On our third full day on Oahu, I planned a loop up to the North Shore that would include stops at the Dole Plantation, the Banzai Pipeline and the Polynesian Cultural Center. It was a full day with a lot of driving, but it was great to see so much of the island.
Our first stop was at the Dole Plantation and we really had only one objective in mind: Dole Whip. If you have never had Dole Whip before it is a delicious pineapple flavoured soft serve, that is not very easy to come by. To get the real thing, you either need to go to Disneyland, Disney World or the Dole Plantation. Every time I visit a Disney Park I make sure to get my Dole Whip, so you better believe I was going to go straight to the source on Oahu and get some of that frozen pineapple goodness.
To be honest, unless you have little kids and want to ride the train, in my opinion, the Dole Plantation is really only worth going to if you want a Dole Whip.
After the Dole Plantation, we continued North and headed up to the Ehukai Beach Park to watch the surfers on the Banzai Pipeline. The pipeline is “notorious for huge waves which break in shallow water just above a sharp and cavernous reef, forming large, hollow, thick curls of water that surfers can tube ride.” The surf was pretty impressive, it certainly wasn’t a day for someone like me go out paddling in the water! There were quite a few spectators, like us, just sitting on the beach watching the surfers wait for just the right wave. It was pretty awesome and definitely worth a stop if you are ever in the area.
Our next stop was going to be the Polynesian Cultural Center, but rather than having so-so, and very likely overpriced, food there, I looked for somewhere fun to stop on the way. I found a cool little restaurant, right along the side of the road, called the Kahuku Grill. The restaurant really embodies the North Shore surf and beach culture and focuses on providing simple, yet high quality, food made from fresh, local ingredients.
Pretty much everything on the menu looked amazing, but I ended up splitting the Paniolo (Cowboy) Burger, served with fries and a salad, with my mom. The burger was topped with grilled pineapple, onion rings, bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, caramelized onions and bbq sauce. This burger was epic. Ridiculously delicious and insanely drippy. I actually ended up eating it with a knife and fork (in part because the burger lost some structural integrity when we cut it in half) so that the entire thing didn’t end up in my lap.
All of the topping worked so well together and just made the burger taste unbelievable. I don’t care if the burger was a little messy, it was worth it because it was just so darn delicious. So good in fact, I ended up trying to recreate the burger for dinner at our condo one night in Maui (and did a pretty good job I would say).
The fries were more of a “home-style” potato wedge than a traditional French fry, but they were also pretty awesome, especially dunked in the spicy mayo type dip provided on the side. The side salad was also quite good, but it’s hard to heap praise on a salad when you have such an amazing burger in front of you.
My dad enjoyed the Teri Burger, which was topped with a generous amount of Teriyaki sauce, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and caramelized onions. He was also pleased with his selection, but like us, found his burger incredibly messy.
We all loved eating at the Kahuku Grill. It was so wonderful to enjoy such delicious food while sitting outside soaking in the sunshine and fresh ocean air. The food did take a little longer than I would have guessed it should have to come out to us once we ordered at the window, but I mean, come on… it’s the North Shore! Things are just a little more laid back there. And really, why would I want to rush such a perfect moment anyway?
After lunch we made our way to the Polynesian Cultural Center. It was a really interesting place to stop, and probably worth a visit on your first trip to island, but I don’t think it’s a must do on every trip to Oahu by any means.
When we finally returned to our Condo at the Ilikai, I decided to just sit out on our balcony and enjoy a rum and coke with my dad. Then, we watched the beautiful Hawaiian sun set over the Marina. It was pretty spectacular. And you know those moments you have when you just stop and remind yourself “hey, life is pretty darn awesome”? Ya, it was one of those.