfers on the big waves coming in. It was definitely bigger than when we came up the other day. It was breaking pretty far out, but you could tell that the surf was in the 8-12 foot range when a surfer caught a wave. Amazing to watch. I kind of wish I could have paddled out, but I’m not sure if I had the right board. Zander and I watched the surfers and the beach scene for a while, sitting on the parking dividers along the beach path.
Our next stop was Laniakea Beach to see if we could find some sea turtles. This is a spot where the sea turtles come on the beach to rest and warm up in the sun. We were in luck, there were four turtles out, including a younger sea turtle. We stayed for a while and listened to some of the volunteers who are very knowledgeable about the turtles. Zander even asked a few questions.
The sea turtles were definitely enjoying their rest and were pretty motionless while we were observing. We did see a few eyes blink and perhaps a yawn or two. The volunteers have ropes set-up so that people don’t disturb them (which means you know that people have gone up to the turtles in the past). It was getting late and the sun started to set over the mountains.
Back to Waikiki
Our drive up the Windward side of the island was amazing. Great views, crystal clear water, and green, lush vegetation. We took the highway back, down the middle of the island as our fastest route back to Waikiki. We had a pretty long and exhausting day. When the kids fall asleep in the car on the way back, you know they were tired. Plus this whole 5-hour time difference wasn’t helping them.
Once we got back to the apartment, we unpacked from the day and got the kids to bed after we had some birthday cake and told everyone about a surprise we had for them. Tomorrow, we were island hopping and heading to Kauai!
Merri Beth and I wanted to walk around Waikiki to check out the night scene. We checked out the Quiksilver store and took some mental notes on some items we liked. We ended our night at Yard House for a snack.
We tried some beer from Maui Brewing Company and ordered some salads and pupu’s to share. We devoured the Ahi Poke bowl and shrimp ceviche. We are definitely enjoying the local brews and the fresh seafood.