Waikiki Beach is the more cosmopolitan side of Oahu where most tourists stay. But if you are looking for something less action packed (in terms of crowd) and more laid back beaches but with monster waves, then North Shore is definitely the place to go.
The Part 1 of my North Shore post comprised of activities on the Kamehameha Hwy along the Windward coast. On another occasion, we explored the central side of North Shore, taking the H2 freeway that eventually turned into Kamehameha Hwy towards the town of Hale’iwa.
Dole Plantation is a “tourist trap” according to many reviews I read from guidebooks and blogs. I agree it’s touristy but my whole family had a great time there. Actually my main motivation was to get another taste of that famous Dole whip. I’ve had a taste of this heavenly pineapple flavored soft serve ice cream in Disneyland once and fell in love with it. Unfortunately you won’t find this anywhere in the mainland (other than the Disney parks). Unless of course you fly to Hawaii.
Jude had been looking forward to the Pineapple Garden Maze, the largest maze in the world. He read the Maze Runner and he imagined he was a character in the book.
There are eight secret stations, each one named after each island in Hawaii. Once he spots a station, he has to trace the stencil on the ticket he was given.
Keith and I gave up and left Jude with Joshua in the maze. With their goal of searching for all eight stations, we suspected it wasn’t going to be an easy task and it will surely be time consuming. Meanwhile, we went to browse at all the interesting Hawaiian products at the gift shop.
The Pineapple Express is a twenty minute narrated train ride, touring the plantation. We saw many varieties of crops and I was excited to spot mango trees (it reminded me of our home growing up in northern Philippines where we had seven mango trees in the backyard!). I don’t remember ever seeing mango trees in the States until now.
If you notice the color of the soil is red. This is a mixture of volcanic ash and iron and apparently pineapples love them, growing to be big and sweet.
After touring the Dole Plantation, we drove farther north, noticing the town of Hale’iwa as nostalgically attractive, a reminiscent of the old Hawaii. In fact many residents in the North Shore were against a bill that proposed more future expansions, hence further urbanization of the area. “Keep the country country” were some signs we saw. I strongly agree with its residents.
Our next stop was sampling one of the shrimp trucks. North Shore is well known for its shrimp trucks. Giovanni’s is probably the most popular of the lot but I read some reviews where others preferred Macky’s. I would’ve tried both but Macky’s was more convenient and it was along the route we were on.
I had the Butter Garlic shrimp, combined with white rice and salad. The rice was topped with fried garlic and the shrimp tasted fresh–buttery and garlicky– and oh so delicious. I wish my husband and the boys liked shrimp. I would’ve enjoyed this experience a lot more if they joined me in devouring it.
The next stop was more eventful as everyone liked shaved ice. Matsumoto’s Shaved Ice was definitely the place to go. No one seemed to mind the long line. I ordered the Tropical flavors– a combination of papaya, guava, and lilikoi. It was really good but Joshua and I thought that the colors turned out bland and uninteresting in photographs.
It took more than an hour to get back to our hotel in Waikiki. The traffic can be a pain, depending on the day and time. But experiencing North Shore was worth all the inconveniences, making it as one of our most memorable moments in Hawaii. Skipping North Shore is a mistake, missing out on a big part of your Oahu experience. It’s simply a must place to visit!