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Next stop, North Shore
by Vanessa Beckett, Project editor
Tired of life in Waikiki’s “concrete jungle”? Tired of man-made beaches and Jack-in-the-Box burgers for lunch? Sick of tourists and heavy traffic? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you need to rally up your posse and make the trek out to the North Shore for a day.
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The North Shore of O‘ahu stretches from the quaint shopping town of Haleiwa along a beautiful seven-mile-long coastline all the way to Sunset Beach, infamous for its big waves. Life on the North Shore moves at a slower pace, with an “anything goes” attitude. Surfing, diving, and shell hunting are the main concerns for people on this relaxed coast.

If you’re ready to check out a different side of the island, here is a local’s guide with everything you need to know for a fun day on the North Shore.


Breakfast: Café Haleiwa
Student-friendly low prices and huge, delicious portions make this the best place for breakfast on the North Shore. Café serves a combination of traditional breakfast foods mixed in with Mexican breakfast specialties. Huge portions of pancakes, french toast, eggs, homefries, and breakfast meats adorn the menu for the less adventurous breakfast-eater.

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For those who crave the Mexican taste, Café has special items like the “breakfast in a barrel” (a breakfast burrito encasing eggs, homefries, veggies, and salsa) or the breakfast quesadilla, with your choice of meats and eggs. All of this for an average price of $5.
Lunch: Waialua Bakery
After your generous breakfast at Café, you’ll probably want a lighter lunch. Located in Haleiwa, Waialua Bakery offers the ideal in lighter-fare, without denting your wallet. You can choose from one of their smoothie options, or you can design your own, using fresh fruits and frozen yogurt. Combine this with a Bakery sandwich, that includes your choice of bread, cheese, meat, and veggies. For dessert, Bakery has delicious home-made cookies, muffins, and poundcake. You can get a sandwich, smoothie, and a cookie all for under $7 (and without clogging your arteries!).
Dinner: Haleiwa Joe’s
For dinner on the North Shore, seafood is a must-have. Haleiwa Joe’s offers one of the best seafood selections on the island, with a variety of fresh island fish, crab, lobster, and shrimp. For the non-seafood eater, the menu also has several chicken and steak entrees, along with a large selection of salads. Joe’s has a bar for those who are over 21 and a beautiful night-time view of the harbor for everyone!


Chun’s Reef
For the beginning surfer, Chun’s Reef has an easily caught, slow-moving wave that is a good learning ground (or should we say water). There is also a nice swimming area and an expanse of sand for those dedicated beach loungers. Sorry, there are no bathrooms, showers, or lifeguard stand, although the lifeguards check up on the beach periodically.

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Waimea Bay
Waimea Bay is like the Waikiki of the North Shore. Sure, it’s beautiful, with crystal blue water and mountain views, but it is also tourist-packed and car break-ins are all too common. Most North Shore locals avoid Waimea except to “jump rock” during the summer flat spells (see “fun things to do section” for details on "jumping rock"). There are, however, bathrooms, showers, and a lifeguard stand at Waimea.
If the surf is big (reported between the 6-12 foot range), everyone on the North Shore heads over to the break at Pipeline to watch the world’s best professional surfers perform. Be prepared for an action-packed show of late take-offs and scary wipe-outs. For the average beach-goer and surf watcher, Pipeline has just two rules: don’t leave valuables in the car and, whatever you do, don’t go swimming when the surf is big. A strong current will suck you into the wave impact zone faster than you can call for a lifeguard’s help.
Sunset Beach
If the surf is really big (reported as 12-18 feet or higher), Sunset Beach is the place to be to watch some gnarly waves. You’ll need your binoculars though, to get a close look at the surfers, because the waves break so far-out. On flat days, Sunset also makes a great lounging and swimming beach, with clear water and light colored sand. There are also the bonus of showering and bathroom facilities new last year, and a lifeguard stand.

Fun stuff to do:

Waimea Falls Park
Located in breathtaking Waimea Valley, Waimea Falls Park has a variety of fun activities. Beautiful trails wind through the valley, stopping at various stations for a butterfly terrarium, Hawaiian games, cliff diving, and a hula show. For the more adventurous, the park also offers horseback riding and four-wheeling for an additional cost.

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“Jumping Rock”
Everyone who visits the North Shore must “jump rock” at Waimea Bay. Sure, you’ve all seen the huge rock on the left side of the bay, but how many have had the courage to jump off the 50- to 75-foot high rock into the crystal water? “Jumping rock” is a North Shore initiation, but do as the locals and only go at high tide. Otherwise, the water is dangerously shallow and you risk serious injury.
Snorkeling: Sharks’ Cove
The best place to get an up close and personal view of Hawaiian sea life is at Sharks’ Cove. Grab your snorkeling gear (or rent some in Haleiwa) for a fun time exploring numerous underwater caves. Don’t worry. Despite its name, sharks are rarely seen at Sharks’ Cove. For those who aren’t avid swimmers, Sharks’ Cove also has shallow tidepools with interesting sea life and shells.
Shopping in Haleiwa
With plenty of unique surf shops and North Shore vibes, shopping in Haleiwa is very different from your average shopping trip to Ala Moana. Sure, you’ll see your share of Japanese tourists, but you’ll also find friendly salespeople and lots of cool stuff. The North Shore Marketplace is a must-stop shopping center with a variety of shops including hip surf shops, jewelry stores, Hawaiiana shops, and cool boutiques. Sorry guys, your girlfriends could spend hours in this marketplace!

So ditch the crowds, traffic, and fast food of Waikiki. On your next day off, drive up to the North Shore for a laid back day of fun in the outdoors. Follow this guide to the North Shore, and you’ll be a local in no time!

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