Travel: Hawaii Highlights

Oahu’s fabled North Shore, the kind of place that the travel brochures don’t do justice. Impossibly blue skies, seas the richest of emerald greens and sands so soft that a stroll along the beach feels like you’re floating on a cloud. And that’s just where I spent most of my time in this unspoilt nook of heavenly Hawaii– firmly on cloud nine.

With a glorious four days set aside to explore the legendary coastal area, my husband and I were keen to experience everything it had to offer. From rainbow-spotting in surfing hotspot Waimea Bay to sampling finger-licking garlicky shrimp and melt-in-your-mouth fish tacos from rustic roadside food trunks and craning to catch a glimpse of the native sea turtle as we snorkelled in clear pools of bathwater-warm stretches of ocean, it’s safe to say we left no stone unturned during our exploration.

Now, the North Shore has bragging rights when it comes to just about anything, but its most famous feature is its incredible surf and we weren’t about to leave without getting our fix of ‘gnarly’ waves. With the only water we usually encounter (from a distance) being the murky swill of the Thames, we knew we would need all the help we could get when it came to facing the rip-riding tide of the Pacific. We signed up for surf lessons at the nearby Turtle Bay Resort and were met by our tutor Michael on a rainy Thursday September morning. Waivers signed (gulp!), he showed us some basic techniques on land before guiding us down the crumbling rocks that encircled the shore and into the ocean.

Rain beating down, we paddled against crashing waves as they thrashed and roared around us. Clutching our surfboards, bodies submerged in water, it felt like we were fighting a losing battle as wave-upon-wave washed us back towards the shore. With Michael shouting words of encouragement, we each lined up with our backs to the surf and, face down on our ‘boards, we waited with baited breath to catch a wave. A few seconds later, Michael yelled ‘paddle’ and we swam like our lives depended on it before. Hearts pounding, we hoisted ourselves onto our boards. Legs heavy, arms throbbing and gasping for air, I don’t think I’ve ever been happier than when I realised I was riding my very first wave.

With our whole bodies aching and grins etched on our faces we settled down that evening, Mai Tai’s in hand, to watch one of the breathtaking sunsets which seemed to get more beautiful each night of our trip. Crowds of awestruck tourists and locals settled along Sunset Beach for the main event and echoed a chorus of harmonious ooh’s and aah’s as the setting sun ignited the sky with a flash of dramatic neon pinks, oranges and reds before disappearing into the horizon. Stars twinkling as the night sky darkened, we both agreed it most definitely wouldn’t be the last the North Shore sees of us. Huli pau!

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Sunset skies on Oahu

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Surfing USA

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Waimea Falls

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On a morning hike

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The quaint town of Haleiwa

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Garlicky shrimp at Giovanni’s

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Another beautiful sunset

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