5 fun things to do in Waialua

Scout and About

This week is craaazy. First, you had all that Tropical Storm-turned-Depression Flossie frenzy. Then came The Cure's epic, adrenaline-pumping concert (your mind is still blown). And it's only Wednesday?

Seriously, no one would blame you if you started planning your weekend itinerary now. And since you already gassed up the car pre-storm, why not pack up some musubis and sunscreen and drive out to the North Shore?

Our suggestion: Instead of heading into Haleiwa, veer left to explore the less-crowded-yet-equally-cool town of Waialua and uncover some amazing hidden gems. Here are five tips to help you get started.

Seek out the sunflowers.
This unconventional Hawaii sight is a must-see. The trick is finding it! There are privately-owned commercial fields near Waialua High School, though the elusive, short-lived crop is only around for small periods at a time and usually during the winter months. Tip: Call ahead to see when the sunflowers are in bloom and set up a free viewing. Employees are more than happy to show you around.
Pioneer Hi-Bred, 67-172 Farrington Hwy., (808) 637-0100.

Waialua Indulge in mouth-watering baked goods.
Blink and you might miss the small, unassuming Paalaa Kai Bakery huddled in a collection of wooden stores on the road to Waialua. So don't. You'll be rewarded with snow puffies, delicious phyllo-custard-chocolate-sugar treats that are as delicately pretty as they are addictive ($2 each). And for your slightly off-kilter PB-obsessed foodie friend – and yes, that's code for you – we recommend a jar of special coconut or coconut-chocolate peanut butter ($8, right).
Paalaa Kai Bakery, 66-945 Kaukonahua Rd., (808) 637-9795.

Waialua Freshen up.
Treat your nose to the intoxicating scents of the historic Waialua Sugar Mill-turned-North Shore Soap Factory. Wander around back to see workers pouring, cutting and shaping handcrafted, small-batch Hawaiian Bath & Body soaps, then hit the gift shop to sniff out different local varieties including kukui, plumeria, coconut, mango, and lavender. Pick up a few gift packs, individual bars, or even sample slivers, and peruse a full line of skincare products, like body oils, scrubs, and lip balms.
North Shore Soap Factory, 67-106 Kealohanui St., (808) 637-8400.

Waialua Take a free mini chocolate and coffee farm tour.
Before you get distracted by all the locally made goodies inside Island X Hawaii's warehouse (like our next pick below), take a gander out back to see how Waialua's famous chocolate and coffee transform from plants to perfect treats. You'll find drying nibs, plus coffee and cacao trees in various stages of development. Tip: Ask a worker to explain what makes a peaberry special, and he'll probably also insist you sample a roasted cocoa nib, cacao fruit, or pure dark chocolate (sans milk and sugar) for yourself.
Island X Hawaii, 67-106 Kealohanui St., (808) 637-2624.

Waialua Enjoy some of the best shave ice on the island.
Your North Shore trips always end with a visit to Matsumoto's. This time, do yourself a favor and get your shave ice fix at Island X Hawaii instead. The key difference: homemade, all natural, straight-from-the-fruits fresh syrup using the owner's secret recipe. The price is higher at roughly $6 a serving, but your only regret after finishing a refreshing watermelon and slightly tangy lilikoi, or coffee and chocolate with coconut cream topping will be that you didn't order two.
Island X Hawaii, 67-106 Kealohanui St., (808) 637-2624.