Oahu’s North Shore lacks the glitz and sheer variety of Waikiki— which may be why it’s the perfect fit for those travelers looking for a quieter and less cosmopolitan Oahu getaway.
The North Shore’s main town is Haleiwa, a laid-back hamlet of art galleries, surf shops and modest restaurants and cafés. Haleiwa was designated a Historic, Cultural and Scenic District in 1984.
An Ocean Front Beach Cottage at Turtle Bay Resort offers an ocean view
The North Shore is synonymous with surfing and in the winter, it’s home to some of the largest waves on earth. With more than seven miles of beaches, the North Shore hosts the world’s premier surfing competitions, including the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing.
The town of Kahuku and its surrounding shoreline is where you’ll find most of the surfing action on the North Shore, including the Banzai Pipeline, Sunset Beach, Waimea Bay, Pupkea and Rocky Point. Waimea Bay is considered the birthplace of big-wave surfing and the Banzai Pipeline presents some of the most challenging and dangerous surf conditions in the world, with waves that break over a shallow reef. You can watch the action best from Ehukai Beach Park. The North Shore’s massive winter waves can swell up to 30 feet or more and can be dangerous for even experienced surfers. In the summer, from May to September, the waves are gentler and provide optimum conditions for swimming and sunbathing.
Kahuku is also known for its colorful shrimp trucks along Kamehameha Highway. Just pull over and buy either raw shrimp or tasty cooked shrimp dishes, such as shrimp scampi, shrimp with garlic or sweet and spicy shrimp.
Where to Stay
It’s safe to say that Turtle Bay Resort dominates the North Shore. The resort, which is about a 45-minute drive from Honolulu, sits on 880 acres and has five miles of beaches. Every room at Turtle Bay Resort offers Pacific Ocean views. The resort has a 400-room, six-story hotel and 42 Ocean Front Beach Cottages.
Ocean Front Deluxe rooms look out over two swimming pools and have views of Turtle Bay with its surf break, and the Koolau Mountains. Rooms are 477 square feet and have large lanais. Ocean Front Premium rooms are a good value—these face the sunrise side of the hotel and Kuilima Cove and provide views looking east over the coastline and the Palmer Golf Course.
The Ocean Front Beach Cottages are the most requested premium accommodations at the resort. These are grouped in clusters of six along five miles of the resort’s beachfront. They range from 740 to 850 square feet of living space. The cottages have handsome details, such as copper flashing and rain caches on the outside, and interiors with polished Brazilian walnut floors. The multilevel cottages have 15-foot ceilings, teak chairs and lanais with large glass doors opening onto Turtle Bay. Marble bathrooms have two-person Kallista deep-soak tubs and freestanding glass showers. Some cottages are also available as adjoining rooms with both king and double queen beds for families.
The Beach Cottages at Turtle Bay Resort Ho’okipa concierge staff is available from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Prior to arrival, guests are contacted by their designated Ho’okipa valet to offer concierge services and confirm any special requests.
The hotel has 298 connecting rooms. Families are best served by the Ocean Villas; these have either three or four bedrooms and sleep up to 10 guests.
The resort’s Spa Luana has seven treatment rooms and an outdoor relaxation area, where guests can contemplate the waves rolling into Turtle Bay. The spa also has a private seaside cabana for outdoor treatments. Guests scheduling spa treatments also have unlimited use of Spa Luana’s outdoor whirlpool, fitness facility and wet saunas. The Spa Director is Becky Leuluai. Spa treatments can be booked in advance of arrival by contacting Leuluai at 808-447-6678 or [email protected].
The resort has the championship Arnold Palmer and George Fazio golf courses, as well as tennis, a full-service surf school, horseback riding and 12 miles of oceanfront hiking trails.
The resort’s signature restaurant is 21 Degrees North, featuring contemporary island cuisine. The restaurant has ocean views, and intimate seating is available on the restaurant’s lanai.
The travel agent liaison is Ann Bellerose, leisure sales coordinator ([email protected], 808-447-6505).
Options for Visitors
Another option for visitors to the North Shore is Santa’s by the Sea bed-and-breakfast. There’s only one 750-square-foot unit on the cedar-home property and that has garden views. Steps away are the property’s private gazebo and the beach. Additional features include a lava-rock outdoor hot/cold beach shower, deluxe barbecue, beach chairs and towels, complimentary washer/dryer, free long-distance telephone and high-speed Internet computer and a fully furnished kitchen. (Although it’s a B&B, legal restrictions prevent the owners from making breakfast for their guests.) Agents with questions can contact owners Gary and Cyndie Quinn at 808-638-7837 or [email protected]. Agents can also book through Hawaii’s Best Bed & Breakfast (808-263-3100, www.bestbnb.com).
If the North Shore is part of your sightseeing plans, make us of TheBus, which stops at most tourist destinations on Oahu. Fare for TheBus is a reasonable $2.