There is a good reason why the North Shore of Oahu is known by most in the surf community as the seven-mile miracle. Spanning from Hale’iwa Ali’i Beach Park to Sunset Beach, this stretch of coastline is home to some of the best surf spots in the world including Waimea Bay and Banzai Pipeline. The North Shore also includes Mokule’ia and Ka’ena Point. Duke Kahanamoku is largely to thank for the growth of international surfing in the early 1900’s but it wasn’t until the 1940’s and 1950’s that big wave surfing became popular on the North Shore. Early big-wave surfers including George Downing, Wally Froiseth, Woody Brown, Joe Quigg, Buzzy Trent, Greg Noll, Pat Curren, Mickey Munoz, Jack Webb, Mickey Munoz, Fred Van Dyke and Jose Angel were taming the North Shores biggest waves including Waimea, Sunset and the outer reef breaks. With the jaw-dropping rides being captured by video and photo, and delivered into people’s homes all around the world, this brought a new rush of visitors to the North Shore, both to see it first hand, and some brave souls to test their limits in the life threatening waters. The North Shore is now world-renowned for its surfing but it is also rich in history, art, culture; and is home to some of the most beautiful beaches on Oahu.
Ka’ena Point is the most western point of Oahu. High winds and high surf describe Ka’ena point. Its worth the approximately 4 mile hike, fully accessible on only foot from either the Waianae side or Mokule’ia. Its nice because the area is remote and wild, but be careful on your hike or if you plan to venture into the ocean. Trails are unreliable in some areas and get washed out by the ocean. Check with Hawai’i State Parks before your hike: (808) 587-0300. There are no lifeguards and services are limited. The land is home to a critical ecosystem that is home for many native plants and animals in Hawaii – including the Laysan Albatrosses and Hawaiian Monk Seals. Please stay on the path and do not interrupt or damage the unique vegetation. Dogs are not allowed. Many local residents and visitors do not understand the unique ecosystem of Ka’ena point. Friends of Ke’ena was formed to enhance, maintain and protect the natural and cultural resources of the Ka’ena Area State Park for present and future generations Until 2014, no vehicles were allowed but illegal off-road thrill riders continued to tear up the land. The state of Hawaii decided to allow vehicles in an attempt to control unauthorized vehicles. Access is allowed by permit only, available to the public.
The best thing about Mokule’ia is that not much is there. In Hawaiian Mokule’ia means “district of abundance,” this must mean an abundance of nothing. The nothingness and little development actually make it a very nice place to visit, the desolate beaches are quite enjoyable. Mokule’ia is home to Camp Mokule’ia, Dillingham Airfield, Mokule’ia Polo Field and Mokule’ia Crag, or “The Moke,” an expert-only moderate rock climb. After a serious accident in 2012 the wall was closed, then reopened in 2015. Climbers must join the Hawaii Climbing Commission to scale the nearly 100’ wall.
If you want to escape the busy lifestyle of Waikiki, or even Hale’iwa for that matter, try Waialua. Waialua is a rustic lowly-populated town with a feel of old Hawaii. Waialua is also a former major producer in the sugar industry. The rich and fertile lands are now used to grow some of Hawaii’s best coffee. The Waialua Sugar Mill has been transformed into one of Hawaii’s most-popular choices for pro and core surfers for their surfboards. Famous shapers including JC, Minami, Pyzel and Eric Arakawa shape boards at the Mill. It might be hard to find your favorite shaper so stop in at III Stone and talk to Steve about the board that’s best for you. Also at the Sugar Mill are the North Shore Soap Factory, Island X, Haleiwa Surfboard Company, Island Fin Design and other shops. Do you think you are getting the best shave ice in Haleiwa? Try Island X’s secret recipes from Taiwan for some of Hawaii’s best shave ice. Tell Bill that Matt says hi and he’ll give you a big hug. The Sugar Mill also hosts the Waialua Farmer’s Market each Saturday from 8:30 am until 1:00 pm but we recommend you get there early.
Hale’iwa was a major agricultural town long before it became the surf capitol that it is today. The railroads were built to transport sugar cane to the harbor. After Hale’iwa Hotel was built in 1898 the railroads became the main transportation for visitors to the North Shore. The hotel was built by wealthy businessman Benjamin Dillingham and named Hale’iwa which means ‘house of the bird.’ This was the start of the tourism boom on the North Shore. The hotel was demolished in 1952, widely believed because of termite damage. Hale’iwa is now a popular surf town, artistic hub, and home to some of Hawaii’s best eats and shops. Most of the businesses on the North Shore are locally owned – resulting in a unique blend of product, dining and hospitality – a break from our corporate-dominated lives.
Hale’iwa Ali’i Beach Park
Hale’iwa Ali’i Beach Park is home of the first stop of The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing – The Reef Hawaiian Pro. The beach park is in walking distance from Haleiwa. Located next door to the harbor and just a couple of blocks drive off Kamehameha Highway this laid back beach park is a popular place with locals. There are two full length basketball courts and volleyball courts; and a playground for the keiki. With lots of open grass, large beach, and palm trees for shade, It’s a great place for birthday parties and celebrations. If you walk past the recreation building, to the left, you will find a somewhat unknown place for turtle viewing.
Hale’iwa Beach Park
Not to be confused with Haleiwa Ali’i Beach Park, Haleiwa Beach Park has over 250 feet of beautiful sandy beach. This beach park, across the harbor from Ali’I Beach Park is also within walking distance from Haleiwa, and just past Surf N Sea on your left as you leave town. The beach park has lots of open space, a playground and shaded areas for parties or just chillin’ and relaxing. Take a moment to honor and remember local fallen soldiers and check out the WWII memorial. On each side of the obelisk are carved the names of the dead heroes of World War II, the Korean Conflict and the Vietnam War “who gave their lives that the rest of the world may live in peace.” The memorial was dedicated by the Waialua Lions Club on July 4, 1947. Among those honored are the sixteen area men who died in World War II.
Laniakea beach or Lani’s is referred to incorrectly as Turtle Beach due to the natural sanctuary of many Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles. Laniakea has become the hot-spot for turtle viewing in Hawaii. If you pass by the beach, you’ll notice the hundreds of visitors and surfers crossing the road at various times and the awful traffic that occurs. This has caused a major strain on local traffic and residents. The City and County of Honolulu is considering various options to control the flow of people and ease the traffic. One of the options on the table is to completely shut down the parking area – a sign of how bad its getting. Do everyone a favor and try to cross in groups allowing traffic to go by. Or go the Haleiwa Ali’i Beach Park for less crowded turtle viewing that is far less dangerous then Laniakea.
Home of the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau, a big wave invitational surf contest held only one day, if and when conditions are perfect, Waimea Bay provides surfers with some of the biggest waves on the North Shore. Waimea only breaks when wave heights reach 8’ to 10’ in size. Parking is hard to find at just about any time of the day and any time of the year. Waimea Valley, across the street from the bay, offers overflow paid parking when the lot is full. If there is a big swell coming and talk of The Eddie, fagedaboudit and go somewhere else. Try watch the Eddie from your living room.
59-864 Kamehameha Highway, North Shore
Waimea Valley was carved by rain and wind from the flank of the Ko‘olau Mountain range some two million years ago. With its range of habitats stretching from the dry, salty sea shore to the cool, misty uplands, Waimea Valley has become home to a vast array of ferns, flowering plants, invertebrates, birds, stream life, and Hawaii’s only land mammal, the hoary bat. Waimea Valley is one of last partially intact ahupua‘a on O`ahu, and consists of 1,875 acres. It has been a sacred place for more than 700 years of Native Hawaiian history. Waimea, “The Valley of the Priests,” gained its title around 1090 when the ruler of O‘ahu awarded the land to the kähuna nui. Descendants of the high priests lived and cared for much of the Valley until 1886. Waimea Valley is a great place for a day’s worth of fun and activities. The cool, breezy and shaded grounds make for a great hike to the Waihi Waterfall. You will also enjoy the botanical gardens, cultural activities, retail shops and locally grown, made in Hawaii dining and snacking. Waimea Valley hosts the Hale’iwa Farmer’s Market each Thursday from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. with lots of organic produce, locally made gifts, live music, arts & crafts for the kids.
Located between two of the world’s most famous surf breaks – Banzai Pipeline and Waimea Bay – is a beautiful underwater world named Sharks Cove. The unique rock formations create many crevices and underwater tunnels resulting in abundant coral and other marine life. Sharks Cove is a great place for beginner snorkeling and scuba, but if you plan to dive, only work with Certified Open Water Scuba Instructors. There are no lifeguards, and the winter months bring heavy swells to the area. Check the surf report and use extreme caution because Sharks Cove is unsafe for snorkeling or scuba during the winter months. You are better off renting a board from North Shore Surf Shop, or enjoying the big waves from Sharks Cove Grill for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Parking is in front of Sharks Cove as well as behind NS Surf Shop. NS Surf shop has lockers to safely store your stuff. Keep an eye out as many famous active and old-time surfers frequent the area.
Ehukai Beach Park
Ehukai Beach Park is the site of Banzai Pipeline, the most famous surf break in Hawaii and probably the world. Pipeline is home of the third and final stop of The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing – Billabong Pipeline Masters. Pipeline is known for its fast, steep and hollow tubes – that’s above the surface. The other reason Pipeline is so famous is the treacherous coral heads that wreak havoc on the bodies of surfers when they wipe out. Pipeline is amazing also because the break is so close to shore and the site of a 35’ wall of water with a brave soul surfing it only 100’ away is jaw-dropping, breath-taking and awe-inspiring.
Sunset Beach Park
Sunset beach hosts the second stop of The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing – The Vans World Cup of Surfing. Spanning from Ehukai Beach Park to Sunset Point, this two-mile length of white sand is home of various surf breaks. Sunset Beach has some very nice tidal pools that are great for the keiki or exploring nature.
Kahuku is a former sugar mill plantation town. Recreational activities include hiking, fishing, sailing, walking, swimming, surfing and more. At Turtle Bay you will find 36 holes of some of America’s best golf. Sightseers can visit rainforests, waterfalls, beaches and art galleries. Kahuku is famous for its shrimp trucks including Romi’s, Fumi’s and Ono Shrimp Truck. Kahuku has locally harvested shrimp farms. If you are not a shrimp lover, try Kahuku Grill at the Kahuku Sugar Mill.
La’ie is home of Brigham Young University, Polynesian Cultural Center, La’ie Point and Malaekahana Beach Campground. Malaekahana is a gated 37 acre state park with eco-cabins, yurts, grass shacks and traditional tent camping. After camping or surfing, cool off at Angel’s Ice Cream for some of Hawaii’s best frozen treats. La’ie Falls is a small 15’ waterfall accessed via a 4 mile hike. The water is brown but the views are worth the long hike. To access hiking, a permit is required from Hawaii Reserves at 808-293-9201.