Journey to the North Shore. Sounds like a”Land Before Time” movie, right? The Bestie and I spent our third day on Oahu traveling up to the North Shore.
The drive alone was an adventure. The morning didn’t bring us much traffic, but once on the freeway, we quickly noticed that everyone around us was pretty slow. It was a tad frustrating, and we ended up honking at a car that swerved into our lane. Remember this, because it came up at dinner. It was a beautiful drive, because I was the passenger, and I loved getting out of the city to a more country-esque landscape on the way to the North Shore.
We had a tour with Hawaii Shark Encounters. I’ve always wanted to do one of those cage dives with sharks, and I honestly chose them because they were running a Groupon at the time. They were still pretty awesome.
We had two guides on our boat; the names of both have escaped me. Both were eager to share their knowledge of sharks, and both were super laid back. We went into the cage in two groups. Those who waited on the boat were entertained with stories of previous tours and shark trivia. I remember learning how to tell the difference between a fossilized shark tooth, and one that may have been pulled from a live shark. We spent at least a good 40 minutes per group in the cage. Again, another snorkel activity. It may have been longer, but I was fascinated at seeing these animals up close, so I lost track of the time.
The waters were a bit rough the day we went, so it was hard for me to hold a camera and keep myself from slamming into the bars at the same time. One of the guides told me the best view is to swim down to the bottom of the cage, but I couldn’t figure out how to make myself non-floaty, so I settled with hanging onto the sides and watching the sharks swim by. Plus, I didn’t like having so many feet in my face. Before you ask, I don’t remember what kind of sharks I saw, but I can 100% tell you that they weren’t whale sharks or hammerheads. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a tad bit of a “Dory.” Either way, it definitely was a fantastic experience, and I would highly recommend trying it.
Lunch kept us at the North Shore, and we found ourselves in a tiny parking lot waiting for Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck to open. The Bestie and I ordered the shrimp scampi and hot and spicy shrimp. I had the genius idea of mixing the two, and it’s probably the best idea I’ve had in my life. Not much seating — snagged a table around 10:00 for lunch, and it was swarming with people by 10:30. It’s a good thing Hawaiians are friendly. There was also a small stand next to Giovanni’s where a family was selling various macadamia nuts. Those were delicious, and I don’t even like macadamias.
Dessert took us to Matsumoto Shave Ice, a little ways up the street from one of the Giovanni’s trucks. It’s part of a small shopping center, so the parking around Matsumoto is much better than the area around the food trucks. While I loved the Matsumoto gift shop, the shaved ice was tolerable. It came highly recommended to me by several friends, but I didn’t find it to be nearly as good as the one I had in Honolulu two days prior. I felt this place was quite overhyped, but it didn’t deter the line of people waiting to place their order.
We had plans to meet my cousin for dinner, so we made our pit stop to the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet short. This place is great for souvenirs at what I thought were decent prices. There is excess of cute jewelry, T-shirts, and even maxi dresses to flip through. If you don’t make it all the way around the stadium, don’t trip — most of the stalls sold some of the same items. I only went a quarter of the way around, and I felt like I saw just about everything.
Time for a lesson learned. First, Honolulu traffic is NO JOKE. Downtown LA, eat your heart out. It took us almost an hour to drive about 10 blocks from the freeway exit to the rental car counter at the hotel around 16:00. We met with my cousin (who luckily had the day off) and her husband for dinner. They took us to Nico’s Pier 38, and while the music was loud, they had great food and I was with great company. My cousin (a CA transplant in HI) and her husband laughed as I told them about our drive to the North Shore that morning. She told me that HI apparently has a speed MINIMUM, and their maximum is nowhere near the almost-70 we were running on the freeway. She also informed us that locals who heard us honking on the freeway probably knew we were tourists, because apparently no one honks at each other there.
Final lesson: Hawaii is FULL of great stories. My cousin’s husband is a Hawaiian native, and he took us the long way back to our hotel, passing by some of the more historic landmarks of Honolulu and sharing his knowledge of the Hawaiian culture. I was so intrigued that I spent a good hour at the Honolulu airport looking through books about local history (BeeTeeDubs, they’re great). Definitely made me sad that we didn’t make any plans to visit landmarks, but now I have yet another reason to return.