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Slow life down - visit Hale'iwa town

by Shelly Awaya, editor


Hale‘iwa is a well-known “pit stop” for visitors and locals alike who are heading to the North Shore of O‘ahu to catch a glimpse of the awesome waves and bask on the sunny beaches. Most of the time, people just zip past Hale‘iwa on the bypass road to get to where they need to go. But Hale‘iwa has lots more to offer besides 7-11 and gas stations.

In 1984, Hale‘iwa was designated a State Historic, Cultural, and Scenic District. It has a long history, gorgeous views, and is one of O‘ahu’s last “historic” towns.

Click on image for more photos


In 1832, the Rev. John Emerson and his wife Ursula, missionaries, established the town of Hale‘iwa. (Emerson Road commemorates the town’s founders.)

Hale‘iwa means the home (hale) of the frigate (‘iwa) bird, a dark-colored bird with long, powerful wings that can span six feet. This bird is known for its ability to swoop down to catch fish from the ocean, as well as its reputation for being a thief, gained by stealing fish from albatrosses.

Another popular meaning of Hale‘iwa is “beautiful home.”

Approximately an hour’s drive from Waikiki, Hale‘iwa has lots to offer in the way of visitor attractions, and it can be a change of both scenery and pace for locals.

The many eateries, specialty shops, parks, and beaches entice people who want to spend a day outdoors and yet avoid the crowded malls and Downtown or Waikiki beaches. The North Shore Marketplace, for example, has stores that sell everything from black pearls to home-style Mexican food.

If you want to a bite to eat, you might like to know about some places area residents frequent. The Hale Wai Drive Inn, located across from Kaiaka Beach Park, is popular, as is Rosie’s Cantina and Pizza Bob’s, found in the Hale‘iwa Shopping Center off of Kamehameha Highway. And the white shrimp truck that sits in the empty lot across from McDonald’s. (Honest, that’s how people in Hale‘iwa describe it.)

If you want fast food, there is a KFC, but McDonald’s has the only drive-thru.

Some other more popular eateries in Hale‘iwa are Matsumoto’s Shave Ice and Kua Aina Sandwich Shop. If Matsumoto’s line is too long, two other shave ice stores along Kamehameha Highway are Aoki’s Shave Ice and H. Miura Store & Tailor Shop. These stores both offer shave ice and souvenirs for tourists, and you can get your shave ice right away instead of watching others eat theirs.

If you like to shop, Hale‘iwa has some of the most unique clothing store names on O‘ahu: Oogenesis Boutique, Patagonia, Matahari, Bali Moon, and Indigo Sea, to name just a few of the more unusual. Visitors are bound to find something exotic or elegant to suit their tastes.

If you’re the surfing type, there are lots of surf shops that can outfit you with anything from a surfboard to board wax and puka shell necklaces. A few of the popular ones are Hawaiian Island Creations (HIC), Surf & Sea, BK Ocean Sports, XCEL Wetsuits Hawai‘i, Strong Current, and NORTHSHORE Boardriders Club.

If you are an art enthusiast, there are several art galleries to visit. Among them are the Hale‘iwa Art Gallery, Wyland Galleries, and the newly opened Tabora Studio next door to Kua Aina.

If you are a beachgoer, the three main beaches in Hale‘iwa Town are Kaiaka Beach Park, Ali‘i Beach Park, and Hale‘iwa Beach Park. All of them have ample “free” parking and plenty of picnic tables where you can hang out with family and friends, eat plate lunches and shave ice, or even have a barbecue with a hibatchi.

You can get to Hale‘iwa by taking the H-2 freeway. Stay on the freeway till it ends and take the North Shore exit. If you visit Wahiawa on the way, then stay on Kamehameha Highway through town and past about 10 miles of pineapple and coffee plantations until you reach the first stoplight at the bottom of a long hill. Be sure to take the first left at the stoplight or you’ll end up on the Joseph Leong Highway, also known as the bypass road. (Please remember, in Hale‘iwa, people drive much slower than in town.)

And if you use public transportation (The Bus), catch the No. 52 bus (Wahiawa/Circle Island) from Ala Moana.

So take a day to explore the wonderful laid-back country style and the many activities and attractions Hale‘iwa has to offer.



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