If you’re looking for a quintessential Hawaiian experience, look no further than the North Shore of Oahu. This beautiful region is home to some of the most breathtaking scenery on the island, as well as world-famous surfing spots and a wide variety of restaurants and accommodations.
It’s a popular tourist destination for good reason – there’s something for everyone on the North Shore!
To help you make the most of your time on the North Shore, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide with all the information you need to know.
From the lush green mountains to the turquoise waters of the ocean, there’s no shortage of things to see and do on the island.
So read on to learn about the best things to do in North Shore Oahu, so you can start planning your perfect vacation!
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What to know about North Shore Oahu?
The North Shore of Oahu is located on the northern side of the island, about an hour’s drive from Honolulu. This region is famous for its beautiful beaches, big waves, and laid-back vibe.
Although it can get crowded during the peak tourist season (December to April), the rest of the year is relatively quiet and you’ll often have the beaches to yourself!
Oahu’s North Shore is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of Honolulu and a great place to relax and soak up the Hawaiian sun.
How to get to North Shore from Waikiki?
Getting to the North Shore from Waikiki is easy – there are several options for transportation, including public buses, car rentals, car sharing, and taxi services.
The most popular (and cheapest) option is to take The Bus(Oahu bus), which runs several times per day from Waikiki to Hale’iwa town.
The journey takes about 1.5 hours and costs $5.50 per person. You can also take the North Shore Shuttle, which is a bit more expensive but offers a more direct route and faster journey time of around 1 hour.
Where to stay in the North Shore?
The North Shore is also home to a number of small towns, each with its own unique atmosphere.
Before making a trip to the North Shore, be sure to do some research on what each town has to offer so you can choose the town that’s right for you!
Haleiwa is the largest town on the North Shore and has a more commercialized feel, with plenty of shops and restaurants to explore. It’s a great place to stay if you’re looking for easy access to all the North Shore has to offer.
Haleiwa is also home to the famous Matsuda’s Shave Ice, one of the best shave ice spots on the island!
If you’re interested in surfing or watching surfers, Sunset Beach is the place to be! It’s a smaller community with a more local feel and is located right next door to Haleiwa.
Sunset beach is ideal for those who want to experience the North Shore’s legendary surf scene.
Pupukea is a small town located near Sunset Beach. This region is known for its beautiful beaches and hiking trails.
One of the most popular things to do in Pupukea is to hike to the top of Pu’u O Mahuka Heiau, an ancient Hawaiian temple.
Pupukea is an ideal place to stay for those who want to experience the North Shore’s natural beauty.
Waimea is a small town located on the west side of the North Shore, known for its dramatic cliffs and coastline, as well as its quiet beaches.
It’s one of the more popular spots for swimming and sunbathing on the North Shore, without being too crowded.
With its beautiful beaches, impressive cliffs, and crystal-clear waters, it’s a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and snorkeling.
Waimea Bay is also one of the best spots on the island for watching the sunset!
If you’re looking for a place to stay that’s quiet and away from the crowds, Waimea is a great option. It’s a great place to stay for anyone looking for a more relaxing vacation.
Further down the coast, you’ll find the surf town of Pipeline, home to some of the best waves on the island.
This place is known around the world for its big waves, so it’s a popular spot for both surfers and spectators.
If you’re not interested in surfing, there’s still plenty to do in Pipeline. This town is known for its relaxed atmosphere and beautiful beaches.
Finally, there’s Turtle Bay, a resort town with plenty of activities and amenities for visitors. Turtle Bay is the northernmost town on the North Shore and is known for its luxury resorts and golf courses.
This area is a great place to stay if you’re looking for a more upscale vacation.
With so many different beach towns to explore, you’re sure to find the perfect place to relax and soak up the Hawaiian sun.
And no matter where you stay on the North Shore, you’ll be surrounded by natural beauty everywhere you turn!
Things to do in North Shore Oahu
Now that you know a little bit about the different towns on the North Shore and have decided which area to stay in, it’s time to start planning your trip!
There’s no shortage of things to do on the North Shore of Oahu! Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach, catch some waves, or explore the lush green mountains, there’s something for everyone.
Here are some of our top things to do in North Shore Oahu:
1. Hike to the top of Pu’u O Mahuka Heiau or Kaena Point
Pu’u O Mahuka Heiau is an ancient Hawaiian temple that offers stunning views of the North Shore. The hike to the top is moderate in difficulty and takes about 1-2 hours to complete.
The hike is worth it for the incredible views at the top!
Kaena Point is the westernmost point of the island and is only accessible by foot.
The hike to Kaena Point is about 3 miles round trip and takes about 2 hours to complete. This hike is recommended for experienced hikers due to the rugged terrain.
2. Explore the town of Haleiwa
Haleiwa is the largest town on the North Shore and offers plenty of shops, restaurants, and things to do. Be sure to check out Matsuda’s Shave Ice, one of the best shave ice spots on the island!
Haleiwa is also a popular place for foodies visiting the island, as it is home to several unique restaurants.
A trip to Hawaii isn’t complete without trying the local cuisine! Some popular foods to try in Haleiwa include shave ice, poke, and Hawaiian plate lunches.
3. Take a surf lesson
The North Shore is world-famous for its big waves, making it the perfect place to take a surf lesson! Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced surfer, there are plenty of spots to catch some waves.
If you’re interested in learning how to surf, there are several surf schools located on the North Shore that offer lessons for all levels.
Surf schools like Hawaiian Fire and North Shore Surf Girls offer both group and private lessons.
4. Visit the Waimea Valley Audubon Center
The Waimea Valley Audubon Center is a nature preserve that is home to several hiking trails, waterfalls, and botanical gardens with many native Hawaiian plants and animals.
The center is located in the town of Waimea and is a great place to learn about the history and culture of Hawaii.
This is a great place to visit if you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the beach towns and explore the lush green mountains of the North Shore.
5. Soak up the sun at one of the many beaches
The North Shore is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Hawaii, including Sunset Beach, Waimea Bay, and Pipeline.
These beaches are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, surfing, and more.
Whether you’re looking to relax on the sand or catch some waves, there’s a perfect beach for everyone!
6. Visit the Polynesian Cultural Center
The Polynesian Cultural Center is a living museum that offers a glimpse into the cultures of Polynesia. The center is located in Laie and is a great place to learn about the history and traditions of the Hawaiian people.
A full-day ticket package for the Polynesian Cultural Center starts at $150 per person and includes general admission, access to six island villages, and interactive exhibits, demonstrations, and shows. This package also includes your choice of a traditional Hawaiian buffet dinner with live entertainment. With this package, you’ll finish your evening with a live-fire show!
7. Take a stand-up paddleboarding lesson
Stand-up paddleboarding is a popular activity in Hawaii, and the North Shore is the perfect place to try it out! There are several lessons available for both beginners and experienced paddleboarders.
If you’re interested in learning how to paddleboard, there are several schools located on the North Shore that offer lessons for all levels. SUP North Shore and Sunrise Stand Up Paddle Boarding are two popular options for those looking to take a lesson.
8. Watch the surfers at Sunset Beach
Sunset Beach is one of the most popular surf spots on the island and is known for its big waves. Even if you’re not interested in surfing, it’s still fun to watch the surfers from the beach!
At Sunset Beach, you’ll also find a food truck that sells delicious Hawaiian plate lunches. This is the perfect place to try local dishes like kalua pork and lau lau.
As you can see, there are plenty of things to do on the North Shore of Oahu! Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach or explore the lush green mountains, there’s something for everyone.
Be sure to add these activities to your list when planning your trip to Hawaii!
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