On the Sunday of our Hawaii vacation, we took a road trip to the windward side of Oahu. Separated from Honolulu by the Koolau Range, the windward side is greener and much less crowded than Honolulu and especially Waikiki.
First we stopped at Punchbowl for a family gathering at my uncle’s grave. A volcanic crater like Diamond Head, Punchbowl is a veteran’s cemetery. Diamond Head is on the far right.
From Punchbowl we drove up the Nuuanu Valley to the Nuuanu Pali, where the valley ends at a 1,000-foot cliff in the Koolau Range. In 1795 Kamehameha I invaded Oahu. Kamehameha’s men pushed the Oahu army up the Nuuanu Valley to the Pali and over the cliff. Subsequently, the king of Kauai, the only island outside Kamehameha’s rule, surrendered, and Kamehameha I was king of the Hawaiian Islands. His magnificent feather cloak is at the Bishop Museum.
The dark gray rock on the left is lava. Volcanic in origin, it’s very strong and resistant to weathering. The windward side gets a lot of rain. Despite the rain and wind, the windward side of the Koolau Range is mostly vertical cliffs like this, showing the strength and durability of the lava.
To the right of the Pali lookout is the old Pali Road, the 2-lane road used before the current tunnel was bored through the mountain. It was quite a drive before the tunnel.
We drove north past Kaneohe to the coast, stopping at the He’eia Pier for lunch. A Travel + Leisure article about rising Hawaiian chefs wrote about the general store at the end of the pier.
The article was spot on. We had the mahimahi plate lunch and beef stew. The mahimahi was nicely grilled and finished with a white sauce, fresh shiitake mushrooms, and green onions. Hawaiian style, the plate lunch has a scoop of rice and macaroni. The stew had large pieces of beef and carrot. Some of the beef was too fatty, though. Both dishes were delicious, and they cost about $20. This was one of the best meals of our trip and certainly the best value.
Being on the pier is quiet and relaxing.
After lunch we drove to the mountains you can see from the pier. Along the way there was a large taro patch, and they sold the taro leaves. We were pleased to see taro growing on Oahu.
We stopped at Kualoa Park for a closer look at the mountains. The patches of sunlight change as the clouds move, so the mountains are ever-changing before your eyes. The white birds (perhaps egrets?) flew in and gathered on the lawn.
We took the H3 highway back to Honolulu, snapping pictures as we drove. Once again, see the steep sides of the Koolau range.
Back in Honolulu, we stopped for shave ice at Waiola Shave Ice in Moilili. Shave ice (not shaved ice) is a Hawaiian treat. Ice is shaved from a block of ice and topped with flavored syrup — strawberry and mango are shown here. Options include ice cream, condensed milk, and azuki beans. Ours has azuki beans on the bottom. The ice was shaved finely, but there wasn’t enough syrup so the ice in the middle was white.
Despite our experience, the place is popular.
We had a great time on our Sunday road trip to Windward Oahu. Escaping the Waikiki crowds and Honolulu traffic for green mountains, blue ocean, and quiet was refreshing.