Finally Found Sand!!!
After our hike on the Haiku Stairs, we grabbed some lunch at L&L Hawaiian BBQ and reminisced about our recent 8 hour adventure. Beyond exhausted, overwhelmed and in need of some rest, we dropped off our friend, Rayce (@Raycecar) at his place and headed back to the hotel to wash off the Hawaiian soil and catch up on some ZzZZz's. We woke up a few hours before sunset, and decided to drive up Mount Tantalus to catch the sunset over Honolulu.
I'm not sure if I was bored and nothing seemed exciting after climbing the Haiku Stairs, but my motivation and inspiration was pretty low. I'm not one for going to a location just for the shot. I'm one for experiences and moments, capturing these are what I thrive for. Reaching the crowded parking lot at the Puu Ualakaa State Park, we found a spot and quickly got out. Mike and Alvin waded their way through the selfie-stick-wielding-tourists, stepped over camera tripods and found a spot. Me? I Snapchatted the scene, laughed with and at the tourists and proceeded to throw myself over a little fence to grab a spot for my tripod and stuff. Still unimpressed with the situation, I grabbed a few shots before the park ranger came up to the 30-large group and said it was time to close the gates. Why would you close the gates as the sun had just begun to set?!? Regardless, we drove a little ways back down the road and pulled off into a popular turnout to get some cityscape shots with Diamond Peak in the background. None of which I participated in. Yeah, call me a party-pooper! Below are some of my shots before the appearance of the park ranger.
We ended the night with some delicious family-style grub at Side Street Inn, a DELICIOUS place I was introduced to last time I was on the island. They even had their own beer from Rogue Brewery crafted for them! WIN!!! The brew complemented the dishes very well. Then again, any brew touching my lips at that moment would have been tasty.
The next day was check-out day from our cozy hotel room at the Sheraton Waikiki.
We woke up just as the sun was to begin peaking from behind Diamond Head. Mike was the smart guy as he went down to the beach below and did what he does best - shooting sunrise. Me? I was lazy and just sat out on the hotel patio. This being our third day on the island, I hadn't even felt the sand of ANY beach beneath my feet, let alone swim in the warm Pacific Ocean waters. One of my goals for this trip was to do one of the Triple-S's: swim, surf or snorkel. None of these things happened. The. Whole. Trip. Seriously, straight up fail. Anyhow, back to the 18th-floor patio with my coffee, cookies, and the view of the paddlers, paddling out to sea.
It quickly turned into an impromptu shoot. That is, until the pigeon poop started appearing and I eventually had to eat all the cookies myself. Click each image to enlarge them if you care to see their beady eyes.
By 11am, we were packed and ready to check out. In 24 hours, Mike and I would have to be at the airport, flying back to the mainland. We hadn't made any accommodations for our last night on Oahu, but I wasn't too concerned since we still had our rental car and found shower stations at the beach parks scattered throughout the shoreline. Our plan for the day was to do some snorkeling at Hanauma Bay and then head towards the North Shore where Alvin would be spending the rest of his stay at a beach house for a bachelor party. That's another 4 days of Hawaiian sun, food, beaches, palm trees and everything else I'm jealous of! Mainly jealous of the presence of the local girls. Meh.
We checked out of the hotel, went down to the strip, checked out Peter Lik's gallery and popped into Firestone Brewery for lunch. I didn't order anything since I'm a big believer of eating local food whilst traveling. I did manage to play with my Sony A7ii a bit more.
After lunch, we got the car and headed to Hanauma Bay. When we got to the gates, we found out they were closed for maintenance or some other bs excuse. No snorkling. NOT HAPPY.
Hopping back on Kalanianaole Highway we headed towards Lanikai Beach. Mike and Alvin were on a hunt to find a spot to shoot. Something about a bent palm tree with the twin islands of Nā Mokulua in the background. But on the way we saw Lanai Lookout and made a quick detour. I told them 15 minutes max since we were somewhat on a time crunch.
I noticed Mike venturing off in his sandals to get some shots and took the opportunity to use him as human scale to the wondrous coastal landscape. Scroll from left to right.
Half an hour and one last look later, we were back in the car driving towards Lanikai Beach.
We found the beach and parked the car on a residential street. We were finally going to the BEEEEEEEEACCCHH!!!!
This was the first time our toes had some sandy goodness between them since landing on the island. It was like walking on heaven. The water of Lanikai Beach was a beautiful aqua-teal, right up until the sea water softly slaps the white sandy shore and becomes crystal clear, then retreating back into the blue. It felt pristine and smooth as it overlapped our feet. There's a reason why Lanikai Beach is rated as one of the world's best beaches! Click to enlarge each image for full resolution.
Again, another regret of mine was not jumping in the water with the Japanese female tourists dotted throughout the beach. As much as I try, I'd be lying if I told you I live a life full of no regrets.
After an unsuccessful attempt at finding this photographic spot, we headed back to the car with 2.5 hours left of daylight. We had to cut across the island to make it to Waimea Beach where the Quicksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau Invitationals was scheduled to take place the next day.
The Eddie Aikau event is a surfing competition that happens only when the waves reaches at least 40 feet. In its' 31-year history, the contest has been held only 9 times. We were to fly out the day of the contest. :/ To extend my flight one more day would have cost me $250....
We finally made it to Waimea Bay! And boy, was it already crowded with campers, surfers and spectators. We quickly found a spot to park and got out to watch the amazing sunset happening before our eyes.
After sunset, we drove out to Hale'iwa and met up with Eric (@KushPush) for dinner at Haleiwa Joe’s Seafood Grill, another delicious spot. With bellies full, we were exhausted with the day's activities and couldn't wait to hit the sack. It would be another 3 hours before that dream came true.
Eric is a volunteer at a YMCA camp, so he had access to a couple of tents and sleeping bags we would need to camp on the beach of Ka'ena Point. Just before midnight, we hiked about a mile and a half until we found a nice spot that was close to, but high enough from the huge swells of the ocean. It was a beautiful night and although all we wanted to do was sleep, we couldn't help but take a few moments with this majestic landscape.
Thursday, Feb. 25, 2015, we woke up at 6:15am, just in time for sunrise. Stepping out the tent, we were welcomed to the views of our surroundings we had stumbled into the night before. We've all seen ocean waves before, but these were fierce, smooth, blue and beautiful with the perfect spray.
Mike stood on the tide pools in his sandals...
...and I did as well. Eventually an incoming surf caught me off guard. Running away, I trashed my sandals and cut up my feet. Regardless, I still was able to get the shots I wanted to remember this place by.
Eric had to leave for work, leaving the packing of the tents and such to us. Mike and I were due to be at the airport in 4 hours. We shot a little more when it suddenly began to rain.
As we began to pack up our gear and break down the tents, one last rainbow appeared for us. Mahalo!
9am and we were finally packed and ready to hit the trail back. I had my tennis shoes with me, while the other two had flip-flops on. I took both tents and scurried ahead of them to the car.
After leaving the tents and sleeping bags back at Eric's camp, we drove Alvin to his beach house and sped off towards the airport with smiles on our dirt-crusted faces. The next and last blog will be about the main reason we came to the island: Stairway to Heaven.
Let me leave you with this sweet VW van at the trailhead parking lot.