Oahu’s North Shore: a meeting point for surfers and food lovers. This side of the island is home to a vibrant street food tradition. From the delicious Giovanni’s shrimps to the sweet Leonardo’s Malasada, from the most amazing Elephant Truck’s Thai food to the most refreshing coconut water coming right out fresh-chopped coconut shells. Trust me, there is really a little something for everyone’s taste.
Garlic Shrimps by Giovanni’s Truck
A bar on the beach serving exotic cocktails, straw umbrellas to give you some shade from the blazing Hawaiian sun and the blue ocean right in front of you. Maybe you will be also lucky enough to make friends with some cute sea turtle, you know – nature is unpredictable!
Ph: Chris Stankis
This beach is known worldwide for ‘The Billabong Pipeline Master’. Every year, the best and bravest surfers in the world gather together in the attempt to catch one of the most huge, scary and amazing waves a surfer can dream of. If you happen to be there during the season, it is a show not to be missed!
Ph: Phil Gibbs
Ph: Kirstin Scholtz
THREE TABLE BEACH
Looking for the best spot for some snorkeling? Three Tablet beach is the place for you. This spot on the North Shore of Oahu is home to an incredible amount of colorful fishes that during summertime love to hang out in the calm and warm water of this rocky tidal pools. A suggestion? Bring water shoes, you will thank me later!
Let me get you a sigh of relief. No, sharks in here! Apparently, this beach got its name from a popular story that says that the outline of a reef outside the cove looks like a shark when seen from above. Despite the scary name, the Shark’s Cove is one of a kind and not just because of its spectacular underwater rock formations but most of all because of its amazing marine life. No better spot for a dive, mine included. It was my very first time and I really need to thank Hawaii Eco Divers and my instructor Ricardo Taveira for its patience and perseverance and for making it the most panicking and exciting experience in my life.
Ph: Hawaii Eco Divers
Ph: Tor Johnson
Ph: Hawaii Eco Divers
Kaena Point is located on the corner that connects the North Shore to the West Shore. The nature of the area make this place one of the least light-polluted spots on the island and therefore one of the most suitable locations for starts gazing, especially in summer. The ideal conditions are moonless or near-moonless light and a clear sky. For pictures like these, though, you’ll need lenses with a large aperture and a quality camera with the ability to take images at a high ISO setting. Stunning, isn’t it?
I had never been to a Buddhist temple before then and it was a really particular experience for me. I was totally amazed by the beauty of this place but what really impressed me was the sense of calm and peace that held me as I walked in through that bridge to the temple. This place can’t miss on your Oahu bucket list!
Just miles of endless turquoise and calm water brushing up against a fine sand beach while gentle winds offer a cool relief from the hot Hawaiian sun. The word “Lani Kai” means “Heavenly Ocean”. It’s such a fitting name for a place like this!
LANIKAI PILLBOX HIKE
Even if the almost vertical climb through the thick brushes got me a little intimidated at the beginning, the sunset from up there was quite rewarding!
It was just a glimpse at the beginning. One step forward and I was breathless. I must be dreaming – I thought. I remember I stood there like mesmerized for a while. And then, a shudder passed through me. Suddenly I took off my clothes and I run into the ocean. I remember looking down into the crystal-clear water and seeing cute little fishes swimming in between my feet. Turning around I took a look at the white-sand beach and at the green mantle of trees covering the mountain and then I remember taking a deep breath and letting myself fall back into the water. It was true, I really was in Hawaii.
My trip around Oahu started right here. It was just the first stop and I got already amazed. The view was stunning. I spent something like 20 minutes staring at that white-sand beach and at the blue ocean. I even pinched myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming but there I was – in Hawaii!
KOKO CRATER HIKE
Oahu is not just gorgeous shorelines. The island presents a rich and varied landscape that includes majestic mountain ranges and challenging hikes. One of the most famous is the Koko Crater trail – an old railroad built during World War 2 and used to haul cargo and supplies up to the top.
Watching the army’s guys going up and down so easily made me think it was going to be a smooth one. How naive I was! At each step, the staircase got steeper and steeper – not to mention the part of it that acts as a bridge with a 40 ft drop below. Not exactly the best thing for who has a fear of heights. I want to be honest – I almost gave up. Then turning around I saw how much I had already accomplished and I remember thinking ‘damn, I can’t screw it up now’ and, actually, I didn’t. Even if more dead than alive, I got to the top and sure this view paid me back.
HALONA BEACH COVE
It is a small pocket of sand surrounded by a volcanic rock shoreline, created thousands of years ago by volcanic eruptions. Today, there are no more active volcanos on the island so no fears. If you look at this picture, this place seems like saying ‘Come on! Get into the water’. If I was you though, I wouldn’t listen to it. It sure is a beautiful beach but not the safest place where to chill. Currents here are pretty strong so watch out if you’re willing to take a shot for a few stroke or some snorkeling.
ALAN DAVIS BEACH
This spot of Oahu is really famous for its trampoline. Even if it has been removed by now, the rocks where the wooden plank was wedged are still in a perfect position for whoever is willing to take a (safe) jump into the blue water.
This beach is perfect also for those willing to take a swim and relax. Hidden in the dark-coal rocks there are little tidepools where you can hang out like if you were on your own private beach!
Put four girls together, one car, 34 hours driving and Luis Fonsi singing “Decpacito” all way long. The result? Best road trip ever.
Emma Chase once said:
“The greatest part of a road trip isn’t arriving at your destination. It’s all the wild stuff that happens along the way”
And there was a lot of stuff going on during that trip.
So let’s start!
Who is going to guess where we celebrated the 4th of July? Someone could say watching fireworks on a lake shore sitting on a cozy blanket. Someone else could say drinking beer at a barbecue party. All very attractive alternatives. However, can that be compared with a long and hot wait in an auto-repair garage in Billings, Montana? What the heck were they doing in Billings on the 4th of July?! Fair question. Well, the day before Independence Day, our car’s brakes broke (no pun intended). It wouldn’t have been an issue if we hadn’t all had to work the day after in Wisconsin.
I always try to look at the bright side of a bad situation. My point was that, at least, the car broke the day before of our last day trip. We would have had plenty of time to look for someone available to fix our car and then drive all night back to Wisconsin. And voila. We found out this car-repair garage in Billings opened 24h – even in a National Holiday. And you know what? We made it! We got our car fixed and we got back in time to work the day after!
Mishaps aside, I would do it over and over again because that place left me speechless. So, welcome to the Yellowstone National Park. The Park spans an area of 3,468.4 square miles (8,983 km2) and covers no less than three States – Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana. It is divided into two Loops – the Upper and the Lower Loop.
Our trip was four days long and included a stop to Mt. Rushmore on our way back home. Two days driving and two days spent at the Park. Since we arrived from the northeast, the most logical choice was entering the Park from the North Entrance and visiting the Upper Loop first.
DAY #1 Upper Loop
I like to call it the “slow” loop. Even though there are not as many pit stops as in the Lower Loop, it was really relaxing going up and down through the snow-capped mountains, stopping at the crystal-clear rivers and discovering hidden waterfalls. The landscape was spectacular and the sun made everything so sharp that even the best pictures can not possibly do the colors justice.
The must see spots of this loop are essentially three – Mammoth Hot Springs, Norris Geyser Basin and Canyon Area.
THE MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS
This spot is known for the terraces – formed over centuries of hot water bubbling up from the ground, cooling and depositing calcium carbonate. The sulfur smell is very strong over there but the view is totally worthy.
THE NORRIS GEYSER BASIN
This Geyser is characterized by the presence of colorful and above the boiling point geothermal hotspots. We did not make to stop there but if you will have more time I would not want to miss it!
THE GRAND CANYON OF YELLOWSTONE
This Canyon has been dug by the Yellowstone River. Three waterfalls feed the River – the Lower, Upper and Crystal Falls. Since we were out of time, we stopped just at the Lower Falls in order to have a full image of the Canyon, the River, and the Fall all together.
DAY #2 Lower Loop
After spending the night in a very rustic log cabin at the Blue Moon Saloon, we made our way to the Park’s West Entrance. We began the Lower Loop tour from Madison and then we followed the road until the East Entrance. The Lower Loop has the greatest number of Yellowstone’s hydrothermal features. Sure you do not want to miss the Midway Geyser Basin, the Old Faithful Area, the West Thumb and all the amazing views of the Yellowstone Lake.
THE MIDWAY GEYSER BASIN
It hosts the world-famous Grand Prismatic – one of the most brilliant of Yellowstone colorful hot springs. Minerals dissolved in the hot water are deposited and gradually build the gracefully terraced shoulders of this features. Simultaneously, billions of microorganisms called “Thermophiles” make the hot spring a burst of colors.
On the way to the Midway Geyser Basin, we were lucky enough to catch an amazing sight of the Old Faithful Area geysers in the distance through a field of purple flowers. That’s the best part of road trips. You are free to stop whenever you want and be amazed of what the road offers you!
THE OLD FAITHFUL AREA
The Old Faithful Area hosts the largest concentration of active geysers. The path built among the little fumaroles will lead to a viewing area where people can sit and wait for the geyser eruption. Clik here to watch the eruption video.
The average between the geyser’s eruptions is currently 74 minutes. Visitors can check for posted prediction times in most buildings in the Old Faithful Area. Eruptions normally last between 1.5 to 5 minutes for an amount ranging from 3,700 gallons to 8,400 gallons of water. The average temperature is about 204°F (95.6°C).
Before heading out, the Park gave us one last gift – an amazing view of the Yellowstone Lake. No better way to conclude an already awesome trip!
So, here we are! Our car got fixed and we hit the road one more time. Since it was on our way back to Wisconsin, we decided to make a quick stop in South Dakota and visit the famous sculptures of the heads of four United States presidents – George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
Although I really appreciate the place, it let me a little disappointed. On the base of the publicity built around the place, I would be expected more. Moreover, there is nothing else to visit around but Mount Rushmore. Therefore, I am glad we included this stop on our trip because I do not think is worth going there just to see the sculpture of the presidents’ faces – it does not take more than half an hour.