Planning a trip to Oahu and want to explore the North Shore town of Haleiwa? Scroll to find the best things to do in Haleiwa Oahu including where to eat, awesome Haleiwa shopping, top beaches, and more!
This things to do in Haleiwa Hawaii post was written by Hawaii travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.
Are you wondering what is there to do in Haleiwa Hawaii? The truth is, there is a TON of fun things here!
One of the most picturesque North Shore Oahu towns is Haleiwa.
Haleiwa town started as a sugar plantation in the early 1900s. By the 1920s, it grew to include the Haleiwa Airfield, which was used for flight training, emergency landing, battle simulations, and even a relief base for pilots throughout World War II.
Today, Haleiwa is well-known as the surfing capital of the world and is part of Hawaii’s Seven-Mile Miracle. It offers some of the best surfing in Hawaii and people travel from all over the globe to participate in surfing competitions here.
Even if you aren’t a surfer, you’ll want to head to Haleiwa North Shore to soak up the chill surf town vibe.
If you are visiting Haleiwa from Waikiki, drive up as early as possible. Traffic builds throughout the day. You’ll also want to spend a full day there (including eating dinner) to allow traffic to die down a bit before heading back to town.
And it’s easy to spend a full day in Haleiwa HI! Check out some of these amazing Haleiwa things to do and find out why you need to visit Haleiwa on your next Oahu vacation.
And be sure to check out the top 101 things to do on Oahu with kids!
Don’t have time to read a bunch of Hawaii blog posts and reviews? Here are some of our top picks for visiting Oahu.
Popular Oahu Tours/Activities
- Kualoa Ranch UTV Tour (this is a fun adventure with the prettiest views)
- Full Pearl Harbor Tour (this is the BEST way to do everything at Pearl Harbor)
- Hawaii Bucket List Tour (you get to pick where you stop on this custom Oahu Circle Island tour)
- Toa Luau (this is my all-time favorite Oahu luau)
- CLIMB Works Ziplining (this is the longest zipline on Oahu)
- Book a Photo Shoot (this is a Hawaii souvenir you’ll treasure forever)
Favorite Oahu Resorts/Hotels
- Hilton Hawaiian Village (this is our favorite Waikiki resort because of the amazing pool area and nearby restaurants)
- Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa (this is a splurge that is totally worth it)
- Royal Hawaiian Hotel (this is a luxury resort in Waikiki that is pink and gorgeous)
Want to Rent a Car in Hawaii?
One of the best places to rent a car in Hawaii is Discount Hawaii Car Rental because they get the best rates from top national companies like Alamo, Dollar, Thrifty, Avis, Enterprise, Budget, and Payless.
Want to skip all the planning and just access my detailed Oahu Itinerary complete with daily schedules, kid-friendly activities, and travel hacks? Click the button below.
27 Things to do in Haleiwa
If you are wondering what to do in Haleiwa Hawaii, here are the top places to visit in Haleiwa for a fun trip!
1. Swim in a Waterfall
Something high on most people’s Hawaii bucket list is to swim in the base of a Hawaiian waterfall. Doesn’t that sound incredible?
Well, if you don’t want to do extensive hiking through the jungle, head straight to Waimea Valley. They have a lovely waterfall area and plenty of room for visitors to swim. Check out this full guide to visiting Waimea Valley on Oahu.
Guests take a paved path to get to the waterfall area. It’s .75 miles long and is fairly stroller/wheelchair friendly (except for a few areas with stairs and steeper hills.) If you don’t want to walk, there are shuttle rides available.
They also offer a world-class botanical garden, cultural programs (including lei making and hula lessons), walking tours, and even one of the best luaus on the North Shore.
Waimea Valley Park is just 10 minutes away from Haleiwa, but it’s just too cool to not include it on this list!
2. Go Snorkeling at Sharks Cove
Oahu has some fabulous snorkeling spots, but Sharks Cove is a popular spot for families and intermediate swimmers.
There isn’t a lifeguard on duty, but it’s typically safer than other North Shore beaches (especially during the summer months.)
It’s located about halfway between Waimea Bay and Banzai Pipeline at Pupukea Beach Park. The bay is about 8ft-15ft deep and it’s full of coral and incredible sea life. Plus, you can explore lots of caves and lava tubes.
The name “Sharks Cove” is a bit misleading, as you’re more likely to see Hawaiian green sea turtles than reef sharks!
You can rent gear in Haleiwa, or you can bring your own snorkeling sets. Foodland is right across the street and you can pick up snorkel gear there along with snacks and lunch items.
It’s another one of the best things to do near Haleiwa I had to include.
Tip: Get to Sharks Cove early to beat the crowds!
3. Get an Acai Bowl
One of the trendiest breakfast items in Hawaii is an Acai Bowl. And the best (and prettiest) place to get one on the North Shore is Haleiwa Bowls.
They have 5 different kinds of Acai Haleiwa Bowls, all of which feature fresh tropical fruits and local Hawaiian honey. Plus, you can choose additional toppings and botanical supplements.
Each bowl comes in a compostable container and you can either eat there at the picnic tables or take them with you to the beach.
4. Visit a Macadamia Nut Farm
The most popular nut in Hawaii is the Macadamia Nut. But, there’s only one working macadamia nut farm on Oahu and it’s on the North Shore.
North Shore Macadamia Nut Farm is situated right across the street from Haleiwa Beach Park and they have some delicious macadamia nut flavors like Caramel Roasted Macadamia Nuts, Cinnamon Macadamia Nuts, and Coconut Roasted Macadamia Nuts in addition to the traditional, unflavored version.
These are great snacks to take to the beach or bring home as a souvenir.
5. Snap a Photo at Rainbow Bridge
One of the most recognized symbols of Haleiwa is the Anahulu Stream Bridge (commonly called the iconic Rainbow Bridge,) which was built in 1921 (replacing the old wooden bridge.)
This iconic bridge connects historic Haleiwa town and it’s a fun place to take photos both of the bridge and the view of the Anahulu River from it.
After you take your photos of the bridge, head over to the rainbow angel wings mural next to Anahulu’s Shave Ice shop. And take a few moments to grab some souvenirs at the Rainbow Bridge Gift Shop.
Plus, don’t forget the famous Haleiwa North Shore sign too!
6. Grab Shave Ice
Speaking of shave ice, Haleiwa is one of the cutest towns to enjoy this tasty treat!
Hands down, the most famous shave ice in Haleiwa is Matsumoto’s Shave Ice. It started out as a grocery store in 1951 and once they started making shave ice with homemade syrup, they became legendary.
While it’s no longer in the cute little building where it originated, the shave ice is still pretty awesome. They have lots of flavor options and you can order it with ice cream at the bottom or snowcapped (with condensed milk on top.)
Because it’s so popular, there’s usually a line out the door. If you don’t want to wait, you can head across the street to Aoki’s Shave Ice or to Anahulu’s Shave Ice by Rainbow Bridge.
Read more on where to find the best shave ice on Oahu
7. Haleiwa Beach Park
Another popular North Shore beach is Haleiwa Beach Park, which is just a 2-minute drive from town (or you can enjoy a 10-minute stroll.)
This beach has fairly calm waters (at least compared to other North Shore beaches.) So, it’s a great beach for families or people learning how to surf.
If you’re hoping to see Hawaiian sea turtles, this is a great beach to do that. It’s easier to get to than Lanikea Beach (aka Turtle Beach). Just remember that it’s a federal offense to disturb the turtles, so be respectful.
If you are traveling with little ones, Haleiwa Alii Beach Park is another option. It’s easily accessible and has lots of parking. It’s great for families with little kids because it’s a short walk from the parking lot to the beach.
Heading here is one of the top Haleiwa Hawaii things to do. Tourists and locals alike love this beach!
8. Go Shopping
One of the best things to do in Haleiwa, Hawaii is go shopping! This little beach town has a lot of little boutiques offering locally made/designed products. It’s great for picking up gifts, shopping for yourself, or just perusing.
While shopping in Haleiwa, you’ll see surf shops, art galleries, high-end specialty shops, places with home decor, trendy clothing stores, souvenirs, and so many more Haleiwa town shops.
If you are planning on surfing (or just want to pick up some cute surf clothing), the prices in Haleiwa tend to be cheaper than shops in Waikiki.
9. Stop By a Shrimp Truck
Over the past few years, the North Shore has been THE place for shrimp trucks! For some people, it’s their only stop on the North Shore.
While there are a ton of North Shore food trucks, the shrimp trucks really stand out.
The most famous one is Giovanni’s right off of Kamehameha Highway. They offer four options: Shrimp Scampi, the “No Refunds” Hot & Spicy Shrimp, Lemon Butter Shrimp, and Jumbo Garlic Hot Dog (for those who don’t like shrimp.)
We usually do one Shrimp Scampi and one Lemon Butter Shrimp and share. And we get a side of their homemade mac salad. Yum!
Exploring the food truck scene is one of the top North Shore things to do.
Tip: Try to head here earlier than lunchtime. It takes a while for them to cook your shrimp and when the lunch line gets long, it can take close to an hour. Don’t come here starving (or at least bring a snack to eat while you wait.)
10. Go Scuba Diving
Scuba diving is another popular Oahu activity and Haleiwa is a great place to do it.
There are several places to rent diving equipment. Hawaii Eco Divers is a great option. Not only do they offer dive training (perfect for newbies), but they also have guided Haleiwa tours where you can explore lava tubes, caves, caverns, and tons of sea life.
They also offer night dives featuring nocturnal creatures you’d never see during a day dive.
Read my full guide to diving in Hawaii!
11. Take a Photo with Angel Wings
If you’re looking to snap some pics for Instagram, you’ll definitely want to stop at Colette Miller’s Global Angel Wings.
This is a project that was designed to remind people that we are all angels of the Earth.
The project started in Los Angeles and now there are wings in Africa, Australia, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and North America. You can actually watch a TedX talk about it.
Hawaii has one location and it’s located directly in front of Anahulu’s Shave Ice. This is a popular photo spot on the North Shore and a must-see Haleiwa sightseeing spot.
12. Try Stand Up Paddle Boarding
If you think you want to try out Stand Up Paddling, Haleiwa has a protected cove and river that offer calm waters for beginner and intermediate paddlers.
It’s a great work out, plus sometimes you can see sea turtles and other wildlife in the river as you paddle.
You can rent your own paddle board or join a guided Stand Up Paddle Boarding lesson and tour. Check out the latest prices and more details.
Not only can you do regular stand up paddle boarding, but there are a couple of options with a twist. You can try twilight paddle boarding.
It’s just one of the many fun things to do in Haleiwa town.
13. Go Ziplining
Just outside of Haleiwa, you can hop on Oahu’s longest zipline for a 3-hour guided tour.
You’ll start off with a 2-mile ATV ride to the top of a mountain. From there, you get panoramic ocean and mountain views of the North Shore as you race across ziplines ranging from 500 to 2,400 feet long. Check out the latest prices and more details.
Throughout the experience, you’ll come across sky bridges, scenic boardwalks, rappels, and more. And you’ll learn about local produce grown at Keana Farms as you soar over it.
Kids have to be at least 7 years old to participate and kids under 80 pounds will ride tandem with a guide.
This zipline is one of the best things to do during your Haleiwa vacations!
Get your discounted Zipline tickets
14. Watch Surfers at Banzai Pipeline
Because the North Shore is world famous for its surfing, another fun thing to do in Haleiwa is to watch surfers at Banzai Pipeline, especially during surf competitions.
With such an iconic shape and proximity to the shore, it’s no wonder why Banzai Pipeline has one of the most photographed waves in the world. When you see surfing photography artwork, chances are it was taken at Pipeline.
Notice I say watch surfing. The waves are massive and they go over a razor-sharp reef, so it’s best to leave the surfing at Banzai Pipeline to the professional. Beginner surfers should not attempt to surf here!
Watching surfing is one of the most popular activities in Haleiwa for locals and tourists.
Read my full guide to North Shore surfing!
15. Learn to Surf
But, you can still learn to surf in Haleiwa!
There’s a really awesome North Shore surfing company that specializes in helping beginners learn to surf for the first time. Each of the surfing lessons is either private or just with one other person.
You’ll get personalized instruction in one of the most famous surfing locations in the world. Check out the latest prices and more details.
Kids as young as 5 years old can take a surf lesson and many participants are able to catch their own waves by the end of the first lesson. But, if you really want to be a solid surfer, you’ll need about 3 surf lessons.
Get your discounted surf lessons
16. Visit Dole Plantation
Kids will love hopping aboard the Pineapple Express, a 20-minute ride around the Dole pineapple plantation where families learn about the process of growing Hawaiian pineapple.
Another activity is exploring the world’s largest maze, which covers more than 2 acres and has twisting paths with activity stations along the way.
But, the real draw is tasting the pineapple! They have lots of pineapple products to sample, but the most popular is their Dole Whip.
Yes, this is the same dairy-free, frozen treat you’ll find at Disney Parks. You can get it in a cone or cup and they even have fun topping.
Dole Plantation is about 12 minutes from Haleiwa, so it’s a great activity to do as you are entering or leaving town.
In fact, it’s one of the top fun things to do in North Shore Oahu with kids!
Sign up for a North Shore Tour that includes Dole Plantation
17. Go Hiking
Another fun North Shore activity is to go hiking on some of the trails.
Ehukai Pillbox is one of the most popular North Shore hikes for people looking for a bit of adventure. Families with elementary-age kids (around 8 years and older) should have no problems navigating this hike with kids.
There are actually 2 World War II pillboxes on this hike, but a lot of people stop at the first one. The pillbox itself is covered in graffiti and makes a cool photo spot.
There are also hiking adventures near Keaena Point and Pupukea.
Read more about North Shore hikes
18. Go Kayaking
If you’re heading to the North Shore in the summer, this is the best time of year to go kayaking. The waves are calmer and you’ll be able to kayak in the ocean.
You can rent kayaks for a half day or full day from Haleiwa shops like Surf N Sea. Families with kids might be interested in renting a tandem kayak. Check out the latest prices and more details.
Find out more places to Kayak on Oahu
19. Try Hang Gliding
Thrill-seekers might want to get a bird’s eye view of the North Shore from a powered hang glider. You’ll learn the basics of ultra-light flying and then take off on an early morning flight to watch the sunrise over the Ko’olau Mountains.
Paradise Air Hawaii offers 30-minute flights. You don’t need any experience, as you will be trained by an FAA-certified instructor.
You’ll get the same hang gliding experience but with the safety and comfort of an engine. It’s one of the most thrilling things to do Haleiwa has to offer.
20. Go Skydiving
Skydiving is yet again another North Shore activity for adrenaline junkies. There are three places to do skydiving at Dillingham Airfield in Waialua on the North Shore: Skydive Hawaii and Pacific Skydiving.
You can do a tandem skydive, free fall, or even skydive from a helicopter. Plus, they will take photos and videos of your skydive so you can show all your friends back home.
Skydiving is weather-dependent and your flight might get canceled if it’s too windy or cloudy, so aim to book early in the morning for the best chance of decent weather.
21. Stop by a Haleiwa Art Gallery
One of the things that makes Haleiwa special is that it’s an artsy town with several galleries.
The Haleiwa Art Gallery is a great place to check out local Hawaii artists. They hold the largest collection of works by the late Al Furtado and represent other fine artists including Ed Furuike, Lance Fairly, Mark Howard, and XQ Silk Art. It’s located just a couple minutes outside the center of town.
The art here in Haleiwa tends to be cheaper than purchasing in Waikiki (up to 50% less expensive) so if you are on the fence, just buy it from Oahu’s artistic community here.
22. Dive with Sharks
For a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, go cage diving with sharks!
You’ll take a North Shore boat ride into the depths of the Pacific Ocean, keeping an eye out for Hawaiian sea turtles, dolphins, and humpback whales along the way. Check out the latest prices and more details.
And once you get to your shark viewing spot, you can watch from the boat or get inside a secure underwater shark cage. From there, you’ll spot Galapagos sharks and sandbar sharks (and possibly other types of sharks and sea life.)
It’s completely safe. You’ll be in an underwater cage that provides proven safety against all different species of sharks.
But, it’s definitely one of the craziest Haleiwa activities!
Book your Oahu Shark Diving adventure
23. Watch the Sunset
It’s really hard to beat a Hawaiian sunset. And North Shore sunsets are truly magical. That’s because the North Shore technically faces west, due to the shape and orientation of the island of Oahu.
A popular spot is Sunset Beach. It got its name because of the awesome sunset views here, especially during the summer.
Most tourists will head back to Waikiki for dinner, but that’s a mistake. Traffic can be brutal and there’s no reason to hurry to sit in traffic.
Instead, enjoy dinner in Haleiwa and grab some shave ice to enjoy at Sunset Beach (or any North Shore beach) and gaze at the beautiful coastline. It’s the ultimate way to end a day in Haleiwa Beach town.
24. Check out North Shore Surfing Museum
Since Haleiwa is the surfing capital of the world, it makes sense the North Shore Surfing Museum would be located here.
It’s a great place to learn about the history of surfing on Oahu’s North Shore, check out antique surfboards, see how they make surfboards and more.
It’s one of the cool Haleiwa places to visit.
25. Get Some Ray’s Kiawe Broiled Chicken
If you’re heading to Haleiwa on a weekend, save time to stop at Ray’s Kiawe Broiled Chicken in Old Town Haleiwa. It’s the best place on Oahu to find Hawaiian-style huli huli chicken.
They take whole chickens, put them on long skewers, and continually turn them as they roast them. The chicken is smoked with Hawaiian kiawe wood, which gives it an intense, smoky, barbecue flavor.
The whole thing takes place under a tent outside and it might be some of the juiciest chicken you’ve ever tasted.
If you want to eat in Haleiwa, stop here.
26. Rent a Jet Ski
Another fun thing to do in Haleiwa is rent a jet ski. Watercraft Connection is the only North Shore jet ski rental shop and they offer rentals for the whole family.
They have one or two-seat models that you can take into the Pacific Ocean. These are available on a first-come-first-served basis and depend on weather conditions.
27. Enjoy a North Shore Luau
They offer extensive hands-on activities for kids and adults, a traditional Samoan kava ceremony, demonstrations, and more. This is the most intimate luau, as they keep attendance small. Check out the latest prices and more details.
What’s extra cool is that your luau ticket also includes admission to Waimea Valley (at the same site). You can read my full Toa Luau review here.
Haleiwa Oahu Hawaii FAQs
Haleiwa, HI is most famous as being the surf capital of the world. Located on Oahu’s North Shore, there are tons of incredible surfing beaches that have launched the careers of many professional surfers.
In order to not stand out as a tourist, it’s important to know how to pronounce Haleiwa. The Haleiwa pronunciation is ha-lay-ee-vah. The Hawaiian word “hale” means house and “iwa” is a type of bird in Hawaii.
Haleiwa is a small town on the North Shore of Oahu.
It’s about 25 miles away, which can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours to drive, depending on traffic.
Yes, Haleiwa is generally safe, like any other town on the North Shore of Oahu. Don’t keep valuables in your car and practice normal safety measures and you should be fine.
There are plenty of great places to stay in Haleiwa Hawaii. There are no hotels, but so many vacation rentals to enjoy in North Shore Haleiwa. Or you can stay at the Turtle Bay Resort close to Haleiwa on the North Shore.
Haleiwa What To Do Wrap-Up
Now you know what to do in Haleiwa town! These are just some of the fun things to do in North Shore HI, but there are plenty of others too.
Haleiwa North Shore Oahu is one of the best towns to visit during your Oahu vacation. So make sure to stop by North Shore’s historic town.