Cycling around O’ahu, Hawai’i Part 2: Off the beaten path

Cycling all around O'ahu

It’s not always easy

Deutsche Version: Mit dem Rad um O’ahu Teil 2

Cycling around O’ahu, Hawai’i Part 2: Off the beaten path

Country: Hawai’i, USA

From Malaekahana to Honolulu

Lesson learned: Deep sand makes a rather bad bike path

Laughed about: The fluffy Albatross babies

Most wonderful miracle: Bonfire on a surfer’s beach

Greatest challenge: Keeping up Roberto’s mood

Days on the bike: 2 plus 4 real short days

Kilometers cycled: 178

Average Kilometers per day: too few to mention here without being embarrassed

Total Kilometers cycled till Honolulu: 19.256

This is Part 2. If you haven’t read Part 1 yet – here it is: Biking around O’ahu Part 1

It was another warm and sunny day. In general O’ahu weather has just been perfect every single day. The rain is more refreshing than annoying, the heat is relaxing rather than exhausting, the wind always blows from East to West, so you know what to expect, and while it isn’t raining, the air is not too humid, so you don’t even sweat all that much. We agreed quickly, that we have never before set foot on a place with such a perfect climate for cycling.

Monk Seals in O'ahu

Do not approach Monk Seals

We packed our things and slowly got going. There were several beautiful sandy beaches right by our side, but we were fully loaded up and didn’t have any safe place to leave our bikes and bags. So mostly we just stopped and took pictures. Only once did we stop and made the effort to push our bikes through the deep sand onto the beach, so that we could swim for a while and yet see them. I don’t know how bad it really is, but I’ve heard a lot of stories of theft on beach parking lots, and well, the stuff we carry is pretty much everything we have. We can’t afford to lose any of this, so we’d rather not take the risk.

Monk seal takes a nap

Monk Seal Nap

The waves were just perfect for me. Big enough to be fun and exciting, but yet so small that they weren’t dangerous. The Homo Sapiens weren’t the only ones here. We shared the beach with a beautiful Monk Seal, which came to relax from his swim. Hawai’ian Monk Seals are an endangered species. They like to just have a nap on the beach before they head out into the waves again. When they sigh, it looks more as if they were suffering of pain, than enjoying the rest. So some tourists come closer, trying to help.

On the O'ahu North Shore bike path

On the O’ahu North Shore bike path

Having humans so close scares the seals and even though they still haven’t had enough rest, they quickly flee back into the waves. Now there are many signs around explaining why it’s important to stay away from the seals. And I was happy to see that everybody obeyed the signs.

Omi's Terrasse

Omi’s garden

We were all the way up on the North Shore now. This is the place where the humongous waves splash in every winter, that the Créme de la Créme of surfers use as their playground. We came in May though and the beach was rather empty.

North Shore

North Shore

There was a great bike path situated in between the road and the coast. We followed it happily. After a while, a young woman waved to us. In one hand she held a six-pack of beer, in the other one a bottle of wine. She asked a lot of questions about bike-touring in general, our panniers, and camping. Her house was just next to the bike path and she quickly invited us over for a beer.

Hawaiian Arts

Creative arts

Omi’s landlord and housemate Micko, father to famous surfer Jamie O’Brian, had decorated house and garden as if it was a beachy hostel. We chatted with Omi, her nine-year old son Oshen, her boyfriend Tom and his high school friend Larry.

View onto the Pipeline Beach

View from the garden onto the Sunset Beach

Tom has spent his life with the military. At the age of 43 he has well deserved his pension. He walked in with wet long blonde hair, sandy feet without shoes, ripped abs and a surfboard under his arm. The perfect example for a surfer.

Omi and I

Omi and I

He told us how he had moved to O’ahu some years ago. “I did not know how to surf, but I was eager to learn. So I got myself a board and practiced every day. I just went out and discovered better and better spots. The local pros weren’t too happy to have a beginner between them. They laughed about me and tried to make me leave their surfspot. But I did not yield. Now I can say I’m definitely getting better every day.”

Omi's son Oshen

Omi’s son Oshen

We sat in the garden, enjoyed some beers and the perfect view down onto the “Pipeline”, the surfing spot, when more and more flatmates and neighbors showed up. There was talk of a BBQ and Roberto and I offered to get some ingredients and prepare some Mexican salsas, Guacamole and German-style chipped potatoes with bacon and onion.

Sogar eine Bar gibt es im Garten!

There was even a bar in the garden

Oshen and Tom went down to the beach and started a small bonfire. It didn’t take long until the party moved down. The stars were bright, the air still warm, the waves gentle, the smoke blew away from me and the Kona beer tasted delicious.

Abschied von Omi

Goodbye Omi and thanks for everything!

It was a late start for us on the following morning. We grabbed some light breakfast and enjoyed a scenic picnic just by the sea. It was a hot day and I wish we had gone for a dip in the sea when all our stuff was still in Omi’s house. There was beach after beach just beside us, one more sandy and inviting than the other.

Picknick on the sea of Hawai'i

Breakfast on the beach

Haleiwa on the North Shore of O'ahu

Haleiwa seems to the the surfer’s capital

In Haleiwa gibt es auch gute Preise für Surf- und Stand-Up-Paddle Boards

Cheap board rentals

We were quite fed up with our stupid big load that prevented us from enjoying a refreshing swim on each and every single one of them. From the side of the road we saw a lot of people gathered on the beach, so we went down separately and had a look. And what we saw was a big sea turtle!

O'ahu's Surfer Capital Haleiwa

Perfect weather

We crossed Hale’iwa, a very “surfy” town up north. From here, most traffic went down through the Dole pineapple plantation into Pearl City and Honolulu. We stuck to the coast. For cars this was a dead-end route. But we weren’t in a car.

Big sea turtle on the way back into the sea

Big sea turtle.

We stopped when we saw a wheelbarrow full of fruits for sale. Owner Cynthia came out and showed us around her private orchard. When she bought the property, it had been a polo field. But Cynthia believed that a fruit orchard was a much more useful thing, and started planting trees. Now she sells different kinds of mangos, bananas, avocadoes, citrus fruits, guavas, coconuts, pomelo and passion fruits. Roberto picked himself a huge but green mango (same price as small but ripe mangos). Cynthia promised that it would be ripe in just a couple of days. We had no idea that we would be carrying this mango around the entire island, only to give it away – still green – on our day of departure.

Cynthia gives us a tour around her plantation in O'ahu

Orchard tour with Cynthia

The traffic slowly disappeared and soon we reached the end of the paved road. Chelsea and Travis had warned us that we might have to walk our bikes a couple of times, and carry them once. We started walking through a very rocky terrain. It was super bumpy and quite steep.

Erst wird die Straße leer ...

We had the road to ourselves …

Cycling all around O'ahu

… because it wasn’t in the best condition

By the end of the rock field we were greeted by a big rock wall. We had to squeeze ourselves, our bikes and bags through a narrow path between the rocks, only to continue pushing. This was when Roberto finally lost patience. He got grumpy and complained a lot.

Trying to cycle around the Northwest of O'ahu

We had to squeeze all our stuff through here

What he wanted was a cold beer and a refreshing nap in the crystal clear waters. Instead he was sweaty and dusty and spent his day carrying big panniers through a narrow rock alley. We even managed to miss the “hidden beach” on the way through the rocks. It was indeed well hidden.

We now had the choice between another rock-path that seemed to lead further uphill inlands, and a sandy path that followed the coast. I’ve had enough of the rocks and went for the flat sand that led us through a double-gate right into a bird breeding area.

Roberto schmollt. So hatte er sich das nicht vorgestellt.

Grumpyberto. That was not quite how he imagined biking O’ahu

It was easy walking. Then the hard sand turned soft and deep. Our feet sank into the sand and we pushed and carried the bikes through the trail on the dunes and up and down some boulders.

Zunächst ist der Sandweg super.

Great and easy walking at first.

The pushing got so hard, that I walked at an angle of 45 degrees to the ground. Roberto cursed louder and louder behind me. Enough. I was angry now too and thrust my bike into Roberto’s hands, so I could explore the path by foot.

Cycling Ka’Ena Point, O'ahu

But soon walking got harder

After a while I reached the lighthouse, where another hiker had seen some monk seals. This area was also said to be a good place to spot the Hawai’ian state fish, the Humuhumunukunukuapua’a. The Hawai’ians like to say that the name was longer than the fish itself. The path turned left here, leaving the northwesternmost point to my right. I had reached the corner of Ka’Ena point.

Spätestens hier geht gar nichts mehr.

We didn’t stand a chance

This is where the souls of deceased Hawai’ians made the jump from this world into the next one. It was the most sacred point of the island and I decided that the most respectful thing to do was, just to keep off.

Birds around Ka’Ena Point


So I followed the path around the corner and reached the West coast of the island. The trail led through more and more deep sand back to the second rocky path. Left and right of me, fluffy little albatross babies stretched their wings. I turned around and jogged back. Roberto must be tired of holding both bikes for such a long time.

Bird Sanctuary around Ka’Ena Point, O'ahu

Flying exercise

We decided to push the bikes back to the intersection with the second rocky path. The walking was easy here compared to the deep sand. When we reached the West Coast, the climate changed drastically. Winds usually blow from East to West, leaving the east coast humid and green, while the west coast stayed arid and dry. We crossed another double-gate out of the breeding area and followed an abandoned train trail.

Cycling around O'ahu

Rocky and arid west coast

Earthquakes and erosion have left the trail bumpy and washed out an entire part of it. The only way across was, to unload and walk bag after bag up the steep rock face, along an even narrower path, and back down onto the trail on the other side.

Natural Bridge on O'ahu's West Coast

A natural arch

This was quite dangerous, because the drop was deep, the rocks were sharp and the sea wild. We had to walk there and back nine times and it took us over an hour until both of us, our bikes and all our bags were safe and sound on the other side of the drop.


These hikers showed us the way around the drop.

Sun stood very low already and we decided to speed things up. Regardless of the pointy rocks and bumpy path, we rode fast and reached Yokohama Bay just before sunset. Earlier in the day we had met four hikers, who had walked along the point. Now we saw them again, they had just finished pitching their tents. We pitched ours next to theirs right on the beach, and laid our picnic blanket next to their chairs.

Camping on the beach in O'ahu

Camping by the beach

Tom and Lorin had brought far too many burgers and hot dogs, we shared our beans, Cynthia’s ripe mini-mangoes and some bread. We fell asleep with the sound of the wild sea and whenever I awoke at night, it took me a while to figure out whether the sound was the wind in the trees, a busy highway, or the sea.

It was another hot morning and today we did start our day with a good and refreshing bath. The little main road got bigger and fuller, the further down south we rode. The fences of a high school were covered with big posters. They showed creative pictures of the students, alongside with a Congratulation. What a great motivation for the students to finish high school!

Congratulations Class of 2015!

Congratulations Class of 2015!

What a variety of pictures, texts, fonts, outfits and settings!

What a variety of pictures, texts, fonts, outfits and settings!

Famous North Shore Shrimps

Fish Tacos in Hawai’i? Why not?

There were several long beaches with benches, toilets and parking lots, but most of them claimed that they were “State property” and “No entry”. I don’t really get the law here.

The road got so busy that we were forced to continue on smaller streets.

It's all his

It’s all his

It all looked easy on the map, but in reality we had to pretty much stick to the train tracks in order to orientate ourselves.

It took a long time and the help of a nice lady with her dog, to find the little green line in the map, that showed a bicycle trail.

Surfer Paradies an der Nordküste von O'ahu, Hawai'i

Surfer Paradise

The trail led us along the West Loch, but I think it hadn’t been used in quite a while. We started on asphalt, continued on gravel and ended up in grass, deep sand, soil, rocks and garbage. Wild chicken and cats were the only one on the trail. To our right was a petroleum pipe and the Loch, to our left tall buildings with all kinds of plastic bags, bicycles and toys hanging from the windows and balconies.

Housing is very expensive in comparison to the average wages, so many people share a small apartment with the entire family. One or two minimum-wage jobs are usually not enough to afford an entire room. But with several persons inside a room, indoor-living is possible. To save shelf space, they hung some of their belongings in waterproof bags and turned the balcony into an extra wardrobe.

Huli Chicken


The bike path ended unexpectedly right in front of a Laotian temple. We made our way back to the highway by just heading towards the loud noise. Now we rode from construction to construction. Grey clouds, grey road, grey exhaust gases and our mood adapted.

When we reached a mall somewhere in Pearl City, we stopped and Roberto bought movie tickets. The security guards let us park in our bikes near their office and finally I saw Roberto smile again. All the grumpiness was like blown away. Mad Max was his thing. Not so much mine though.

Freedom Camping in O'ahu isn't easy

Nonstop fully loaded

It was dark and drizzly on our way back into Honolulu. I felt like Furiosa in her huge truck and pedaled fast.

Both, sunset and the Friday-fireworks had long passed when we reached Sand Island, a small Island right between town and the airport, that had served as a quarantine island for ill arriving passengers back in the 19th century. Now we had the harbor next door and plenty of industry around us. And somewhere in between a green recreational park for picnic and camping. Fortunately we had gotten our camping permit in time, so we pitched our tent.

View from the Pali Highway Lookout

View from the Pali Highway Lookout

Two days later we parked our bikes outside a homestay and spent a great family holiday in O’ahu. We had our first surfing lesson (Roberto sees himself as a surfer ever since), ate traditional Lū’au, tried stand-up paddle boarding and had a great family time.

Roberto - a true surfer. We just loved it.

Roberto – a true surfer. We just loved it.

Patricia invited us all over to her place where we gave her and her other bike friends a Bicycle-Empathy presentation.

Cycling Honolulu

Biking back to Ted and Norma’s from downtown

It was sad to see the family board their plane, but Ted and Norma, whom we had met within our first week, invited us to stay at theirs, and they made us feel so much at home, that we forgot how sad we were. Their apartment was situated right outside the “suicide” surf in a part of town that we had crossed back on day one.

Ted and Norma at their place. Ted mixes the most delicious cocktails!

Ted and Norma at their place. Ted mixes the most delicious cocktails!

A room with a view

It’s like sleeping on two clouds. The first thing you see in the morning is the sky, then comes the sea.

Ted took us out to see this. Situated a very short hike from the rainforest drive, but we never saw it from our bikes

Ted took us out to see this. Situated a very short hike from the rainforest drive, but we never saw it from our bikes

Norma prepared two super fluffy inflatable beds and we slept right next to the open window with view to the sea. We spent a few great days together, cooked, chatted and slept like babies.

Great evenings

Great evenings

Patricia and Ted

Patricia and Ted



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  1. Scott says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your stories of Oahu. The short time you tasted Hawaii is such a small part of the world you have gobbled up !! One pedal stroke at a time!! You are both so inspirational to us all!!! Ride safe and let me know when you get closer to SantaCruz CA.

    • On the contrary Scott, we thank you for having us stay, taking us out and being a friend to us. We hope you’re doing good and enjoy the beautiful island. Hope a looot that some day we can be back. Seriously, O’ahu has been one of our big big highlights.
      Many hugs from
      Annika & Roberto

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