For the Love of the Land
My inspiring trip to Oahu's North Shore.
When the temperatures dropped to -50 in Montana, I began planning my great escape. While browsing flights I thought, "somewhere warm, somewhere close to the ocean, and somewhere with fresh food to eat". In all my travels, I had never been to Hawaii. I knew it as everyone does; beautiful beaches, warm water, and surf. But upon arrival, I found so much more.
I landed in Honolulu, Oahu, as most tourists do. I expected to experience the ‘rat race’ of a big city, but it didn’t take long to get to the open country. Upon a recommendation from a friend, I was North Shore bound!
The drive twisted through mountain passes that blew my mind. I have always been a mountain-lover, and was surprised to see such magnificent peaks. Along the way, my friend and I stopped for Hawaiian shrimp plates, acai bowls, and fresh coconut. We arrived at our beautiful accommodation, Turtle Bay Resort, just in time for sunset.
Turtle Bay is 1,103 acres of conservation land – 468 acres of Mauka (mountain side) conservation easement land and 635 acres of Makai (oceanside/coastal) conservation land. With more than 50,000 native flowers, shrubs and trees, the views are nothing short of spectacular. We unloaded our things, gathered our cameras and walked along the pristine coastline to watch the sun go down. We ended up walking further than we had planned, weaving in and out of lush Hawaiian forest. We merged with the Pillbox hiking trail, and looked out at the ocean, as many military personnel had done before us.
The next day, we drove North to Kealia beach trail for another hike. The trail was cool, sun-protected by thick forest, but every now and again the forest opened up and we looked down on the vibrant and extensive coastline. Birds were singing in all directions, and we walked for three miles before turning back.
After our hike, we stopped by Kuilima Farm stand for fresh fruit. We chatted with the locals and learned that Kuilima means “holding hands with the land.” Kuilima Farm provides local produce for Turtle Bay, and aims to promote stable and sustainable food production on the island and is well-worth the stop.
The following day, we were lucky to attend Turtle Bay's monthly beach clean-up. Dozens of people were rifling through the sand finding bits of plastic and trash. It was evident that the local efforts were working in keeping the land pristine. After the event, we loaded up some kayaks and drove to Kaneohe Bay. We set out for nearby island, Chinaman's Hat. It was a quick thirty minute journey in kayaks to get to the awe-inspiring little island. We parked our kayaks and broke open fresh coconuts to enjoy. After snorkeling around the colorful reef, we then climbed to the highest point of the island where we witnessed incredible views of Oahu and the sea. The serene and magnificent scene was enough to fill my eyes with tears.
There was a recurring idea I felt during my time on the North Shore, and that was the passion and responsibility that people had for the land. With mountains, valleys, beaches and ocean as beautiful as I’ve ever seen, I can understand why.