Best known for large, powerful winter surf that challenges the world's best surfers, the seven-mile stretch of highway that winds through the North Shore proper also includes the quaint town of Haleiwa, lots of casual places to eat, and some gorgeous beaches. The surf was up on this day, so I dropped my boyfriend off for a few waves while I headed to Haleiwa to browse the arts and crafts shops, pick up some souvenirs for friends and family, grab a "shave ice" (Hawaiian snow cone) and catch some rays at Haleiwa Beach Park.
A little later, with both of us back in the rental car following lunch at Kua Aina Burger (great burgers made to order), we headed out of Haleiwa, past Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach and toward what I think is the most beautiful part of Oahu, the windward coast. The leisurely drive on the two-lane highway offers scenery rivaling anything you'll find on the Neighbor Islands, with the Ko'olau mountain range jutting skyward on your right, and the blue Pacific Ocean on the left.
Cruising past landmarks like Kualoa Ranch, Chinaman's Hat, Makapu'u Beach, Hanauma Bay and the scenic marina at Hawaii Kai, it occurred to me that relatively few of the millions of visitors to Hawaii each year see this part of Oahu. Re-entering Waikiki late the afternoon, we had plenty of time to shower and make a 7:00 p.m. dinner reservation at Duke's, totally relaxed after another perfect day in Paradise.