While only a 45 minute drive from Honolulu, Oahu’s North Shore is a far cry from the bustling city streets of the state’s capital city. Known for its pristine beaches, big wave surfing, bucket list snorkeling, and so much more, anyone visiting Oahu should have the North Shore on their itinerary. We had the pleasure of spending a day exploring the area and put together what we think is a pretty epic itinerary! Now, obviously you won’t be able to see or do everything that the North Shore has to offer in a single day, but if you’re a time-crunched, adventure-seeking traveler like us, then this is the perfect itinerary for you!
*Be sure to check out our "One Day in North Shore Oahu" vlog for a closer look at our time!
Now, let's get to it...
Island Vintage Coffee (where we went - 66-111 Kamehameha Hwy #503, Haleiwa, HI)
Since 1996, this local chain with 9 locations (6 on the Hawaiian Islands and 3 in Japan) has been serving up the finest gourmet, 100% Kona Coffee, delicious breakfast sandwiches, and some of the best Acai Bowls on the islands.
Kono's (66-250 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI)
Brew & Foam Coffee North Shore (67-292 Goodale Ave #105, Waialua, HI)
The Sunrise Shack (59-158 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI)
Banzai Bowls Sunset Beach (59-186 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI)
9:30am: Cage Dive with Sharks!
I promise, it’s not as scary as it sounds, and you will 100% be glad that you did it! This is a memory that Natalie and I will cherish forever and I mean, c’mon… Saying you went cage diving with sharks in Hawaii is pretty bada$$! There are a number of companies that offer cage diving tours on the North Shore and I’m sure many of them are great. We used North Shore Shark Adventures and can’t recommend them enough. And no, we aren’t getting paid to say that, we just truly enjoyed our time with them!
Pro-Tip: Arrive at least 15 mins before departure, and take Dramamine 30 mins before departure. Also, be sure to bring towels, a change of clothes, water, suntan lotion, hat, sunglasses, and anything else that you specifically might need for the 1.5 hour tour.
11:30am: Beach Time
Waimea Bay Beach Park (where we went - 61-31 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI)
In the winter (when we visited), Waimea Bay Beach Park is famous for its 30-foot waves and is one of the top places to watch some of the world’s best and bravest surfers. During the summer, the water is calm and is an excellent destination for swimming, snorkeling, and cliff jumping!
Haleiwa Beach Park (62-449 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI)
Pupukea Beach Park (59-727 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI)
Three Tables Beach
The Smoking Boar and the Coconut (where we went - 67-456 Goodale Ave, Waialua, HI)
This was one of our absolute favorite meals from our entire 8 day trip! And funny enough… It was nowhere on our list of places to eat going into it. The captain of our shark tour recommended it to us, and we can’t speak highly enough of the quality and down right deliciousness of this place! Not to mention how kind and friendly the staff is! It’s family owned and operated and is a fairly new restaurant having opened in 2020. Everything is locally sourced and prepared fresh in-house, so if incredible local cuisine and a local experience is what you're looking for, then this is the place for you!
Poke for the People (66-528 A, Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI)
Farm To Barn Cafe & Juicery (66-320 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI)
Surf N Salsa (66521 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI)
Haleiwa Beach House (62-540 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI)
3:00pm: Waterfall hike & swim at Waimea Valley (59-864 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI)
Waimea Valley is a beautiful 1,800-acre property with botanical gardens, walking trails, historic buildings, and so much more! The main draw for most is Waimea Falls… A 45 foot waterfall that is part of the Kamanui Stream which flows from the north end of the Koolau Mountainsall the way through Waimea Valley to join the Waimea River to the ocean. At the base of the falls is a large pool for wading and swimming. It’s a short ¾ mile (1.5 miles roundtrip) walk along a paved path to get to the falls and the minimal effort is more than worth it. I will say, Waimea Valley as a whole is a bit touristy and pricey ($25/adult at the time of writing this) but honestly worth it in our opinion, especially if you have more than a couple of hours to spend there.
5:15pm: Sunset at Sunset Beach
It only makes sense to watch the sunset from Sunset Beach, right?? In all honesty, there are tons of great options for sunset viewing on the North Shore, and you probably can’t go wrong with any of them, but we really enjoyed our experience here. And if you really want to enhance the experience, head to Food Land (the local grocery store) just 2.5 miles down the road for snacks and drinks before claiming your spot in the sand to watch that big orange ball fall behind the horizon. Side Note: I hear that Food Land has the BEST Poke Bowls! I unfortunately didn’t find this out till after our trip.
I’m going to be honest… After our snacks and drinks on the beach, we decided to skip out on dinner, but if you’re still hungry (or didn’t take my advice about Food Land) then check out one of these spots! They came highly recommended and look delicious!
Uncle Bo's Haleiwa (66-111 Kamehameha Hwy #101, Haleiwa, HI)
Haleiwa Joe's (66-011 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI)
Teddy's Bigger Burgers (66-111 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI)
We hope that this itinerary helps you plan your visit and make the most of your time in North Shore Oahu! If you did find it helpful, please consider heading over to our YouTube Channel and subscribing for more travel content and following us on Instagram. It would mean the world to us!