Every morning the alarm goes off which is actually a cacophony of birds, set to a backdrop of a swaying surf that complements your morning coffee. No need to keep track of time here.
Our humble cottage is tucked onto a public beach virtually devoid of human activity. This place is a bit of a dead-end as further up the road is the wildlife sanctuary and there are no resorts along this drive; there are private residences only, some that need updating and others that have been lavished on by their owners, but no McMansions – mostly plantation style abodes. The indigenous inhabitants are the lovely Green Sea Turtles who come to forage the kelp near the shore; you easily become ensconced by the feeding habits of turtles as they float effortlessly with the tides. Sometimes they travel alone, but mostly they come in a group of three or four accompanied by the vast schools of colorful fish swimming along the coral reefs. Occasional crabs sidewind out of your way.
It’s truly a fusion of sea, sand and zen.
The weather has been good but we are occasionally driven in by the wind and rain but if that is to be our greatest challenge here, and should I complain then I have grown as soft as a tropical breeze.
The North Shore itself throws a bohemian vibe along with an ocean of surfers coming to challenge some of the greatest wave action in the world. It’s off season but they don’t care – the swells are large enough to entertain this ambitious crowd.
Cars are jammed into every available space along the highway as you approach the beach of the renowned Bonsai Pipeline, and even those who just wish to swim worm their way into spots that defy physics.
Nearby Haleiwa is the small-town surfer hub and is also a fun tourist destination – there is enough island kitsch, with an undertow of surfer dude culture, to keep the curious shopper entertained. Some of the stores, it appears, did not survive the pandemic and have shuttered, but with the tourist crowd virtually bursting at the seams again you can only hope there will be a revival.
Further east is the lovely Waimea Valley where you find some fantastic botanic specimens that, upon further inspection, prove to be real. Exotic flowers are an essential ingredient to the elixir of paradise and these luscious babies make you want to stop and linger with a Mai Tai in hand to enhance the experience. But at the gardens you can only observe and settle for a respite of coconut ice cream.
The valley itself is a stronghold of ancient Hawaiian heritage and like the Arizona Memorial, one comes here to pay their respects, strolling through the winding paths of massive, twisting, ficus trees that guard the ancient burial sites.
Most tourists come to swim at the waterfall, missing the side paths that take you into the jungle, where the flora and quietude gives pause to the outside world. The music here is delivered by exotic birds that refuse to reveal themselves even though you try and talk them down from their perch.
Despite the crowds, these shores remain static as if to push those that it can’t accommodate back to Waikiki. If not for the private residences, this area would have been overrun by resorts and who knows what the fate of the turtle might have been.
It’s like a dirty little secret since it’s public the beach isn’t easily accessible, so the turtles remain virtually undisturbed except for the occasional, curious snorkeler that they pay little heed to; drifting free, the envy of those who can only leave footprints that are soon wiped away but the evening tide.