When I was in 7th grade my Dad received orders to move us from a small town in Maryland on the Chesapeake bay to the North shore of Hawaii. As a kid on the edge of teenager-hood you can imagine I was devastated to leave my new friends of just 2 years, but also excited to move to such a beautiful and exotic location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. We were used to moving at this point; in less than 5 years we had gone from Germany to Oklahoma to El Paso to Maryland. We were all eventually excited and looking forward to it, especially my mom who was over the moon thrilled to be living in one of her dream destinations.
We spend 4 years in Hawaii. Those formative years in High School were by far my favorite. Not to mention all the beach trips, friend gatherings, trips to other islands with my family and our back yard trampoline (which contributed to many fun back yard parties with the other neighbor kids). The night we left I sobbed and sobbed on the airplane. (Sorry Dad for embarrassing you with our snotty teary-filled faces). Pre 9-11 our friends were able to see us away at the gate, which was saddening but magical to hug them and hope that one day we could visit again.
Moving back to the “main land” was quite a culture shock. I still had friends on the island and met a wonderful friend in Texas who was also from Hawaii, and thankfully hosted us almost every time we went back! Between camping trips with friends, road trips, or fun inter-island trips, each time is a new experience and so I wanted to share some of my favorite locations and memories over the time spent in Hawaii since 2004. Aloha!
Malaekahana Beach Camping on the North Shore
Located on Kamekameha Hwy in Kahuku on the North Shore, these primitive campsites at Malaekahana Beach are wonderful for a weekend getaway. Restrooms are on site and easily accessible and they also now have a food truck for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Maunawili Falls Hike
This partial day hike on a 3-mile out and back difficult trail is located near Kailua off the Pali Hwy. Maunawili Falls and swimming hole is off the base of the Koolau Mountains and offers a fantastic experience for any nature lover. Weave your way through the jungle from highway to coast, surrounded by natural strawberry guava trees, glorious views of Kailua and Waimanalo, and ending in a wonderful waterfall experience. There are 3 access points for the trail.
Waikiki & Honolulu Days and Nights
Waikiki, though a major tourist destination, is still one of my favorite places. There is just so much variety! From the touristy ABC stores and high end shopping, to the side-lying beaches to relax, enjoy a family style bbq on the lawn, getting drinks at a hotel bar overlooking the beach, or rent a long board and go surfing, a sailboat to go sailing… Waikiki has it all. For the kiddos, the Honolulu Zoo is also close by.
Shangri La – Doris Dukes homestead
Sponsored through the Honolulu Museum of Art, Shangri La Center for Islamic Arts and Cultures is an amazing oasis 1930’s home built by Doris Duke and James Cromwell. Sitting on over 5 acres overlooking Diamond Head this amazing home incorporates Islamic art and Architecture from the middle east and features over 60 years of collected art. Shangri La is open for guided tours only and there is no photography allowed inside. The grounds are majestic and take you back in time to another world, I highly recommend a tour!
Kaneohe Bay & Kailua
Kaneohe Bay & Kailua were eventually two of my favorite places. My friends lived in this area for a while and was able to share some of the beauty with me. Boating in Kaneohe Bay was beautiful on that overcast day, and hiking the Lanikai Pillboxes was something I had heard of and excited to get to experience! A very easy and popular hike, the view from the top over looks the Mokulua Islands. The Ka’iwa Ridge Trail is offers a beautiful panoramic view overlooking Kailua. The ‘pillbox’ structures are old Coast Artillery observation stations from the 1940’s. Eventually the land was sold to a private individual and then purchased by the state. The trail is open to the publc but be respecful of the neighborhood and mind the parking signs.
North Shore – Oahu
Once my old stomping ground, North Shore has change a lot. Between the historic Haleiwa Town seeing bands and watching surgers, enjoying bon fires on the beach, to watching the Hale Bop comet at Turtle Bay Resort (Yes this was the 90’s), so many memories were shared here. Today you can go shopping in the main town, eat at several restruarnt choices including Haleiwa Joes or Matsumoto’s Shave Ice and have your pick of which fabulous beach to enjoy: Sunset, Pipeline, Chuns, Waimea Bay, Three Tables or even Shark’s cove for snorkeling. Also check out Waimea Falls Park, where you may notice a little familiar scene from the set of tv show Lost.
The Big Island – Hawaii
From black sand beaches to active volcanoes to orchid farms, the big Island of Hawaii is a magical place with a little for everyone. Check out Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and learn about Mount Kilauea and watch the steam pouring out of the earth, drive from Hilo or Kona and experience the variences of Mother Earth’s and Pele’s power, stop at Hana Hou Restraurant (the Southermost restaurant in the USA), or the Akatsuka Orchid Gardens for a special treat. The Big Island is the largest of the Hawaiian chain and the largest Island in the United States.
So many other places in Hawaii, Oahu, Kauai and Maui but lets save those for another time. Until then, Aloha!
and… Adventure On Y’all!