North Shore, Part 1: The Scenic Drive along the Kamehameha Hwy
If you ask a surfer in Oahu where the best waves are, they will surely point you to go north. North Shore beaches are best known for its waves, a mecca for surfers. When I was a flight attendant, I used to go to Hawaii almost every month. Some of my fellow flight attendants, who were Hawaii residents (but based in LA) would always tell me to check out North Shore. While it is accessible by public transportation, it is more convenient if you had a car, enabling you to circle the island. However, North Shore isn’t only famous for its waves. There are numerous tourist attractions located there. On our second day in Oahu, we drove along the Kamehameha Hwy with stunning views of both the Ko’olau mountain and the Pacific Ocean. We took our time and stopped to several places before our day’s final destination, the Polynesian Cultural Center.
Our first stop was at the Byodo-in Temple. Located in the Valley of the Temples, at the foot of the Ko’olau Mountains, it is a replica of the Byodo-in Temple of Uji in Kyoto prefecture, Japan.
When we arrived at 9:30am, there was only one family there besides us which made our visit very peaceful. As you enter to your left, you will find a sacred bell and visitors are invited to ring the bell signifying a lifetime of peace, happiness, blessings and long life.
Jude had the best time feeding the koi fish. According to him the $1 he spent for the food gave him the utmost satisfaction.
The peacocks are wild and live up in the mountain. According to the groundskeeper, they come to the temple only if they want to. That day we didn’t find any of them but we saw a black swan.
We found a short trail with bamboo trees behind the temple. There’s also a Meditation Pavilion. We stopped by the Tea House gift shop and Josh bought a lucky charm for academic success. We stayed there for more than an hour, taking our time to explore the whole grounds.
Although the temple is considered to be Hawaii’s best kept secret, it has been used to film several TV shows, including my favorite, Lost. We left the temple and drove further along the Kamehameha Highway.
We were starting to get hungry and we passed by Keneke’s Grill. At first we weren’t sure if we should eat there. We didn’t know anything about the restaurant so we sat in the car for a few minutes trying to find a review on Yelp. It got mixed reviews, some were really good and some were mediocre. I was hungry and so I decided to go in and crossed my fingers.
Glad we did because it was actually quite good. I had the combination of Kalua pork and grilled shrimp with rice and macaroni salad, a very typical Hawaiian lunch plate. The serving was huge and one order can be shared by two people.
Polynesian Cultural Center.
The Polynesian Cultural Center is perhaps one of the most visited tourist spots in Oahu. If it is your first time in Hawaii, I highly recommend that you visit this place. This is my 3rd time here and I still had a great time on each visit. I think of this place as the “Epcot Center of Polynesia” with six different islands to explore. As touristy as it sounds, the activities and the presentations in each island were actually quite informative and entertaining. Activities in the Samoa island include fire making where one can learn to build fire from scratch. They also have the best presentation (in my opinion) with climbing the coconut tree as part of the show.
We also did canoe paddling, which I thought was pretty cool!
The boys really enjoyed their time at the Polynesian Cultural Center. My only advice is not to see every show presentations as it could get overwhelming. It is a lot more fun to join in some of the hands-on activities (kids will enjoy them more than the shows). Also, their Lū’au was huge and the food wasn’t the best but do it at least once. It’s a good way to sample each of the Hawaiian foods you normally won’t eat on your own such as poi, Kalua pig, poke, lomilomi salmon, and many more.
We did the Luao here as it was probably the most cost efficient when combined with the entrance tickets.
This concludes my Part 1 of my North Shore blog post. I’ll post the things we did driving on the central side of the island. For now, hang loose!