Day 9: Last Day of Vacay
Leaving Maui wasn’t anything to cry about. That’s because we were leaving Maui for Oahu. I’ve decided that this is the best way to leave a tropical island without feeling sad and depressed. Simply hop to another island, and you’ll be just fine. If only that were the case for every sad thing in life. Pissed at work? Hop to an island. Husband make you mad? Hop to an island. Stuck in traffic? Hop to an island.
Well, this hop to Oahu marked the near end of our Hawaii vacation. We had one more full day before hopping back home, and Mikey and I decided to spend it on the North Shore, while Mom and Dad ran some errands of their own. It turned out to be one of the best days of our entire vacation, and the pics below will show you why.
OMG Sea Turtles!
I had heard through some coworkers that there’s a certain beach on the North Shore that is famous for sea turtles swimming up on the shore. I didn’t know where it was exactly, and we never made a big effort to seek it out. We did, however, end up there without our knowing. The beach is called Laniakea Beach, and the reason why we stopped there was because we saw it was a good snorkel spot days earlier when we were at Chunn’s Reef for our surfing lesson.
We were right about the snorkeling. The charcoal-colored rocks off to the right side of the beach were home to dozens of tropical fish. Mikey and I swam in, around and above the rocks for a while, enjoying the exotic sea creatures below us before heading up to our towels to dry off in the sun.
Not long after we settled into the sand, we heard the tourist chatter start to pick up. A giant sea turtle was swimming close to the shore, near snorkelers and a surfer girl and her daughter.
Then, they started coming in droves. Well, not really droves, but two more washed ashore — pretty much one right after another.
It is illegal in Hawaii to touch sea turtles (or honu, in Hawaiian). There are a number of wildlife volunteers who work hard to protect the sea turtles. In fact, a few uniformed women were there at Laniakea to police the beach and educate tourists about the turtles.
We learned that many of the turtles are tagged for tracking purposes. The wildlife groups and volunteers can identify almost all of the turtles. They’re given names and aside from the tags, can be identified by the markings on their heads and shells. They wash up onto the shore periodically to rest, and boy, do they look tired when they slowly but surely inch their way up to the sand. In addition to resting though, they’re also sunning. The sun aids their digestive system. One of the ones we saw was a whopping 250 lbs. Another was a bit smaller. She had recently been injured, probably by a boat propeller. The wildlife volunteers told us they had helped rehabilitate her and that she was well on the road to recovery, but that she visits the shore more often. It’s likely her injury that keeps her coming frequently to rest.
Food Truck Love at Pupukea Grill
Once I’d taken what seemed like a few hundred pictures, we decided to pack up our belongings and head out to find some food. Luckily, the North Shore is littered with yummy food trucks along the side of the road. We stopped at Pupukea Grill for some ridiculously big and delicious nachos.
We sat down and found ourselves surrounded by autographed photos from surfers who have come far and wide to catch a wave at Oahu’s famed North Shore.
End the Day at Waimea Bay
And to close out our memorable day at the beach, we made a final stop at one of our family’s favorite beaches, Waimea Bay.
To say it was hard to leave Waimea Bay would be an understatement. Mikey almost had to drag me out of the water. But reality settled in, knowing we had a good deal of laundry and packing to do before the long trip home the next day.
That night, Mikey and I spent a night out on the town with my cousin, Justin and his girlfriend. I had my first Dave & Buster’s experience in Ala Moana. Mikey showed off his basketball skills at the hoops station, and we went home with a couple of kitschy prizes as a souvenirs. A great way to spend our final night in Hawaii, especially considering I hadn’t seen my cousin in nearly two decades. That’s what happens when your family grows up military. Constant relocating to different parts of the world keeps you far from each other but somehow, always in the same boat.
Leaving Hawaii and especially my grandma is always tough. As with every vacation, Mikey and I always ask ourselves, Can we see ourselves living here? Heck yeah, said anyone who has ever stepped foot in Hawaii. But for us, it seems to be a reality that is very much within reach. It helps that we already have family there. It helps that my side grew up on that laid-back island lifestyle. It also helps that I’ve been watching countless episodes of Hawaii Life on HGTV and know that we could absolutely afford property somewhere on those magnificent islands. One of these days, we may just make a permanent life in Hawaii happen.