Visiting Oahu’s North Shore is one of our family’s past times and currently, engraved as a cultural tradition for the last 50 years or more. Making sure to drive through the North Side of Oahu is the reason why many visitors make the long venture out here. Winter or Summer, it doesn’t matter the time of year you visit. The North Shore of Oahu always offers something magical to experience. We love the drive going up and highly enjoy all it has to offer. Here are the top ten things we like to do when passing through:
1. WALK AROUND HALEIWA TOWN
From the west side, Haleiwa town is the first thing you’ll see before hitting the beaches of the North Shore. Haleiwa holds a strong reputation in its own right with many unique shops, eateries and overall ambiance. As a born and raised local, who’s been up to Haleiwa more times than I can count, I can confidentially say that Haleiwa is a very distinct town compared to any other neighborhood/vibe on the island. You’ll understand what I’m talking about when you witness that chill-surf vibe-Hawaiian style once you visit. It’s a great town to grab a cup of morning coffee, brunch, or dinner.
2. DEVOUR A PLATE OF GARLIC SHRIMP
The eateries in Haleiwa and around the North Shore (i.e Kahuku area) are in abundance. However, nothing beats a local farm-raised garlic shrimp plate! This is an important thing to make sure you do in order to have a FULL “Hawaii-North-Shore-experience”. There are many shrimp trucks to choose from; we love the famous Giovanni’s or, just as tasty, Honos shrimp truck.
3. TAKE A PHOTO WITH THE ANGEL WINGS
Colette Miller’s Global Angel Wings. These wings are a new “attraction/thing to do” when you’re exiting Haleiwa Town. Ever since the famous global angel wings made it on the North Shore, it has been a must spot to visit! This is located directly in front of Anahulu’s shave ice spot (62-620 Kamehameha Hwy. Haleiwa, HI 96712)
4. SNORKEL AT SHARK’S COVE
Why else visit the North beaches if you can’t get in?! The famous Sharks Cove is a great spot for families and amateur swimmers. You can rent or bring your own snorkel and fins or even purchase if you do not have any gear; purchase them across the street in a store called Foodland. Although this beach isn’t ALWAYS safe (always consider the wave conditions), it does offer the most protection most of the year compared to other beaches.
Related post: What to pack for Hawaii
5. VISIT WAIMEA BEACH & WAIMEA FALLS
We don’t necessarily prefer visiting Waimea Valley as it is now overrun with visitors and is a complete tourist spot. The waterfall isn’t that magnificent to see (there are better alternatives). Adding a price to experience some things in Waimea Valley is a big turn-off as well. That being said, the reason we include this in our top ten is because it is a great center to learn more about the Hawaiian culture and the way they lived. History is beautiful…For more information on what Waimea Valley has to offer and the pricing, visit here.
After Haleiwa town, you can hit up Waimea Bay (recommend doing this over Waimea Valley) which is the famous beach known to host the Big Wave Invitational Eddie Aikau surf competitions during the winter months (Nov-March). In the summer (May-Sept), Waimea Bay offers a 20foot/6meter rock that rises up for a perfect jumping platform. Great experience to do when visiting during the summer months is jumping off the Waimea Rock.
6. ZIPLINE WITH A VIEW
Oahu now offers its first North Shore Zip-lining! This was incredibly fun and is a great family adventure. We loved Climb Works and their educational mission, while also enjoying the scenery from a different perspective.
Related post: Zipline Tour with Climb Works
7. SATISFY YOUR SWEET TOOTH
The longest queue you’ll see is most likely the line wrapping around Matsumoto’s Shave Ice. These aren’t your typical ice cones or ridiculously hard flavored ice. This is traditional, old school, plantation days (1840’s) type of soft, shaved ice. Don’t have patience for the long wait? Head over to Haleiwa Bowls, Lanikai Juice or other Acai bowl places. Best time to head over to these locations is just after lunch or later afternoon time.
8. VISIT THE DOLE PLANTATION
Dole Plantation, the oldest plantation on the island, is now funneling visitors on tours. Dole also offers some yummy treats also, like their famous Pineapple Ice Cream. Follow up by burning off those calories in what was what was once the largest maze in the world. For more info about Dole Plantation, visit here.
9. SEE THE TURTLES AT TURTLE BEACH
Want to see a turtle but too afraid of the ocean and don’t want to pay to see on in a man-made habitat? Don’t worry, Oahu has a beach aptly nicknamed “Turtle Beach”. This is the first beach you’ll reach after getting out of Haleiwa and although winter can vary, the summer offers at least one turtle beached daily. DO NOT TOUCH THE HONU – it is a federal law.
10. VISIT THE BEACHES & WATCH THE WAVES
At last, the most important and enjoyable thing to me…the waves. Visit the famous beaches such as Sunset and Pipeline, and witness amateurs or pros take on one of the worlds gnarliest waves. Winter time is the best timeframe to witness these amazing humans doing amazing feats. Being able to handle this wave is a great accomplishment in the surfing community and once you see the action in person, you’ll realize why.
There are so many things to do up on the North Shore of Oahu but we helped consolidate the most popular ideas. Have an amazing and safe visit!