Introduction to the North Shore of Oahu
Facts, history, visitor attractions, and general
information about the north shore of the island of
Oahu in Hawaii. Information about the area from
Laie on the northeast side of Oahu to Kaena Point on the
Known all over the world as the Surfing Capital, the
North Shore of Oahu
spans from Laie to Kaena Point.
Laie is home to the Mormon Temple, Brigham
Young University and the
Polynesian Cultural Center, Hawaii’s most popular
paid attraction. Roughly 38 miles from Waikiki,
Laie Point is a great place
to view the North Shore.
Down the road from Laie is
Turtle Bay, known as a prime spot for whale
watching and home to one of Oahu’s most isolated and unvisited beaches.
Starting at the Makahoa Point, adjacent to
Malaekahana State Park, the shore
stretches five miles and often has no footprints from prior visitors. West
of Turtle Bay is idyllic Kawela Bay, perfect for swimming with a sandy bottom
and a coconut-lined crescent shaped beach.
Kahuku, an old plantation-town camp that was established in 1890
when sugar was Hawaii’s largest single source of income. Still in existence
at the century-old sugar mill are three of the original steam engines. One
dates back to the Civil War and all are in working condition. Surrounding
the mill is a shopping complex and close by is the world-famous
Shrimp Trucks where visitors have a chance to taste delicious
From August to February, bird lovers can tour one of Hawaii’s few remaining
James Campbell Nature Wildlife Refuge. On the free tour, one may
encounter endangered native water birds, as well as migratory birds from
Alaska and Siberia.
Beyond Kahuku is the gateway to Oahu’s famed surfing beaches. Banzai Pipeline,
Ehukai Beach and Waimea Bay are famous locations that both the amateur and
professional surfer are well aware. Many sites are visible from Kamehameha
Highway, yet some remain known only by word of mouth from the local surfers.
During the winter, massive waves pound the North Shore of Oahu, thrilling
visitors and kamaaina who come to watch one of nature’s greatest spectacles.
During the summer, the roaring ocean turns into a calm body of water ideal
for fishing, diving, snorkeling and swimming.
Past Sunset Beach on
Pupukea Road is
Puu o Mahuka Heiau State Park, a national
monument and state historic site, and Oahu’s largest Hawaiian heiau (temple).
Believed to have been constructed in the eighteenth century, this heiau was
known as an advantageous place for a chiefess to give birth.
Past Pupukea Road lies
Waimea Bay, an excellent spot for spectacular surf
watching. Across the way are tropical gardens filled with native flora and
Waimea Valley Audubon Center, where any outdoor enthusiast or plant
lover could spend an entire day and wind their way to a beautiful waterfall.
Further west is the historic town of
Haleiwa, the quintessential beach and
surf town on Oahu’s North Shore. This quaint locale is a mecca for beach goers,
surfers, fishing enthusiasts, craftsmen, artists, clothiers, visitors and
kamaaina. The prevailing architecture style in Haleiwa is paniolo
(Hawaiian cowboy) style with many of the structures built in the early 1900s.
The rustic charm of Haleiwa ("house of the frigate bird") remains, although
its roadside stands and hand-painted signs now compete with restaurants
and surf shops.
Next to Haleiwa is
Waialua, the old sugar mill town that has survived by
moving away from sugar and carving another niche market. Waialua Coffee
is only grown on Oahu and uses farmlands that once produced sugar. Next
to the rusting mill in the center of town is the columned, stately former
Bank of Hawaii building. It is now the locally famous Sugar Bar, still
the place to be on Sunday afternoons on the North Shore.
Travel down the coastline and see the uncrowded beaches of
which many families use as a picnic retreat and escape from urban life.
Devotees of polo attend weekend matches at the Mokuleia Polo Field. For
the adventurous, Dillingham Airfield and Gliderport hosts one of the most
scenic views of the majestic mountains on Oahu as the gliders soar 5,000
The fertile lands of Mokuleia, "isle of abundance", once supported a
large population of farmers and fishermen. Ironwood trees are a common
sight in this area because the sugar plantations planted and used them
as windbreaks. Mokuleia also had several dairies including Dillingham
The farthest point west on Oahu is Kaena ("the heat"). Aptly named,
this area appears almost barren and desolate.
Kaena Point is no longer
accessible, even to four-wheel-drive vehicles, but is a great place for
a leisurely hike. One of the state’s best examples of coastal lowland
and dune ecosystems, it was made a nature reserve in 1983.
The old Oahu Railway Train rounded Kaena Point and stopped briefly to
allow passengers to take snapshots of the beautiful Waianae Mountains
before continuing eastward toward the sugar fields of Waialua.
In 1913, first-class passengers paid $2.80 each for a roundtrip ticket
to the sugar plantation town of Waialua and the nearby elegant Haleiwa
Hotel. Oahu’s north coast was an endless cane field rustling in the
trade wind, and the Waialua Mill smokestack stood out against a blue sky.
During the winter, temperatures reach highs of 79°F and dip to 60°F. During
the summer, temperatures range from 86°F to 66°F. For more information
about Oahu weather forecasts, please call (808) 973-4381. For surf
report information, please call (808) 596-7873.
Sightseeing and Visitor Attractions
Article provided courtesy of the Oahu Visitor's Bureau
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