Published in the Battle Creek Enquirer
An hour north of Honolulu’s tall buildings was a part of Oahu that looked and felt like the Hawaiian Islands of my imagination. The wide sandy beaches of the North Shore stretched for seven miles, packed with cars, the waves dotted with surfers. Every so often, we would see a shrimp food truck, which seemed to be the preferred dining choice.
We were looking for Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck, one of the best known and oldest of the North Shore trucks. The trucks get their crustaceans from shrimp farms of nearby Kahuku.
Before we found the truck, we located our resort, Turtle Bay. Sitting on an amazing point of land, the hotel rose up in two wings.
The view was almost good enough to ignore the room’s tired and worn décor. The hotel was in the middle of a renovation; unfortunately our room had not yet been transformed.
With the beach on one side and the pool on the other, it was difficult to decide where to start sun bathing. The fabulously green-blue water won out. The hotel provided an hour of free snorkeling but it was too rough to see any fish. The open air beach restaurant, Ola’s, allowed us to choose from both the bar and dinner menu. The Kalua pulled pork with goat cheese nachos were a perfect snack.
The next day, we visited the Polynesian Cultural Center. For 50 years, the Center has given visitors a sampling of Polynesian dance, music and culture. We bought all-day tickets which included a luau and the evening show, “HA—the Breath of Life.” We might have enjoyed the seven replica villages if our tour guide hadn’t been horrible. We knew we were in trouble when she entreated us to share a funny, personal fact with 20 complete strangers. When we tried to unobtrusively wander off, she chased us down. Finally, we escaped. The luau dinner was good, not great. Then evening show, however, was worth the price of admission. A loosely connected story of a young man growing to adulthood, it featured breathe-taking dancing and a jaw dropping fire show.
A stop at laid-back Haleiwa Town was the perfect antidote to the forced fun of the Cultural Center. We shopped and snacked in what was the social and artistic hub of the North Shore. For dinner that night, we went in search of the recommended shrimp truck but stopped instead at the very simple Kahuku Grill. Great burgers and wonderful garlic butter shrimp eaten at an outdoor picnic table in view of the ocean really typified the North Shore experience — laid-back, down-home and fun with incredible beaches.