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Haleiwa and Oahu’s North Shore: Surfing Capital of the World


The North Shore

This historic surfing town forms the heart of Oahu’s North Shore, located just one hour from Waikiki. You’ll enjoy visiting this charming town that attracts all manner of visitors – particularly surfers – to its quaint streets. With a local flavor highlighted by a small-town feel, Haleiwa is laid back in its offerings of art galleries, eateries, boutiques and of course surf shops. Let’s explore Haleiwa.

Haleiwa, a town brimming with island history, has a big story to tell, and you can feel that story as you walk through the community. The social and artistic center of this little corner of Hawaii features buildings built in the days of the plantation. This community harkens back to the 1900s when it was dotted with sugar plantations, hence all the old homes and sprawling properties you’ll see. Those images are offset by the more modern day story of beaches and surfing. Here is where you’ll find Waimea Bay beaches, Sunset Beach, and Ehukai, better known as the Banzai Pipeline, with plenty of restaurants and shopping to round out your visit. However, if you’re looking for the hustle and bustle of the more touristy Waikiki, you won’t find it here. Maybe you’re happy about that! The locals certainly are, anyway.

This doesn’t mean Haleiwa doesn’t have its share of attractions. In fact, the 18th annual Haleiwa Arts Festival will take place this July 18 and 19 at Haleiwa Beach Park. From 10 to 6 on Saturday and 10 to 5 on Sunday, you’ll be treated to the works of 140 local artists, live performances, free art projects, vendors, food, festival shops and more. This event is put on by the Haleiwa Arts Festival, a non-profit organization promoting education of the local arts and culture. Check out for more information.

Peak season in Haleiwa town is between December and February, when the waves are at their biggest and surfers from all over the world come and try to slay them. This is a good time to catch both professional and amateur competitions that draw big crowds. Why? Here, the waves easily climb up to 30 feet, tempting any surfer with talent to try and claim the main prize.

If you’re going there with small children, it’s best to stick to other North Shore beaches such as Kuilima Cove at Turtle Bay Resort and Haleiwa Beach Park. Those waters tend to be much calmer and don’t pose as much of a safety threat. If it’s snorkeling you’re after, check out Kuilima Cove, Sharks Cove and Pupukea Beach Park. Check out Oahu’s only surf museum at North Shore Surf and Cultural Museum, where you can take a journey back in time to trace the roots of surfing and compare how surfboards were made in the 1950s with today’s sleeker, more streamlined designs.

Hoku Hawaii Tours can hook you up with excursions that help you explore every square inch of Oahu, so give us a call today to book something perfectly suited to you.