The Five-0 Dream comes true, part 3: the North Shore

(YES this is a super late post. WHOOO. My Hawaii trip actually happened in June. If you missed my previous posts, I talked about presenting my research at the International Coral Reef Symposium, exploring Diamond Head, the Waikiki Aquarium, and the Hawai’i Institute of Marine Biology, eating my way around Hawai’i, and my souvenirs from the trip.)


While most of our labmates and bosses were going home two days after ICRS, some of my friends and I decided to extend our stay in Hawaii for another week to make the most of our trip. We spent two more days in Oahu before flying to the Big Island.

Our major lesson learned: touring the North Shore is more fun and much easier with a car. We considered renting a car for just the one day but weren’t sure if that was possible, and my companions didn’t want to join a tour group because of the added expense. We ended up taking TheBus, which meant that the trip from the Ilikai to Sharks Cove took 3 buses and almost 3 hours, while Waimea Valley back to the Ilikai took 2 hours. This doesn’t include the time we spent walking from Sharks Cove to Waimea Valley, as the #55 bus only comes every 30 to 45 minutes.

The bus route we took from the Ilikai to Sharks Cove consists of three buses:

1. the County Express Bus to Ewa Center, get off at the Alapai Transit Center
2. the #52 Wahiawa-Haleiwa bus, get off at Haleiwa
3. the #55 Honolulu-Ala Moana Center bus, get off at Sharks Cove

The #52 bus goes through the middle of the island, so we passed through lots of farmland and Mililani. I think I would have appreciated the sights more if I weren’t so sleepy and tired. Jem, Bryan, Denmark, Lexie, and I ended up waiting in Haleiwa for the #55 bus to Sharks Cove for around 30 minutes, which meant that I got to explore Surf N’ Sea, one of the most famous surf shops in Haleiwa. This is where I found one of my favorite souvenirs from this trip:

If you know me at all, you’ll know why it was my favorite 😛

Sharks Cove was a pretty interesting snorkeling area. My main thoughts were “OMG IT’S COLD!!!” and “OMG the fish are huge!” – both of which are completely alien to me. As I mentioned in my previous post, I found Hawaii’s waters to be hella cold. As for the fish, I’m sad to say that they don’t get that big in the Philippines anymore. Sharks Cove is a protected area, so I’m assuming that’s one of the reasons why the fish were of a good size. On the other hand, I also noticed that there wasn’t a lot of variety in the species that were there. I spotted schools of surgeonfish, drummers, mullets, and parrotfishes, but only a few species of each. It drove home that despite the overfishing, the Philippines still is the center of the center of marine biodiversity.

Very few photos while snorkeling because while my phone was in a waterproof pouch, using a touchscreen phone as a camera is practically impossible underwater (I could have brought the diving housing for my Canon S95 but chose not to because of baggage weight and space issues). Jem had a GoPro though, so she got excellent photos of a green sea turtle that they spotted (THAT I DID NOT SEE BOOOO *sadness*).

We had lunch at a food truck parked in front of Sharks Cove (whose name escapes me at the moment huhuhu). I ordered some tacos but my friends’ order was so much better:

Denmark and Lexie went home after lunch (they were leaving the next day and wanted to do more shopping), Bryan went to the Polynesian Cultural Center, while Jem and I headed to Waimea Valley. We tried waiting for the bus but alas, it was faster to walk to Waimea Valley than wait.

Waimea Valley is one of the last remaining partially intact ahupua’a on Oahu. An ahupua’a is a “land division that extends from the uplands to the sea that provides the necessary resources to sustain life”. One of the defining features of an ahupua’a is a freshwater source, usually a stream, river, or spring. The ahupua’a consists of three zones: uka (uplands), kula (plains), and kai (ocean). Native Hawaiians get resources from all three. Waimea Valley covers 1,875 acres and has been a sacred place to Native Hawaiians for more than 700 years.

Waimea Valley’s main attractions are the amazing botanical gardens and the waterfall. I didn’t know that there We were looking forward to swimming in the waterfall (mostly to rinse off the salt and sand from Sharks Cove) but alas, the rains stirred up the sediment so the water was muddy brown instead of clear. It was still really pretty though.

There was also a reconstructed kauhale, or traditional living site, as well as native games set up. Another highlight was seeing the endangered ‘alae ‘ula, or Hawaiian moorhen.

Waimea Valley is a pretty big place to visit and the only shuttle service is a golf cart from the admissions area to the waterfall, so I was pretty tired by the time we started walking back to the entrance. I think I fell asleep for a few minutes as I sat on a bench to rest. It was a very pretty place to sleep though.

We took the #55 bus back to Honolulu, which goes eastbound around Oahu. We could have taken the same route (only westward) going to Sharks Cove but TheBus app said the first route was faster in the morning so we just went along with it.

I liked our afternoon route much better than the morning route as we got to see the Pacific Ocean to our left for most of it. If you want the cheapest scenic tour around the east side of Oahu, the #55 bus is it. Seeing the endless rows of beach parks, with tents, tables, chairs, and people enjoying their day out made me both happy and jealous, as my idea of paradise is working in a city with a beach just a few minutes away. I tried taking pictures through the window but alas, we were moving too fast most of the time.

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