(First night at backpackers - fine dining)
(Renown food van)
(Spicy garlic prawns and rice from the truck)
We had massive hopes for North Shore - I poured through blog post after blog post saying how beautiful, quaint and untouched the beaches were. It was away from the cheesy Hawaiian bar strip, and you could enjoy a space of sand on the beach without someone plonking themselves on your towel and taking a mouthful of your poke. (No shit, we were lazing on Waikiki beach minding our own business until a chick came and set up her things directly next to mine. I awkwardly smiled as if to say 'can you not' and she smiled right back saying 'I do what is want'. Wasn't going to happen.... I went for a swim. Ugh.)
All this seemed true, it was definetly away from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki beach. I could walk without parrotmen or promoters constantly pestering me, and the beaches were fairly scarce of people. HOWEVER - it was pouring with rain for the two and a half days we were there and we had to escape back to sunny waikiki for the rest of the time. The weather was fairly unpredictable.
But those beach shots they look pretty sunny, right?
Well that's because we shot them on the waaaaay to North Shore from Waikiki beach. The beach we chose to stop at was called Waimanalo Bay and is a local favourite. The beach is clean and has plenty of room for everyone to comfortably laze on the beach without having that awkward feeling that someone is listening into your conversation - notably all your filth and nonsense talk. You can chill out by the pine trees, listen to people strumming their guitars, or try and nab someone else's hammocks that are set up on the beach (note I don't suggest this... But it would be kind of cool). It is about 40 minutes from Waikiki beach with a car and I strongly suggest using a GPS on the island. Hawaii struggles to give good signage points on their roads and we then spent the next hour after a great beach sesh trying to get to our accomodation. We had been warned there was a tricky turn that a lot of people get confused at and we hadn't purchased our gps yet. Whoops. But if you think you're a whizz with the map (which we thought we were, how we were wrong) you can buy them from the zillions of abc shops at nearly every corner in Waikiki.
Where we stayed:
We stayed at the North Shore Backpackers and Plantation which is the only advertised backpackers on the North Shore. Like that of Coral Bay and Exmouth in Western Australia, the locals are rightfully trying to stop new businesses opening up on their shores and wrecking what beauty is still left. We were told that there are other forms of backpackers that are kept on the downlow but we weren't able to find them. There is also one hotel resort on this side of the island called Turtle Bay - we explored the option, but it was way out of our budget so backpackers it was. Our first night we stayed in a private room / shared bathroom situation. It was actually really cool (even though we got there at night and we had to feel our way through the mud and puddles) - an earthy wooden structured backpackers with large common rooms in each duplex and a pretty equipped kitchen. The private room had two single beds, and was good enough to rest for the next days activities (or lack of considering the weather).
The second night we had to move out of the private room and drive down the road to the plantation lodges that were part of the same backpackers. This wasn't as pleasant.
Luckily we had the car, as we decided to leave most of our bags in the boot. The plantation part of the backpackers was let's say, a little run down? Each of the shacks housed about 6 people in each, the front doors didn't shut, the bathroom was pretty undesirable and washing yourself was a bit of challenge - the shower didn't have a head, and was pretty much like a weak hose that dribbled water. Try and shave your legs in that ladies... I did and I'll tell you it wasn't pretty. The kitchen was a little disappointing and we had pet ants crawling everywhere. Also the wifi was only available in an open common room shack... In the dark... In the rain. One night we decided to do a bit more planning of the trip, so we cooked our edamame beans on the stove with our ant friends and braved the weather to use the internet. I think we lasted just under an hour, gave up and grumbled to bed. Don't me wrong, maybe the weather put me in a bahumbug mood about the place. All I can say is get in early and book the private room if you are staying with someone else. It is pretty much the same price as sharing with 6 others in a dorm, and is a lot nicer.
What to do:
- Food Trucks - before I came I researched on what to do while staying at the North Shore side of the island. Food trucks were unanimous amongst the blog posted I poured over, so even though it was PISSING down with rain we decided the brave it and find ourselves some Hawaiian food truck grub. We chose this one not because it had raving reviews and thousands of people lining up (although there was a fair line still), buuut because it was the prettiest - judging a book for its cover, sometimes it works out.... In some cases it doesn't. In this case, I would recommend. We decided to order one lot of the garlic spicy prawns and rice. It was amazing how quick the two guys working in the van could churn out each of the orders, and in about 8 minutes we had a steaming hot meal to devour.
- Markets - we stumbled across a few farmers markets and food stall markets along the main road along the beach (rain... Rain everywhere - my hair frizzed, it wasn't ideal). We did find an awesome fruit stall - they had avocados that were literally bigger than my hand and we had a big idea that we were going to go halves fill each of the halves with yummy salsa and cheese, but they weren't ripe enough so we sadly had to leave them. Best bet one the north shore is to hop in your car and go exploring and pray that it doesn't rain. We founds a fee knick knack shops along our travels and most of them had free samples of chocolate, cookies and flavoured nuts. Winning.
- Shark dive - north west shark company. Around $120 Aussie. I don't know what possessed me to do it. Living in Western Australia it is not uncommon to hear about shark attacks in popular surfing spots, and I usually get a little anxious about swimming in open waters because of it. Maybe it was the cage that encased us, or the fact that the sharks would have had a fair few people to get through (possibly and hopefully) before they got to me but I did it. Look I'm not going to say that the sharks were monstrous... Galapagos and sandbar sharks, but they still reminded me of a Jaws movie and I wasn't too keen for the cage to disappear. It might have sparked a bit of dare devil inside of me, and I might look into great white shark diving if I ever make it to South Africa or I'm told they do the dive in Adelaide (Scroops, keen?).
Next stop, Los Angeles!!