Things to do in North Shore Oahu

The so-called "North Shore" is characterized by being very different from the rest of the island of Oahu. Read on to find out what to see on your visit to the North Shore.

Carmen Navarro

Carmen Navarro

8 min read

Things to do in North Shore Oahu

North Shore of Oahu | ©Daniel Ramirez

The North Shore of Oahu is known for being home to Hawaii's surfing community, which gathers on its beaches to enjoy huge waves. But in addition to internationally renowned surfing competitions, the North Shore of Oahu is a fantastic place for tourists in search of wonderful beaches and abundant nature.

If you're planning what to see and do on Oahu and you're heading to the North Shore in particular, this list of 10 places will come in handy as you plan your Hawaii trip. From interesting beaches to small towns with unique character, here's a guide to everything you need to know about this part of Hawaii and its Polynesian culture.

1. Visit the surfing village of Haleiwa

Haleiwa| ©Max Kiesler
Haleiwa| ©Max Kiesler

The town of Haleiwa is a place where surf culture is lived and breathed in every corner. This town is home to most of the surfing competitions held on the island due to its perfect, large waves and surfing here has become the dream of surfers around the world.

This charming city has a bohemian personality and local style, as most of its inhabitants are related to art and surfing. It is a perfect alternative for those looking for a place outside the mass tourism of Waikiki.

Its streets are full of wooden houses of different colors, surf schools, stores and boutiques, as well as art galleries and different country restaurants that are camouflaged among palm trees.

This town also attracts many tourists for being a famous place to swim with sharks inside a cage. It is a world famous activity and something I recommend if you are an adventure-seeking traveler.

Book a caged shark swimming tour in Oahu

2. Meet the turtles at Laniakea Beach

Laniakea Beach| ©Banzai Hiroaki
Laniakea Beach| ©Banzai Hiroaki

This beach on Oahu's North Shore is among the best beaches on Oahu and is one of the island's main attractions.

Just by taking a stroll along the beach, you can find turtles of different sizes that will leave you speechless. You can see them resting, or swimming along the shore.

Laniakea Beach is a perfect place to spend the day and relax in contact with nature. The good thing about this place is that it is very respectful with the fauna, since there are different turtle resting areas delimited so that tourism does not harm the ecosystem.

There are also many volunteers who will explain interesting and useful information about how turtles live, and all kinds of curiosities about these animals.

Book a catamaran ride to see turtles in Oahu

3. Visit Waimea Valley

Waimea Valley| ©Kyle Pearce
Waimea Valley| ©Kyle Pearce

Waimea Valley is a place on the island of Oahu that has a long history. It is a site that native Hawaiians have considered a sacred area, dating back 700 years.

The name Waimea means The Valley of the Priests and you will find spectacular trees, giant plants and beautiful flowers everywhere you look. In fact, Waimea Valley is famous for its waterfall, which thousands of tourists visit every year to immerse themselves in its pure and crystalline waters.

I recommend taking a stroll through its gardens and exploring this area of the island of Oahu, which I consider completely magical. You will feel in touch with the wildlife of Hawaii, and in full contact with nature.
The entrance to the park costs about 15€ per person, and you can also choose the option of a car service that takes you to the waterfall from the park entrance, which costs about 10€ more.

Book a tour of Oahu with a visit to Waimea Waterfall

4. Try snorkeling at Sharks Cove

Sharks Cove| ©Ken Lund
Sharks Cove| ©Ken Lund

Sharks Cove is a very famous beach in the northern part of this wonderful island, mainly for those who want to snorkel in Oahu. In fact, it is considered the best of the whole island.

Sharks Cove is a natural pool that has been formed thanks to the passage of time and different volcanic eruptions, which have resulted in lava barriers that protect this area from the waves.

You will find a small sandy beach and a deeper bay where the tides have created an area full of tunnels, caves and rock formations with lots of charm.

This area is a marine reserve on the island of Oahu called Pupukea, so remember to respect all the rules to protect the environment.

Book a tour of Oahu's North Shore

5. Climb the Ehukai Pillbox scenic viewpoint

Pillbox on Oahu| ©Deb Nystrom
Pillbox on Oahu| ©Deb Nystrom

This activity is one of the best hikes in and around Oahu and one of the best activities you can do during your stay in Hawaii.

Ehukai Pillbox is a viewpoint from which you can enjoy the best views of the island. It is a fairly easy hike to complete, as the trailhead is located just off the main road, and, beyond the occasional steep section, it is a hike suitable for everyone. ,

The entire route lasts about an hour and a half, during which you can appreciate the nature and different views of the sea and the entire coast from the top.

There are also different rest areas with seats and tables during the tour, where you can relax, eat and take a break before continuing walking.

6. Admire a sunset from Sunset Beach

Sunset Beach, Oahu| ©Leonardo Stabile
Sunset Beach, Oahu| ©Leonardo Stabile

Sunset Beach is considered one of the best beaches on Oahu thanks to its stretch of white sand, turquoise waters and great waves.

It is in this place where several international surfing competitions are held, such as the Triple Crown in the winter season, as waves of up to 10 meters are formed.

Many tourists gather to watch the surfers with their binoculars while enjoying the sea or simply to admire the incredible sunsets from Sunset Beach.

Sunset Beach is an ideal place if you are looking for a friendly, family atmosphere and dream beaches - don't miss it!

7. Take a walk through the Dole Pineapple Plantations

Dole Pineapple Plantation| ©lhilyer_libr
Dole Pineapple Plantation| ©lhilyer_libr

In case you didn't know, Hawaii is one of the largest pineapple exporting countries in the world. And the Dole company is the one that is mostly in charge of the trade of this characteristic fruit.

A very typical activity for those who visit Hawaii is to visit the pineapple plantations in Oahu.

In this site you can board a train that runs along the paths between the different plants, which makes it a great ride if you visit Oahu with children. There is also a maze and a curious souvenir store, where you can find all kinds of pineapple-shaped objects, of course.

I recommend you try the pineapple ice cream that they make in a crazy way in the plantations as a way to crown this great visit to this island of Hawaii. They are delicious and, without a doubt, something you must do on this vacation.

8. Play location scavenger hunt in Hollywood

Kualoa Ranch| ©Shelby L. Bell
Kualoa Ranch| ©Shelby L. Bell

Besides being a paradisiacal and adventurous destination, Hawaii has become world famous for being the place chosen to film Lost, the series that conquered the attention of all viewers for its plot and its storyline full of mystery and curiosities to discover.

Today, there are different camps like YMCA Camp Erdman, which are youth hostels where you have the chance to walk around inside and feel like you are immersed in this fictional world. Discover the mythical yellow houses and the different signs that will remind you of scenes from the series at every moment.

But you can not only see Lost locations, as Oahu has also been filmed important movies such as Jurassic Park and Pearl Harbor. Thousands of tourists are attracted by this type of fun activities, where in addition to immersing yourself in the world of cinema and mythical movies, you will be able to see unique locations on the island of Oahu.

Book a tour of the North Shore of Oahu

9. Discover the Wyland Galleries

Wyland Galleries| ©Spotted drum
Wyland Galleries| ©Spotted drum

Wyland Galleries concentrates all the incredible creations of native Hawaiian artist David Wyland, in the town of Haleiwa.

The artist has created these wonderful exhibitions where he presents the different and amazing glass sculptures with representations of tsunamis. Also, you can enjoy beautiful murals by artist Robert Wyland.

The aim of this exhibition is to capture the incomparable beauty of the Hawaiian landscapes, and to convey the tranquility of nature and the sea in each of the images.

But Robert Wynland is primarily famous for the whale-themed artwork, which he paints swimming underwater in the various environments of the Hawaiian Islands. The quality of his art is completely on another level, and the paintings convey the essence of this special land.

10. Catch some waves on a surf lesson on the North Shore

Surfing in Haleiwa| ©Robert Linsdell
Surfing in Haleiwa| ©Robert Linsdell

A trip to Hawaii is not complete if you don't dare to take some surfing lessons in Oahu. If you don't try this sport in the birthplace of surfing, where can you do it?

This area of the island of Oahu is especially ideal for venturing into the world of waves, as there are lessons for people of all ages and levels. No matter if you are a beginner, if you are traveling with your family or if you are looking to improve as a surfer, there will always be a course designed for you.

The best beaches to take your lessons are, for example, Sunset beach, Haleiwa and Waimea Bay. The North Shore of Oahu is famous for hosting international surfing competitions and many legendary surfers with great global significance in the history of the sport have honed their skills on these beaches.

The possibility of practicing this sport on the North Shore of Oahu is the dream of many people, so you too should catch a wave on the most famous and coveted beaches in the world.

If the sport of surfing doesn't appeal to you, keep in mind that you can also try paddleboarding lessons and get on the boards.

Book a surf lesson on Oahu

How to visit the North Shore of Oahu

TheBus in Oahu| ©Simon_sees
TheBus in Oahu| ©Simon_sees

When planning your trip, you will find that transportation options on the island are quite limited. The most convenient option and the one that will give you the most flexibility is to rent a car, but there are some other public and private transportation options to get around the island of Oahu.

TheBus is the only bus service that travels around the island and has affordable rates, but I recommend using the best tour buses on Oahu, which will allow you to explore the island with a guide who will tell you all about the island, its curiosities and the activities available.