After spending some time in Waikiki, the North Shore and the East Coast, the only thing left was the West Coast of Oahu. Driving all the way up to Ka’ena Point and the last stretch of pavement left, we found some of the poorest areas in Oahu and also some of the most beautiful drives and remote beaches.
Driving through the West Coast, you can see the disparity of income between Waikiki’s resorts and upscale neighborhoods to where local Hawaiians and a large homeless population live in makeshift shelters. Instead of million dollar houses and condos, the local houses are what I call “military architecture”, no frills, practical and square. This stark contrast of have and have nots is sometimes missed when we visit a new place and why I like to experience it. These places and people are also part of the story, a sobering reminder that not everything is peachy and beautiful.
But I digress on my philosophical journey…
The West Coast has one stunning highway. It’s almost impossible to drive it and not drool at the lush green mountains on one side and the blue vast ocean waters on the other. It’s a good thing that Mr. Goodlife took this drive with me, because I may have ended up off an ocean cliff from too much gawking while driving.
A few locations are of note. Yokohama Beach at the Northernmost tip and the resort area of Ko Olina. Although the latter is a resort “town”, Ko Olina has beautiful coves that are sheltered by natural rock reefs and some have sea turtles that swim right past you.
When planning a trip to the West Coast, plan to stay past sunset. It’s an event not to be missed. You can also grab dinner at one of many restaurants at Ko Olina.
Note on wildlife preservation and encounters: in Hawaii, sea turtles are protected against harassment by a misdemeanor offense, a $2k fine and up to 30 days in jail according to the Department of Land and Natural Resources. Although this is the law, the enforcement of it is unfortunately severely lacking, but as a traveler, I believe in protecting the natural environment and culture I am paying good money to observe and experience. Please don’t touch, feed, hunt, harass or chase after wildlife and encourage others who travel with you to do the same. Travel responsibly and I guarantee those great nature encounters will still happen. This beautiful turtle for example, swam right past me with curiosity. I didn’t have to chase it or feed it and still got my shot. Everyone can do the same.