Being a travel nurse is not only awesome because you are able to pick which city you want to temporarily live in, but also because you become close with other travel nurses, and visit them wherever they are! Last holiday season, I visited one of my travel nurse friends in Oahu.
We rented a car on New Years Eve and self-toured the island for a day. This is how we saw Oahu in a day.
Ka’au Point State Recreational Area
We left at sunrise from Waikiki and drove a little over an hour to Ka’au Point State Recreational Area. We were able to park our car and take an unexpectedly long hike to Ka’au Point. If you plan on going here, bring water and tennis shoes! The Ka’au Point hike along the shore was gorgeous. It reminded me of the Oregon Coast: rocky beaches, waves crashing along the rock formations, and water forming small waterfalls as it is pulled back into the ocean.
The best part about the hike, was the monk seals that hang out at Ka’au Point…. all the way at the end of the hike. We only saw a couple, but I am sure the number of seals depends on the season. After hiking out to Ka’au Point and hiking back to the car, it was already 1215… we had to move fast if we wanted to see everything! Next stop, Dole Plantation!
The Dole Plantation is definitely a tourist trap, but I am a tourist! Plus, it was on our way to the North Shore from Ka’au Point, so of course we stopped! We only stayed long enough to see all the pineapple fields and buy some pineapple candy from the gift shop! If you are not into crowds, this is definitely not the place for you! Parking was quite terrible and there were so many people!
The drive to Hale’iwa was rather long, especially with single lane traffic for the majority of the drive. However, once we got to North Shore, I fell in love! This little beach town is adorable! I would love to go back and vacation here. It was quite the opposite of Waikiki. Instead of Parada and Versace, there were beach boutiques and surf shops. Instead of cheesecake factory and expensive fancy restaurants, there were dive bars and shaved ice stands – definitely more my style! After having lunch at a local bar, we had to stop at the world famous Matsumoto’s Shaved Ice!
Matsumoto’s Shaved Ice
Don’t let the out the door line scare you away from grabbing a delicious shaved ice! We only waited about 15 minutes in line, starting out the door and around the corner. They bring you menu’s while you are standing in line and take your order before you get to the counter, making it very efficient and quick service!
I got a banana, vanilla and cotton candy flavored shaved ice… delicious. Try it with ice cream! It is the best shaved ice around? I am not sure, but I would go back and wait in line again!
SUP (Stand Up Paddleboarding) with Sea Turtles.
As we waited in line for Matsumoto’s, we chatted with some locals about what to do in the area. They suggested to SUP with sea turtles in Hale’iwa. We hopped in the car, drove toward Pipeline and right after we crossed a white bridge, we went to a surf shop on the beach side with SUP advertisement on the building. We rented a couple paddleboards and started in the bay, making our way to a river that feeds into the bay. We continued upstream and before we knew it, there were ginormous sea turtles all around us, poking their heads up through he water. This was so awesome and was one of my favorite parts of my Hawaii trip! If you like to kayak or paddleboard, do it with sea turtles in Hale’iwa!
Pipeline on the North Shore.
Of course I wanted to stop to see where all the famous surfing competitions take place. The water was closed to swimming because of the waves being so big. I remember swimming in the north shore when I came to Hawaii at a young age and I got swept up in the waves, trying to recover and another wave taking me down. Very dangerous! Although there were no swimmers, there were surfers! The sand was a soft yellow, the waves were glacier blue. It wasn’t terribly crowded either… nothing like Waikiki Beach crowded! The sun was starting to set, so we didn’t have as much time as we thought we would have. We decided to drive the Pali Highway to Hanauma Bay to check it out.
Pali Highway – Hawaii Route 61
Driving along this route reminds me of Juneau, AK. Hawaii to me feels like the tropical version of Southeast Alaska. Such a beautiful drive, even better at sunset!
So, there you have it! If you’re looking for a tourist day in Oahu, follow this itinerary. Hawaii is so filled with beauty and magic. I cannot wait to go back and visit.