Thursday, February 8, 2018

Travel Bug: 5 Ways to Live Like a Local in Oahu, Hawaii

Though not a Hawaiian local permanently, my heart is always with the land and the people who resign on the islands.  For some reason my obsession with the tropical climate, surfer style and Aloha vibes came on strongly when I was in my teens. Back when everyone wore puka shells and JT had ramen hair. My first trip was for a High School Band competition. It took two years of hoarding my allowance money, baby sitting savings and football concession stand raising. I remember the trip well enough to tell you: I didn't listen to our chaperones, stuck to the tourist attractions and I was burnt to a crisp by day 2. Above all, I remember paradise.
My third trip was a treat. I stayed with my college roommate's Auntie and Uncle in Honolulu and we coasted through the entire island. This is when the magic of the island found me. More specifically in the North Shore. It's like the North Shore owns a part of my spirit. It greeted me like an old friend as we scoured through the rain forest, through the mountains and back in the sea. This is where I found my true Aloha Vibe.

Many of my friends have asked me to create an excel doc of the "best of the best" for their trips. However, I'll be frank, I don't travel when I go to Hawaii. I live. It's my most active and zen self. Though I will probably not give you a doc, I will tell you how to start living like a local in the North Shore.

1. Get an Airbnb - If you stay in a resort, that's the vacation you're going to get. "Gourmet" Hawaii food, pool time and manmade reef lagoons to keep you from the tides. Nothing wrong with that! However, when you airbnb you get the full local experience. Definitely get an airbnb with a kitchen stove top. This past stay, we stayed in Laie which is just outside the pipeline. The perfect location. Next to a walkable beach, Foodland and (most importantly) surfer watching! It's only 30 minutes from Hale'iwa, which is my favorite place to shop, get coffee and shaved ice.

2. HIKE - It's your vacation. However, when you're on a tropical island and you have an entire ocean in front of you and an entire mountain range behind you, wouldn't you want a taste of both worlds? North Shore has some incredible hikes that range from easy to very very advanced (like carrying a sleeping bag and a machete). Personally, I'm a fan of intermediate hikes midday and easy in the morning. A great hike for those who don't mind a bit of a climb for a view is the Ehukai Trail. Once you get to the top, you have the option to keep going or climb back. Be careful if you continue on, the trails are longer than referenced on websites but a gorgeous stroll through the forest.

3) Eat - Oh you hearrrrd me! If you're hiking like a local, you're burning enough to eat enough. I have a few favorite spots on the North Shore and in Kailua (post in queue) but I want to talk about my food strategy first because I think it's important -- Make 3/4 of your meals and dine the rest of the time. I suggest this because Hawaii is expensive for locals. Plus, why would you want to leave the beach to get food only to come back? We packed lunch 3/4 of the days on our trip because we were either hiking or laying out. Mornings we made breakfast at the airbnb and then often ate dinner out.

4) Ask - Locals aren't going to tell you their secrets spots on the island. That's just not how it works in Hawaii and that's okay because you have to remember it's not your home. However, definitely ask a local where to get the best _____. I've asked for sorbet, beer, shrimp trucks, smoothie shops, coffee houses, paddle board rentals and even tourist attractions. "Is Diamond Head worth it?" No shame in asking, almost everyone is super friendly and will tell you what they think.

5) Give Gratitude - I love vacation, who doesn't right? Everyone loves kicking back and being free from life, jobs, responsibilities, etc. When I'm on the Island, I greet the water every morning and say goodnight in the evening. Many locals know what they have and don't take their home for granted. So, I do the same. I thank the trees for shade on my hikes. I thank the forest for giving birds a place to sing peaceful songs while I wander. I give blessings to any scenic view I can walk to and always thank the sun for it's vitamin D after a long day of soaking it in. When I leave, I always thank the Island for my retreat and detox from my everyday life. It makes me appreciate my time so much more.

Aloha, friends.

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