Our third day on the North Shore really made up for yesterday's rain.

When the sun is out and the beach is quite literally in your backyard, why not start your morning off by carrying a cup of coffee down there and enjoy it? Especially when that same beach also happens to be completely empty.

Today, I enjoyed my coffee on a "private" beach. With the exception of maybe four people, my hour on the sand was pure solitude and the perfect precursor to my packed day ahead.

A short bike ride south from my spot, and just off an elementary school parking lot, a somewhat-hidden signpost thanks people for taking care of the Pupukea-Paumaulu Forest Reserve. To the right of the sign, there's a patch of dirt followed by another patch of dirt that—it turns out—leads back and up a hill. This was my hike for the day.

Three different people had told me about this trail. The payoff of making the climb was an incredible sweeping view of the entire North Shore from above.

But what comes before the payoff? The work. This wouldn't have been a particularly difficult hike, except that I quickly realized that yesterday's rain had created a seriously sticky situation for me. What had once been dirt—essentially the entire path—was now thick, wet, goopy mud.

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The struggle was real in that mud. Photo: Reid

I didn't mind the dirt so much as I minded the fact that the slick surface made it difficult to climb. Even in my most gripping hiking shoes, I still slipped and slid, and more than a few times, almost lost my balance entirely.

This was not going to be a leisurely stroll or an absent-minded walk in the park. I had to concentrate on every single step.

After about 45 minutes of vigilant hiking and using trees to pull myself up, I reached the top. And man, it was worth it.

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The payoff. Photo: Reid

Well after lunchtime and having worked up an appetite, I hopped back on my bicycle and continued further south to what was said to be "the North Shore's favorite food truck": Pupukea Grill.

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“The North Shore’s Favorite Food Truck”. Photo: Reid

Across from Shark's Cove, the bright blue food truck with two surfboards hanging on one side sits parked near a gas station. Just by looking at the place, you are intrigued and invited to at least ask about the food. But Pupukea Grill's reputation had proceeded itself.

On good authority from my friend—and as it turns out, about famous fifty surfers—Pupukea Grill is a can't-miss spot for a meal on the North Shore. With specialties including Mexican food, fresh seafood, smoothies and acai bowls, there is no wrong choice.

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The hall of fame for surfers who’ve visited (and loved) Pupukea Grill. Photo: Reid

I opted for the Spicy Tuna Quinoa bowl for some hearty and fresh protein, and a Pitaya Sunset smoothie for something cool and sweet.

On Thursday afternoons, the famous Waimea Valley hosts the Haleiwa Farmer's Market, and that sounded like a perfect next stop for Day 3.

In the crux of Waimea Valley, the location for movies like The Hunger Games and T.V. shows like Lost, vendors from all over the island came to share their goods and sell their wares to both locals and tourists alike.

Some sold coffee, lotions, and raw, organic, gluten-free, dairy-free, GMO-free granola, while others sold the more conventional farmer's market fare of fruits and vegetables.

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Deliciousness everywhere at the Haleiwa Farmer’s Market. Photo: Reid

I drank delicious iced coffee, picked up some all-natural body scrub, and grabbed gifts for family back home.

But the thing I was most struck here were the people. Everyone I encountered was friendly, kind and helpful to this first-time visitor. And sure, one could argue that they were just trying to make a sale, but something tells me otherwise.

In the spirit of vacation and treating yo'self, Day 3 finished up with a sunset dinner right by the water at Haleiwa Joe's.

I ordered one of the resturant's famous mai tais (which came in a souvenir cup), a quad of Ahi spring rolls, and a Lilikoi crème brulee for dessert.

Everything was delicious, even if not-so-nutritious, and the view was unbeatable.

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Mai tais, ahi spring rolls and lilikoi creme brûlée at Haleiwa Joe’s. Photo: Reid

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