Ahh…Beautiful North Shore Oahu! Many good memories here. If you are planning a trip to Oahu and aren't looking for the “big city” feel, North shore is a great place to stay! And there's plenty to do here, so don't feel like you will have to commute to Waikiki for all your activities. We only had 3 days on Oahu, so we spent most of our time on North Shore and had a fantastic, relaxing time here. Here are some things not to miss if you make a visit to North Shore, Oahu:
Visit North Shore's La'ie Point
La'ie point is the result of a tsunami punching a hole through the island back in 1946 (on April Fool's Day too)! Not only is it a stunning view, but we also found the cliff jump to be exciting as well (see video).
Swim With Sharks (North Shore Shark Adventures)
Swimming with sharks (via a shark cage) has been on my bucket list for a long time and I was so excited to finally do it! It's not nearly as scary as you might think (the Sharks were all very calm), and it was fascinating to see so many of them so close. Many of them brushed up against the cage and I could have touched them if we hadn't been instructed not to. Our full face snorkel masks really came in handy for this experience. It was really nice not to have to worry about adjusting the masks, and to be able to go under water without worrying about water coming in the snorkel mask.
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Grab some breakfast at Hukilau Cafe
One of North Shore Oahu's hidden secrets, Hukilau is not located on a main road, and is kind of a hole-in-the wall gem hidden near the Polynesian Cultural Center. Nothing fancy by any means, just a “locals” spot for some good grub. It also bears the name of the breakfast cafe featured on “50 First Dates.”
Spot some turtles on Turtle Beach
Hawaii for me isn't Hawaii without finding several Sea Turtles. There are plenty of spots to swim with them, but if you want to see one out of the water, your chances are best at Turtle Beach (hence the name…). They won't always be found here, but chances are pretty good if the surf isn't too rough.
Stop at North Shore's quaint town of Hale'iwa for some shopping and food
Centered around winter's surfing conditions in the winter, you will find this cute town busier in the winter months. Some shopping and good food options here. We made sure to get some of the famous shaved ice at Matumotos.
Spend a Day at the Polynesian Cultural Center
You can't visit North Shore Oahu without visiting the PCC (Polynesian Cultural Center), which has the best Lu'au show on the entire island.We centered our trip around this experience and loved every bit of it. Unlike other Lu'aus though, there are other things to do here, so plan on spending your entire afternoon experiencing the PCC. You'll get a good feel for cultural visiting the recreated island villages from different Polynesian islands, which includes various huts, demonstrations, education and dancing. If you are choosing to do the Polynesian Cultural Center, I'd recommend the Go Oahu Card since it's included as one of the premium attractions
I've found with Hawaiian Lu'aus that you are typically paying for the cultural experience rather than the food, but I found the food here to be pretty good. Don't expect alcohol though, as the venue is run by the Mormon church. There are also other shopping and food options to enjoy throughout your day.
The “Ha: Breath of Life” show at the end of the evening is not-to-be-missed and exceeding my expectations in so many ways! Don't book a package that doesn't include this show!
Do Some Snorkeling at Shark's Cove
If you want to do some snorkeling while on North Shore, Oahu.. Shark's Cove will likely be your best bet (when water is calm during summer months) due to the rocky area. Fish and turtles like to feed off the rock.
Make a Stop at Pu'u o Mahuka Heia
The remnants of a Hawaiian Temple here have kind of a dark history (human sacrifices), but the remains of the lava stone foundation are pretty fascinating and the view is incredible! Definitely worth a quick stop, and is super close to Shark's Cove.
Where to stay in North Shore Oahu
When looking at lodging options on North Shore Oahu, Turtle Bay Resort gets a lot of attention, but after reading some disappointing reviews, we decided it might not be worth the money. I was super thrilled when I found a newer hotel (and much more affordable) DIRECTLY next the Polynesian Cultural Center. We stayed at the Marriott Courtyard North Shore, and it's the only hotel in La'ie.
Staying here was the best decision ever! Close to almost everything on the North Shore, and the beach is across the street. I don't usually like to stay anywhere that isn't oceanfront, but this is close enough. And the beach is so quiet we had it to ourselves most of the time.They are located right next to the Polynesian Cultural Center where there is shopping, food, luau, shows and cultural village. In fact, they are so close that we just walked each time (they literally share a parking lot with the Polynesian Cultural Center). The pool and hot tub were awesome, the staff was friendly, our rooms were comfortable, and the location is hard to beat.
We really enjoyed our time on North Shore, and rarely left except for spending one evening in Waikiki so we could eat dinner at Bill's (which we loved–it's featured in the video below). We will give you more info on our experience there when we do our guide for the Waikiki area!
Hope you enjoyed these tips! Make sure and see our Other Hawaii Travel tips while you're here.
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