We couldn't go to an island and not take the time to explore more of it, especially such a small island. On an island the size of Oahu it's possible to complete a circuit in one day by car and still have plenty of time for sightseeing. We planned to drive along the north-eastern shore of the island, to the surfing beaches at the north point and return by the road that runs through the middle of the island on the Leilehua Plateau, past pineapple plantations. We set off on a beautiful sunny morning in our convey of two cars and we headed north past the Kailua Beach Park, where we noticed the beach-goers windsurfing, power kiting and kayaking.
Our first port of call was to visit the Valley of the Temples. This is an interdenominational cemetery and one of the most impressive sites is the Buddhist Byoda-In-Temple. . This was built in the 1960's to celebrate a hundred years of Japanese immigration to Hawaii. The temple is a replica of a 900-year old temple at Uji in Japan and looks absolutely stunning. The red pagodas are set amongst beautiful gardens, standing out from the trees at the base of the pali (cliffs). Before reaching the main temple pavilion, we walked to the small shelter at the side that houses the 3-ton bell. Ringing this bell, with a suspended battering ram, is said to cleanse the mind of evil and temptation. Within the temple sits the Great Buddha - a 9-foot representation of the Amida, the Buddha of the Western Paradise. The temple pavilions are set within beautiful serene Japanese gardens, which also include a carp pool. The fishpond pond is so full of the orange, black and white carp, which to the Japanese symbolise order and perseverance, they are practically squeeze each other out of the water in their frenzy for food. The fishpond was also home to a colony of turtles - although two of these were temporarily re-housed in a small children's paddling pool outside the gift shop, we wondered why.
The road heading north clings to the coastline all the way and gave us views of some spectacular beaches, with several small islets just offshore. It passes through fertile farmland with the backdrop of the tree-lined mountains ever present. We passed several roadside vendors and stopped at one of these to stock up on pineapples, green oranges and the tiny bananas. These freshly harvested fruits tasted wonderful; the pineapples so sweet and juicy. The north shore of the island is the place for the surfing, and although the surf was not particularly high, the beaches were full of 'cool surf dudes' looking for the 'big one'. We sat under a palm tree and watched! A couple of windsurfers struggled with the co-ordination required, to both balance on the board and pull up a heavy sail. Having tried this sport once, many years ago, I know how difficult it is.
Following lunch taken outside on the veranda of Haleiwa Joe's Seafood Grill (lovely fish) we headed inland to the Dole Pineapple Plantation. This tourist attraction is basically a shopping mall, with the usual souvenirs, although it also sold pineapple smoothies. There was an informative display telling a little about the cultivation of pineapple, and I now know that each pineapple plant, takes about 18 months before it fruits for the first time and thereafter will fruit about every year. The pineapples are harvested 3 times a year to ensure a year round supply of fresh pineapple. The harvesting and planting is all done by hand - very backbreaking work by the look of it.
On one of our trips over the Pali Highway, between Lanikai and Honolulu we called in at the viewpoint on Nu'uana Pali State Park. This gave an extensive view out over the pali (cliffs) to the fertile farmland towards Kailua, and away to the north to where the pali seem to stretch on forever. The pali plunge down over 1000 feet like a pleated curtain of green velvet. This windward side has no shortage of rain and this is reflected in the dense forest canopy covering the lower slopes of these mountains. This look out post is the scene of the epic Battle of Nu'uanu Valley in 1795, in which Kamehameha the Great (from the Big Island) defeated Kalanikupule and conquered the island of Oahu. According to one version of this story, Kamehameha's army landed at Honolulu to find Kalanikupule waiting for them in Nu'uana Valley. When Kalanikupule's leading general was killed with a single shot, the soldiers of Oahu turned and ran, pursued all the way to the head of the valley. When they reached the top, where the thousand-foot precipice drops away, they had no choice and threw themselves to their deaths.
Nowadays the hazards to look out for include the inopportune thief, as evidenced by the presence of a posse of Hawaiian policemen at the car park. Unfortunately a group of Japanese tourists had become victims, losing money from their car, whist admiring the view for a matter of moments. When I heard this, I worried about our house that was currently standing empty and open to any burglars who happened to wander by. We were given keys to the front door of the house and always ensured we locked this and the side entrance, but there was no way to lock the patio doors, nor the outside gate to the patio. Och well, Burglar Bill wouldn't find much of value in the house as we all took our valuables out and about with us.