Can you see why I never wanted to come home?
I woke up to this view EVERY morning.
We got on the road early on Saturday. First order of business? Breakfast!
Nanding's Bakery in Waipahu is famous for their Spanish Rolls. Holy. Friggin. Moly. Melt-in-your-mouth-epicness. They're a little sweet, a little salty, a little buttery, and A LOT amazing.
Their cinnamon rolls are pretty spectacular, too.
We headed north for some touristy-but-still-fun deliciousness at the Dole Plantation!
Pineapple Dole Whip. Awwwww yeahhhh....
Did you know they have a peacock? Neither did I!
Admittedly, when Inga asked if I knew how pineapples were grown, I said no, but guessed from a tree. Joe guessed they came from eggs. Neither of us would have ever imagined that they grow straight up from the ground on stems!
For the low, low price of $0.50, you can send a pond-full of Koi into a masochistic frenzy with a handful of fish food.
I mean, honestly, Koi? You're embarrassing yourselves.
We actually felt sort of bad as they slammed their bodies against the side of the pond wall to get the pellets... I mean, we were FEEDING them, so it can't be that wrong, right?
Fun photo-ops are free!
The gorgeously maintained grounds are pretty impressive.
I think the Dole Plantation is definitely worth a stop- it's one of those "spend as much or as little as you want" attractions- you could take tours or do the banana maze or buy tons of pineapple products if you're so inclined, or you could stroll through, buy some ice cream and enjoy the lovely grounds and gorgeous views of miles and miles of pineapple fields.
We were itching to swim after being turned away from beaches all week because of a bunch of super-lame jellyfish, but we stopped at the North Shore Country Market in Haleiwa first!
This market was very small- maybe 10 or so vendors- though I hear there are more in the summer. We sampled some delicious starfruit, and Matt and Inga picked up some Ice Cream Bananas.
These bean sprout samples were delicious!
We passed a gorgeous wading pool on our way to the farmer's market, and doubled back to visit this breathtaking spot!
Though it wasn't clearly posted, I'm pretty sure this spot is called Shark's Cove.
It's protected as a part of the Pupukea-Waimea Marine Life Conservation District. "Take only pictures, leave only bubbles!"
Follow Joe's advice for beach safety! Hydrate! It seems counter-intuitive to be chugging water AND swimming in it, but your body needs constant hydration to regulate temperature, especially in the unforgiving sun!
Slather on some SPF! It amazes me how many people don't think they need to put sunblock on when they're swimming because they're in the water. Huh? What? Water = reflective surface = amplified sunburns. Get with the program!
If you have them, wear soft, rubbery water shoes or fins- the sharp coral can cut your feet, but hard-bottomed sandals can harm the marine life. I went in barefoot because I didn't have water shoes with me. I was VERY, very careful and avoided major injuries.
Wade in slowly and stick to the sandy spots to avoid walking on the coral.
Having a 'Little Mermaid'-moment (or two, or three) is normal. I mean, you're in a friggin' cove.
Give your camera with your new telephoto lens to your bestie, and get some faboosh paparazzi-at-the-beach shots. "Keelie Sheridan spotted frolicking in Shark's Cove with mystery lover!"
When we were there, the water ranged from knee to over-my-head deep, but it was all pretty gradual. There were several snorkelers flippering around (shh... yes it IS a word) and we saw several beautiful fish splashing about. The pool fills up when hit with big tides creating a bit of a current, but mostly, it's a calm and gorgeous place to splash about.
You'll no doubt have worked up an appetite after your swim, so towel off, make a half-hearted effort to de-sand yourself (you will not get it all off, so don't get too invested), and head down the road to Ray's Kiawe Broiled Chicken.
Huli-huli chicken is char-broiled in the back of a flatbed and seasoned with... ummm... paprika? garlic? salt? pepper? brown sugar? a combination?
Joe and I split a whole chicken, chopped...
...and split a side of pineapple coleslaw.
We hopped back into the car and drove until we found a small marina. There was an old comfort station with a porch looking over the water, so we spread out our feast, kicked off our shoes and dug in. The chicken was moist, savory and finger-lickin'-good. (I will probably never use that phrase again, but it's really appropriate in this context.) As you may or may not know, I have a sworn-blood-feud-styled hatred for mayonnaise. It affects me weekly. I. Hate. Mayonnaise. But I can't lie, I could have eaten this entire tub of pineapple coleslaw myself. I'll be attempting to recreate the recipe with a vinegar base soon- keep your eyes peeled.
This guy pretty much sums up the vibe for the afternoon. We found him sleeping on the stairs at the comfort station. Even the animals are chill in Hawaii.
Bellies full and bodies rested, we took in the view one last time before adventuring on!
Waimea Beach is popular. If the parking lot is full, continue up the road, pull over and follow the path through the trees. It gets steep- mind your balance!
In the summer, the water is relatively calm, and there's a huge rock with a 5ft or 18 ft jump-off!
But in January, at high tide, the waves are angry and HUGE! The lifeguards made an announcement that rock-jumping was off limits for the day, and at several points in the afternoon cautioned people to remove their children from the shore and either swim out deep or get out of the water for the big waves. The ocean don't play, homies. If you're not an extremely strong swimmer, stick to wading and don't go deeper than your knees. You'll still get knocked around plenty, trust me.
After getting tossed about by the waves and soaking up some sun, we headed back into town, stopping at Ailana Shave Ice in Waikiki to cool off.
Ailana's offers both the standard artificial flavors and their own blends of natural, homemade flavors!
My partners in crime all went for traditional two-flavored bowls, but I had my eye set on the Azuki bowl.
Azuki beans, mochi, sweetened condensed milk and ice cream hidden in the middle. Out. Of. This. World.