The Aloha Spirit
The associations between Hawaii and paradise are more than common, and honestly, they are not quite wrong. Is hard not to feel like you’ve gone to heaven when you are surrounded by white sand beaches, the stunning blue Pacific Ocean, inactive volcanos, lots of sunlight, and, the most important, the Aloha spirit. More than “Hello” or “Goodbye”, for Hawaiians “Aloha” means “sharing”, “showing affection”, “life” and it all comes to the positive energy that makes the island so “blessed”. The Aloha spirit is everywhere in Hawaii, but if you want to truly understand its meaning, then the North Shore Oahu is the perfect destination.
The North Shore is located about 40 minutes drive (renting a car is the best option for transportation) from the downtown Honolulu, right in the opposite side of the island. The area goes from Haleiwa Ali’i Beach to Sunset Beach, including Waimea Bay, Shark’s cove and the famous Banzai Pipeline. Different from Waikiki (the popular destination for tourists), where resorts and fancy stores take over the main avenue by the beach, the North Shore is all about simplicity. There are no hotels, but thanks to airbnb, there are a lot of places to stay and the Aloha spirit already begins when you have the chance to share a house with a local.
As soon as you enter Haleiwa historic town, you will see lots of surfers riding their bikes and caring their boards, traditional cafes, organic products shops, food trucks parks, and a truly small town lifestyle. Forget about the hectic pace we live nowadays and enjoy the unique vibe.
But, what to do to enjoy this unique vibe? Well, you can start with a nice breakfast at locals favorite place, the Cafe Haleiwa. Located in the center of Haleiwa historic town, the Cafe is the meeting point of many surfers, families and tourists. The cozy ambient and the menu, that includes dishes such as “Dawn Patrol” (buttermilk pancakes, served with fresh eggs) and “Off the lip” (eggs with fresh veggie saute or a meat. served with homefries, rice or beans and toast), will warm you up for a great beach day.
Speaking of a beach day. There’s no lack of options for spending hours by the sea. Every beach in North Shore can offer you a different type of experience. In Ali’i you can sit and relax with the companion of sea turtles or even monk seals. Just make sure you give them the space they need and do not disturb them. In the case of monk seals, when they are on the beach, there is always a volunteer to take care of the animal and ensure they are safe until they return to the water. If you want adventure, in Haleiwa Beach you can risk yourself and take a surf lesson with formers professional surfers or rent stand up paddle equipment and paddle through the rainbow bridge.
Another “can’t miss” program is snorkeling in Shark’s Cove. The place is great for all level of divers. The water is clear and calm, and don’t worry! Unlike the name suggests, there are no Sharks in there, but you will see plenty of colourful fishes and green turtles. After a good fun at the cove, make a stop to grab an eat at the Pupukea Grill. The food truck located right across the beach is another locals favorite, as proved by the many reviews of famous surfers written in surf magazine pages glued on a mural in the tables area. Sit there and enjoy your meal (options vary between acai smoothies and wraps and salads) with Aloha.
And obviously, when in North Shore, you need to go to one of the most famous surf beaches in the world: Banzai Pipeline. Sit there, admire the perfect tubes, watch the surfers catch incredible waves. It almost feels like it is too good to be real. If you can go in December, during the Pipeline Masters, the final event of the World Surf League Championship, then go. The beach may be crowded, and it may be more expensive, but there is nothing compared to the energy of seeing the best surfers in the world right in front of you, especially if you are a fan of the sport. If you can’t go during the Pipe Masters, that’s ok. I assure you, you will still see amazing surfers down the line and it will still be a great experience.
After a nice day of watching the swell and amazing surfing in Pipe, take a walk to Sunset Beach and enjoy one of the most stunning Sunsets you will ever see. I assure you, this experience will make you understand why they call Hawaii “paradise” so much.
Enjoy the town
Back to Haleiwa historic town, don’t forget to stop at the traditional Matsumoto Shave Ice for a classical ice cone. The queue may be big, but once you have the rainbow on your hands, you realize is totally worth it. The Aloha spirit makes the shave ice extra delicious. After this, you can take some time to walk around the city. Go the North Shore Marketplace and have a look on local shops or sit for a coffee, stop by the “North Shore Goodies” and buy their famous coconut peanut butter to take home, have dinner in one of the food trucks parked in Kamehameha Highway, live the island style.
Share the Aloha
Whatever you choose to do in North Shore, I guarantee it will be filled with Aloha. That’s what makes this place so special and so different from the rest of United States (and the world). After the trip, probably your life will never be the same again. You will recharge your batteries with positive energy and go home with incredible memories, maybe of the sunsets, maybe of surf adventures, or maybe of the perfect blue ocean. And when you leave, you will already be thinking of coming back to paradise. But most important of all, you will take the some of the Aloha spirit with you. And you will want to share it with your friends and family back in your home country.