What to do in North Shore, Oahu
The North Shore of Oahu is best known as the world’s top surfing spot, making it an ideal destination for the finest surfers from other countries, specially during the winter months. If the only surfing you’ve done is on the Web, don’t write off the North Shore from your itinerary just yet. This could be the best place to learn surfing and underwater activities.There are also some great swimming beaches and beaches just great for picnics.See our section on North Shore beaches .
Its quaint Hale’iwa Town is popular among tourists and locals alike, as it is the arts and social hub in the North Shore. Also, the community’s laid-back way of life and the many rustic shops in town make it a great stop for those taking a holiday in the island of Oahu. It is also the perfect place to grab a bite in Oahu.
The North Shore’s charm and scenery have a lot to offer, so there is very little chance that you will run out of something to do on the northern tip of the island. From monstrous waves to Hawaiian green sea turtles, from Samoa fire knife dances to edible rainbows, there is so much to explore, taste, and experience. The only thing that will limit you is time. No matter what your preferences are, whether it is an affinity for culture and performance arts or gastronomic extravaganzas, the North Shore will have something that’s just right for you. If adventure is what you’re looking for, make sure that you leave a lot of room in your schedule, as you will have a plethora of air, land, and water activities to choose from.
Play golf at the Turtle Bay Golf Resort and Spa.
What better place to bring out your inner Tiger Woods than the island of Oahu? In the North Shore, you'll find the Turtle Bay Golf Resort and Spa, with courses that provide just the right combination of challenge and fun. With its unique location, the resort is ideal for golfers who want to bring the entire family to play or simply enjoy the scenery. Guests at the Turtle Bay Resort may avail of special offers for a day of unlimited golf. For reservations, visit the website www.turtlebayresort.com.
Learn more about Hawaii’s culture at the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC).
PCC is one of the must-see places for tourists on the island of Oahu, if not in the entire Hawaiian archipelago. Nestled in the 42-acre property are villages and displays reflecting the way of life of Hawaii’s first settlers. The PCC is open from Mondays through Saturdays. The allure of the lagoon, which snakes around the property, does not stop with canoe tours. Every afternoon, at exactly 2:30, it becomes the venue for the Canoe Pageant.
For nature and marine lovers, you can watch the Coral Reef Adventure at the IMAX theater, which is also found inside the PCC complex. As a perfect end to your day, watch more than a hundred dancers perform the Samoan fire knife dance at the Horizons show. The PCC tour packages start at $45. To ensure your slot when you visit, check out www.polynesia.com or call 1-800-367-7060.
While you’re at the PCC, make sure to buy an interesting Hawaiian souvenir for yourself and loved ones back home from the Mahinalani Gift Shop. Here you’ll find handicrafts, jwelry, and upscale Hawaiian-style clothing designed by Tommy Bahama.
Re-trace the path of ancient Hawaiian royalty at the Ali’i Luau.
Although the award-winning Ali’i Luau takes place at the PCC as well, it is one Hawaiian experience so distinct that it merits a separate discussion. It is hailed as the most authentic luau, where guests can dine on succulent Kalua pig, while learning the history of ancient Hawaii. With waterfalls, tropical gardens, and the lagoon at the background, it will be surprising if you don’t end up feeling like Hawaiian royalty yourself. At the sound of the conch announcing the entrance of the royal court, you’re bound to feel as if you’ve alighted from a time machine. As if these aren’t enough, you will be entertained by Hula dancers swaying to the music of the ukulele and a melodic steel guitar as they perform both ancient and modern Hula.
The package costs around $80, but with the combined educational, cultural, and culinary experience, the Ali’i Luau is worth it. You may call the PCC telephone number for reservations.
Visit the “Taj Mahal of the Pacific.”
Another famous North Shore landmark is the Laie Hawaii Temple of The Church of Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Dedicated in 1919, the temple was the church’s first, outside the continental US. The tranquility of the place should be enough reason for it to be included in your sightseeing itinerary. It also has a replica--built from marble block--of the Christus statue by Thorvaldsen. You can get to the place via the free tram tour from the Polynesian Cultural Center to Laie. Guests are allowed on the temple grounds, but only members of the church may actually get inside the temple.
Lose yourself in one of the world’s largest mazes and cool down with a Dole Whip.
To tourists, the Dole Plantation is pineapple heaven and home to one of the world’s largest mazes based on Guinness Book of Records. Each path is 1.7 miles in length. Meshed with each other, they form a confusing playground, which both adults and children will surely enjoy. You can spend hours and hours finding your way through the maze, after which you can cool down with a frozen pineapple-flavored treat called the Dole Whip. To locals, the plantation seems to be a reminder of what the old Oahu looked like in its plantation glory days, which brought in waves and waves of migrant laborers to whom Hawaii’s colorful cultural tapestry is attributed.
Walking around the place is also a treat for knowledge junkies, as snippets of how Jim Dole created a name in the pineapple industry are displayed in some areas. Another thing that you’ll get to do only in this place is to pick your own pineapple. Although picking pineapples is prohibited in the Hawaiian Islands, visitors may do so at the Dole Plantation. The staff will also help tourists with the paperwork, if they want to bring their pineapples through airport security and home. The plantation is a 10-minute drive from the Hale’iwa Town.
Gallop on a horse through the scenic Waimea Valley.
The North Shore is not just about surfing and water sports. Horseback riding is also a popular activity for those who simply want to enjoy the panorama and experience the rustic life of the countryside. You can ride your horse from valley to rolling hills, as you take in the breathtaking landscape of sea and mountains ahead. Let the fresh, salty breeze brush against your face and rumple your hair, as you look forward to a snack of exotic fruits from wild tropical orchards.
In the winter months, you may even catch a glimpse of whales off Waimea Bay. Now, that is quite a tale you can tell your friends. Many get to go whale-watching in Hawaii, but only a lucky few get to see them while on horseback. Happy Trails Hawaii provides quality horses for riders, even those as young as 6 years old. The maximum weight for riders is 235 lbs. Also, wearing closed-toe shoes is mandatory. For reservations, you may call Happy Trails at 808-638-7433.
Get up close and personal with North Shore sharks.
You think skydiving and gliding underneath a 20-foot tunnel wave is ho-hum? If your taste for adventure borders on the extreme, don’t worry. Join one of the shark tours on the North Shore and come face to face with sharks. You’ll be taken three miles off the North Shore coast to the international shark grounds. For the cage tour, the best part is that you’ll get to stay underwater for a good two hours. Hawaii Shark Encounters is open for cage tours. You may also see dolphins, sea turtles, and whales while you’re down there in the deep blue.