Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The North Shore, Oahu

Anywhere you drive in Hawaii can be considered a scenic drive because there's usually a mountain or ocean nearby.  However, certain routes are better than others because of its unique beauty.  Hawaii's most beautiful byways must be appreciated, not sped through.  Take your time, smell the salty air or the fragrance of an exotic flower.  Stop at a fruit vendor along the road, or that food truck selling yummy food from crepes to pad thai to hot & spicy shrimp. Take the time to park and look at old historical churches, or the old shops that sell second-hand clothing, surfboards, and island antiques.

Welcome to the country!  The North Shore, in Oahu, is a world-famous surfing destination.  The Kamehameha Highway runs along Oahu's North Shore, bathed in laid-back ambiance.  Here you will discover the Hawaiian culture at the Polynesian Cultural Center and Waimea Valley, the famous surfing beaches (Sunset, Banzai Pipeline and more), nine beach parks all along the byway, miles of undeveloped sandy beach shoreline, plus all the water sports you can ever imagine.  My favorites in the North Shore are the Turtle Bay Resort and Turtle Beach, properly known as the giant sea turtles at Laniakea Beach.

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Dedicated volunteers observe the turtles for research.  It is prohibited to touch or feed the turtles.  A safe distance of at least 6 feet from the turtles is reinforced.
The North Shore remains mostly undeveloped, but on a recent visit in August 2014, a new Marriott property was going up across the street from the Polynesian Cultural Center, and a little strip mall is situated where there used to be trees and old houses.  Now you can shop at the CVS, dine at Pizza Hut, or socialize at the Coffee Bean.  Tourists new to the North Shore might think it's a seedy area, but that's the beauty of this one-road-wide community, and residents seem to want it to stay that way.  Seedy?  I call it rustic. A little change along this byway is good because it's serving the needs of the community.

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In the surfing town of Haleiwa, things are changing, however. As I continue to write, I feel my blood pressure rising because I can't believe that the citizens of this authentically rustic community would approve of the Haleiwa Commercial Redevelopment Project.  The reason for wanting to live in this sleepy town is to get away from the hustle and bustle of city and suburban life, right?  Without getting into the politics and the negotiations of Haleiwa's future, a shopping mall is going up next door to the iconic Matsumoto's Shaved Ice shop. Aoki's Shave Ice, Iwa Gallery and the twin Yoshida buildings, long considered the cultural hub of this town, have already been torn down.  Before this bohemian island town goes through a complete transformation, I encourage everyone to visit this town with the nostalgic charm.  Right away!

Back to the North Shore.  Despite pockets of ramshackle houses and rickety store fronts, the combination of mountain, ocean and rural scenery make the driving on Kamehameha Highway one of Hawaii's best scenic drives.  So get into your car, settle back, relax and enjoy the ride!

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Please visit the North Shore before the big change.  I want you to remember this place in its most authentic, gritty and romantic phase.  Let me know when you plan to go so I can recommend some great eateries and places to visit!

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