The best time to visit the North Shore of Oahu (updated 2021)

North Shore Oahu

What is the best time to visit the North Shore Oahu, you may ask? The north shore of Oahu is a popular gathering place for locals and tourists that want to get away from busy Honolulu to check out the local spots and fun attractions in the area.  There’s a full gamut of cool little towns, amazing snorkeling spots, surfing the North Shore beaches and lush tropical forests and waterfalls to explore in the North Shore of Oahu. The best time to visit the North Shore of Oahu really depends on whether you want beach time or just enjoy the big waves that occur at certain times of the year.

Why visit the North Shore of Oahu?

Visitors to Oahu that want to see a more local areas of the island should explore the North Shore of Oahu with beautiful azure ocean and white sandy beaches, a trendy and cool town of Haleiwa, delicious food venues along with visiting other local attractions.

Exploring the North Shore for the day or even longer if time permits will give you a better insight to local life, a slower pace, being outdoors and enjoying sun and fun in this wonderful area of the North Shore in Oahu.

Gorgeous north shore beaches in Oahu

When is the best time to visit the North Shore?

This depends on what your timeframe and interest are. If you want to see the big waves, surf competitions and watching the big drama, head out during the winter time when the swells are huge from December to February time frame. If you are into more easy snorkeling, beach fun and small waves to try and get your surfing on, then try going to the north shore areas around the late spring to early fall when the conditions are smoother and calm around all the beach areas.

Top things to do on Oahu’s north shore

If you’re looking for what to do on the North Shore, check out these cool attractions, beaches, lush landscapes and unique spots around Oahu’s north shore area below. You’ll find a lot of fun activities, adventure and outdoor experiences and some unique experiences to enjoy around this stunning coastal region of the island that everyone loves to explore.

Haleiwa town in the north shore beaches in Oahu

Visit the old and historic town of Haleiwa

The old cowboy town of Haleiwa on the North Shore of Hawaii has become more popular and upscale with indie shops, shopping centers and fun bar/restaurants to hang out in including all those surf/beach shops that cater to the surfing crowd here. Favorite places to hang out in include the local surf shops, boutique stores, The Red Dirt store and other cool art galleries on the main road. If you’re hungry check out the food truck courts around town that are cheap and fun to eat at.

Tip – visit to iconic Matsumoto Shave Ice for a delicious treat for the day on things to do in North Shore Oahu

Waimea valley and falls on the North Shore Oahu

Hike through lush forests & waterfall at Waimea Valley

Waimea Valley is a lush and tropical oasis in the North Shore filled with lush tropical forests, beautiful gardens, various reconstructed temples and villages and at the end, gorgeous Waimea waterfalls that you can swim up to. It is a spectacular visit and hike through different parts of the valley and up to the main waterfalls. If you have more than a few hours to enjoy nature, this is the place to go visit just across from Waimea Beach park.

Address – 59-864 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, Oahu, HI 96712-8411

Dole plantation in Oahu

Visit the Dole plantation gardens and tours

The Dole plantation is a fun tourist destination to visit and learn about the pineapple industry on Oahu and tour the gardens and smaller pineapple fields on the plantation.  There is a fun maze and tropical gardens to explore along with large visitor center and souvenir shop on site.

Check out this tour of the Dole Plantation and a North Shore island tour here for more details and prices.

Address of the Dole plantation – 64-1550 Kamehameha Hwy, Wahiawa, HI 96786

La'ie Hawaii Temple on the North Shore Oahu

Historic La’ie town and religious center

Located on the northeastern section of oahu is a beautiful Mormon temple and grounds open for the public to explore. You can visit the the La’ie Temple tourist center and ask for some guides to show you around the grounds and other areas of interest in these beautiful grounds and sharing the history of the local Laie community close by.

Address of the temple 55-600 Naniloa Loop, Laie, Oahu, HI 96762-2202

Bonzai Pipeline in the North Shore

Check out Big surf at Banzai Pipeline

No Oahu itinerary is complete without a visit to the famous Banzai Pipeline is active and a fun place to be in winter time. When the surf is up the surfing competition is at its peak, it’s time to head out to Pupuke’a and Sunset Beach park to see the big wave action. Even during the non-peak time frame, it is fun to just go out and see the locals enjoying the ocean surf at this well-known attraction in the North Shore area.

 Location – Sunset Beach Park, Pupuke a, Oahu, HI

Sharks cove in Oahu

Enjoy some family friendly snorkeling at Sharks Cove

A popular and kid friendly snorkeling spot located right next to the Pupuke a beach park. With diverse sea life, corals and tropical fish, it is a perfect place for beginners or younger children to wade, swim or snorkel in a protected cove area of the North Shore

Located at 59-711 Kamehameha Hwy, between Waimea Bay and the Banzai Pipeline, Pupuke a, Oahu, HI 96712-9404

Pupuke'a beach park

Pupu’kea Beach Park

The main beach park that has Sharks Cove on the far side of the beach, Pupuke’a has a sandy golden beach is a great place for swimming, snorkeling, tide pool exploring and sunsets. There’s even food trucks and super market across the street so you have easy take out food to bring with you to the beach.

Located at 59-727 Kamehameha Highway, North Shore, Haleiwa, Oahu, HI 96712

The rocks at Waimea beach park

Jump off the big rocks at Waimea beach park

One of the most popular and beautiful beaches on the North Shore, Waimea bay has one huge rock outcrop on the far side of the beach that local kids love to climb and jump off and do some crazy dives. It’s relatively safe if you start lower and do just simple jumps if you are looking for a fun and free adventure experience at Waimea Bay

Address – Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, Oahu, HI 96712-1304

Mukuleia Beach Park in the north shore

 Exploring Mukuleia Beach Park

The popular series lost was filmed here and during the week, you’ll have the beach area mostly to yourself along with a slew of Honu (green sea turtles) to share the beach area with. On a windy day, you’ll spot quite a few wind surfers or sky divers doing some initial training close by.  There are picnic tables but no lifeguards or public facilities at the beach park area.

Address – Farrington Highway, Waialua, Oahu, HI 96791

Have your pick of the food trucks & shopping at Hukilau Marketplace

Located next to the Polynesian Cultural Center on the North Shore of Hawaii is the Hukilau Marketplace with lots of great food trucks, eating venues and shopping/galleries to explore and find some cool souvenirs. if you’re in the area or exploring the Polynesian Cultural Center. Or just passing through and hungry, this is a perfect place to take a break and find some good grindz (food)

Address – 55-370 Kamehameha Hwy, Polynesian Cultural Center, Laie, Oahu, HI 96762-2113

Kahuku-Farms in Oahu

Check out Kahuku organic farms

A great place to visit for those interested in local farming and crops grown in the area, there is also tour that you can sign up for their grand tour by wagon on their farm to learn about the history of the farm and local community and serving the various markets around. There is also a nice café where you can order some wonderful smoothies or take out food or other farm goodies.

Located at 56-800 Kamehameha Hwy, Kahuku, Oahu, HI 96731-2302

Waialua Estate Coffee and Chocolate at Haleiwa

Experience Waialua Estate Coffee and Chocolate

There’s a cool old factory vibe at the Waialua estate and you can also sign up for a free tour that shares the coffee making and production process. They sell some delicious types of coffees and also try some local produced chocolate and other goodies that they sell on site.

Located at 67 Kupahu St, Waialua, Oahu, HI 96791

Matsumoto shave ice

Have a shave ice at famous Matsumoto Shave Ice

Located in Haleiwa town on the North Shore of Hawaii, the shave ice here is famous and really good! There’s always a line out the door so allocate some time to wait and then explore some of the cool galleries and main road shops at Haleiwa

Address – 66-087 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI 96712

Polynesian-Cultural-center in Oahu

Enjoy the Polynesian Cultural Center

One of the most popular attractions in the North Shore of Hawaii, the Polynesian Cultural Center is 42 acres of 6 authentic Polynesian villages of Tahitian, Samoan, Hawaiian, Tongan, Fiji and New Zealand, cultural programs, an expansive luau and a dynamic evening show. A great experience for families or first-time visitors to the island and enjoy a totally Polynesian experience.

Check out the admission to the Polynesian Cultural Center and luau here for more details and current prices.

Address – 55-370 Kamehameah Hwy., Laie, Oahu, HI 96762-2113

Giovanni's food truck in Haleiwa

Eat at any of the delicious shrimp and food trucks

The North Shore is famous for the shrimp trucks that feature the local shrimp farmed in the area and create a delicious garlicky shrimp and rice plate lunch dish. The most famous called Giovanni’s is the signature truck to visit, even though there are a lot of cookie cutter versions located all around the North Shore area. Stop here for some yummy grindz (food) and you’re looking for something delicious to eat that is local. There are quite a few other food trucks congregated around a food truck zone in Haleiwa where Giovanni’s is also located.

Address for Giovanni’s truck – 66-472 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI 96712

exploring the north shore of Oahu

Other fun North Shore Tour Experiences

If you are looking for more thrills and adventure experiences to the North Shore, check out all these fantastic group tours below.

North Shore tour with a snorkel swim in Hanauma Bay

North Shore Zip Line adventure and farm tour

A two hour shark dive in the North Shore

Where to stay in the North Shore area

There are nice hotels, Bnb’s and air BnB’s, hostels and camping available to cover different needs to stay in the area. Here are some of the recommended hotels and boutiques in the area with great ratings and reviews.

Courtyard Marriott Northshore – located adjacent to the Polynesian Cultural Center – check the reviews and photos on Trip Advisor and latest prices here.

Turtle Bay Resort – 4 star accommodations on the North Shore. Check the reviews and photos on Trip Advisor and latest prices here.

Kalani Private Lodging – boutique lodging located in the Haleiwa area. Check the reviews and photos on Trip Advisor and latest prices here.

Check out these other posts on visiting Oahu

Enjoy a day on the beach at Waimea Bay

Top things to do in Waikiki now

Explore and Hike Waimea Valley

Visit Haleiwa town on the North Shore

Hike to Waimea Falls on the North Shore

Hang out in Hawaii Kai in East Oahu

Visit to Kailua Kona on the east side

Virtual tours of Oahu

Free or cheap things to do in Oahu

A Diamond Head Hike in Honolulu

Family friendly beaches in Oahu

Top things to do in Honolulu

Horseback Riding in Hawaii

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Conclusion on what to do on the North Shore, Oahu

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  1. Jeff & Crystal Bryant

    A visit to the North Shore of Oahu is definitely on our travel bucket list. Thanks for sharing your experience there, as it showcased a few spots we didn’t know about. Now we are all fired up again.

    • emorata

      The North Shore area of Oahu is really amazing and there’s so much to see and do in this beautiful and unspoiled area of Oahu island – hope you can visit often.

  2. Larry Sampson

    One of my favorite places of all. The North Shore of Oahu. I am returning for a fourth time in November.

    • emorata

      Awesome, glad you get to visit regularly, any new places not mentioned here?

  3. Elaine Masters

    Boy, did this take me back. My family spent a week on the island about 7 years ago and did most of your top suggestions. I adored the food trucks and the Waimea Beach. The Polynesian show was fun if a bit touristy but a great glimpse of the original culture.

    • emorata

      There’s so much to see and do in the North Shore and fun to explore all these wonderful attractions and must visit places in Oahu



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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.