One of our cheapest and most fun trips was a week we spent camping with two of our closest friends on the beach on the North Shore of Oahu.
I am not really sure why, but we got a lot of blank stares and “you’re crazy” comments when we told people we were going camping in Hawaii, but we figured where better to camp than a tropical paradise? We already had backpacking gear that doubled nicely as Hawaiian camping gear.
Our first night at the Malaekahana Campground was a bit interesting. Our flight got in after dark, so by the time we got our luggage, rented our car, picked up some groceries for the morning and drove to the North Shore, it was pretty late.
We knew that the gate to the campground would be closed, but we were told we could walk in. The manager had left us a campground map at the front office.
Our first view as we drug our luggage through the dark campground by headlamp was of a lot of shabby buildings and cats, and something (probably us) disturbing the chickens from their roost in the trees.
We had read stories of homeless people in Oahu taking over the campgrounds, and as we set up the tents, we wondered if we were safe. We didn’t have much choice, but to wait and see how things looked in the light of day.
Unfortunately for us, when the rooster crowed outside of our tent at 4:00 the next morning, the light of day was still a long ways off.
For the entire week we spent at that campground, the 4 a.m. rooster (as we dubbed him) would crow within 5 minutes of 4:00 without fail. After a few days we got used to it, and now we look back fondly (sort of) on our rooster.
When morning finally came, we discovered we actually were sleeping on a white sand beach in beautiful Hawaii. We were not surrounded by homeless people, the chickens were kind of charming in a tropical island sort of way, and the shabby buildings looked more like beach bungalows.
Actually, it is hard to be anything but charmed when you roll out of “bed” onto a gorgeous beach with balmy, perfect weather and the sound of tropical birds. We were in love. Stray cats and all.
Our new found Hawaii euphoria was doused slightly by the open-air, solar-heated, “warm” water showers, which felt only slightly above freezing. We discovered that “solar-heating” really only meant that the tank sat out in the sun. Of course now when we look back on the trip, we even remember showering under the palms with fondness.
Hawaii is hard not to love. Oahu is extremely populated, and has some unsavory areas, but my trip memory blocked most of that and instead my most vivid memories are of the blue water and sky, the feel of the balmy early morning air and the beauty of the island.
We did a lot of Internet research before we went, and it paid off. We did rainforest hikes to secluded waterfalls, and had jaw-droppingly beautiful white sand beaches all to ourselves. Actually for being the most populated Hawaiian island, the only
place we visited that was crowded was Waikiki and snorkeling at Hanauma Bay.
Electric Beach is nicknamed such because it is located at the power plant. The site isn’t for beginners, as there was a decent swim required, but the power plant releases warm water into the ocean via large pipes. The variety of fish flocking to the warm water was amazing. The clarity was great and there were even spinner dolphins swimming nearby. Swimming with such a large amount of marine life so far from shore was (for me) a little bit creepy, but so worth it.
Our week flew by in a sunny haze of beaches, rainforests, waterfalls, snorkeling, fruit stands, shrimp shacks, rainbows, clear blue water and of course chickens. We are left with the warm memory of that week we camped on the beach in Hawaii.