Surf shacks and a pristine beach make up this North Shore town that is at the centre of O’ahu’s surfing scene.
The northern settlement of Hale’iwa is much less developed than some of its southern counterparts on O’ahu. The small town’s first building was the Hale’iwa Hotel that went up in 1898. The hotel has since been knocked down but the area has retained its small-town charm and laid-back atmosphere. There are no high-rises here, just surf shacks, board shops and beautiful beaches.
Visit the low-key North Shore Surf and Cultural Museum to browse photographs and memorabilia all dedicated to surfing. There are 1930s boards, old advertisements and souvenirs from surfing competitions. Volunteer staff are friendly and helpful and will gladly share insight into what’s going on around town.
You don’t have to go far to find shops with snorkels, surf and boogie boards and kayaks for hire or sale. Take your pick of equipment and head to the beach. If you want to explore inland, hire a paddleboard or canoe and go up the Anahulu River into tropical jungle.
Hale’iwa Ali’i Beach is family friendly, with a large park facing the water. It’s a popular spot for children and young people learning how to surf. Look for the Kalili Surf Center, the set of the television show Baywatch Hawaii and home to lifeguards. Come in July for the annual ArtFest, when there are visual and performing art displays and activities for kids.
Giant see turtles nest along the beach and are easy to spot year-round. Photograph and admire these beautiful creatures but don’t get too close; it is illegal to feed or touch sea turtles in Hawai’i.
Be sure to try shave ice, a popular local cuisine. The refreshing dessert is made from syrups poured over shaved ice or ice cream and bean paste covered in sweetened condensed milk. Ask for tropical flavours such as lychee, guava and lilikoi.
Get to Hale’iwa by car from Honolulu. The 1-hour trip is a scenic drive. Once here you can get around town on foot. Use a car to explore more of the beautiful North Shore.