Tourists are always shocked when they see that most people
who live here don’t have a beautifully sun-kissed tan. They
gasp in utter horror when they hear that weeks and even months
have gone by when I haven’t set foot on a beach. They forget
that people who live here aren’t on vacation. We actually have
to do little things like write research papers and pay bills.
When I do find the time to catch some rays, the last thing
I want to do is lay like a sardine on a crowded beach inhaling
the fumes of coconut-scented deep bronzing lotion. One of my
favorite tourist-free beaches is on the island’s Eastern Shore.
Makapu‘u Beach is somewhat hidden, even though it is located
directly across the highway from a major tourist destination,
Sea Life Park. Maybe this famous body-boarding beach is less
populated because beach-goers must climb down a sandy path peppered
with rocks to get to the beach. The minor walk is not treacherous
by any means, and except for the occasional stubbed toe, is
definitely worth it.
The view at Makapu‘u resembles a postcard, with aqua and deep
blue waters dancing around outside the wave break. The water
is often dotted with bobbing heads waiting for the next good
wave. When it comes, dozens of surfers and bodyboarders shoot
off along the face of the wave. The sand is so soft from being
pummeled over the years by pounding waves that one’s body sinks
comfortably into it, making it easy to relax…or doze off.
The North Shore
Sometimes when you need a break, all you want is to get away,
which entails a road trip. It may seem counterintuitive to take
a road trip on an island, some might say. “What are you going
to do, go around in circles?” Forget about them. Just because
mainland road trips involve hundreds of miles, countless rest
stops, and the inevitable, dreaded numb rear end, they aren’t
requirements. On O‘ahu, we have the luxury of traveling from
the city to the country in less than an hour. This mean that
when someone whines, “Are we almost there yet?” you can look
them straight in the eye and give them a resounding, “Yes!”
Grab your shades, roll down the windows, crank up the tunes,
and head up to the North Shore. Right about the time you begin
to feel a little antsy and want to stretch you legs, you should
be almost to Haleiwa. Why not stop by for a shave ice at Matsumoto’s?
Visitors and locals alike line up around the building for this
tasty treat. Then hop back into your car and continue up the
coast to the next stop: Pipeline.
During the winter months, especially during an el nino
season, this is a definite must-see. When a big swell comes
in, the waves can be higher than two- and three-story buildings.
Some waves don’t look like waves at all, but appear to be massive
walls ascending towards the beach at phenomenal speeds.
Imagine: You plop down on the sand to watch the few brave souls
that rush into the whitewater searching for a channel to lead
them out to where the waves are breaking. Behind you are homes
of many famous surfers who, when not in the water, are on their
porches talking story with other surfing aficionados. From one
of the houses, mellow acoustic guitar music drifts down the
Pipeline is worth visiting in the summer months, as well. The
only difference is that there are no big waves, so you don’t
have to be a Kelly Slater-type to be able to splash around.
Forget Las Vegas or even going to one of the neighbor islands
when you need to escape. You can get away from gridlock, the
glare of a computer screen, and the noise of the crowd, without
even leaving our little island. Just because paradise doesn’t
slap you in the face and say, “I’m right here,” doesn’t mean
it doesn’t exist. Wrestle up a little sense of adventure, and
you will find that your own paradise is waiting for you—maybe
right down the street.