It just happens to be one of those days, when you want to drop everything, get in the car and drive up the coast. Living in Kailua, there’s plenty of beaches to walk and turquoise waters but there’s something about Oahu's North Shore that feels like a much-needed vacation.
From Kailua, I cruise on Kamehameha Highway and hug the coast. Windows down, Jack Johnson blasting, and the ocean sitting shotgun. Passing the kalo fields in Kahaluu means the Waiahole Poi Factory is not far away. This area of Kaneohe is lush and filled with streams making their way to the ocean which is the prime location for wet kalo fields. The poi factory’s poi is fresh, making it mildly tangy and the perfect condiment for their laulau/kalua pig plate. After the quick stop, my journey continues.
Kamehameha Highway lazily twists and turns darting in and out of lush tropical forest and coastal views. Cattle graze in the shady pastures of Kualoa Ranch to my left, which means Kualoa Point is not far. The highway opens up to be nearly on the strip of beach across from the ranch. One of my favorite stretches of highway on Oahu, there are only two lanes and small strips of white sand beach hugging the road from Kaawa all the way up to Haleiwa. The smell of sea spray fills the car as I mosey up through Laie.
Past the shrimp trucks in Kahuku the road darts back inland. The entrance to Turtle Bay comes up on my right while across the street fields of agriculture land are being tilled and planted. Decision time is approaching, one of the most important decisions of the day – which beach do I stop at first?
Velzyland, which can’t be seen from the street is a nice secluded area and popular winter surf spot. It has both left and right breaks, and the trees along the beach offer nice shade. But, I don’t really feel like walking so Sunset Beach it is! There is parking right off the road at Sunset and plenty of beach to walk along. I sink into the white powdery sand and watch waves crashing. A pack of teenage girls ride beach cruisers on the bike path that runs alongside the highway for most of Haleiwa.
Looking for a bit more action I jump in the car and head to Pipeline. Banzai Pipeline, Pipeline, or Pipe never seems to disappoint. Gorgeous clean waves with some sets towering at 9 feet, this is why Pipeline is so famous. Bruce Browns, the documentary filmmaker who gave birth to the surf film genre (The Endless Summer), named Pipeline and Velzyland while filming. Pipeline is the location for Pipe Masters, the Volcom Pipe Pro, IBA Pipeline Pro, and Pipeline Bodysurfing Classic because it is epic in every sense of the word.
Shark’s Cove for some snorkeling rounded out the North Shore Oahu trip. A great Oahu scuba location, Shark’s Cove has tons of fish and coral that can be experienced from snorkeling as well as scuba diving. It is by no accident that I’m at Shark’s Cove around dinner time. Across the street is the Haleiwa food truck scene. All kinds of food from Thai to burgers are represented in this cluster of semi-permanent food trucks. My absolute favorite is the Alji Limo Truck. It serves up Peruvian-Japanese fusion that hits the spot after a day-long adventure on Oahu’s North Shore. Ceviche is my favorite with a Pupukea salad. I take it to go and head back over to Sunsets to grab a spot to watch the sun sink down into the blue Pacific.
This journey up to North Shore hit the spot, as did the ceviche. Sitting with my toes in the sand residents and tourists alike pour out of their beachside homes to watch the North Shore sunset. As the sun burns orange and the clouds turn bubblegum pink, I think to myself, this is my happy place.