“Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going to fast — you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.” — Eddie Cantor, New York comedian born in 1892!
It has been 25 years since I was last in Hawaii. At the time I came here by default after failing to secure a three-month visa to travel across the USA. The two weeks I was granted instead limited the places I could go and in a flash of ingenuity I figured the Hawaiian Islands was the only destination to wile away that time.
I wasn’t disappointed then, or now. Staying on the legendary North Shore, just up the road from Waimea Bay in Sharks Cove, Oahu, it still feels like you’re stepping back in time.
Everything and almost everyone are so laid back. Relaxation comes easy. Cross the road and your soon swimming with reef sharks. Further around the bay, you’re swimming with green turtles.
The last time I visited I stayed in a posh hotel in Waikiki. Don’t get me wrong, that was pretty special. I could walk out the front door and be greeted by shops, cinemas and the famous Waikiki Beach.
This time I opted for something more remote, and I scored big choosing Shark Cove Rentals. I don’t often spruik places where I’ve stayed so you can bet I’m impressed. I have the middle bungalow amid a set of three. The deck overlooks the bay, there’s a Foodland within walking distance and apart from the birds chirping and a dog barking, the greatest domestic amusement to enjoy is a black kitten running helter skelter across the patio.
So it’s a real shame the owners are talking about selling up. They’ve weathered the worst of the GST but have had enough. They’ve reached an age where free time has become more important than the whims of their guests.
You can’t blame them. They’ve worked hard this past 20 or so years and it’s time to enjoy what the rest of us love about the islands of Hawaii. I’m just grateful I found this place before some savvy developer swoops in and turns it into a resort. The area is ripe for this kind of thing but I wonder whether die-hard surfing tourists would really go for that.
Of course being so close to Waimea Bay, which has been an influential surf spot during the dawn of big wave surfing in the 1950s, I guess the potential is high. After all, this is home to the big wave-riding phenomenon.
I’m here off-peak. The big-wave season hits Hawaii from November through February and attracts top surfers around the world. Just a bus or car ride away is Ehukai Beach (Banzai Pipeline), Sunset Beach and Haleiwa Beach, which host world-renowned surf competitions. It’s also home to the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing when the waves reach a minimum of 20-30 feet [7-10 metres] high.
And beyond the bay is the North Shore Beach, where in summer the waves become docile enough to be suitable for swimming, snorkelling and diving … a place for people like me to enjoy despite the odd rain shower.
Apparently 40 per cent of Aussies like to frequent the North Shore any time of the year. I would have thought it more and the area gets plenty of European visitors but it’s the American mainlanders who know when they’re onto a good thing, and they like to stick to it. As one US guest observed. “I’ve been coming here every year for the past 15, I’d like to think I could notch that up by another 15!”
Judy Wilkinson is a freelance writer and blogger who is back on the road travelling around the USA, Central and South America in search of the next big thing or that story on the ground that counts!