North Shore Oahu is the more rural northern side of the island. Visiting the North Shore is one of best things to do in Oahu, especially if you want to learn about Hawaiian history, agriculture, and surfing.
Waialua was a prominent center for sugar production on Oahu. From 1865 to 1996 sugarcane was grown here. Waialua is a quiet residential town. The main things to do here are the Dillingham Ranch, the Hawaii Polo Club, and Waialua Sugar Mill.
- Dillingham Ranch was developed by the Dillingham family, who built the railroad on Oahu and other notable construction projects. The lodge and its majestic trees have been featured in movie and TV shows. http://www.dillinghamranchhawaii.info/index.php
- The Hawaii Polo Club is across from Dillingham Ranch and has a regular schedule of Sunday polo matches. You can also book a trail ride along the beach!https://hawaii-polo.org/
- Homegrown businesses are keeping the Waialua Sugar Mill alive. A hub for coffee and chocolates, there are plenty of other local businesses worth checking out at the mill. http://www.waialuasugarmill.com/
Hale’iwa is the next town as you head north. Read more about Hale’iwa in North Shore Oahu here.
Waimea Bay Beach Park is the site of the Eddie, Quiksilver’s invitational surf competition in honor of famed Hawaiian surfer Eddie Aikau. The park is on Waimea Bay where the Waimea River enters the ocean. It’s a beautiful spot and often gets amazing huge waves. The Eddie only happens when the wave face heights are 40 feet. The holding period for the event is December 1 through the end of February, the time of the big swells. The competition doesn’t happen every year, but the opening ceremony is held every year on the first Thursday after Thanksgiving. All the invited surfers attend, paddle out to sea with leis and form a remembrance circle. Eddie would go!
- The Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau
- Things to know about the Eddie from Honolulu magazine
Waimea Valley is nature park on the Waimea River. It has the largest waterfall in Oahu, Waimea Falls. The hike is paved and takes you through a botanic garden. Near the entrance is the Proud Peacock restaurant. The phone number for the park is (808) 638-7766. http://waimeavalley.net/
Saints Peter and Paul Mission is a lovely Catholic church overlooking Waimea Bay. The tower began as part of the construction of the Kamehameha Highway in the 1920s. It was the silo for the crushed rubble from the nearby quarry. http://catholichawaii.org/mission-church-listing/saints-peter-and-paul-mission/
A little north of Saints Peter and Paul Mission on the highway is the right turn to Pupukea Road and Shark’s Cove. There are lots of highly-rated food trucks in this area. Pu’u O Mahuka is a luakini heiau, the largest heiau on Oahu. This was an area or temple set aside for the ali’i (royalty) and priests, prior to the abolishment of the ancient Hawaiian religion in 1819. This area has great cultural significance and one should be respectful when visiting. I like to leave a flower offering, but food is traditional. There would have been a tower, an altar, a hale (house) made of pili (a type of thatch) for ceremonial items and priests, a hale for sacred drums, a hale for temple fires, and ki’i (tiki) statues to oversee. Signal fires here might have communicated with heiau on Kaua’i. http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/parks/oahu/puu-o-mahuka-heiau-state-historic-site/
Sunset Ranch is way up Pupukea Road. The estate has a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains and Waimea Bay. You can book a site tour to learn more about their farming, gardens, and special equine program. http://www.sunsetranchhawaii.com/
The famous Banzai Pipeline is at Ehukai Beach Park. It was featured in Bruce Brown movies from the 1960s. The Volcom Pipe Pro is run during an 11-day waiting period in the winter at Pipeline. The Billabong Pipeline Masters is the final event on the World Surf League Championship Tour, held in December. http://www2.hawaii.edu/~turner/oahu/banzai.htm
Sunset Beach is another famous surf beach. The park here has a parking lot and an additional lot with facilities across the street. You will also see that folks park on the wide shoulder parts of the highway. The beach is sheltered by Sunset Point and is known for its fantastic sunset views. The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing in November and December has events at Sunset Beach. http://www.vanstriplecrownofsurfing.com/2016/news-article/history_of_the_vans_triple_crown_of_surfing_2016
North Shore Oahu map
Grabbing a bite
Shrimp farming is a big thing in Kahuku and eating at the shrimp trucks is one of those things you should try!
- Shrimp truck showdown from Honolulu magazine
Ted’s Bakery is in Sunset Beach on North Shore Oahu. They have a bakery, grill, and coffee bar. Order at the counter and then sit inside or outside and watch North Shore life go by on the Kamehameha Highway. Breakfast sandwiches and egg dishes are available along with Ted’s famous chocolate haupia cream pie. Haupia is an egg-less coconut pudding that has to be patiently stirred at the stove to get the right smooth coconut texture. The haupia is layered with a chocolate cream in the pie. There are lots of other delightful offerings with guava, macadamia, pineapple, chocolate and other delicious tropical flavors. You’ll have to visit several times! http://www.tedsbakery.com/ Turtle Bay Resort has Kula Grille and Roy’s Beach House with seating right on the beach. http://www.turtlebayresort.com/Oahu-Restaurants
The Hukilau Café in Laie is open for casual breakfast and lunch. They also have Hawaiian foods such as Portuguese sausage and loco moco. They are closed Sunday and Monday.
Where to stay North Shore Oahu
Turtle Bay Resort is the big hotel in the area. Also, there are lots of beach house rentals throughout the North Shore.
At Turtle Bay, check out the plaque memorializing the use of radar during the Pearl Harbor attack.
From Waikiki, take Ala Wai Boulevard to McCully Street. Follow the signs to H1 going west (Ewa). As you approach Pearl City, watch carefully for the exit for H2. At mile marker 8 in Wahiawa, take the exit to route 80 going north, Kamehameha Highway. (After passing through Wahiawa, you may want to make a stop at the birthing stones on the left.) Continue north on route 80 to merge into route 99 headed north. (You may want to stop at Dole Plantation on the right.) Watch for signs for historic Hale’iwa – you will turn left off 99 at 930 and enter a traffic circle. Go straight (halfway around the circle) to 82 Waialua Beach Road to visit Waialua. Go back to the circle and take Kamehameha Highway north to visit Hale’iwa and the beaches of the North Shore.
Tip: The Kamehameha Highway gets quite busy north of Hale’iwa on the weekends and especially so during the winter high surf months. If using The Bus, Route 55 goes to the North Shore.
- The Bus Waikiki Guide
- Read the legends of Paumalu under the Kahikilani heading
- Regional cultural history of Pūpūkea
- Opana Radar Station
- World Surf League – download the app to watch competition coverage
- The Endless Summer (1966) at IMDb
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