The North Shore - Oahu's Best Kept Secret

Until you’ve seen and experienced the North Shore of Oahu,
you haven’t really experienced Hawaii.

By by Jeanette Foster - Photo courtesy of Visitors Bureau of Hawaii

 

  

About an hour’s drive from the congestion of Waikiki lies an area which maintains the lifestyle of a slower time in Hawaii. This is Oahu’s North Shore region, one of the island’s best kept secrets.

To start your trip to this “slower Oahu,” take the H-1 Highway out of Waikiki to H-2. The H-2 ends and becomes a two-lane country road about 18 miles outside downtown Honolulu, near Schofield Barracks. Just past Wahiawa, the Dole Pineapple Plantation, 64-1550 Kamehameha Hwy. 621-8408 (www.dole-plantation.com), offers a rest stop with everything pineapple and plenty of fun things for the kids. Open daily, 9:00am - 5:30pm. Some attractions do have admission prices.

After about another 15 minutes drive down the road lies Haleiwa, an ex-sugar-plantation town, now renown as the world capital of big-wave surfing. A state historic district, Haleiwa is like a trip back in time. The town was founded by sugar plantation owner Benjamin Dill-ingham, who built a 30-mile railroad to link his Honolulu and North Shore plantations in 1899.

Once in Haleiwa, do as the locals do, head directly to the nearest shave-ice stand, like Matsumoto Shave Ice, 66-087 Kamehameha Hwy., 637-4827. The perfect refreshment for a hot day, you can also get this cool treat at neighboring stores, some of which still shave the ice with a hand-crank device.

Most people venture to Haleiwa to play in the water at the fabulous beaches dotting the North Shore. Continuing past Haleiwa down the road to the Mecca of surfing - Waimea Beach, Banzai Pipeline, Sunset Beach - where some of the world’s largest waves rise up between November and January.

 

While you are in Waimea stop by the Waimea Valley Audubon Center, 59-864 Kamehameha Hwy. 638-9199, www.audubon.org. Wander through and spend a day in this quiet oasis. Admission: $8 adults, $5 children 4-12 and seniors.

Free parking. Open daily 10am-5:30pm. Next on the tour of the North Shore is Polynesian Cultural Center, 55-370 Kameha-meha Hwy., in Laie. 293-3333, or 808/923-2911 www.polynesia.com).

Actually, you may wish to come early and spend the entire day here. This is like a trip to the islands of the Pacific, featuring the lifestyles, songs, dance, costumes, and architecture of seven Pacific islands -Fiji, New Zealand, Marquesas, Samoa, Tahiti, Tonga, and Hawaii - in the re-created villages scattered throughout the 42-acre lagoon park.

You “travel” by foot or in a canoe on a man-made freshwater lagoon. Each village is “inhabited” by native students from Polynesia who attend Hawaii’s Brigham Young University. There’s a luau every evening. Because a visit can take up to 8 hours, it’s a good idea to get here before 2:00 pm.