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Trip Report North Shore of Oahu - May 2012

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My boyfriend and I (age 30s, no kids) spent 5 nights/days on the North Shore of Oahu. He had only spent 8 hours (layover) on Oahu prior to this visit, while I had visited a friend in Aiea in March 2011. After seeing the island last year, I knew the North Shore is where I wanted to return!

Lodging
We rented unit 502 at Haleiwa Surf (VRBO #97274). Kim was great to work with - very responsive and friendly, and provided some local contacts in Haleiwa should we need assistance. The unit itself was beachfront which was great. It's a basic/simple unit and *very clean* (didn't even see a single bug which is a first for me in Hawaii). No a/c was a bit rough, and the bedroom was a bit loud, so we ended up sleeping on the mattress on the living room floor...lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves, and enjoying some better air circulation from the ceiling fan and slider doors to the balcony.

Food
* Cholo's - Decent Mexican food; amazing Li Hing Mui margaritas. Dined here twice for lunch.
* Lui Bueno's - More decent Mexican food; highlight here was guacamole. Lui Bueno's also has the latest open kitchen on the north shore which was a welcome find after our 8:30 p.m. arrival at HNL.
* Halewia Joe's - Pretty good, and pretty expensive. I enjoyed my Ahi tuna more than my boyfriend enjoyed the fish of the day special (swordfish I think?). I would get the ahi again. I would NOT, however, get the sampler platter again - it was way too big for 2 people, and the only things we liked on it were the calamari and the spring rolls.
* Romi's Shrimp Shack - This is my "must eat" on the North Shore. Garlic and butter shrimp are to die for. Love, love this place.
* Ted's - Didn't eat any baked goods. Instead had breakfast sandwiches (egg and cheese, or egg and cheese and ham) which were surprisingly really good. Very fluffy, fresh tasting bread. Would have eaten here a second time if we had the chance, but most breakfasts were enjoyed in the condo or on the run.
* Coffee Gallery - Next to Cholo's. FAB lattes. This was also a really pleasant surprise. We enjoyed coffee here every day. Pumpkin and cream cheese muffins and the chocolate chip banana bread were tasty treats as well.
* Cafe Haleiwa - We enjoyed both breakfast and dinner here. For dinner, I highly recommend reserving a table outside behind the wine/beer store for extra ambience. Great omlettes and french toast for breakfast. Excellent pasta and fish for dinner. We also thought the savory "cheesecake" appetizer was worth ordering again in the future.
* Kua Aina - Burgers and sandwiches. I am not really a big sandwich (or burger) person, but I will admit my hot roasted turkey sandwich was really good. Good fries, too.
* Kona Brewing - NOT ON NORTH SHORE. We are beer lovers and could not visit Oahu without a trip to Kona. Excellent pizzas and salads, and really delicious beer. Worth the drive East!

Activities
* We spent one day literally driving around the island. Lots to see - didn't make a ton of stops but did enjoy some scenic pull offs.
* Visited friends - spent some quality time with my friend, her husband, and their new 3 month old teeny tiny baby. So fun to see them and have some "family" on the island.
* Scuba - Went diving at Three Tables and Firehouse with Deep Ecology. My friend recommended dive master Ray, and he was awesome. Super friendlly shop with good equipment. Would dive with them again in a heartbeat. Saw some cool nudibranchs, an eel, 2 baby sharks, lots of turtles, and a ton of other critters. Great swim through caverns at these sites too, especially Three Tables (my favorite).
* Paddleboarding - We own paddleboards at home (Seattle) so didn't need lessons. Just rented a couple from Surf and Sea. They're pretty beat up but they float and that's all that matters. :) It was a windy day, so we opted for the river paddle where we saw some flying fish and turtle swimming along.
* Surfing - Took surfing lessons from the only male instructor at North Shore Surf Girls. Super fun time - got up every time (except twice when the waves stalled). Only bad things were kind of a damper though - 1) I didn't wear board shorts and basically rubbedd off most of the skin on both my thighs (OUCH) and 2) the water was really shallow and the reef was sharp...boyfriend was mangled and bloody (really bad cut on his hand) from falling here. The location was Chun's Reef which had perfect waves for beginners, but the reef itself was pretty unforgiveable.

Loved our time on the North Shore. Vacation always goes by too fast, but we've got Maui to look forward to in September...this time traveling with a couple who have never been to Hawaii, so it will be amazing to experience it again through the eyes of first timers.

Aloha!

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