Hawaii is always a good idea in my opinion. Lush tropical mountains and beautiful beaches with turquoise waters, what is not to love? What I love so much about Hawaii is the Hawaiian culture you feel when you are there. You are technically in the United State but it feels so far from that.
The North Shore of Oahu has really captured my heart! A small town girl myself, I feel right at home on the North Shore. Plus, there are endless beach options and stunning views in all directions! Keep reading for the top things to do on the North Shore of Oahu.
If cities, hotels and calmer waters are more your vibe be sure to check out my reviews of The Laylow and the Surf Jack (coming soon) located in Waikiki!
Top Things to do on the North Shore
Hopefully the beach is top of your list for things to do because it is definitely one of the top things to do on the North Shore of Oahu. Some of the best beaches in the world are here! There are so many beaches to choose from on the North Shore of Oahu and you really can’t go wrong with any of them. Watch epic surf at Pipeline, snorkel in Sharks Cove, rock jump at Wiamea, or learn to surf in Haleiwa.
Sunset Beach – A big a beautiful beach with a parking lot. Sunset Beach is also a super popular beach for surfing. Come hang out for the day and stay for sunset!
Wiamea Bay – One of my favorite beaches on the North Shore! Waimea Bay is a great place to park it for the day and swim! There is also a huge rock and you can jump off of into the ocean. It looks way higher once you are at the top!
In the winter months if the swell is super big, Waimea Bay can break and would be extremely dangerous to swim but would definitely be worth going to to watch the surf!
Chuns Reef – A great reef break for longboarding or if the swell is small enough you can learn to surf at Chuns Reef.
Pipeline – Definitely worth stopping to see this world class wave! Pipeline is at Ehukai Beach Park and the beach is amazing. Come hang and watch the epic surf for a few hours.
Sharks Cove – Come to sharks cove to discover some Hawaiian marine life! The water is pretty shallow and there will be a lot of people here doing the same thing you are: snorkeling. Definitely worth the visit but one of those things you do once and don’t have to do again. You get me?
Laniakea – When the surf is small at Lani’s there are large turtles here in the water! Be sure not to disturb them though!
Log Cabins – This is a super big beach great for a full on beach day. Log Cabins is just past Waimea Bay on your way towards Pipeline. We swam in the ocean for hours and then Brent went surfing, win-win.
Haleiwa – right near Haleiwa town, Haleiwa beach has a large parking lot and is a great place for young families or people wanting to learn to surf.
Turtle Bay Resort
If you aren’t staying at Turtle Bay Resort – it is definitely fun to come here and visit! You can grab cocktails at sunset by the pool, swim in the bay and hang on the beach or eat at Lei Lei’s on the golf course for dinner!
Go for a Hike
Any hike is Hawaii is going to be an epic one and one of the top things to do on the North Shore. There are a lot more hikes on other parts of the island. However, the North Shore still has some great ones! I’ve only listed two we’ve done but this link will provide you with a few more on the North Shore!
Ehukai Pillbox Hike – This is a short hike! 20 minutes or so up and 20 minutes back down. You can access Ehukai Pillbox trail in the Sunset Beach school parking lot. There are WWII pillboxes at the top and stunning views of the pacific ocean and Pipeline down below.
Kaena Point – The Kaena Point trail starts off on the North Shore but takes you to the untouched North West side of Oahu. There are beautiful tide pools and amazing views once you get to the other side of the point.
This hike as almost no shade so definitely plan accordingly! We had wanted to hike all the way to Yokohama Bay on the West side of Oahu not realizing how far the hike would be. From each trail head the point is 3 miles. So to hike from one trail head to the other it will be 6 miles. And then you have to hike back!
If you plan to go to Yokohama Bay definitely bring supplies for a full day or drive around to the Kaena Point trail head near Yokohama Bay.
Farm to Barn – How cute is this place?! The food was just as amazing as this place is cute! We came to Farm to Barn for breakfast and as soon as we left I couldn’t wait to come back. As the name implies – your food is locally sourced and you can even see the farm from the barn 🙂 @farmtobarncafe
Island Vintage Coffee – Amazing coffee. Amazing food. Island Vintage Coffee is a must try for breakfast and lunch! Plus, its near a few cute shops! @islandvintagecoffee
Jax Pizza – Ok the pizza from Jax was sooo good! We got pizza multiple nights for an easy pick up dinner. @jaxwoodfiredpizza
Waialua Bakery – The sandwiches are HUGE! But are so so good. While you’re at Waialua Bakery don’t forget to grab a fresh lemonade and some fresh baked cookies! @waialuabakery
Lei Lei’s – On the golf course inside Turtle Bay Resort, Lei Lei’s is a nicer dinner option on the North Shore and the food was great! We left super full and happy.
Cafe Haleiwa – This cafe has mom and pop vibes! Family owned since 1982, the breakfast at Cafe Heleiwa was A+. Think eggs and pancakes!
Places we wish we had time for:
A few places we didn’t have time to hit up and a few places were closed due to COVID. I guess we have to go back 🙂
- Pupukea Grill
- Elephant Thai Truck
- Ted’s Bakery
- Impossibles Pizza
We decided to explore Waimea Valley and Waterfall on a day when the weather wasn’t really great for a beach day. (I mean it was raining off and on and this definitely happens often in Hawaii!)
It ended up being way cooler than we had expected and something I would recommend on a not-so-great beach day. Along your walk to the waterfall there are tons of flowers (both indigenous and foreign) in the Botanical Garden.
There is also a bunch of history on display! There are numerous cultural sites showcasing the native Hawaiian population and how they lived prior to Captain Cook landing on the Hawaiian Islands in 1778.
Where to Stay on the North Shore
There aren’t many hotel options on the North Shore of Oahu. Actually there is only one: Turtle Bay Resort.
I definitely recommend doing your research on Airbnbs and find a great spot for your vacation on the North Shore. We actually stayed in Waialua which was only about 10-20 minute drive to all of the North Shore beaches I mentioned in this post.
- You will 100% need a car to get around on the North Shore.
- Traffic on Kam Hwy can get pretty bad. A drive that might take you 10 minutes on Tuesday might take you 30 minutes on Saturday.
- Wear Reef Safe sunscreen!
- Be respectful of the environment. Always leave with what you came with.
- The ocean is super powerful. Never underestimate the power of the ocean.
Want more Hawaii Guides? Check out my guide to Hanalei Bay Kauai, 48 Hours on the North Shore, Review of the Laylow Waikiki and Review of the SurfJack Hotel.
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