One hour and forty five minutes west of Honolulu, up the leeward coast of Oahu is the Waianae coast. This stretch of coast line is not a tourist destination like The North Shore or Waikiki, no pink hotels or expensive surf shops down this end of the Island. Thanks to shows like Dog the Bounty Hunter Waianae gets a bad rap for drugs and violence, people perceive it to be violent. There are some homeless and some drug users and there are good parts of town and streets you should avoid for sure. I found it the same in Honolulu except with ugly traffic and mob like crowds. Partly because of bad press and more local residential areas tourists avoid the Waianae coast which helps it remain a stark contrast to Waikiki and The North Shore (for the better in my opinion). We have visited this part of the Island for 20 years; Robs family has been coming here for almost 40! We have never been victimized or been witness to any violence on any of our visits.
We stay in Makaha, the last town before the end of the road; beaches are populated with way fewer people, sometimes no people and the loudest noise is coming from the birds, the doves cooing is one of my favorite sounds. There are rolling green mountains, so much green all around. To me, life here is the true Hawaii. Hibiscus and bougainvillea grow wild here and there are still more local businesses and restaurants than commercial chain ones. There are giant sea turtles swimming in every cove and mongoose can be seen skittering from one hiding spot to another in the wild green space along Kili drive in Makaha. Peacocks live free, performing for mates with all of the glamour of a Vegas show. Seeing these gorgeous birds with their stunning iridescent trains fanned out is a regular occurrence where we stay at the Makaha Towers. We have been so lucky to experience aloha spirit. Hawaiian people are so generous and gracious; we have made true friendships. Waianae locals are a supportive family, a welcoming community.
As I write this post I am sitting on a skinny lanai listening to doves coo and looking at cerulean blue ocean to my right and giant green mountains to my left. No honking cars or mobs of tourists, no concrete jungle; only acres of green palms, plumeria trees and bushes loaded with the most beautiful flowers. Its so peaceful.
In the past Rob and I traveled here to escape our crazy busy jobs and get some perspective on our lives. On more than a few visits clarity was found and decisions were made to chart a new course; to quit a job, apply for a new one, to buy a property, to try to have a baby. This place has been a much needed escape and a beacon of inspiration for me, it is my favorite place on Earth.
The highway along the Waianae coast is the road less traveled by tourists which has helped us to really experience local culture, different from Waikiki; culture that is real and genuine not staged for a luau show. We gained the perspective we have on how we like to travel, we almost always choose the road less traveled in whatever destination we have visit. I sometimes think our love for the Waianae coast helped us consider Colombia as the beginning for our adventure. This time we didn’t travel here to escape and refocus, this time we came to prepare to say goodbye. Mom wanted to spend time with Makai in her favorite place and introduce him to all of her Hawaiian friends before we leave for Colombia. This trip is is to celebrate our departure and help ease the pain of saying the inevitable goodbye for our travel life. There is no better place for me to try and reconcile feelings of excitement and fear of saying goodbye to all the people we love so much.