We did not rent a car in Oahu, figuring that we could easily work out some sort of transportation for wherever we wanted to go. To visit the North Shore of Oahu, we signed up for a tour. Cal likes the ease of not having to drive, and I like having someone point out what we are seeing. We chose a small group tour, less than 20 people, so we were riding around in a van as opposed to a huge bus.
Our very first stop was not far from Waikiki, at the Diamond Head lookout, for a great view over Kuilei Cliffs. Diamond Head was up and behind us here, and it is where throngs of people stood to watch Amelia Earhart be the first person to fly solo from Hawaii on the US mainland in 1935. A marker here commemorates the occasion.
The waters off Kuilei Cliffs are popular for surfing, and people from all over the world come to surf. The spot is also known as “Seven Continents” for that reason.
There were surfers in the water, but they look like tiny dots from this vantage point.
Next stop: Halona Blowhole. If I’ve ever seen a blowhole before, I don’t remember it, and it is pretty fascinating to watch.
A blowhole is a sea cave in which water is forced landwards and upwards by the action of the waves. The water comes up through the hole, and creates a dramatic geyser effect. Above, the hole only has a small puff of water to the right of the bottom-most person that is standing there, like steam through a teakettle, but then the big wave that you see creates the geyser in the picture below.
Whoosh! It was fun to watch how high the water would go!
We had a stop at the “Tropical Farms of Hawaii”. It’s billed as a stop at a macademia nut farm, but their trees aren’t here. This is really just an outlet. I’ve been on tours before where they make these commercial stops and I always see them as a bid to get our tourist dollars. They know us tourists are going to spend money, and usually we oblige. They had many flavors of packaged macadamia nuts with samples for us. I would rather have been able to see the trees, but the nuts were delicious. The honey roasted and the cinnamon sugar were our favorites. They also had some coffee samples.
While waiting for our group, I walked around outside and admired this bird of paradise:
This thicket of greenery was so tall:
Chinaman’s Hat is a basalt island named for its resemblance to the peasants hats worn in rural China. The Hawaiian name is Mokoli’i, which means “little lizard”. I just call it beautiful.
As we rode up the coast we passed beach homes, parks, and gorgeous ocean scenes. We had to remember to look out the other side of the bus, the mountain side, which was just as beautiful:
Lunch on this tour was a stop at a shrimp farm. We received an incredibly huge pile of shrimp, which we had to peel, plus rice, corn, and a wedge of pineapple. This was one of my favorite meals on our trip.
We had a long stop at Hale’iwa beach. We were supposed to snorkel to see turtles, but the waves were deemed to be too high. When we arrived at the beach, it was decided that it was okay, but by that time we had left our suits back in the van. We missed the boat on this one, but we enjoyed the beach anyway. And we did see turtles.
Watching the waves, we caught sight of a flipper here, a foot there, and occasionally a head bobbing up. Then – full view!
While driving, we had gone past excellent surfing beaches: Hale’iwa Alii Beach Park, Sunset Beach, and Banzai Pipeline, which was having a competition while we drove by. We also passed Waimea Bay, which put the Beach Boys song “Surfin’ USA” in my head for a while. There were many surfers and paddle boarders on Hale’iwa as well.
We still had plenty of time because this was a long stop. Cal wanted ice cream, so we walked over to a nearby beach town. I enjoyed looking at some of the murals painted on the buildings while we were there.
Last stop: the Dole Plantation. Pineapples used to be a huge cash crop in Hawaii. In 1901, James Dole opened the first pineapple plantation, named the Hawaiian Pineapple Company. The Hawaiian Islands were exclusive producers of pineapple until the 1960’s, when pineapples began to be available in other nations around the globe. It is still grown here in Oahu, but mainly for Hawaiian and US consumption.
I could have learned all this on their train tour, but as I realized when we arrived, there was no time for the train tour. I had wanted to see pineapples growing in a field but our stop here was only 15 minutes. I guess I should have done my homework better on this one, but it was only a minor disappointment. We stood in line to share a Dole Whip, which is the thing to do. They are absolutely, delectably delicious and a cool refreshing treat on a hot day. I found them available everywhere both in Oahu and Maui.
There were some gardens next to the gift shop and treat truck, and we raced through. I was able to see some pineapple plants with a pineapple growing on one of them. Only one, but better than none.
We ate a lot of pineapple in Hawaii, of course, and every bite that I tasted was so sweet and juicy.
In the garden, it was interesting to see what cacao trees look like:
I caught this chicken strutting its stuff in the Dole Garden. I mentioned that we heard roosters crowing from our condo in the previous Oahu post. We saw feral chickens running all over Hawaii. The first chickens were a red jungle fowl brought several hundred years ago by Polynesians colonizing Hawaii. Chickens were also brought to Hawaii from the European colonists, cross bred with the Polynesian chickens, and escaped from coops during hurricanes. They’re fun for the tourists, not so fun for people that own property.
It was a long drive back to Honolulu. We arrived just in time for rush hour traffic, happy that someone else was doing the driving!
Next time: Polynesian Cultural Center