Home » Oahu » 17 Best Things to Do in North Shore Oahu

17 Best Things to Do in North Shore Oahu

Trying to find the best Oahu North Shore things to do? Check out this detailed North Shore Oahu neighborhood guide featuring the best things to do on the North Shore Oahu.
This best things to do in North Shore Oahu 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.

Hawaii is on everyone’s bucket list for sure, and that’s no surprise! Oahu is one of the favorite islands to visit, with all the tourist attractions present, especially on the North Shore.

If you want to get away from the crazy, hectic town life, North Shore will not disappoint. It is the countryside of the island filled with many fun activities.

From hiking to food trucks to the stunning beaches, there will always be things to do on the North Shore of Oahu that every family member will love!

Take a look at this North Shore Oahu neighborhood guide. This will show you the top North Shore Oahu attractions. Think of this as your North Shore Oahu bucket list!

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

Favorite Oahu Resorts/Hotels

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.

Click here for step-by-step Oahu travel planning help

The best things to do in North Shore Oahu featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids

Overview of North Shore Towns

When you think of North Shore Oahu, it typically begins with Hauula and ends with Mililani.

Hauula

Hauula is a small, friendly neighborhood. This is where you can find some cheaper VRBO options that are still close to some of the most prominent tourist attractions on the North Shore.

Laie

Laie is where the Brigham Young University of Hawaii is located, along with the Polynesian Cultural Center. It is another small but family-oriented neighborhood.

Here is where the temple for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also resides. You can find Foodland along with a small strip mall for all your temporary needs.

Note: You cannot buy alcohol in Laie, and most businesses are closed on Sundays. Please plan accordingly.

Kahuku

Kahuku is known for having some of the best Oahu food trucks!

Try out some Giovanni’s Shrimp and explore the North Shore Zipline. You can also find some of the best poke on the island at their little convenience store right by the high school.

Sunset

Moving along North Shore Oahu, you will find Sunset, which has the famous Sunset Beach. It is a great place to relax as well as surf. Along the beaches here are where lots of surf competitions are held.

You can also find Ted’s Bakery, a must-see food stop along the way.

Waimea

Once you reach Waimea, there are lots of things you can do. Again, this is where some of the best surf competitions are held, especially during the winter when the waves come crashing at record-reaching heights.

You can also hike or relax on the beach. On Waimea Beach Park, you will find rocks that lots of people enjoy jumping from. Don’t worry, though. They are not too high up!

Haleiwa

This is the heart of North Shore because there are tons of things to do in Haleiwa! Some of the greatest restaurants on the island are in Haleiwa, along with many delicious food trucks, as well.

The best things to do in North Shore Oahu featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Nothing is more iconic that this Haleiwa sign as you enter North Shore Oahu
Photo credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Daeja Faris

There is Haleiwa Beach Park, which is a fun family park to enjoy your day on, as well as many shops to get fun souvenirs.

Wahiawa

Another very famous tourist attraction in the North Shore is located in Wahiawa: The Dole Plantation.

Here they have some of the best pineapple ice cream (Dole Whip!) along with so many activities you will end up staying the whole day.

Mililani

Typically, the North Shore ends in Mililani. This is where the country life ends, and the towns begin again. You can find Costco, Walmart, and lots of other shops to get your temporary supplies.

Hotel vs. Airbnb/VRBO on the North Shore Oahu

While there are many great hotels along the North Shore, they are more expensive. Staying at one can have impressive benefits; however, it all depends on your budget.

There are also tons of options regarding vacation rentals on Oahu’s North Shore that fit better in most people’s budgets.

Courtyard by Marriott

The Marriott Hotel is right in front of the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie. If you are mainly going to stay in Laie and enjoy the surrounding cities, this is a great option. It is more expensive, depending on the deals you can find. Check out the latest prices and more details.

However, it has a pool and hot tub. You can also get most of your beach supplies right from the hotel. You can rent a paddleboard, snorkeling gear, and so much more, that is only available to the tourists staying at the hotel.

Turtle Bay Resort

Probably the most famous out of all the North Shore Oahu hotels is Turtle Bay. It is a very luxurious place to stay if you can afford it. They have access to some of the gorgeous beaches around the North Shore coastline. Check out the latest prices and more details.

When you stay at Turtle Bay, you have access to a myriad of fun classes and activities, including yoga, the spa, Segway tours, golf, a swimming pool, horseback riding, and more North Shore Hawaii things to do!

Airbnb or VRBO

While vacation rentals on Oahu’s North Shore are cheaper, that does not mean they aren’t good quality! These are great options to save money and enjoy the island in the comfort of a home.

Many families will leave beach equipment as part of your stay, so you don’t have to buy or rent them! You can save a lot of money staying in a vacation rental on Oahu’s North Shore!

I have stayed in many vacation rentals, and none of them were disappointed. Each one was super clean, up to date, and provided exceptional service. They will always be my first choice!

Check out the top North Shore rentals

Do You Need to Rent a Car in North Shore Oahu?

In my opinion, yes.

The North Shore is pretty far away from the Honolulu Airport, and once you get up there, it’s easiest to drive yourself around the island. It’s definitely easiest to explore Oahu with kids when you have a rental car.

TThe best things to do in North Shore Oahu featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: he North Shore of Oahu is easiest explored by car
Photo credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

If you decide not to rent a car, you can use TheBus. See the North Shore bus schedule.

Uber is another option, but it is more expensive.

Best Things to do in North Shore Oahu

There are many great things to do on the North Shore. If you are wondering, what to do in North Shore Oahu, here are some of the North Shore Oahu Hawaii activities you will love to do during your Hawaiian vacation.

Zipline

One of the best ziplines in the country is right along the North Shore. It has eight different zip lines, each zooming down the mountain. Enjoy an ATV ride to the top and watch the beautiful scenery going down. Check out the latest prices and more details.

Along the path, there are certainly other activities to do as well. On some of the ziplines, you can go upside down and backward, making it a thrilling adventure!

This zipline is definitely one of the best things to do on the North Shore of Oahu!

Polynesian Cultural Center

This 42-acre attraction opened in 1963 to educate the public on Polynesian culture.

Begin your day at the Hukilau Marketplace, where you’ll find delicious Hawaiian eateries. Then, check out the 7 villages that make up the cultural center.

Each village offers different activities and entertainment, but the Samoa village is a fan favorite. Check latest rates and availability.

Be sure to stick around for the closing show, Ha “Breath of Life.” Some people visit the cultural center just to see the show!

Plan to spend an entire day at the center, since there’s so much to see and do here. Your entry ticket is valid for 3 days after your first visit because the center is that expansive.

If you want to learn about Hawaiian culture in a fun way, this is one of the top things to do Oahu North Shore has to offer!

Read my full guide on the Polynesian Cultural Center

Go to the Beach

Of course, there are some spectacular beaches along the North Shore. Some of these are great for surfing, while others are better for relaxing along the sand or floating in the water.

Here are some of the best North Shore Oahu beaches.

Beach Parks

There are several beach parks all along the North Shore. These typically have picnic benches and grass areas to enjoy meals and family time. They have their set hours and rules, so make sure to check for those.

The best things to do in North Shore Oahu featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Haleiwa Beach Park is a popular North Shore Beach

Photo credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Heather Goodman

Some of the parks across the North Shore include Hauula, Kokololio, and Haleiwa.

Temple Beach

Right in front of the LDS temple is you guessed it, Temple Beach. Typically, you will see kite surfers across the water.

Goat Island is located right off the water of this beach. It is dangerous to go there, though, with high tides and sometimes sharks.

Turtle Bay

Turtle Bay Beach is the one located directly in front of the resort. It is not rough, and it is great to swim and enjoy the water. It is typically crowded, though, since the resort has beach access.

Sunset Beach

This is where they have the surf competitions. The waves can get pretty intense, so be careful if you are not the best swimmer. The sunsets are gorgeous to look at over this beach.

This is another tourist attraction and usually has heavy traffic during the day.

Shark’s Cove

If you want to enjoy some snorkeling, Shark’s Cove is a great little area to find some fish. There, you will find a circle coral area to look at the fish and enjoy shallow water for your little ones.

There are some tide pools and some awesome marine life with colorful fish. Sharks Cove is perfect during the summer months as one of the top snorkeling spots along the North Shore.

Waimea Bay Beach Park

Here, you can find the rocks to jump off as well as more surf competitions. It is a beautiful beach with a parking lot, so you won’t have to park on the side of the road unless it is super busy.

Waimea Bay Beach Park has massive waves, so be careful if you don’t swim very well. If you are here during the winter months, check out the big wave surfing!

Ehukai Beach Park

This is where you will find Banzai Pipeline and more giant waves. These barreling waves are fun to watch during the surf competitions, but be careful when you get in the water.

Visiting the North Shore beaches will always be one of the top things to do in North Shore Oahu!

Cage Diving with Sharks

Believe it or not, it’s safe to swim with Oahu’s sharks! As you pull up to shark-infested waters, you’ll be given snorkeling gear before entering a metal cage. Check out the latest prices and more details.

The sharks in this area are mostly harmless – you’ll likely see Galapagos and sandbar sharks, though you might also encounter a tiger shark or hammerhead.

This 3-hour-long excursion lets you get close to these misunderstood predators in a safe environment. You don’t want to miss this opportunity!

If you don’t want to get in the water, you can still enjoy the scenic boat ride and view the sharks from your boat. For a fee, the guides can also pick you up from your Waikiki hotel.

This is definitely one of the unique North Oahu things to do!

Get your discounted Cage Diving with Sharks tickets.

Toa Luau

There’s another North Shore luau that’s definitely worth checking out. It’s called Toa Luau, and it’s in the beautiful Waimea Valley.

The best things to do in North Shore Oahu featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Toa Luau is a popular North Shore Oahu luau
Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

From Monday to Wednesday, partake in a traditional luau at Waimea Valley. You’re invited to witness cultural demonstrations, sample some Polynesian food, and explore the natural beauty around you. Check out the latest prices and more details.

This luau is designed to be educational, so you won’t feel out of place if you’re unfamiliar with Polynesian culture.

Each Toa Luau package includes admission to Waimea Falls Park. Before your luau, view the diverse plant species and gaze at the 50-foot waterfall at the park.

Attending a luau is one of the things to do on Oahu North Shore you don’t want to forget!

Read more about Toa Luau

Surfing Lessons

Even if you’re not a pro surfer, you can still ride Oahu’s waves! A Hawaiian lifeguard with 20 years of experience will teach beginner surfers the essentials of the sport. Check out the latest prices and more details.

As you surf, you’ll get to interact with the native wildlife that surrounds you. Bring your whole family to a 2-hour lesson – the instructor and his Golden Retriever can’t wait to meet you!

Each surfing lesson comes with surfboard, leash, and rash guard rentals, along with a free turtle-viewing tour. Choose between a group lesson or a private class.

Surfing is one of the must-do in North Shore Oahu for sure!

Get your discounted North Shore surfing lessons.

Check out the top Oahu surfing lessons

Dole Plantation

The Dole Plantation is another one of the best things to do on the island. Many of their activities are free, such as the fish feeding pond and a pineapple cutting station!

Others do cost, including the garden maze and the train tour. This is where you can try the famous pineapple Dole Whip!

It is another one of the fun things to do in Oahu North Shore.

Read our full guide on the Dole Plantation HERE

Kim Taylor Reece Gallery

Art enthusiasts should stop by the Kim Taylor Reece Gallery, which sits about 5 minutes outside of the Polynesian Cultural Center.

Kim is known for his sepia and black-and-white photography, capturing the essence of Hula.

His gallery is surrounded by gorgeous ocean views to complement his stunning work. On your way out, be sure to grab some souvenirs inspired by the artwork!

It is one of the top things to do in Hauula, Hawaii!

Go Hiking

There are many beautiful hikes along the North Shore. Laie Falls includes a waterfall as well as the Waimea Valley Reserve. Sunset Pillbox Hike is another stunning hike that shows a unique view of the island.

On the North Shore of Oahu, the hiking trail for Ka’ena Point begins where the roads end. Once you reach the end of the road, hike the 2.5-mile-long trail to the tip of Ka’ena Point.

You’ll encounter an enclosed bird sanctuary that’s open to visitors, beautiful ocean views, and switchback trails. If you begin your hike on the leeward side, you may even see whales in the winter!

Hiking is one of the best things to do in North Oahu!

Read more about hiking on Oahu

Waimea Valley

You will want to visit Waimea Valley during your trip to Oahu’s North Shore. Here you can take the Waimea Valley Trail and see a stunning waterfall! You can even go for a swim in it when you reach the top.

The waterfall is a must-see North Shore Oahu has to offer, so don’t miss it.

The Toa Luau mentioned above is also here, and Waimea Bay is right outside, so you can make it an entire day trip.

Visiting this incredible place is one of the best things to do in the North Shore Oahu!

See Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles at Laniakea Beach

Head to Laniakea Beach (aka Turtle Beach) to see some sea turtles! It is one of the North Shore Oahu must-do during your trip.

The best things to do in North Shore Oahu featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Please remember not to touch Hawaiian green sea turtles like the one in this photo. Volunteers put up signage to remind tourists to give turtles some space.

Along the shore, you’ll see the giant Hawaiian sea turtles who live here. You won’t have to go searching for sea turtles, either – they’ll be right there in front of you!

Federal law prohibits beachgoers from touching the turtles, but you’re free to take photos of them from the rocky cove from a distance.

It is one of the free things to do North Shore Oahu offers that kids will love!

Read my full guide about Turtle Beach on Oahu

Explore Haleiwa Town

Old Town Haleiwa is so much fun to walk through. Get a parking spot at one of the shops and take some time looking for some unique souvenirs.

You can also grab a bite to eat, look at some incredible art galleries, and enjoy the small island life out here.

Visiting Haleiwa is one of the fun things to do at North Shore Oahu.

Get Some Hawaiian Shave Ice

Of course, you will want to try the famous Matsumoto Shave Ice while in Haleiwa. It is one of the North Shore Hawaii activities you cannot miss!

They have one of the most extended lists of flavors I have ever seen. You can choose up to 3 different flavors on your Hawaiian shave ice, so you can try out a few to see what you like best.

Usually, there is a huge line, so be sure to head there early to secure a spot!

It is one of the best places to get some shave ice on the island.

Go Snorkeling

Along with Shark’s Cove, head to Pupukea Beach Park to go snorkeling along the North Side of the island. You will see incredible sea life, coral reefs, and much more.

Kuilima Cove, also known as Turtle Bay, is another great spot to enjoy.

Check out the top snorkeling spots on Oahu

Kualoa Ranch

One of the North Shore (Oahu) things to do nearby is the Kualoa Ranch! It is one of the fun things to do in North Shore HI.

Here you can see where Jurassic Park is filmed, go on an ATV Tour, Jungle Tour, Movie Tour, and so much more. Plus, they even have a special Secret Island you will love to relax on.

This ranch has tons of things to see North Shore Oahu has to offer; it makes for a great stop one day during your trip.

Read our full Kualoa Guide HERE

Botanical Garden

There are some awesome botanical gardens on Oahu, and the Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden is right in Kaneohe, super close to the North Shore.

Surround yourself with the natural beauty and enjoy this free, beautiful garden. It is another one of the things to see in North Shore Oahu.

Best Restaurants in North Shore Oahu

Some of the best restaurants on the island are right along the North Shore! You can find pretty much anything you like: Mexican, Chinese, seafood, burgers, and more!

Here are some of the best places to grab a bite to eat along the North Shore.

Seven Brothers

Seven Brothers is in the strip mall in Laie and is the best burger place ever invented. There is just something about their special sauce that makes everything incredibly delicious.

There are multiple burger options, as well as fries. Their fries are seasoned with their special sauce, onion rings, pineapples, cooked onions, and more! Everything on the menu is seasoned and cooked to perfection.

Grabbing a burger and fries from here is one of the best things to do on North Shore Oahu!

Pounders

Another great restaurant in Laie is Pounders. It is located in the Hukilau Marketplace of the Polynesian Cultural Center. You do not have to pay to get into Pounders because the Marketplace is free for anyone to roam.

They have anything from steak and fries to shrimp pizza, to the catch of the day fish. Enjoy delicious seafood entrees and appetizers that make you crave more!

Kahuku Food Trucks

Not far away are the famous Kahuku food trucks. There you will find anything and everything!

The best things to do in North Shore Oahu featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Make sure to grab lunch at one of the many North Shore food trucks, like this poke place

Photo credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)

You can have shrimp trucks with delicious garlic shrimp, Mexican food, Chinese Food, Thai food, frozen yogurt, and so much more.

Giovanni’s Shrimp is one of the most popular North Shore food trucks. Each plate includes 12 jumbo shrimp and 2 scoops of rice, and you have a few varieties to choose from.

The Lemon Butter Shrimp comes with a delicious creamy sauce, and the “No Refunds” Hot and Spicy Shrimp platter is as intense as it sounds. You can also opt for a basic shrimp scampi plate, Giovanni’s signature dish.

At $14 for a full plate or $7 for a half plate, this food truck’s dishes are a steal! Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck only accepts cash, but there’s an ATM nearby.

Ted’s Bakery

Closer to the middle of North Shore Oahu is Ted’s Bakery.

Ted’s Bakery offers a large menu with delightful plates. Choose from small or regular-sized plates of hot food and baked goods.

The bakery makes dozens of cream pie, pastry, and round cake varieties, some of which you might not have heard of.

Lunch is Ted’s busiest time of day, with beachgoers ordering barbecue plates to bring back with them. If you like chicken, you’ll love Ted’s shoyu chicken plate with rice and macaroni salad.

Some of the most popular hot plates at Ted’s Bakery include garlic shrimp, fried rice, and loco moco. After your meal, try the chocolate-haupia pie or the pineapple macadamia nut cheesecake.

Haleiwa Restaurants

Haleiwa has excellent restaurants, as well. You can find many great food trucks in Haleiwa, similar to Kahuku.

There are also tons of adorable cafes in North Shore Oahu that are perfect for getting your caffeine fix. They also usually have yummy breakfast items.

One of the best Haleiwa restaurants is the Haleiwa Beach House. Here you can have a delicious seafood dish or a great big burger. They have a vast variety, making it perfect for an entire family to enjoy.

North Shore Oahu Things To Do FAQs

How long is the drive from Honolulu to North Shore?

It usually takes about 45 minutes, when there isn’t any traffic. It can take up to 2 hours if you go during the morning or evening rush hour. Check out all the ways to get to North Shore from Waikiki.

Is North Shore Oahu safe?

In terms of beaches, the waves can get pretty rough, so it can be dangerous to swim at some of the North Shore beaches (especially in the winter.) In terms of crime, use normal precautions about not leaving valuables in your car and always locking your doors.

Should I stay in North Shore or Waikiki?

It depends on what you’d like to do on your trip to Oahu, but there are definitely more hotel and vacation rental options in Waikiki vs. North Shore. And it’s easier to stay in the North Shore if you rent a car.

Is North Shore Oahu worth visiting?

Absolutely! There are so many things to do on North Shore Oahu. Plus, Oahu’s North Shore is in the countryside, so it is a nice escape from the bustling Waikiki or Honolulu.

What is the most beautiful beach on the North Shore of Hawaii?

There are so many North Shore beaches, but the most beautiful beaches are Sunset Beach, Waimea Bay, and Lanikea Beach.

Top Things to do North Shore Oahu Wrap-Up

The North Shore of Oahu will not disappoint you. From the beautiful beaches to the adventurous activities, there is something for every family member to enjoy! These were just some of the best things to do North Shore Oahu has to offer, but I’m sure you will find more.

Next time you go, be sure to plan your vacation around some of the best things to do in North Shore, Hawaii!

Now that you know what to do in the North Shore, what will you do first during your vacation?

Looking for more Oahu Travel Resources? Find out the best things to do on Oahu with kids, kid-friendly North Shore Oahu tours, lei making workshop in North Shore, best Oahu luaus, best Oahu surfing lessons for kids, and 25 things to do in Waikiki!