It's time to leave my beloved Hawaii island for awhile. So we're doing one last loop of the island before we go back to the mainland for the holidays.
First stop Tantalus Drive ~ also called Round Top Drive ~ a curvy road that winds through such lush island growth that you'd swear you are in old Hawaii. But the lookout will show otherwise, granting this sweeping view of Honolulu, topped off with Diamond Head Crater.
We pass Hanauma Bay, the well-known snorkeling spot ~
~ And round the point to the windward side of the island. It's always wild and wonderful along this shoreline. This is where the Pacific ocean first kisses (or smacks!) the shores of Oahu; where the waves then divide and continue their journey to either the east or south shores.
Rabbit Island is just offshore. It's official name is Manana Island; but the locals refer to it as Rabbit Island ~ not because it looks like a rabbit (I've always thought it looked more like a dog -- a dog-paddling dog); but because a local resident used to raise rabbits there way back in the 1800's. I've lived here for nearly 6 years now, and I just learned this today.......
Funny what a little blog fact-checking will do for you!
This Marine Research facility is built on a huge pier.
What a place to go to "work" every day, eh?
There's an on-going campaign on this side of the island to avoid further development. Signs like these are not infrequent. And I can't say that I disagree.
Chinaman's Hat is showing off today. I guess that's probably not so PC, but that's what it's called.
It's a small (uninhabited) island just off shore from Kualoa Park.
That's Koo-ah-low-ah. Hawaiians pronounce every single vowel, with few exceptions.
And right over your shoulder are the ever-dramatic Ko'olau mountains.
These sheer sharp cliffs are among my favorite sights on the island.
From here the highway starts to follow the shoreline very closely.
I've heard it described as the road "cozying up" to the ocean.
That's about right.
There are points that are so close that you can actually feel the ocean spray on you face ~ if you have the top down on the convertible, that is.
And more "Keep the country country".
Evidently we want to keep our families in the country, too.
There's nothing quite like the north shore for a "real Hawaii" feel. Just a two lane road, with parks and beaches galore.
We skip Sunset Beach today, famous for it's surfing competitions.
Instead we stop at Shark's Cove. It's a National Marine Sanctuary, so the snorkeling is excellent here. (I think it's better than the more famous Hanauma Bay, because the water here is clearer.)
But today we're just soaking in the sights.
We happen upon this community project, where invasive non-native plants are being removed and replaced with natives. Native plants, I mean. Very nice.
It's hard to leave all this behind,
even if only for a couple of months.
This is Ipo ~ it means sweetheart in Hawaiian. I think she is. And she's impressive. Every year she swims about 1,000 miles to the Shoal Islands to mate and lay her eggs.
We stop in Hale'iwa (that's Hall-a-eee-vah) for a bit of dinner before zipping back home to our side of the island. We decide to try a Mexican restaurant that was recommended to us, breaking tradition from our Kua 'Aina hamburger. I know that seems weird, right? Mexican food in Hawaii? That's precisely why we haven't done it thus far! But then you have to think about fresh fish taco's ~ where else can I have local Hawaiian Mahi Mahi taco's?
So I have two. 'Cause it's Mahi Mahi.
And they were Delicious Delicious.
And now we are racing home to Ko Olina, just in time to catch the sunset.
I love this island loop.
I love our island life.
God, how I love my island home!