May 03

Oahu – Hawaii, via Waikiki, the North Shore and the Dentist

So, we left San Diego and LAX, excited at the prospect of a new budget and the unknown islands of Hawaii. Our first stop was Oahu, probably the most commercial Hawaiian island. Our flight from LAX was pleasant, although luxuries that we normally take for granted, like inflight movies, were all pay per view. We entertained ourselves by planning various ways to conquer the world – as you do!

We arrived at Honolulu international airport five hours on. We breezed through the airport, as not even a passport was required on arrival. The moment we had collected our bags, we made our way outside and instantly, we hit a wall of warm air. We smiled at the prospect of warm weather and Fi’s chicken skin disappeared for the first time in three days! Our first few days were to be spent in Waikiki, probably the most tourist friendly of our months stay. We checked into our near beach side hostel and were informed of free breakfasts (toast and coffee) and $8 dining in the evening in ‘Andy’s kitchen’. This was music to our budget friendly ears.

We were excited to head straight down to the beach as the turquoise water had been torturing us during the entire shuttle journey. Board shorts and bikini on and into the ocean we went. It was like a warm bath, chest high and calm in the shallows. It was paradise. We floated for a good hour, remarking that this had to be the highlight of travelling so far.

The evening was spent dining at Andy’s kitchen. He’d cooked up a mega plate of meat loaf, rice and green beans. He made a point of stating that he must look after his kids (all the hostel travellers) and we were pretty content, it made a change to have what seemed like, some lovingly home cooked food. After dinner, we dashed to the beach which took all of 30 seconds, to watch the sunset over Waikiki. We were so tired due to the time difference, but so overwhelmed at where we were. On an island, in the middle of the Pacific ocean.

You can’t come to Hawaii and not be completely absorbed by the ‘Aloha’ culture and their passion towards surfing. Everywhere you look, there are surf boards – on locals, on shops, on statues, on fire engines – everywhere! Being baby wave, super surfers, we had to get out there and try out the long, silky Waikiki waves. These waves are known to be ideal for the beginner. So we took our free 8 ft boards from the hostel and played in the waves for hours. This was probably are funnest and most successful surf session ever. We both caught great long waves and stood for a long time, not forgetting our poor feet falling victim to the coral.

So, so many people surf here. From chubby Hawaiian men, young sponsored pro’s to 6 year old Hawaiian girls, all fulfilling their daily ritual of being out on the water enjoying all what Hawaii has to offer. Not forgetting the sea of tourists, all on 10 foot islands (boards) catching every wave there is to catch.

We were sunbathing one afternoon and overheard a local Hawaiian Dad talking to a tourist about his two young daughters, who were out surfing the huge 6 ft waves in the distance. We looked on in disbelief, when these two girls came back in, holding boards twice the size of them. They were around 8 years old and unbelievable surfers. We listened on as the Dad described surfing as the holy grail for all kids, the sport they all aspire to turn pro at. Lots of the kids on the North Shore are home schooled, allowing them to focus mainly on surfing, they learn to swim in the ocean and are on a surf board by 3-4 years old.

Over the next few days, we made the most of cheap living. Breakfast and dinner was eaten at Andy’s kitchen, allowing us to focus our energies on exploring, surfing and in true Hawaiian spirit, relaxing! On our last day, spontaneously, we decided to go for a hike after having been to visit the Dentist with Fi’s poorly tooth. They’d given her a new filling, so we were waiting to see if the pain subsided. We hiked up Diamond Peak crater, which looked over Honolulu when you reached the top. In comparison to Yosemite, this was a fairly laid back hike, despite the crazy heat. We witnessed all sorts on the way up, including a helicopter rescue team, air lifting a group of people, that we can only assume, were too tired to hike back down. We never did find out what was going on up there.

After spending a few relaxing days in Waikiki and Honolulu, we made our way up to the North Shore, to stay in Haleiwa, a sleepy little town away from the hustle and bustle of the South. This is also home to the big surf competitions, where waves reach unbelievable heights that we have all seen in the movies and break right on the beach. The most famous spot is Pipeline. Although sleepy when we visited, in winter, the North Shore becomes the hub to the world’s top surfers and fans. We stayed at ‘Backpackers Hostel’ and in a cool rough and ready tree house with some Geckos and bugs as house guests. It is affectionately known as the ‘Brown house’. Our friend Claudes had been there before and recommended that we stay there. It certainly didn’t disappoint, so thanks Claudes!

After doing what we do best, walking and exploring, we headed back to the brown house with some weekly groceries and a massive water melon! It was a great feeling to be able to be self sufficient for a few days, rather than eating convenience food. We bumped into our new house mates in the communal kitchen / diner and immediately hit it off. We spent the entire evening chatting to Rob and Charlotte from Cardiff. They are on such a similar route to ourselves and were very like minded. We were able to share experiences about the places we’d been and reminisce about the same things we’d seen.

Our first full day on the North Shore was a pretty lazy one. It involved two trips to Starbucks for some tea, WiFi and a lot of chat, sat looking out over the trees from our balcony with Rob and Charlotte. In the late afternoon, the big waves were calling and we all headed down on our $5 rental bikes, me and Rob with body boards under one arm to Sunset beach and Pipeline.

The moment we arrived, mine and Fi’s jaws dropped. Considering it was off season, we could see and hear, humongous (by our standards) crashing waves, literally breaking right on the beach. We wondered closer and just watched surfers take on the waves, in what seems like such a confined space as they break so close to the beach. The sounds just intimidate you even more, they crash and bang almost warning you that they will hurt you. I looked to my right and looked at the various warning signs just before the water, stating that there is to be no swimming and if you surf, and if you have any doubt, don’t go in! Well, I had a lot of doubt but in true completive fashion I didn’t want to lose face in front of a Welshman, so waddled down the steep hill into the ocean with my body board and flippers.

Being the noob that I am, I had no idea how to walk into the water with flippers, so after stacking it, Rob told me to walk in backwards. Now, normally this would be fine, but turning your back on huge waves, that were breaking right on the rock reef, freaked me out. I attempted to get in, a wave broke and smashed me back on to shore. I sorrily wondered back towards Fi, who looked genuinely looked terrified for me. Rob waved me back in when the set had finished. This time, I made it in just fine, but I could almost feel those on the beach holding there breath for me. We waited, then from no where, a huge swell came, I looked down and there was nothing but reef, so the prospect of falling off your board is a dangerous one. The wave built and I hurriedly kicked my legs and immediately I was on the wave. A second later, I was at the top, looking down from a great height, flying down the face of the wave vertically. I turned my board into it, so I could go across. It worked, I was shitting myself the whole time but I reached the bottom in one piece and was smashed back onto the beach. Wow! It was truly one of the best / scariest experiences I’ve ever had. I went in for a few more waves, catching two more monsters. Later, I tried to duck dive a wave and failed, it crashed on me and spat me out on the beach, dazed. I retired and took that as my final warning. Rob in the mean time, a seasoned body border, loved it! He caught some pretty gnarly waves and even did a few 360′s. At one point, a beast of a wave crashed on him, ripping his leash off his arm, chucking his board onto the beach and leaving him to fight out a couple of waves. It’s worth saying, that I have never really thought about how dangerous and just how talented the people are, who surf in big waves. Everyone we saw looked pro to us, it was truly inspiring to witness.

An awesome day, was finished up with a tasty mexican in the small town nearby.

Our last few days on the North Shore was interrupted by Fi’s tooth pain. The filling hadn’t done the trick so we had no choice but to jump on the bus back to Waikiki. We’d set off at 6am and joined up with the locals and their morning commute. W’ed booked an appointment at the same dentist and made it two and half hours later to the front door. Only to be told that the dentist was sick and therefore we couldn’t be seen. It’s all swings and roundabouts with travelling and we are learning this quickly. We moaned, but didn’t waste too much time and went and found another dentist in Honolulu at the Ala Mona Centre. Fi had another consultation and was informed that she required a root canal. There was no option for her as the pain had become unbearable and the prospect of a cure overcame the obscene amount of money they ware asking for the treatment – some covered by insurance thankfully. We were told we had to come back the next day, so we did exactly that, completing the five hour roundtrip again. The treatment was long and thorough. Fi seems to have more canals in her teeth than a regular person, but we have our fingers firmly crossed that the treatment will be a success. It seems part and parcel that problems will occur over a six month period, so we took this one on the chin and pray that nothing else happens. I did find $4 in the pouring rain this morning, so the big man upstairs seems to be drip feeding us cash to pay for the treatment.

We’re now back at Honolulu airport, after having a great few days on Oahu, mixed with a couple of scenic bus journey’s. We definitely know how to travel like locals now! Hawaii is everything it promised to be so far. From what we’ve heard, on Maui and Kauai, it just gets better! We have a few days back on Oahu before flying to New Zealand, so we hope to do some more surfing and visit Pearl Habour.

Mahalo for reading back home! Lots of love to one and all. Tom & Fi xxx

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