All the guidebooks tell you to have shave ice at Matsumoto’s on the North Shore, but the woman across the aisle from Randy on our flight to Oahu said Aoki’s used better syrup and we should go there instead. So we heeded the advice of a local and made it our first stop on the North Shore.

We drove from Ko’olina on the leeward side of the island up to the North Shore after a long morning of snorkeling and swimming in the sun. So Randy and Zoe slept for most of the drive. But I enjoyed expanses of green pineapple fields punctuated by Norfolk pines, which I hadn’t expected to see in Hawaii but did, all over the place. They are thriving there and they look stunning with the turquoise ocean as a backdrop. We passed the Dole plantation and I woke everyone up when we got to Haleiwa, the little beach town (that oddly reminded me a bit of Duck in the Outer Banks of North Carolina). There we found Aoki’s and indeed, the shave ice was absolutely superb. They offered it with an optional scoop of vanilla ice cream underneath the ice, so when you’re done with the ice the syrup has melted down into the ice cream and it is SO GOOD. I wish I could have some right now.

Seriously. I can’t imagine how Matsumoto’s could possible have been better.

Then we drove from beach to beach in search of surfers in search of waves. Apparently January brings the biggest waves to the North Shore and this attracts skilled surfers or crazy people, or maybe these are one and the same. We didn’t actually see many surfers, but we saw many people bodyboarding on what still seemed like significant waves that would certainly destroy the likes of us. And we basked in these absolutely stunning vistas. This afternoon enough would have justified our whole trip because of the sheer beauty and how it makes your spirit breathe more freely.