They don't call it Sunset Beach for nothing. The fading light casts vivid ambers and reds down the shoreline on the northwest of the island of Oahu. The rolling waves glisten, radiant, and a seal basks on the beach a yard from us, disinterested – to him, this is an everyday occurrence, as are the people who flock to the beach to watch the setting sun.
The whole scene is at once pristine and exotic to me, but really, I'm most thankful just to not be moving for a few minutes, after two flights and a drive across the island. Turtle Bay is just a few more miles up Route 83, but it’s nice to just stop and take it in. We're in Hawaii.
We collapse into the condo, and before I know it the time difference has me awake at 6 a.m. Heading out in search of a sunrise, we follow 83 down the east side of the island a few miles to Malaekahana State Recreation Area.
The weather from back home has followed us though – Oahu in late October, it seems, is much like Pittsburgh in May. There's a light drizzle, a stiff breeze, and the growing light only reveals a gray, overcast sky.
Back at Turtle Bay we set up on the beach, snorkeling, boogie boarding and sunbathing as weather permits, and retreating to the cabana for cocktails when rain threatens. The abundance, variety and color of the fish is astounding as I float around the jagged volcanic rock of the sea floor. Fins allow me to chase some of the more interesting sea creatures and conduct a thorough exploration of the bay, although I never get to see the turtles after which it is named.
More historic sights are also accessible, as the island was a pivotal area during WWII. From the beach, old “state-of-the-art” radar towers are visible. Placards explain that they are infamous for having mistaken the attacking Japanese bombers for returning American planes.
Further west of the resorts, the beaches also reveal shoreline fortifications, and on a nighttime walk I discovered some locals camped out in an old bunker, enjoying a surf fishing expedition. They, too, were using it to hide from the rains.