I often get asked ‘why Hawaii?’ Other than its undeniable beauty & perfect surf. Well it’s always been a place I’ve admired on TV & in Movies even since I was real young. I always new it would be a place for me, then I arrived…
It began in Honolulu, Oahu. Here I spent 3 days hiking the Ka’au Crater, Diamond Head, exploring Waikiki & surfing ‘bowls, canoes & paradise’ breaks which were paradise for sure but too crowded. Growing up on a farm, cities have become places I pass through. I had heard of the notorious North Shore & had a feeling this was a spot for me. I contacted a guy on couch surfing named Ben, grabbed my bag & took the 55 bus to Haleiwa. I took the longer bus around the east coast of Oahu to check it out. 2 hours later I was there. The North Shore.
I formed a connection immediately with this 7 mile stretch of coastline, it was scruffy, the opposite of materialistic & laid back, just like me. As I stepped of the bus i felt grounded. Within the first 30 minutes i had already been offered a place to stay by a local woman named Jonah & there were some homeless guys just chilling under the shade of some trees, this place was just easy, relaxed, loose. Shortly after i was waiting for Ben the couch surfing host, i was apprehensive as i hadn’t used the app before. Then Ben showed up. A dust-covered beaten up truck shows up with 2 boards hanging out the pick up (a Hawaiian staple), Ben jumped out, introduced himself & said “shall we go surf?” I was instantly stoked, for me it was the perfect first impression. So we went for my first surf on the north shore at a place called Pua’ena. It was sunset with moody dark red skies but the water was warm. Sitting waiting for waves I felt humbled by the beauty, I was in the place i had looked up to since a kid. Ben took me for food then to his place, we drove off-road for 5 minutes through farmland to where he lived. A recycled shack amongst Avocado trees, no windows just nets, no air con, no worries. My bed however was in ‘The Magic Bus’ (into the wild reference), a bright purple library bus. Things were just falling into place.
The following day we road bikes around the Dole plantation & came across a smaller farm within. It had MOHALA written on the gates, we jumped the fence to find the owner. His name was Mark & he was looking for WOOFERS to help out on the farm, I wanted to help but this was my 5th day & knew there was so much to explore still across Hawaii, so as I left I grabbed his contact details, it seemed a really interesting project. I later returned in my trip to find out more about this organic experience check out the Mohala blog.
Swimming Amongst Sharks for Research.
The same day I had arranged to swim with sharks, it was with a research company named OneOcean lead by Ocean Ramsey. This was an experience i was nervous for but had wanted to do for sometime, I mean I do love Blue Planet. Seeing these sharks circle beneath me was a really peaceful experience. It completely changed my perception of sharks. They’re beautiful to watch, effortless, smart & deserve far more respect than they get. Galapagos, Sandbar & a Tiger sharks were amongst other fish 3 miles off the coast of Oahu. I got to swim down with them briefly as long as I remained above the pack. Unfortunately I have no photos of these moment however the memories will last forever. OneOcean do a lot of research & conservation work across the world check them out at oneoceandiving.com
After another night in the ‘Magic Bus’ me & Ben decided to take a trip to Kailua with 2 beaten up boards, the goal, to paddle to the Mokulua Islands. Having never seen this distant & as a mediocre surfer I was confident until we arrived at Lanikai to see the distance…If you’ve been there you will have seen many kayaks & paddle boards making the same trip, on the day we went we were the only guys paddling beaten up boards, but totally worth the numb shoulders, we spent time messing around catching some small waves before heading back to the main island. When we made it back to the ‘magic bus’ I helped Ben plant a hedgerow & plumb a shower into his recycled pad as my way of thanking him for a bed to crash in. If you’re looking for places to stay in Hawaii for free, or maybe a little help visit couchsurfing.com it’s also a great way to meet locals & immerse yourself quickly.
My last day at the bus involved a 10am skydive over the North Shore with the Pacific Skydive crew. Although I live in base jumping mecca Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland, it was my first skydive. If you have friends who jump off high things you will know they love to show off their skills & share their experiences. Because of this I already had an idea of what to expect. The anticipation though is far worse than the jump itself. Once you’re airborne it all makes sense, why my friends love their sport so much.
Back to Hostel Life.
I felt it was time to hang out with some other backpackers so I bussed it over to the backpackers inn near Waimea Valley. I really touched back down here after all my recent activities in the Plantation Village part of the hostel, i fully recommend staying here if you’re looking for a calm spot with great access to the north shore (Plantation Village North Shore). I rented a board & got back out amongst the waves for a few days. Early morning surfs at ‘Laniakea, Chuns & Sunset beach’ made me realise how easy it would be to just get stuck there, the locals were welcoming & to watch them surf was real lesson!
We would spend spare time exploring the area cliff jumping the rock at Waimea, hiking to the pill-box with the perfect view of the Banzai Pipeline & eating awesome food from the food trucks including Poke, Musubi’s & cooking our own food for the hostel tribe.This place was also were i learnt that sunset was an event, people actually arranged to meet at a beach to watch the day disappear. It didn’t matter if you were surfing or chilling on the beach it was for all to appreciate & be a part of. My first sunset session was over at ‘Three Tables’. Wow..
I was still hungry to explore the other islands & knew how easy it would be to stay on the North Shore, so I caught the bus back to Waikiki to book flights for Kauai. I’m all for grabbing the cheapest flights when i have time so I spent an extra day in Waikiki. I spent this time hiking Koko Head crater, visiting China Walls, Spitting Caves & practicing some Acro-Yoga in the parks next to Waikiki. If you find yourself there its worth checking out the locals practicing all forms of yoga & slack lines in the park, its interesting to watch & even more fun to get involved, if you’re embracing & kind enough they’ll be more than happy to show you some moves. Oahu had already left me wanting more, honestly it blew me away, it far surpassed my expectations. I would be back!
For information on the surf spots in Oahu check out https://wannasurf.com/Oahu
If your looking for a run down & pretty comprehensive list of what you could be doing in Hawaii go visit RV Lifestyles Blog:
The list is very diverse & whether your an intrepid explorer or just looking to cruise the islands there’s something here for you. Much Aloha!