After you roll out of bed and carry out your morning routine with a cup of coffee and a small bite to eat you might find yourself wondering what to do next? Perhaps it’s time to head to the North Shore! Here is everything you need to know about what to do on the North Shore of O‘ahu to help gear you in the right direction.
Tip: If you don’t have a means of transportation, I suggest renting a car considering you will be traveling to each destination and it’s no cakewalk to travel by foot.
Open Monday through Friday 9:30am – 5:30pm,
64-1550 Kamehameha Hwy, Wahiawa, HI 96786
As you make your way to the North Shore, depending on the route, you will pass on the right hand side of one of O‘ahu’s most famous tourist attractions, Dole Plantation. When you travel from Waikiki or Honolulu you will turn North onto the H2 eventually passing Dole Plantation on the right heading towards Hale‘iwa. The other route is if you are heading from the Windward side of the island taking you along O‘ahu’s most scenic coastline including Kualoa Ranch, Kahana Bay, and La‘ie. Dole Plantation is a fantastic location to enjoy fun activities that’s great for families, and there are hosted events with instructive displays or presentations that everyone can partake in. Including the Pineapple Express Train Tour, Plantation Garden Tour, Pineapple Garden Maze, and not to mention the Plantation Grille. One of the best treasures Dole Plantation has to offer is their famous Dole Whip and their refreshing, sweet pineapples you can take with you to go on the road, Click here for more information. For those who have never heard of Dole Whip, it is a dairy-free soft-serve frozen dessert filled with bursting pineapple flavors!
Tip: As you continue West of Dole Plantation you will notice the raw beauty of the Wai‘anae Mountains whose crest, Ka‘ala, is the highest peak on the entire island.
It’s Time to Hit the Beach!
The first beach you will want to stop at is Waimea Bay Beach Park. Although parking can be limited the park is equipped with outdoor showers and bathroom facilities. The beach is vast, full of white sand and magical blue waters. There is nothing more refreshing than a dip in the Pacific Ocean on a hot day! If you are feeling adventurous you might find yourself climbing Waimea Rock to join locals partaking in the fun of jumping into the sweeping ocean waves.
Tip: There is parking available at the Beach Park, but it is limited and tends to fill up fast. Other parking options include Saint Michael Church, just past the beach park for a small fee for the day. Waimea Valley may be more convenient located directly across from the beach park, offering beach parking on certain days for a small fee or free parking for those that are guests of Waimea Valley.
Open daily from 9:00am – 5:00pm
59-864 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI 96712
Across the entrance from Waimea Beach Park you will find Waimea Valley and its Botanical Gardens. This is a great destination for a peaceful hike through the botanical gardens filled with lush greenery and vibrant flowers that eventually leads up to a grand waterfall. Furthermore, the beautiful maintained grounds and awe-inspiring waterfall is breathtaking. Waimea Valley’s park is dedicated to showcasing Native Hawaiian culture and history, through guided tours, instructive demonstrations, replicas of traditional Hawaiian structures, and cultural practitioners who share their skills and stories with visitors. You will find the historical walkthrough of the Valley remarkable. Due to Waimea Valley’s geographic location and its abundance in resources the Kahuna Nui (High Priests) have historical ties to these lands which is often referred to as, “The Valley of The Priests.” Waimea Valley is also an ahupua‘a which is a division of land which stretches from mountain to sea. Imagine the island is a pie and the ahupua’a is a slice. Hawai’i was divided up this way for many reasons but most importantly to ensure that each community had all of the resources they needed to survive. For more information about how the Hawaiians mastered the arts of resource management and sustainability, visit Waimea Valley’s article about the History of the Valley.
Tip: You will be happy to know that Waimea Valley is currently managed by a non-profit organization, Hi‘ipaka LLC, who strive to preserve and protect these lands.
Other world-class beaches you cannot miss are Banzai Pipeline, the mecca of surfing, and Sunset Beach famous for its reputation of breathtaking sunset views. Banzai Pipeline at Ehukai Beach is known for having some of the heaviest waves and top-contending surf competitions like Vans Triple Crown of Surfing during the winter season. You can expect to see the large waves forming thick, hollow tubes over the infamous, treacherous reef of Pipeline between the months of November and February. Sunset Beach Park is also known for its large waves and top contending surfers, but above all, its world-class sunsets are unbeatable! Visitors and locals from all over gather along the shoreline to watch the day come to an end. I recommend packing a cooler with some wine and hors d’oeuvres to enjoy while you watch the daylight dissipate into the night.
Tip: Click here for the most recent Pipeline surf reports and forecast.
What’s for Lunch?
If you tend to struggle what to find for lunch, look no further! Of course there’s the notorious shrimp trucks that attract many visitors year-round. Such as Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck specialty; Shrimp Scampi, Lemon & butter, and Hot & Spicy. However, if you are in the mood for some fun local cuisine you must check out Pupukea Grill food truck. I recommend trying their Spicy Tuna bowl poké style, and the various plate lunches they have to offer. For more information and menu items checkout their website. If you like authentic Mexican and Latin food I strongly suggest you checkout Surf N Salsa food truck located in Hale‘iwa Town. Local favorites consist of Haleiwa Joe’s with their excellent fresh fish and local ingredient dishes or Lei Lei’s Bar and Grill, well known for their prime rib, located at Turtle Bay Resort. Banzai Sushi Bar, a North Shore staple serves some of Oahu’s finest quality sushi located in the heart of Hale‘iwa at North Shore Marketplace. I also recommend if you have the time in the morning to check out these incredible breakfast hot spots, cafe Haleiwa and Konos Haleiwa.
On your way out of the North Shore you must make a pit stop to Hale‘iwa Town! You can’t pass up the opportunity to get a sweet acai or pitaya bowl from Banzai Bowls. They have the best assortments including to go options and pickup orders. I recommend trying their classic Banzai Bowl topped with granola, banana, blueberries, strawberries, kiwi, coconut shreds, bee pollen, and honey. If you are more interested in a cool treat to crave your sweet-tooth, Matsumoto’s Shave Ice is an exceptional option. Matsumoto’s is a family owned and operated business since 1951 and only has one location in the entire world. The shaved ice melts in your mouth and comes with the option of your classics along with local flavors to try. The store also sells fun souvenirs and T-shirts etc. There are other quaint shops in Hale‘iwa Town Center that you can check out including Clark Little’s Gallery, famous for their mesmerizing close up photos of waves and ocean waters, and Whalers General Store.
There are so many sights to see and activities to do on the North Shore this just scratches the surface. I hope this helps in guiding you in the right direction for how to spend a day on the North Shore of O‘ahu!