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Oahu North Shore

Time to head to the countryside and pay a visit to the laidback Oahu North Shore!  A one hour drive will take you from the bustling Waikiki to the rural countryside. You know you’re close when you pass the Dole Plantation, and travel through the pineapple fields.  Continue driving down the ridge, as you admire the impressive view of the North Shore of Oahu. Roll down your windows, and breathe the fresh cool salty air, as you arrive at the rustic old Haleiwa Town.

Historic Haleiwa Town

It’s time to slow down and relax when you reach Historic Haleiwa TownGrab a Hawaiian shave ice, check out the Hawaiian art galleries, and shops before continuing on to the famous Oahu North Shore beaches.


Haleiwa Town

I never get tired visiting the North Shore on Oahu.  There’s a very laid back island style and way of life in this part of the island that’s hard to put into words.  It’s something you just have to experience to appreciate.  Discover the best things to do in Haleiwa.

Talking with artist Roy Taisora, who owns his own gallery in the North Shore, I believe he put it best when he advised to “slow down when you arrive in the North Shore  and the magic will appear… You will be treated to the small island life”.

I enjoy popping into small but well represented art galleries, ducking into small roadside island cafes, buying trinkets for my little girl and checking out the surf gear at the rustic surf shops.

Oahu North Shore - Art Galleries

North Shore Art Galleries

Make sure to stop by and visit Roy Taisora’s gallery along with the other half dozen galleries in Haleiwa town where many local artists' works are displayed, including the famous works of the artist, Wyland.

If you are interested in picking up a piece of original Hawaiian art work, this is the place to do it.

You’ll find some artworks that are much less expensive than purchasing it in the galleries in Waikiki.

And while one of my favorite photographers closed his gallery, Kim Taylor Reece Gallery, you can still find his works of art online.

Surf Shops and Surf Museum

Beyond the galleries filled with Hawaiian art work, I love the character of the old surf shops with the retired long boards that line up against the exterior walls.  Even if you are not into surfing, you might appreciate the nostalgia that’s lying around these shops.

Surf N Sea Shop

The Oahu North Shore is loaded with major attractions, so why not consider a small group tour that takes you through old town Haleiwa, step onto famous beaches like Waimea Bay, Pipeline, and Sunset Beach, and maybe see some green sea turtles along the way!

Sign up and learn more...

Oahu North Shore Restaurants

North Shore Restaurants

Don’t fill up too much on garlic shrimp, because you'll want to save your appetite for some really good Oahu North Shore restaurants.

Most of them are centralized around Haleiwa with the shops and galleries, but other noteworthy eateries are in or near Turtle Bay including Roy's Beach House.  And Kahuku now has a food truck community near the shrimp farms, with lots of choices to choose from.

Whether you decide to keep it simple with a Hawaiian Plate lunch, or dine watching the sunset at the Haleiwa Beach House, there are a lot of great choices to choose from.

Hawaiian Shave Ice

If you didn't stop at the Dole Plantation for their famous Pineapple Dole Whip, then make sure you line up at the popular Matsumoto’s Hawaiian Shave Ice shop.  A trip to Haleiwa town just isn’t complete without indulging in this ultimate Hawaiian treat.

Take a stroll through the Matsumoto’s video, and order a yummy shave ice!

Hawaiian Shave Ice

Matsumoto’s is by far the most famous, but if you wish not to stand in the long line, then mozey on across the street to Aoki’s Hawaiian Shave Ice.

BEST Hawaiian Shave Ice TIP: Where ever you end up, just make sure you request a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the bottom of your cone –trust me, it takes your Hawaiian shave ice experience to a whole new level!

If Hawaiian shave ice just doesn’t cut it for you, then maybe Ted’s Bakery's famous pies just might fulfill that sweet tooth. 

Take note that these are not just everyday pies that you can find anywhere, but special pies with Hawaiian local flavors like Haupia (coconut), Chocolate Huapia (most popular) & Pineapple Cheese.  Everyone loves the Chocolate Haupia, but my family's favorite is the plain Haupia.  

I would recommend buying a whole pie versus just a slice, or eat a slice while you are there, so you still have the ability to return and buy more before you leave.

Experience the North Shore from above

North Shore Helicopter Ride

One of the most amazing experiences is taking it all in from above!

Words can't explain flying just a few hundred feet in an open-door helicopter above the magnificent coastline... 

taking in panoramic views spanning from Turtle Bay to Kaena Point, including Waimea Bay, the famous Banzai Pipeline, Haleiwa Town, and much, much more. 

Explore a once in an life time experience...

Oahu North Shore Beaches

Best North Shore Beaches

The North Shore of Oahu has 7 miracle miles of incredibly beautiful beach waiting to be explored!

Leaving Haleiwa Town, you have two choices as you head out to the beaches.  Turning left and heading west, will take you an isolated and beautiful side of Oahu North Shore called Mokuleia.

Turning right will take you across the famous twin-spanned Haleiwa bridge, which is the gateway to some of Hawaii’s most popular beaches.

Waimea Bay Beach Park, and Ehukai Beach Park (Banzai Pipeline), and Sunset Beach Oahu are the main event in the wintertime, when the waves are towering at 30 foot plus faces.

Also check out the Ultimate North Shore Surf Spots and discover some great surfing and spectating along 7 Miracle Miles of shoreline.

Surfing Haleiwa & Stand Up Paddleboarding the River

North Shore Stand Up Paddleboard

Learning to surf and riding waves is not just a water activity that takes place in Waikiki, but is widely available on the North Shore as well. 

There are spots along the Haleiwa Beach shoreline that provide ideal waves for surfing and paddle boarding for all skill levels.

Sign up for a 2 hr surf lesson

Aside from paddling on the beach, another fun and unique experience is to take a journey along the Haleiwa River on a stand up paddleboard.   

Most folks are pros after a few minutes of gaining their balance!

Reserve a private Stand Up Paddleboard tour

Turtle Beach - Laniakea Beach

Laniakea Beach Sea Turtles

Discover Turtle Beach, or what is truly named Laniakea Beach.  The green sea turtle choose their home as we do, and this small Oahu beach happens to be it!

On almost any given day, you will find Hawaiian sea turtles basking here on the beach.  You’re not allowed to touch, but you’ll have the best front row seat to view them.

“Turtle Beach” is not hard to find, but could be quite challenging to park at.  Parking is no longer allowed at Laniakea Beach, so you will need to travel further down and walk back.

Snorkeling at Sharks Cove

Sharks Cove

You are more likely to see green sea turtles swimming about, than reef sharks here at Sharks Cove

This North Shore cove got its name from its shark-like shape around it.  Shark’s Cove is part of Pupukea Beach Park, and is known for its amazing snorkeling and scuba diving.

Under these waters you will see a large variety of marine life making home in the surrounding reef, as well as numerous lava tubes and caves to explore.

It’s an underwater playground here at Sharks Cove,  but it's only advisable to enter the waters under flat conditions (typically in the summer), and if you’re a good swimmer.  Take note that there is no lifeguard on duty at this North Shore beach.

Three Tables is another great snorkeling area located just above Waimea Bay and before you arrive at Sharks Cove.

This is another unique reef area that’s part of the Pupukea Beach Park, and it is worth exploring the caves and marine life below.

North Shore Snorkeling Tour

There is a 90 minute guided snorkeling tour in Turtle Cove, that includes a professional instructor, equipment, and safety lesson.  Explore the open water in search of green sea turtles and other sea life.

See other awesome snorkeling spots around Oahu here...

Oahu North Shore Hikes & Waterfalls

Waimea Falls Park

Waimea Falls

Don’t miss a breathtaking Oahu waterfall across the street from Waimea Bay Beach Park.

It’s located in the Waimea Valley Audubon Center (formerly known and sometimes still referred to as “Waimea Falls Park”).  This is a fun place to take a stroll with the family!

There is a small entrance fee to these botanical gardens, but well worth the admission to stroll the grounds with over 300 species of tropical plants and a stunning view of a 50 ft waterfall at the end of the trail.

Toa Luau to end the evening

Toa Luau Waimea Valley

Tie on a visit to Waimea Falls Park with an evening luau dinner with cultural demonstrations and Hawaiian entertainment.  The Toa Luau includes your entrance to Waimea Valley & Waterfall.  Just make sure you give yourself enough time to get back in time for the festivities.

Note that this luau only takes place on Mon - Wed.  Learn more and reserve a spot...

Ehukai Pillbox Hike

Ehukai Pillbox Hike

Nobody thinks of hiking ridges when searching things to do on the North Shore of Oahu, but there is a hidden trail known as the Ehukai Pillbox Hike.

Some refer to it as the Sunset Pillbox Hike, as it resides behind the Sunset Elementary School, and has the best sunset views! 

This intermediate hike will take approximately 30 minutes to reach the first of two military pillboxes that sit at the top.

Puu O Mahaka State Monument

Waimea Heiau Ruins

Above Waimea Bay is one of Oahu’s largest well preserved heiau (ancient Hawaiian sacred site), known as Puu O Mahaka State Monument.  Today much of the boundary walls are in great condition, and they border the layout of the 2-acre site.

You can drive right up to this state monument, or hike a half mile up from the eastern tip of Waimea Bay.  Make sure to walk all the way around, and capture the beautiful view of the bay from the bottom corner of the heiau.

Hiking Ka'ena Point

Ka'ena Point Hiking Trail

Ka’ena Point  – where the road ends in the North Shore, is where the Oahu hiking trails start.  Take a two and a half mile journey hiking to the westerly tip of the island.

Explore beautiful Ka’ena Point Park, trekking the sand dunes and the jagged coastline, and discovering a bird sanctuary park at the end.

Kahuku Countryside and Beyond

While most visitors head to the North Shore to visit Haleiwa Town and the popular surfing beaches, I like to head towards the tip of Oahu North Shore and beyond.  You'll notice there's a lot less traffic and development, and a lot more country greenery to see.

Oahu Shrimp Trucks

But the adventure doesn't stop once you reach the north tip, where you'll find the Turtle Bay Resort and its extensive natural preserve estate.

Kahuku Shrimp Farms

Kahuku Shrimp Trucks

Just beyond the northern tip, you will discover the original 2 shrimp farms in a small town call Kahuku.  Between Romy's Kahuku Prawns & Shrimp and Fumi's Kahuku Shrimp farms, you can sample some of the islands best and freshest garlic shrimp!

Take a tour or simply sit on the outdoor picnic tables and enjoy!  You will also find some shrimp trucks along the way, including the famous Giovanni's Shrimp Truck, where you write you name with a black sharpie...if you are able to find a spot to write it on!

Zipline Across the North Shore

Oahu North Shore Zipline

Embark on an exhilarating adventure ziplining above the North Shore’s countryside. The feeling the adrenaline rush through your veins as you glide down Oahu's longest ziplines.

Your journey begins at Climb Works Keana Farms with a thrilling ATV ride to the mountain's summit, where breathtaking panoramic views of the majestic ocean and magnificent mountains of the renowned North Shore await you.

The ziplines, spanning from 500 to an awe-inspiring 2,400 feet, offer a perfect combination of excitement and tranquility, as they are designed to provide a remarkably quiet and serene experience.

Brace yourself for an array of surprises along the way, including rappels, sky bridges, and scenic boardwalks, adding an extra element of thrill and fun to your adventure.  Reserve your spot now...

Polynesian Cultural Center


Just below Kahuku in Laie awaits the Polynesian Cultural Center.  This cultural center opened in 1963 to the public with over 42 acres to explore today. This Oahu attraction offers an incredible experience!

You could easily spend all day here exploring the many different Polynesian cultural areas, shows, and activities.

You'll want to stick around for the traditional luau, and also get tickets to their amazing night show called Ha "Breath of Life".  This Broadway-like production is a one of a kind experience, high energy, and will keep you on the edge of your seat!

Book your tickets now and take advantage of discounts to the Polynesian Cultural Center.

Experience Kualoa Ranch - Windward Countryside

Kualoa Ranch is the chosen spot on Oahu for filming box office movie hits such as Jurassic Park, Pearl Harbor, and famous TV shows like Lost, and Hawaii Five-O.  And touring these valleys are a blast via ATV adventures, horseback rides, trolley tours and more...

Today, Kualoa Ranch attracts thousands of visitors to not only see the dramatic backdrops of famous movies, but also to engage in exciting of adventures in the vast park grounds. Spend a day riding ATVs, horseback riding, kayaking to a secret island, or flying across the tropical jungle on ziplines!

Where to Stay in North Shore Oahu

How to Get There

Haleiwa North Shore

Because the attractions are spread throughout Oahu North Shore, it's best to rent a car to get around, and see everything on your own time.

There are plenty of charter tours available to get you out to the main attractions, but if you want to enjoy the laid back island life, having your own car may be a better option so you don't feel rushed and you can take your time going from one spot to another.  Just get started early!

Taking the Oahu bus is also an option, but again, you will lose much time getting on and off the bus at destination points.  If you choose the bus as a means of transportation, I would recommend stopping in Old Haleiwa Town, and then choosing just one of the North Shore beaches to continue traveling to.

By Car:

Directions:  From Waikiki, take the H-1 Freeway headed West…

Take the H-1 Hwy West to the H-2 Hwy North
Follow the H-2 Hwy to the Kamehameha Hwy (hwy 99)
Take Hwy 99 and continue into Haleiwa Town.

If you wish to bypass Haleiwa and head straight towards the North Shore beaches, then continue on Hwy 99 and merge onto Hwy 83, which will take you to the coastline.

As you continue on  Hwy 83, you will first encounter Waimea Bay Beach Park, followed by the Banzai Pipeline (Ehukai Beach Park), and Sunset Beach.

Discount oahu car rentals

Need a good rental car option for the day?

Whether you would like to visit a beach, a popular Oahu attraction, or explore the island for just a day, consider these great, discounted rent-a-car rates with Discount Hawaii Car Rental.  They also have great packages for your entire trip...

Oahu North Shore Map

By Oahu Bus:

From Waikiki, take the #20 Oahu Bus to the Ala Moana Center and transfer to the #52 bus that will take you to Old Town Haleiwa in the North Shore.  You can transfer to either Oahu Bus 88A or 60 that travels further to the popular North Shore beaches.

Note  88A travels from the Ala Moana Center to the North Shore and backdown the Windward (East) side of the island.

Facilities:  Old Haleiwa Town has some of the best Oahu North Shore restaurants and public restrooms.  North Shore beaches and Waimea Falls Park have facilities available.

Oahu North Shore Visiting Tips:

Start early as traffic builds through out the day, and plan on staying out there a full day, including sticking around to view the sunset at one of the beaches - Sunset Beach Hawaii didn’t get its name by chance.

I would also recommend checking out one of the Oahu North Shore restaurants for dinner.  This will allow you to let the returning traffic to pass, and give you a chance to enjoy a nice ending to a fun day, versus trying to rush back to Waikiki to get ready for a late dinner.

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