Shrimp Shack Tour!
Oahu Travel Blog› entry 6 of 8 › view all entries
What a full and amazing day! Sadly, this is the first day that I've gone off the property during the daytime and I leave tomorrow! Shizah!
We left Ko Olina at 8am to start a tour that encompassed a lot of sights around the north and west parts of Oahu. We went with a husband and wife team called "Ko Olina Tour Company" that I highly recommend.
The husband Robert was so nice and considerate and accomodating, and since Joyce and I were their only customers that day, we got a very customized tour that ended up returning us an hour and a half later than it said on the itinerary. Getting more bang for the buck is always nice =) In some areas, they would have completely cancelled the tour if not enough people signed up.
We started off with a drive through old town Honolulu, where we passed by some government buildings, the old Palace, and the gilded statue of King Kameamea.
The views were really nice, but it's in an area where the mountains caught the wind and fog and formed clouds. It was freezing and windy and I was so sure I was going to catch a cold, but hell I was in Hawaii, and there was nothing that was gonna stop be from trapsing around in a skirt and little top =)
We skipped out pretty quickly due to the high winds and made our way to the Karate Kid temple! Otherwise known as Byodo-In Temple, it was behind a cemetary plot with some really beautiful traditional Japanese altars where a family's cremations were accumulated.
Byodo-In had a few interesting details. There was a large bell outside that visitors could ring - it was said to grant your wish or bring you good luck in general. Large koi ponds and zen raked sand/pebbles were found outside the temple. Inside the temple rested the world's largest hand carved Buddha outside of Japan. Joyce and I lit some incense and walked around the grounds.
We discovered something called the autograph tree, which villagers used to use as playing cards. A slight rubbing of the leaf would quickly leave an imprint and the dried leaf turned very hard - like cardboard, keeping the rubbing intact in a different color. We also saw a paper-tree, which was a spongy, cork-like tree that came off in layers that were so soft!
Afterwards, we went off to the Macadamia Nut Farm Outlet in Kualoa Ranch, which I didn't think was a big deal as we always buy those blue boxes of Mauna Loa macadamia nuts when we're in Hawaii, but the ones here were so delicious and fresh I had to buy a few packs although they were $11 each! They had all sorts of flavors from coconut to garlic and onion to cinnamon. They all tasted GREAT! I can't emphasize how different these macadamia nuts were from the boxed Mauna Loa ones.
We happened to get there just before a side tour of "The Secret Island" guided by Samoans started so we decided to join for a mere $15. Samoan men have their entire bottom half of the body tattooed as a rite of passage into adulthood, it was so crazy! The guides were hilarious, so fun to hang out with, and gargantuan. =)
Pade drove us around the property in this little school bus with the windows knocked out and the driver started the bus by inserting a twig into the ignition! It was so funny! He cracked jokes, called us "my friend" repeatedly and even dropped a Beyonce reference by being like "To the left, to the left, you'll find coffee plants.
After the agricultural tour, we stopped by to harrass a previous tour that was just coming back. Pade tied his feet together and climbed this enormous leaning coconut tree. The group was on a canoe coming back in from a fish pond and started yelling because they saw him climb the tree. He yelled back, plucked a coconut off the top of the tree and launched it 40 feet towards the boat, splashing the passengers. I laughed so hard because it was so playful and funny watching this enormous man perched at the top of a coconut tree launch multiple coconuts at these poor tourists and their guides =) Like something out of a cartoon except Pade would be replaced by a monkey.
We went to this outdoor area where we watched a really fun show led by Chief Seielu.
We were entertained with music, shown different calls used to communicate far distances, saw a fire-dance, shown why the coconut is called the source of life, and shown how to start a fire in the midst of the 40mph gusts =)
They were like.. macho Samoan boy scouts or something =)
We went on a canoe trip around the lake which was stocked with Tilapia, Barracuda and some other fish I can't recall! How fantastic considering the water was only 3 feet deep! This site is owned by King Kameamea III but so many movies and shows are filmed here including LOST.
Being in the middle of this valley really put you in another world. I've visited Hawaii before but it doesn't cease to take my breath away each time. The untouched, green land - mountains and valleys creating interesting shapes and sillouhettes are really awesome. You look around and think "where the heck am I and what year is this?!" I think I'd be content just sitting around looking at the beauty, and occassionally exploring a cliff or reef or hiking up a mountain.
I think I scarfed down my #1 in about 10 minutes flat, it was so delicious, served hot and fresh, and tasted as good as your mind could possibly conceive of shrimp. If my tummy space were not limited, I would have eaten 2 entire dishes. In fact, I have a craving for it right now! Joyce ate a #2, which apparently have only been tried by 6 tourists in the Ko Olina tours out of over 200. Koreans and their spicy food =)
There are multiple shrimp shacks throughout Oahu, it's like hot dog carts in East L.
After our shrimp shack tour we stopped by an outdoor fruit-stand with bagged fresh fruits. Joyce got the yummiest sliced mangoes. We're so lucky to be in this country with treated water in the midst of a tropical paradise where you can eat sliced fruit from the streets without worrying about getting sick. In Africa, fruit was sold by the roadside, but it had to be sold whole due to the lack of refrigeration and potable water.
On our journey up through the north shore, we also stopped by a retail gift shop that claimed to have prices much lower those in the North Shore.
Afterwards we passed along the North Shore and saw these turbulent waves at the Bonsai Pipeline and Sunset Beach. No wonder surfers love it here, the waves are nothing short of magnificent! Today they were "messy" because the wind was churning up a lot of the water, so we did not see any surfers. The waves here are strong and apparently when it's not so windy, just roll onto the shore, carrying the surfers.
At some point we went to an ancient ritual ground where the indigenous people used to perform ceremonies and hold sacrifices. It was larger than life and reminded me of Stonehenge. It was on a cliff overlooking the mountains, and you could see for miles around. Multiple tiers of stone and mud indicated the different classes of people.
On our way out of the burial ground, we saw a little boar without tusks run across the road from one set of bushes into another! That was fantastic! It was like seeing a really fast, brown pig darting in front of you! And a vacation isn't a vacation without an exotic animal sighting =)
We stopped at Matsumoto's for some of their famous icies, but they were terrible! I choose to buy a $1 Italian Ice at a random NYC pizzaria anyday and blindfolded for that matter over this nasty artificial concoction.
But there were some cute stores near Matsumoto's, and a ton of surf shops lined up along the street. Something like "Quality Dent Repair" hung from many stores, and they weren't talking about car dents! Apparently some good restaurants are here too - what a fun place with some great surf culture. I wonder if they're quite as cliquey as the surf culture out here in Los Angeles. I hear that surfers will beat up newbies who try and surf on their "territory" out here... ridiculous! If that isn't American macho, everything-is-mine mentality I don't know what is!