Photos: Rachel Ross
Calvin slides down a sand dune.
When I say Turtle Bay, what pops to mind? A pool, lounge chairs, pineapple-y adult beverages while the kids swim and slide, the spa, or maybe a day of golf followed by dinner at Lei Lei’s? Fitness and education for the children were likely not on the list. But that’s exactly where a recent North Shore adventure took us: on a family-friendly beach walk from the resort to a cove out of sight around the northern-most point of Oahu. The cove is spotted with colors you don’t usually see at the beach, thanks to the plastic ocean debris that accumulates there. It is a private and beautiful spot, a favorite of ours, in spite of the debris, and leaves you feeling as if you have landed on a remote Neighbor Island beach. The plastic, harmless enough to us, provides an excellent opportunity to teach children about littering and the negative impact it can have on the ocean, the shoreline and marine life.
While standing on the point at Turtle Bay Resort, facing the ocean, turn toward your right, as if heading to Kahuku. Past the swimming cove, Ola’s Restaurant, and the condominiums, there’s a long stretch of nearly deserted beach and a point off in the distance. The point is covered in naupaka bushes and sand dunes that hide the little cove. If it has a name, I don’t know it.
Armed with hats, sunscreen, swimsuits, water bottles and reusable bags, my family parked in front of the condominiums and set off along the beach, headed for the point. Slippers were adequate footwear, since we were in and out of the water all the way. The walk was considerably slowed down by all the driftwood teepees we had to stop and build, and the sand dunes we had to climb up and then roll down. We poked around in tide pools, collected cowries and found a tiny, shallow, protected beach to swim in at the halfway point. All the carefree fun we were having is probably why it took a full hour to reach the dunes at the point. There are pathways over the dunes through the naupaka bushes and, on the other side, another cove, much like the swimming cove at the resort. At first it appears to be another gorgeous, hidden gem on the North Shore, but, when you head for the water, you see all the bits of plastic, glass, netting and other trash. It’s pretty, in a way, because it’s so colorful. We discussed safety tips then handed each of the children a reusable grocery bag and told them to fill it with all the debris they could find. They raced around like it was an Easter egg hunt and returned with their bags filled to the brim.
There were bits of plastic fishing floats, pieces of laundry-detergent bottles, bucket pieces, beach glass, rubber-tire pieces and other unrecognizable debris, but the majority of the trash, surprisingly, was made up of bottle caps.
After all our bags were filled, we headed back along the beach to the resort, talking about ways to ensure that our family doesn’t contribute to the ocean-debris problem. Among our solutions: recycling bottle caps, using reusable shopping bags and using reusable utensils when on a picnic or hike. The kids decided they would sort the ocean debris when we got home, to start recycling bottle caps, and that we would recycle all the recyclable debris, create cool artwork and collector pieces with some of our great finds and put the rest in the trash.
Ross’ son Wyatt collects debris at the cove.
When we reached the resort, we were ready for a late lunch. We settled in poolside, where servers from the Hang Ten Bar & Grill delivered burgers, veggie burgers and fries for all. While we waited for our food, the kids played and the adults put their feet up and supervised. Lunch was delicious and everyone was happy. Until it was time to leave, that is. We finally lured the kids away with the promise of a summer Turtle Bay Resort staycation and an exploration of the beach that stretches out west of the resort next time.
The bottle caps have been stowed in our new bottle-cap recycling bin, the debris is in the trash or recycling bin and the beach glass is at the bottom of a vase, to be filled over time with each beach adventure.
The Hang Ten Bar & Grill is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Lunch for five cost approximately $40. Parking at the resort is free.