If you’re unsure about leaving Honolulu there are so many things to do in North Shore, Oahu that you’ll regret not leaving crowded Waikiki sooner. The North Shore beaches put Waikiki to shame, the Haleiwa restaurants are some of the best on the island and it’s the best place to snorkel, surf and spot turtles. The best part is, the majority of things to do in North shore, Oahu are only a mere one hours drive from Waikiki!
Dole Pineapple Plantation
This is likely to be your first stop of things to do in North shore, Oahu. The Dole pineapple plantation is unmissable as fields filled with thousands of pineapple plants line the road of the North Shore. One of the many crazy pineapple facts we learned during our visit is that every single one is hand planted and apparently, each Dole pineapple plantation worker can plant nearly 10,000 crowns A DAY!
If you think making it out of the gift shop is hard (you will be overwhelmed with pineapple memorabilia) the Dole plantation maze is even more of a challenge, as it’s the largest in the world! Created from over 14,000 pineapple plants, the Dole Plantation maze stretches over 3 acres. It took us around 40 minutes to complete (Darren’s 6ft 5 height did come in handy to peek over the hedges). If you make it out of the Dole plantation maze, the pineapple express train tour is equally entertaining and one of the best things to do in North Shore, Oahu to learn the fascinating history of the island’s pineapple fame!
Complete your Dole pineapple plantation experience with the world famous dole whip. Ashamedly I admit, I couldn’t stand pineapple prior to my time in Oahu but after my visit and sampling the Dole Whip I was immediately converted. You can read more about that experience here.
Before you hurry off to the North Shore beaches, take a leisurely stroll round Haleiwa to work off that Dole Whip. Haleiwa is a quaint beach town around 15 minutes from Turtle Bay and approximately one hours drive from Waikiki. It is one of the best things to do in North Shore, Oahu to truly capture island life. We could have easily spent all day here, but these are our favourite things to do in Haleiwa.
Try Shave Ice
Okay, we did just recommend you eat your body weight in Pineapple Dole Whip but one of the most famous things to do in North Shore, Oahu is try the legendary shave ice. In Haleiwa there are two “go to” places – Matsumoto’s or Aoki’s across the road. They are not difficult to find, the queue down the street is a definite give away!
The North Shore Angel Wings
There are many places for that perfect profile picture on the North Shore, Oahu and the Global Angel Wings is one of the best. Created by Artist Collete Miller, the wings represent love, peace, kindness and what you bring to earth. They truly encapsulate the magic of the North Shore and the Aloha spirit – a definite photo opportunity not to be missed.
The Surf Museum
If there’s one reason you came to Oahu (not just for the Dole whip) it’s to surf. Or in our case, learn about surfing because there is no way we can take on the 40ft waves of the North Shore. Haleiwa is home to the North Shore Surf and Cultural Museum. One of the best things to do in North Shore, Oahu to dive into the fascinating history of the sport, admire antique boards and soak up all things surf. . . without getting wet.
Haleiwa Farmers Market
If you happen to be looking for things to do in North Shore, Oahu on a Thursday then Haleiwa Farmers Market is the best place to be for a traditional taste of Hawaii. If you’re visiting the North Shore on a Saturday, Waialua farmers market is equally as inviting with local produce, delicious samples and traditional trinkets.
Waimea Falls Park
If beach town strolls aren’t your thing (or you’re on a serious shaved-ice sugar rush) then check out our post on our favourite hikes in Oahu. Specifically, one of the best things to do in North Shore, Oahu is the hiking trail in Waimea Falls Park. Home to over 300 species of tropical plants, this easy hike ends with a beautiful 50ft waterfall and is the perfect North Shore activity to tire out shaved ice fuelled children (or boyfriend, in my case). Check out our post for all the info!
North Shore Beaches
There’s no denying one of the main reasons anyone ventures to this neck of the woods, is for the North Shore Beaches. From October until April the North Shore Beaches are packed with professional surfers, braving the 40ft waves at Waimea Bay, Pipeline and Sunset Beach. In the Summer however, from May until September the North Shore beaches are some of the best in the world for snorkelling, swimming and deep sea diving.
Mokuleia Beach Park
If you are just leaving Haleiwa and turn left (head West) this will lead to one of the best North Shore Beaches called Mokuleia. Mokuleia is a 38.5 acre beach park, with many picnic tables, a large parking area and even a camp site where you can rent a cabin or bring your own tent. It is also one of the best North Shore beaches for wind and kite surfing!
Waimea Bay Beach Park
If instead you turn right when leaving Haleiwa you will come across Waimea Bay Beach Park. It is famous for cliff jumping, surfing at Banzai Pipeline and Sunset Beach – famous for, well sunset. This is one of the most famous North Shore beaches for crazy high waves in Winter, so if you are not a professional, we advise sticking to the spectator spots.
Laniakea Beach (Turtle Beach)
Although Laniakea Beach is known as Turtle Beach for being one of the best north shore beaches to spot these majestic sea creatures in the wild it has actually became a safety hazard due to crowding. As the parking used to be opposite the beach, it became incredibly dangerous with crowds of people crossing the busy road to view the turtles. So much so, they banned parking their altogether. If you are still determined to visit (which will likely be worth it as turtles visit all year round) then you will have to park further down the coast and walk up.
Ali’i Beach Park
Alternatively, visit Ali’i Beach Park or Haleiwa Beach Park (where surfers go to Pua’ena Point) and you will see turtles without the crowds! Ali’i Beach Park, particularly on the Kaena Point side is one of the best north shore beaches according to the Hona Guardians (turtle guardians) who educate visitors about these charming creatures. We were recommended the best time to see the sea turtles is around lunch time – any time between 11am and 1pm. Please stick to the rules and advice of the Hona guardians and do not use flash photography or get within 10 metres. It is in fact illegal to touch a sea turtle, so keep the selfie sticks away and just enjoy their presence peacefully from afar without causing distress.
Pupukea Beach / Sharks Cove
Do not be fooled by the title, you will not find Sharks in Sharks cove. Pupukea Beach is one of the best North shore beaches for snorkelling thanks to the shark shaped bay of Shark’s cove. These waters are home to a huge array of marine life including those majestic turtles! One of the most popular North Shore beaches for diving as there are many lava tubes and caves to explore, however please note no lifeguard is on duty so please snorkel safely and only dive if experienced in the strong Oahu current!
Swim With Sharks (Mano)
If you were disappointed in that previous admission that there are no sharks at Sharks Cove then book yourself into one of the best things to do in North Shore, Oahu – swim with sharks. There are so many tours to choose from, whether you’re brave enough to get amongst them in the water or learn about these fascinating creatures from the comfort of a boat tour. Either way, you are likely to also witness dolphins, turtles and if you’re visiting the North Shore in Winter – humpback whales!
North Shore Food Trucks
Now we’re near the end of the things to do in North Shore, Oahu you have surely worked up an appetite. There is no denying the North shore food trucks are unmissable – both for flavour and because there are so many, they are literally unmissable. Serving up everything from Tacos to Thai food, visiting the North Shore and not sampling a food truck treat would be like visiting Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower. There’s probably an unwritten rule that you shouldn’t pick a favourite, but ever the rebels, we did. Aji Limo truck wins hands down for food and looks. Read all about it here.
Polynesian Cultural Center
Allow a whole day for the Polynesian Cultural Center, as it is one of the most memorable things to do in North Shore, Oahu. Opening in 1963 and spanning an amazing 42 acres, the Polynesian Cultural Centre shares the fascinating history of Polynesian Culture through interactive activities, drama and dance. Voted Oahu’s number 1 paid attraction, it even features an IMAX theatre and a traditional Luau in the evening. A Luau is one of the most exciting things to do in North Shore, Oahu and one of the most memorable dining experiences we’ve ever had.
As you leave the North Shore beaches behind, you might recognise the luscious green scenery from classic movies such as Jurassic Park or Pearl Harbor. Kualoa Ranch was also used as the location for TV shows such as Lost and Hawaii Five-0. You can see the Movie Set tour via Jurassic jeep or by horseback amongst many other tour options. One of the best things to do in North Shore, Oahu for adrenaline seekers and Movie fans alike!
For more photos of our adventure in Hawaii, please take a peek at our gallery.
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