North Shore, Oahu
Renowned for breathtaking beaches and powerful waves, the North Shore draws thousands of visitors each year! When the surf’s up the winter waves can reach 20-30 ft in height! World famous surf meets at Waimea, Sunset, and Pipeline attract surfing legends from around the world to compete. Whether winter or summer though, this coastline drive is, to many, the prettiest on the entire island! You will find, in addition to the gorgeous beaches and ocean vistas, some quaint and historic little towns like Haleiwa, Waialua, and Kahuku. There is a rural charm and beauty, as well as a great variety of fun activities, from ocean sports to horseback rides to skydiving, providing you with endless hours of fun and relaxation!
North Shore Oahu Area Guide: Major Cities
The area between the city life of Honolulu and the beaches of the North Shore is made up mostly of small communities of regular folks going about their day-to-day. While there may be no major tourist spots here, there are lots of places for visitors and locals alike to shop, dine, or maybe catch a movie. There are the factory outlet stores of Waikele, and Mililani offers numerous stores, as well as a theater and lots of dining options.
A sleepy little town that you drive through in two blinks of an eye, Wahiawa still offers some good spots to eat, a historic site from ancient Hawaiian days, the Royal Birthing Stones of the Alii, and, on down the road a bit, the Dole Plantation. Dole was the foremost pineapple producer in the islands for years and at the plantation you will find a myriad of fun things to do, good food, lots of shopping, and all things pineapple!
As you head towards the North Shore, past Wahiawa, the Farrington Highway takes you out to the peaceful setting of Mokuleia. Here there are long stretches of wide-open beach for surfing, swimming, or even horseback riding! Opposite the beaches you will see Dillingham Airfield. Once a military airfield, it is now public and offers the adventurous options such as skydiving, aerobatic plane rides, or scenic glider rides. Also on this northwestern end of Oahu is Kaena Point. Here is where the highway ends and, if you are up to it, a rugged but beautiful hike begins!
What used to be a sugar plantation town in years past is now a small community with agricultural roots that still continue among the many small farms in the area. Each weekend you will find a farmer’s market here, beside the old Sugar Mill which still stands and now houses a soap factory to visit!
This charming and historic town is a popular stop for shopping at the many boutiques, browsing the numerous art galleries, and dining in the variety of restaurants or enjoying the tasty, cool treat of Oahu, Shave Ice! There is a busy fishing harbor offering lots of options for a day on the deep blue sea, and just down the road are the famed beaches of Oahu’s legendary North Shore! Needless to say, you will also find lots of surf shops and places to rent boards or learn how to surf or stand-up paddle.
A small hilltop community, Pupukea overlooks the beaches of the North Shore. It is a great spot for a scenic horseback ride, especially at sunset! There is also an ancient Hawaiian heiau (temple) which can be visited. Puu O Mahuka was dedicated to the Hawaiian War God Ku and it is still considered a sacred site by the Hawaiian people.
This is where the only major resort development of the North Shore is located. Here you will find a first class hotel, ocean view, designer golf courses, and beautiful beaches, renowned for their sea turtle friends! This is also where you can take a helicopter ride to view Oahu from a jaw-droppingly different perspective that is truly exhilarating!
Another former sugar plantation town, Kahuku is now known for it’s marine aquaculture of prawn farms! Many stop here at the famed Kahuku Shrimp Trucks for a tasty lunch. It is still a farming community also, popular for its Kahuku corn which you will see, in season, at many roadside stands.
While it may take awhile to reach here, Laie is a very popular destiniation because it is home to the Polynesian Cultural Center. Many visitors come here to enjoy the shows and visit recreations of the village life of 7 different Pacific Island peoples. You will see cultural exhibits, music and dance, and can stay for one of the biggest and best luaus on Oahu! This is also where the latter day Saints Church (often called Mormon) has a beautiful and impressive Temple and a Brigham University campus.
Hauula & Punaluu
These small beach towns along the coast offer cute little shell shops, flower and fruit stands along the roadside, art galleries of some well-known local artists, and beautiful beach and ocean vistas right alongside the highway as you drive!