March 6th, 2022
We woke really early on Day 2 on Oahu. Our first Alarm call was at 3 am, then 3:10 am, and then seemingly every 10 minutes until we finally caved in and got up. Why had we set such an early alarm call…we hadn’t. Hei Hei had decided we were getting up. Who is Hei Hei, the friendly local Cockerel? He started his morning calls really early and just kept going, Moving around the plantation making sure he woke everyone up.
He was most pronounced when he held up underneath our bungalow for around an hour at 4 am Cock-a-effin-doodling doing right under our bed. He can consider himself lucky he didn’t end up as Huli-Huli Hei Hei!
Anyway, we needed to rise fairly early as I was finally putting to rest an immense shame I have been carrying around with me. Despite being regular visitors to the Hawaiian Islands, I have never actually learned to surf! This needed putting right, and I had lessons booked for the morning.
After a light breakfast and some wonderful Kona Coffee on the lanai in the early morning sun, I headed off for my first Surf Lesson. Kate, after all the effort of the previous days simply opted for a lie-in and relaxing morning.
Surfing – Uncle Bryan’s Surf Lessons
I had booked a 2-hour lesson with Uncle Bryan’s Surfing you really can’t come to the North Shore and not have a go at surfing. The meeting point was at Puaʻena Point Beach Park in Haleiwa during the winter, and there was ample parking.
I was partnered with a family of 4 from Oregan who were very glad to be out of their frigid winter for a few weeks. It was nice to meet up with some new people and go on our surf adventure together. None of us had any real experience so it was going to be a hard task for our two instructors, Kai and Ironside!
Landside training was pretty minimal, they go by the theory it’s best to learn in the water! So after 10-15 mins showing us the general technique of getting up off the board, we headed off to the water.
The break here really is perfect for learning. The waves are long and give you the maximum time to get up and get surfing. The only issue I found was the water was pretty shallow and it was over reef not sand which meant a heavy fall could be painful. No one had any issues, but it was in the back of my mind and that sometimes stopped me from committing.
To start with we took it in turns to paddle out where Kai was waiting to hook us up on a wave. The family went first, starting with the kids. On the first wave the young lad nearly got up on his first go and then his older sister did just that. Making it look easy, then the old-timers got to go, The Mother was first and had a damn good go at getting up first time, then the dad. The younger more flexible members of the group had made things look really easy, but the dad showed this was not going to be a cakewalk. He was down after a few seconds and on my first go, I fared little better.
After a few goes like this the other Instructor moved out to the break and this allowed us to just circulate freely, catching a wave, then paddling straight back out while the others caught theirs. We ended up with 20+ Waves each, probably more for the kids who had endless energy.
For me, 2 hours was a touch too long and I was really flagging by the end, but I just about survived, The Kids seemed like they could have gone on till sunset though. Wave wise I got up several times but always very shaky and not for very long. The younger elements of the group were at the point they were up every wave and starting to look towards more advanced techniques. The issue for me and the father was one of flexibility mainly, Movements need to be fluid and we really were just a bit old and stiff. Next time I will look into a little Yoga beforehand to help ease the old joints.
After attempting more waves than I could possibly have imagined beforehand we headed in. It had been a really great experience, just being out in the ocean trying to work out how to get m ass up on the board. The guys really helped and offered tips and advice throughout the experience in an attempt to get us to improve, no matter what out ability level.
Overall I was just happy that I could say I had surfed on the North Shore. It may not have been pretty but I had done it at least. And I will definitely be back for more! It was however incredibly tiring, I had been training pretty hard before this trip, mainly in the swimming pool, and I was pretty fit, but being on a board for two hours really took it out of me. It was the unusual position and flexing in strange ways that did the damage. By the end, I was out on my feet and had bruised ribs from banging against the board for the next week!
I headed back to the Bungalow to meet Kate, grab some food, and head on our next adventure!
For many swimming with Sharks would be considered less of a Dream experience and more of a Nightmare! But we are of the firm opinion that sharks are massively misunderstood. I personally have dived with sharks on several occasions including an Epic Shark Dive off the coast of Australia, and many a time around the Hawaiian waters, all without issue. But Kate doe not Dive and as such has never experienced a Shark in its natural habitat.
Honestly, she would be fine keeping it that way, but as she threw me off a building a few days ago, it was time for some payback!
There are a few companies that offer shark diving off the coast of Haleiwa, some are cage dives others are free-diving experiences. We are not one’s for cage diving so were really happy to sign up for One Ocean Diving’s Shark Dive trip that offers a Free-Dive/Snorkelling experience. Meeting at the Haleawi Harbour.
We met up with our pretty small dive group of 8 people in total and boarded the boat before heading out to the shark grounds. The crew consists of the Captain and a Marine Biologist / Free-Diver / Mermaid! The Biologist gave us a thorough briefing as we headed out to the grounds. Worryingly these were not very far off the coast at all and quite near where I had been surfing earlier…
However, as the Biologist explained, these sharks are just no threat to us at all. They eat fish and do not like humans at all. The only slight risk is an errant hand flapping about in the water, mistaken for a fish that they could take a nip at. As such we were encouraged not to flap about in the water or do anything that could be mistaken for prey.
Just off the coast, we stopped in the water, and almost instantly the sharks started circling. They were just interested and attracted by the bubbles churned up by the boat. Naturally, with sharks circling the boat …we all climbed in!
We were in the water for around 45 mins and were repeatedly investigated by the inquisitive sharks. These were a collection of Sandbar Sharks(9-10) and Galapagos Sharks (2-3). There is a chance of various other species visiting this location but on this day we only saw the smaller species. There was apparently a rather large Tier Shark in the vicinity (spotted by other boats) but she did not make an appearance. The only other thing we saw apart from several Rainbow Runners, was a Large Grizzly Barracuda called Kevin, who shows up in the hope all the activity leads to a meal.
We were pulled from the water in what felt like no time but we had been snorkeling for a good 45 mins, back on the boat we headed back to shore only to stop just outside Haleawi bay as a pod of Humpback Whales showed up to really top off a fantastic outing.
As we headed into the Harbor we learned all about Shark conservation and the severe threats that face the world’s sharks and the catastrophic effect their loss would be on the Eco System.
Overall this was a phenomenal experience and the folks back home really couldn’t believe the video we go of Sharks circling feet from Kate’s fins!
Back on Dryland we headed back to the Bungalow and spend the rest of the day relaxing. We took a stroll out along the Coast, taking in Sharks Cove and Sunset Beach. The Basai Pipeline was not firing but there was some pretty intense surf still and lots of people out enjoying the stunning coastline.
Back at the Plantation, we headed down to the beach to watch the sunset once more and then walked over to the North Shore Food trucks to GRab some Epic Garlic Shrimp. We spent the evening on the LAnai just enjoying the location and the wonderful North Shore Vibe. Ready for another busy day tomorrow.