Mahalo For The North Shore Warning, Lady

She seemed to know that I had done something. And she warned me, as I waited under a tree trying not to get soaked along a deserted Oahu beach — my family seeking shelter from the pouring rain inside our car as I watched for Ron to emerge from the roadside market across the street with drinks to go with our food truck shrimp.

“We’ve never had a bird killed here,” she said, looking at me, her eyes acting as if they knew. “Whatever happened will come back, that’s how the North works.”

I told her I didn’t kill the bird that was laying on the shoulder of the road, although she wasn’t convinced. I didn’t. We didn’t. The bird was dead before we even pulled off the road, mesmerized by the blue of the water in that spot, the swings dangling from the trees and the emptiness of the beach.

But her words and her conviction towards me were strange, not because they were nutty and misplaced, but because she wanted me to know that the energy on the North Shore is karmic. 

Maybe it is. That was the middle of our trip, days after we had already earned a lovely suntan on a soggy Electric Beach, known for its snorkeling because of the warm water pushed out by the nearby power plant. It rained on us that day, soaked our towels and our bags, but didn’t dampen our sense of adventure as we kicked our way out — way out — to see what the warm water attracted. 

Schools of colorful fish. Dolphins in the distance. And a friendly sea turtle who came for a shoreline swim. 

Electric beach

That day along the North Shore (the one with the lady), one we intended to burn discovering the coastline as we waited for our ATV ride at Kualoa Ranch, was also wet. The wind was so strong it almost blew our lunch away, but not strong enough to keep the kids out of the water. They swam in the waves in a driving rain, and hopped on tree swings, as we navigated spotty openings in the clouds to set up a spot on the beach. And the weather cleared just in time for us to throw on camo ponchos and cruise through muddy puddles while touring what could be one the prettiest spots on the island — a landscape used several times over for movie backdrops. 

We ran from dinosaurs — sort of — and marveled at the scenery. There isn’t any other way to see it, really, except by ATV. 

And that same energy carried us through to our snorkel with dolphins a few days later, when the kids were confident enough in their ability to swim and snorkel that they jumped without hesitation off a boat when they were told to into the middle of the Pacific hoping to catch a glimpse of playful spinner dolphins. 

We did. And as a bonus, we saw a beefy stingray cruising along below them. When they were done snorkeling, they slid down a 20-foot slide that splashed them out into the ocean in front of the oldest part of Oahu, a mountainous area believed to have been the first bits of landmass to emerge for the island.

So, yeah. The North Shore energy was there, too.

And then our final day, when the forecast called for heavy rain all over the island all day, we rolled the dice and cruised up the coast to find a deserted beach where the road ends that led to a snorkeling adventure beyond compare. I mean, how do you beat alone? How do you beat that kind of blue water? How do you beat a swim-by from a few humpback whales as you look down at a reef? How do you beat meeting a couple sleepy sharks? 

And as a parent, how do you beat the pride that comes with watching each kid take a turn to dive down and see them — scared more of being able to hold their breaths long enough than actually getting that close to sharks. 

Ron discovering the sharks.
Ron and Josie helping each of the kids swim down to see the sharks under the ledge.

I don’t think you do. I think it’s unbeatable. So if the North Shore is to blame, then Mahalo.* I don’t know what we did wrong, but we’re going to keep doing it. 

*Mahalo is an expression of gratitude in Hawaiian.