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A Road Trip to the North Shore of Oahu

Spoiler alert: includes Lost filming locations abound

“We’ve got to go up to the north shore one day! I know a great snorkelling place and we have to eat at the food trucks!”

One of the best things about our visit to Hawaii was catching up with a great friend of mine, and a bonus was that she had a car and could show us around. We’re no strangers to seeing each other in different corners of the world – we went to Budapest together a couple of years ago, and we first met on a trek across the USA. Now she’s au pairing in Hawaii and is lucky to have called Oahu her home for over a year now.

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Unfortunately, the day we chose to road trip around Oahu, we didn’t luck out with the weather (this seems to be a common theme of my travels) and the iconic Jurassic Park mountains were so shrouded in cloud that you could barely see them. It wasn’t so much mysterious as just… well, misty.

That said, I’m really glad we got the chance to get out of Honolulu and off the beaten track with someone who lives there. We went snorkelling and it wasn’t in Hanuman Bay (it was free, for a start). We sought out Lost locations on beaches tourists don’t go to (and caught a rainbow on one of them!). We ate at local food trucks and even visited a temple.

Our day started with a car crash. Thankfully, we weren’t involved and those who were seemed to be okay – we were actually pulling into a viewpoint anyway, but next to the entrance was a car on its roof and a small crowd of people surrounding it. It must have only just happened because moments later, police, fire engines and ambulances appeared left, right and centre.

This led to – I am not joking – a three-car crash on the other side of the road as people slowed down ON THE CORNER to have a look. We literally saw a policeman raise his arms in exasperation.

We decided to leave before the road descended into chaos. Luckily no one was injured, and there was no reason for us to stick around.

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Our first stop was Byodo-In temple – a replica of its twin in Kyoto, Japan. The temple is part of a huge cemetery known as Valley of the Temples and is not used for services. Rather ironically, it was built to celebrate 100 years of Japanese culture in Hawaii – we had spent the previous day at Pearl Harbor, barely imagining what effect they had had on the island little over 25 years before this temple was built.

On arrival, we were encouraged to ring the ‘bon sho’, or sacred bell. It is believed that ringing the bell will bring happiness because it reminds us that everything is transitory – that is, any negativity in our lives is not permanent.

And fun fact – it’s used briefly as a filming location in Lost, as the venue for Sun and Jin’s wedding!

While it’s a shame we couldn’t see the Koolau mountains behind, nor the Kualoa mountains further on that make up some of the epic scenery of Jurassic Park, we still got to enjoy some pretty cool views – like this one across to Chinaman’s Hat.

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And this was the view behind us – actually pretty cool in the mist, right? Right, guys?!

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Kualoa Ranch runs tours for movie fans behind that mountain right there, Jurassic Park being the most famous of all, but it also includes a stop by Hurley’s golf course in Lost. (I didn’t do the tour because it’s pretty pricey – it was $45+tax while we were there)

We also stopped at a macadamia farm – not quite what I expected on our day’s itinerary, and it reminded me of the time we went to a tomato farm in Iceland! That said, we didn’t spend a penny (or cent) and got to try lots of free macadamia coffee and flavoured nuts. Ash even had a go at cracking his own!

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We weren’t even half way up to the north shore yet, so we got a move on and it started raining. A LOT.

After a quick stop at the famous Ted’s Bakery for lunch and a legendary chocolate cream pie, it stopped raining, which meant it was time to go snorkelling while the weather had cleared up. Sam recommended the Three Tables beach, which was on our way to Hale’iwa.

Of course, the dry weather didn’t last long and the water soon went murky and the sea got super wavy, but I still saw some really awesome stuff! There are a lot of great snorkelling spots on Oahu, and I definitely recommend snorkelling here – Sam says she’s seen turtles here too, though we unfortunately didn’t. And did I mention that unlike the tourist spots, it’s free?!

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The rain got harder, and we dried off as best we could and continued our journey along the shore to Hale’iwa (pronounced Hall-eev-a). This is a super cute town with lots of surf shops and shave ice and we had a look at both while we waited for the rain to stop. The general store we went into had pictures of staff with actors, including Terry O’Quinn, aka Locke from Lost. And look! Afterwards, you could almost pretend the sun was shining.

We continued further with one mission in mind: to scout out the beach used in season one of Lost, and the weather was thankfully just clearing up for it.

Mokule’ia beach, just opposite Dillingham Airfield (which is also where Eko’s brother’s fateful plane takes off with the Mary statues full of heroin), is the site of Oceanic 815’s crash and the aftermath throughout season one. Due to tide changes and the set almost being swept away, they moved to a new beach (Papa’iloa, or Police Beach) which is far less accessible. Still, this was instantly recognisable and I could just imagine hearing the smoke monster in the jungle, or people running through the bushes!

Our timing meant that the sun was shining through – which meant one thing!

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Our final destination of the day was a mile further up the road. YMCA Camp Erdman is the site of the “Others” camp. Although the huts have been repainted since the show, it’s still recognisable, and to make things more fun, they’ve got a few Dharma references around the camp!

It was time to head back towards “home”, but not before a stop at the famous food trucks along the north shore. There were so many to choose from – shrimp, Thai, burgers, fish, Mexican – but in the end I settled for a “big surf burger”. It was delicious, and a bargain too! There are so many cute stalls here, I loved it.

As well as silly photo ops.

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We also tried to get a last-minute glimpse of turtles on Turtle Beach. Sightings are almost guaranteed, but of course with my luck (and the weather) they were nowhere to be seen.

I’m really glad we got the opportunity to do this trip, even with its shortfalls. It beat being on a stuffy coach with 30 other people, and we stopped at a bunch of places you’d never be able to visit on a tour! We got to do things our own way with an insider.

And of course, I got to be a Lost geek! I’m not a massive TV nerd, but I LOVE Lost!

Who’s your favourite Lost character? (Mine is Charlie </3 or Desmond… or Ben… or Sawyer)

Oh wait, I should be asking a travel-related question, shouldn’t I?

Okay, have any of your travel experiences been dampened by the weather?

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4 thoughts on “A Road Trip to the North Shore of Oahu

  1. Looks like it was still a fun trip and you made the most of it even though everything didn’t work out perfectly. :) I’d love to go snorkeling out there! I always see photos of people with turtles.. but of course with my luck too.. who knows! haha

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    1. Thanks, it was definitely a fun day!! Yeah sometimes I get really lucky with wildlife and other times I don’t lol. I didn’t see any dingoes in a place you’re supposed to be guaranteed to spot one, but I saw a wild platypus which are super rare! I did spot sea turtles in Oz too! :)

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