North Shore Beaches in Oahu (sun, swim, snorkel and surf fun)

These North Shore beaches will inspire you to just have a complete beach day in the area to swim, snorkel, surf or do some adventure fun. Or better yet just sit on the beach and enjoy the beautiful beach area and gorgeous ocean views surrounding you.

It’s easy enough to just do a day trip along the North Shore and pick up some favorite spots you read about, but why not stretch it out and really live a slower and easier pace and enjoy the place, fun attractions and activities to keep you busy in the area.

Visiting the North Shore of Oahu is on a different pace and lifestyle than the busy Waikiki and Honolulu vibe and definitely worth going out here to explore Haleiwa, Waimea falls and other local hang out spots in the area.

If you are touring around the North Shore and looking for the perfect beaches to hang out, snorkel or surf, check out all the local favorite beaches below.

Explore these North Shore Beaches in Oahu

So, what’s the difference in the North Shore Beaches during summer time versus winter time?

Well summer time is really fun when you want to be in the water and the beach areas and ocean are relatively calm and quiet compared to the winter months when the winds, swells and wave action is quite the opposite.

The entire area of the North Shore comes alive with giant waves and crazy surf action that is pretty much relegated to expert surfers. Which is fine if you crave that adrenaline rush and want to watch all this daredevil action especially when they have all the big surfing events come into town for some big wave action like the Bonzai Pipeline that happens in winter time.

North Shore FAQ details

Can you swim at the beaches in the North Shore?

Yes, you can swim mostly during the summer to early fall time when the water is calmer for swimming, snorkeling or doing some water sports in the area. The winter season from November to April is very dangerous for any water activity unless you are local and compete in the major surfing events in the area.

Should you stay at the North Shore?

If you want to slow it down to a more local and quiet pace, then staying on the North Shore is a nice place to hang out and enjoy the local vibe. Hotels and housing here is limited to inns and Air Bnbs and there is one large resort at Turtle Bay.

How far is the drive from Honolulu area to the North Shore?

If you time driving between rush hour, the drive can take around 45 minutes direct to Haleiwa and North Shore areas. If you get stuck in traffic, it can easily take 2.5 hours just to get there, so try to time it right and drive counter clock wise towards Haleiwa area first.

So, what’s the difference in the North Shore summer time versus winter time?

Check out these fantastic 10 North shore beaches to explore

There are 10 fabulous beaches that you can explore here in the North Shore of Oahu. Most are very popular and easy to visit while a few are more local and off the beaten path. If you are looking for a fun beach day on the north shore, check out all these fantastic beaches to explore in the area.

Waimea Bay

1. Waimea Bay

One of the most popular spots for beach, bay, adventure and fantastic beach facilities, lifeguards and even food trucks in the area so you don’t have to go far for cheap eats at the beach. The star attraction at Waimea Bay is the Rock on the far-left hand side of the beach that every local kid wants to climb and jump off into the ocean from different heights. Even the rock has some cool tunnels and caves carved out and fun to explore within safe distance from the jumping crowds.

Tip – Waimea Bay is very popular with locals and visitors and the parking lot fills up early so get here early in the morning or later in the day when everyone starts to head out.

Check out our post on visiting Waimea Bay here for more inspiration and images.

Check out this tour highlight of Visiting Waimea Bay

Read more visiting Waimea falls here for more inspiration.

Laniakea Beach aka Turtle Beach

2. Laniakea Beach aka Turtle Beach

You’ll really find turtles lounging at Laniakea Beach which is well known as Turtle Beach to locals. The area is very rocky making it a perfect spot for turtles to enjoy and stay away from crowds flocking to the sandy beaches.

Turtle beach is also a fantastic spot to hang out and watch the daily sunset experiences that are always impressive to do in the area. Since the green sea turtles are a protected species in Hawaii, you should maintain a distance of about 10 feet from them at all times because they are not adjusted to human viruses and germs.

Read our post on visiting Laniakea beach and what to see in the area.

The turtle scene here at Laniakea Beach is amazing, check out the highlights below

Sunset Beach

3. Sunset Beach

Another wonderful white sand beach to enjoy on the North Shore with gorgeous coastline views of the. During the summer time the beach scene and ocean is relatively calm and safe to swim in and snorkeling is also a fun thing to do on the beach. But in the winter time, this area has all the big waves that people visit to see the massive surf and surfers on the beach and swimming needless to say is extremely dangerous to do during the winter months.

As the name of the beach states, Sunset beach is a perfect place to visit and hang out for some fabulous sunsets in the area. The beach scene is expansive with beautiful sandy beach and relatively smooth waves in summer time to visit and enjoy.

Check out our post to visiting Sunset Beach here for more information and images.

Check out this video tour of the beach area below for inspiration

Kuilima Cove

4. Kuilima Cove

Located next to the Turtle Bay resort, Kuilima Cove is a beautiful white sand beach that is fun to swim and snorkel and protected from the big surf that occurs in the area during the winter season but perfect for spring to summer visits. There are some public access areas to get to Kuilima cove and you do not have to be a guest at the Turtle Bay resort to visit the beach area.

The beach is open to the public with swimming and snorkeling access, there are no life guards on the beach area but facilities and showers. You can also dine at the restaurants at Turtle Bay if you want nicer dining venues in the area.

Check out Kuilima Cove located next to the Turtle Bay Resort

Haleiwa beach

5. Haleiwa beach

A fantastic beach park close to Haleiwa town and it is a perfect place for easy swims and even learning to surf in the area. There are picnic tables, park area and restroom facilities that you can use and enjoy a day at the beach at Haleiwa, there’s even sporting activities like kayaking and paddling you can do on the river close to the Haleiwa bridge that is calm and easy to have some watersport

There are nice places to hang out at the beach park, play ground with swings and grassy areas and nice beach area along with swimming and snorkeling fun out in the water.

Check out the beach park overview here

Ehukai Beach / Banzai Pipeline

6. Ehukai Beach / Banzai Pipeline

Ehukai beach is where the famous Banzai Pipeline is located outside the reef areas of the beach. During the summer time Ehukai is calm and good snorkeling and swimming fun and the beach area is quite nice and located next to Waimea Bay with lots of facilities that you can use including the parking area.

Most visitors come to see the Banzai Pipeline in winter time when the swells bring in the pipeline effects that pro surfers come to practise and also participate in the main competition events that draws visitors from around the world to see and experience the best surfing show.

The best viewing area to see the beach and pipeline from above is at the Ehukai Pillbox area where you have a vantage point of the entire coastal area from above.

Check out our post on visiting Ehukai / Banzai Pipeline here for more inspiration and images.

Here’s a look at the Banzai Pipeline in winter time below

sharks cove or Pupukea beach park
sharks cove or Pupukea beach park

7. Pupukea Beach Park

Pupukea Beach Park is where you will find the popular Sharks Cove which is one of the best snorkeling areas around the North Shore to explore.

This area is safe and family friendly with tidepools and lagoon areas you can explore the many corals, tropical fish, turtles, lava tunnels and other fun parts of the beach park area.

The area has sandy beaches but around the tidepools are mostly rocky lava rocks so wear your water shoes so you don’t scrape yourself entering into the pool areas.

There are food trucks in the area with tables so you have some food choices in the area before or after your snorkel experience.

Tip – be careful of approaching the tidepool areas, there are many rocks and corals in the area.

Check out the tidepool fun at Sharks Cove below

Turtle Bay Beach

8. Turtle Bay Beach

Located at the Turtle Bay Resort, this mostly man made beach is well maintained at the resort area and a nice beach to hang out in and also grab a cocktail or some pupu’s if you are hungry and want to hang out at the Resort afterwards.

The sandy beach is crescent shaped and beautiful to enjoy some beach time fun at the resort.

Polo Beach in the North Shore

9. Polo Beach

Located on the most northwest section in a quiet neighborhood, Polo Beach is definitely off the beaten path and more local. With just a few parking spots in the immediate parking area, you access the beach through a narrow easement which opens up into a narrow beach area that goes off for a long distance in both directions.

Polo Beach is quiet and fronts beautiful aqua colored and clear ocean water that is beautiful and easy to enter to swim, snorkel or even surf if the waves pick up later in the day.

Kewala Bay in the North Shore

10. Kewala Bay

Another quiet and off the beaten path beach area, Kewala Bay is a beautiful bay that is gorgeous but rarely has crowds visiting this scenic bay.

Parking to the beach park is across the highway in dirt areas and access is through a short forested trail and passing a historic and gorgeous banyan grove. You get to the bay area with beautiful sandy beach and nice and easy water to access. This is a perfect beach area for families and all age groups to enjoy and the lack of crowds makes it an easy place to enjoy a beach day without the tourist crowds that are visiting some of the more popular attractions in the North Shore.

Tip: Next to Kewala bay is a fantastic farm stand area called the Kulima farm stands with shave ice, local fruits and other food products and snacks you can purchase in this local family farm.

Other fun things to check out in the North Shore area

After all the beach fun you can do a host of other fun things around the area including our favorite things below

Visit Haleiwa town on the North Shore
Walking around Haleiwa town

Visit Haleiwa town

This local country town in the North Shore has gotten hip and trendy with fun boutique stores, cool hang out spots and restaurants to try and those popular food truck courts that area easy to find your favorite grinds to eat. Haleiwa is casual and relaxed but maintains that historic plantation vibe that still keeps the fun look and friendly nature of the area.

Waimea Falls and botanical gardens
HIke to Waimea Falls

Waimea Falls and botanical gardens

This family friendly botanical garden has a beautiful waterfall area that you can hike to and actually swim in with life guards stationed here. The gardens are fun to explore and there is also a mock village to show you what ancient Hawaiian culture and daily life was all about in this valley area.

Check out our post to visiting Waimea Falls and botanical Gardens here for more information and images.

Where to stay at the North Shore area

Where to stay at the North Shore area

If you are planning on staying here in the North Shore there are a few hotels and inns worth visiting here along with Air Bnbs to stay in the area.

Turtle Bay Resort

The only resort area in North Shore with over 1300 acres of property and beach area to enjoy with fantastic rooms and amenities to enjoy on site.

Courtyard by Marriott at La’ie

Located next to the Polynesian Cultural center with pool area, beach area, comfortable rooms and amenities.

More adventure experiences in the North Shore

More adventure experiences in the North Shore

If you are looking for more fun adventure activities to do here on the North Shore, check out all these fun experiences you can do in the area.

Full day tour of the North Shore

Explore the top attractions and places to visit including the towns and beaches on a bus tour from Waikiki area

North Shore Surf Lesson

Join a small group lesson to learn the basics on the sand and water. This includes equipment and surfing instruction

Shark Cage experience

Meet your guide on this small group tour and boat to a cage area and get up close with local sharks in a safe setting.

Horseback riding ocean front in the North Shore

Experience this small group tour at a beachfront trail and ride through some ocean front trails and enjoy the local landscape and tour.

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North Shore beaches
North Shore beaches

Check out these other posts on visiting Haleiwa and the Northshore area

Check out these other posts on visiting the Northshore area

Visit the North Shore of Oahu and places to explore

Explore Haleiwa town and surrounding area.

Beach day at Waimea Bay for swim, surf and snorkeling fun

Explore and hike Waimea Valley

Waimea Falls experience

Free or cheap things to do in Oahu

Explore Kailua in East Oahu

Enjoy a day on the beach at Lanikai

Family friendly beaches in Oahu

Have you visited the North Shore beaches

Have you visited the North Shore beaches?

Any that were your favorite to visit or any other tips to share? Please share them in the comments below thanks.

Enjoyed your visit here or any other tips to share? Please share on the comments below.

Conclusion to visiting the North Shore Beaches

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Noel Morata this Hawaii Life

Meet Noel Morata

Noel Morata is the creator of This Hawaii Life along with a small team of contributors. Living on the Big Island and traveling regularly to the neighbor islands, Noel and team actively search and share the latest information and updates to Hawaii travel, food, adventure and various lifestyle activities on the islands for your planning and vacation. Aloha and enjoy This Hawaii Life.