THE NORTH SHORE OF OAHU | MUST DO ADVENTURES HAWAII NORTH SHORE
The North Shore of Oahu is home to some of the best surf in the entire world. During the winter months, the waves can reach over 40 feet and sometimes over 60. The competitions for surfing will start later into fall and go all the way until the end of winter. If you happen to be on the island during this time, you need to make it a point to get your booty up there to see the epic waves of Hawaii. If you are not going to be there during this time, have no fear, there is an endless amount of adventure you can have on the North Shore of Oahu. Read on to find out more.
How To Get There?
The North Shore of Oahu is only about a 45 minutes drive from Waikiki, despite what your waiter told you, it’s not that far. You have a few different options on how to get up there. The cheapest way would be the City Bus, better known as “The Bus.” For $5.50 you can get a round trip ride up and back from Waikiki. Do not plan on sticking around too long as the ride will take you almost 3 hours there and back. Be honest. Your time is worth more. So why waste it? Taking an Uber to the North Shore is about the same as a round trip ticket to Maui. And that’s only one way. There and back will run you about $120. You will only get one stop with this ride, and you’ll be lucky to find an Uber for the ride back.
Our personal choice is taking a tour with a local company. We hear that the gang over at Oahu Photo Tour has an epic experience of the North Shore for only $120. Now, that’s a deal. Check out the details HERE.
You have a few options to try if you are going to go to the North Shore. If you have any questions, contact us.
Fun In The Water
Depending on what time of year you come to the North Shore might determine the type of water activities you will be able to do. No matter the skill level, you will always have something fun you can do in the water.
Take Surf Lesson
Throughout the year, there will be surf to ride. It might not always be 10-20 feet, but even if it is, the surf instructors will find an easy place for you to surf on the North Shore. The preferred location is going to be a surf break called Chun’s Reef. This surf spot is a great beginner spot that is perfect for longboards. If you are a little more experienced, maybe skip the lesson and rent your board from Surf and Sea. The shop has been around 1000 years, and they have everything you need for a day on the waves.
At the same place listed above, you can rent stand up paddleboards. On the days where the surf is too big, try taking a paddleboard up the Haleiwa river for a lovely relaxing time on the river. You might even spot out some turtles up the river. Stand Up Paddle (SUP) is a pretty easy thing to do as you don’t even have to stand up, you could sit and paddle around.
Snorkel Sharks Cove
Do not be afraid of its name as it is probably one of the best spots to snorkel on the island. Well, that might not be true, but if the guys at Oahu Photography Tours told you where those spots were, they might be killed and fed to the fishes. Then they couldn’t take any epic photo tours, so we will leave it at that. Make sure you understand the conditions before you enter and also know here you will get out. Big tip, do some breathing exercises before you start. Doing this will help you breathe much better in the water and maybe be able to swim through some of the caves. The spot to find turtles here is out to the right, wink wink. Have fun, and don’t get cut up on the reef.
Swim With Sharks
Get out of the cage and swim with those beautiful sharks. We know that the cage seems better, but really, it’s not. The waves bounce the cage around, and you will have lousy visibility with the bars in the way. The out of the cage experience is so much better. Once we took a family out on a photo tour on the North Shore, and they asked to do this. They were so happy that we suggested doing the carefree and early in the morning. If you happen to get but, at least you will have an epic story to tell the next time you are out at the bar, right 🙂
Sail On A Catamaran
Take a three-hour tour of the coast of the North Shore. During winter, you will be swayed back and forth with the waves rolling in and the slight coolness of the weather. You will also be able to look for whales. In the summer, try to spot out the Dolphins swimming around.
No matter what time of year you come, we recommend taking the sunset cruise, of course, after the sunset photo tour you take with Oahu Photo Tours. The colors of the ocean and the light hitting the shore is fantastic. You can see rainbows, whales and maybe some other marine life. Make sure you bring a jacket and ask if you can bring some mixers onboard. It makes the cruise that much better. We also recommend booking in advance as they will most likely get booked out pretty early. Everyone wants to do this, and there is not that much space.
If you are here in the winter months, you must do this. The chance to see whales jumping out of the water is very high, and you will never forget this. To see a 40,000-pound whale get its entire body out of the water will take your breath away. Every time we see this happen on a photo tour, we freak out. And that’s from land, imagine seeing this from the boat, up close and personal! Wow! If you can not make it on a boat, go to sharks cove to see the whales.
The North Shore has some great hikes everyone can enjoy. Being more on the Leeward side of the island, you won’t find anything too challenging to do. The views are worth the leg work. Check out the hike we at Oahu Photo Tours recommend.
Probably the most accessible hike on the North Shore is the only “legal” waterfall hike you can do up here. While this might not be considered a hike to most people, you are walking, and it’s in the woods, soo … we say its a hike. You have to pay the entrance fee to get in, but it is totally worth it. The plants and flowers you will see along the way will make the hike that much more enjoyable. If you are lucky, you will spot out some endemic birds too. The valley opens up at 9, so we recommend getting there early so you can enjoy as much of it without the crowds. If you happen to get to the falls with no one else around, lucky you. You will still need to wear the life jacket required by the lifeguards. Don’t complain about it, wear it and float in the water, thinking about how amazing Hawaii is. Have fun and take lots of photos.
We can’t recommend this hike more. This hike has to be our favorite hike on the North Shore. The amount of wildlife you can see while hiking is going to be the most out of any walk on the island. You do not even have to hike uphill for this one. It’s so darn easy. A baby could do it. Especially if they are being carried by their parents out. Whether you access this hike from the north or west side, it doesn’t matter. What matters is you respect the landscape and the animals along the way. If you happen to take the north route, you will be able to find cool shells along the way in the various tide pools dried up with the tides. Remember to look inside and make sure nothing is living in there if you decide to take a shell or two. When you reach the end, you will have to walk through the fence blocking all dogs and other predators from harming the nesting birds. Manly the Albatross birds in the winter are what the state is trying to protect. Watch your head as they will swoop so low it will feel like they are going to hit you. Hike far out to the marker at the point. Look around to see if you can spot out some Hawaiian Monk seals sleeping on the rocks. Keep your distance because Monk Seals have been known to breathe fire and kill anyone that gets within 50 feet of them. So we’ve been told. Remember to tag Oahu Photo Tours on Instagram if you hike out here @oahuphototours.
Looking for that peace sign hike everyone posts about online? Well, too bad. Haha, JK. This hike is another easy one that you can bust out in less than an hour but remember to respect the land and try to pick up some trash along the way. We all have to do our part here. Start the hike at the Sunset Elementry school in the parking lot and head up the hill. The beginning will get you heart pumping, but it won’t last long. Once you make it to the top, it’s pretty much a foothill hike from here. You might be fooled by the first pillbox but keep going till you reach the peace sign. Pretty sure you will not be the only ones here, but if you wait for a while, you might be for a few minutes. Take in the view and see what all you can spot out. Good chances you will see the whales in the winter. The end is also an excellent spot for sunset, but remember, you have to hike back in the dark. Don’t park like an idiot cause you might not have a car when you get back.
What Do You Eat?
You know you have heard about all the garlic shrimp on the north shore, but have you heard of the pizza or the acai bowls? How about the sushi or, better yet, the burgers? Read on to find out more.
Our guide Kurt has found his favorite spot to grab a bite to eat on the North Shore Tour. He loves the taste of the wood-fired pizza Jaxs pumps out. It truly is the best pizza on the North Shore. If you head into this spot, look above the kitchen and check out the sweet photos taken by our owner, Alex Wilson. Classic Oahu Photo Tours photos and classic wood-fired pizza. What else could you ask for? Um, maybe a special discount. That’s right, everyone that joins our North Shore PhotoTour get 20% off every pizza. Oh, man, you just got sold.
Teddys Bigger Burger
Time and time again, we get people from our tours thanking us for the food stops we make on photo tours. This spot has to get the most feedback out of any other places we visit. People love Teddys Bigger Burgers on the north shore. For many reasons, of course, but I bet since they can wash it down with a tasty local beer is probably one of the main reasons. The sizes and options you can choose from can not be found anywhere else on the island. One essential tip, when the line is long, you can order from the bar and have them bring it to you. That alone can save about 20 minutes on a busy day.
Beat Box Cafe
Looking for the veggie options? The beatbox is where it’s at. You might even run into some local superstars like Jack Johnson and Jordy Smith when eating your mushroom burger. Staying healthy is one key component to surfing and living the Hawaii life on the North Shore. Take a look at what they have to offer, and you just might never go back to meat again.
We can’t leave out the classic Haleiwa Joes from the list. The best Mai Tais and fish tacos on the North shore can be found right here. While we do not partake in drinking on any photo tour we do, we will tell our guests to have a stop for happy hour if we have time on the photo tours. The location of the old Haleiwa hotel, you can sit on the lanai and enjoy the cool fresh ocean breeze while slurping down your Mai Tai. We did a Mai Tai test a while ago and hands down, Haleiwa Joes wins the prize.
Best Spots For Sunset
The sunset is already amazing. Now you have to choose where you want to be during this time of day when up on the North Shore. It really doesn’t matter, as long as you are out enjoying those last few minutes of sunlight. Grab a bottle of wine, a poke bowl from Foodland, or a bottle of water for that hike you are about to do and have a great sunset.
The name says it all. Sunset Beach will be the best spot to watch the sun dip into the ocean all throughout the year. depending on where you are standing on the North Shore, sometimes throughout the year, the sun will dip behind the Waianae mountain range and set into the ocean that will not be visible by you. Sunset beach has a massive sandy area where you can enjoy a spot with your group and watch the sunset, waves break, and maybe whales jump. If you look to the right, you will see a famous palm tree that hangs over the beach. The Sunset Beach palm tree is over 100 years, and they ask that you do not go on it. If you are caught walking on the tree you will go to jail for 100 years, so we recommend not touching it. Have fun at Sunset Beach.
Probably our favorite photo spot for sunset. Mainly because we can capture the best photo here, with the reflective tide pools, Oahu Photo Tours makes this the sunset spot of choice on our tours. Great for panoramics using your iPhone or wide-angles with the big camera. The waters in the Summer are so calm. You might spot a turtle out. Maybe a sailboat will pull into the little cove too. This spot for sunset is pretty epic, and should not be missed if you are up there. Park right in front and walk over to the right around the trees for more of an adventure spot.
Another great spot to watch the sunset is Waimea Bay. In the summer, you can watch the sun go down to the right of the Jump Rock when standing right behind it. This is a cool place to video the people jumping off the rock and the sunset. You can go all the way over to the right side and probably be all alone if that’s what you are looking for. Parking might be a pain in the but so plan for that. See if you can find the lookout right above the bay. Hint, look for Foodland.
What Else To Do On The North Shore?
You are on a roll. With many things to do on this list, do you need more? Yes! Of course, there are a few things we can not leave out of this list of things to do on the North Shore of Hawaii. Your friends at Oahu Photography Tours got your back!
Oh man, these dang turtles again. Look, everyone wants to see these little guys, but in doing so, the traffic is mind-blowing. The first thing we are going to tell you is to be mindful of crossing the street. Wait for an opening and then cross. If you see other groups just sitting there, ask them to cross as well. People live in this area and hate the traffic. When you make it across the street, look for the hoards of people grouped up, that’s where the turtles most likely are. Use your zoom lens to get close, not your feet. These turtles come to the beach to rest and regain their strength to eat more in the vast sea, so they do not want to be bothered by us. Ask someone in the blue shirt to give you more info about that specific turtle. A lot of them are known to those volunteers, and they could give you great advice.
The North Shore is home to the biggest surfing contest in the world. From the Vans Triple Crown, which includes the Banzai Pipe Master, to the Eddie and the Back Door Shoot Out, the winter has it all. You can follow WSL on Instagram or just follow @oahuphototours for all the updates. If you happen to be here when The Eddie goes, a competition that only occurs when the waves are 40 feet, make sure you know that 50,000 other people will head up to the North shore and the traffic is out of control. Do not miss those contests if you are here. You will never see anything like it again.
The old sugar mill of Haleiwa is now a soap factory. Sometimes we go here on our North Shore Tour and take you into the factory. The smell alone is worth the stop. They put all types of fruits and flowers in the soaps. Also around the area are surfboard shops. Check out Two Crows shop. They have a pretty cool design inside.
Wrapping things up, we can not leave out the art in Haleiwa. Our favorite spot it Wy’s Gallery and Clark littles shops. They are right next to each other but offer completely two different types of art. You will have to see for yourself to know what we mean. There are a lot of other cool local shops with local artists, so stop in and see if anything catches your eye. If you buy anything, make sure to tell them the boys at Oahu Photo Tours told you about it 🙂
THE NORTH SHORE OF OAHU | MUST DO ADVENTURES ON THE NORTH SHORE
The North Shore of Oahu is a world on its own. Ancient Hawaiian villages turned into sugar fields and now surf shops, you have to make this a part of your vacation. If you want to hitch a ride with us on our North Shore Tour and have a fun day, then check out what we have to offer on our tours page. No matter what time of year you come, you will have a great time visiting this historic little surfers paradise. We hope we helped out your vacation a little more with the post. Tag us in all your photos on Instagram @oahuphototours.