The North Shore of Oahu is incredibly famous for its prominent surf culture. Every year from November through March, the North Shore is graced by countless large swells. These swells produce some of the best surfing conditions in the world, attracting surfers from around the globe.
Surfing competitions are held throughout the season, such as The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing and The Eddie. Many tourists and locals travel to the North Shore during this time to watch the large waves crash on the shorelines of Pipeline and Waimea Bay. It’s certainly a real treat and privilege, to watch the beautiful turquoise waves glistening in the sun as they come crashing down, dissolving into a blanket of white frothy water along the coastline. The magnificent swells and surf culture often overshadow the summer months and other wonders that make the North Shore so unique. But in fact, summertime is a great time to visit the North Shore and explore all that it has to offer.
Rich in a culture built around a strong sense of Ohana, or family, the North Shore celebrates lots of different activities and events. Summertime is perfect for snorkeling and diving, when the waves have subsided. Many locals agree that Shark’s Cove and Three Tables offer the best spots to view the plentiful marine life on the island of Oahu. Shark’s Cove in particular is always highly recommended by locals for its wide array of marine life that includes: parrot fish, eels, turtles, damsel fish, and the Hawaii State fish Humuhumunukunukuapua’a. For the avid diver, there are small under water caves that you can explore. The shorelines are very rocky, so bring proper water shoes to enter the waters safely. Of course, please try to refrain from touching any live coral as it is not good for their health. Hawaii recently passed a bill to ban any sunscreen containing oxybenzone and octinoxate, since it is believed that these chemicals are contributing to the destruction of the coral reefs. Currently it is awaiting signature from Governor, David Ige, to become law. Please refrain from using these types of sunscreen when snorkeling or diving.
If you are not a huge fan of snorkeling or diving, you can always enjoy a good swim at one of the many beautiful beaches on the island. While Waimea Bay is not safe to swim at during the winter, it is great for swimming during the summer. The bay, with its soft yellow sand, is carved out of a cliff that is next to the beautiful Waimea Valley. A large rock is located on the left side on the beach, which many locals enjoy jumping off of into the ocean below. As the ocean floor drops off very quickly at this beach, the water gets quite deep as soon as you enter. This allows many to test their daredevil skills, not only climbing up the large rock, but also jumping off it at 25 feet above the ocean surface. But if thrills are not your cup of tea, don’t worry the beach is quite large and great for sunbathing or throwing a ball.
Across the street from Waimea Bay is a beautiful botanical garden in the Waimea Valley that comes complete with a waterfall you can swim at. The botanical garden is filled with gorgeous flowers, such as Kamehameha’s Paddle, as well as traditional Hawaiian huts and historical sites. The Waimea botanical garden is a very relaxing and calming walk through a shaded, lush valley that everyone can enjoy. Once you complete your walk, you can swim at the base of the waterfall in a large swimming hole that is 30 feet deep. It is best to go after any heavy rainfall, since the waterfall will likely be larger and stronger. Otherwise, Thursday may be the best time since there is a weekly farmers market held at the botanical garden. The farmers market offers lots of fresh vegetables and fruits from local farmers, as well as delicious food from local vendors. If you’ve never had fresh liliko’i, or passion fruit, then it’s a must try.
While on the topic of food, the North Shore is also known to have great seafood and treats. Shrimp, fresh fish, and shave ice are the favorites among locals and tourists alike. Haleiwa and Pupukea offer great spots for local cuisine, which include shrimp scampi, fresh fish tacos, and chocolate haupia pie. There’s also some great Thai and American style restaurants along Kamehameha highway that runs through the heart of historic Haleiwa town. Make sure to take full advantage of the fresh seafood, while visiting the North Shore, your taste buds will certainly appreciate it.
As with all traveling and exploring, take the time to learn about the local culture and area. Not only will you enjoy your travels more, but they will be much more rewarding. This way you do not miss out on all of great aspects that make the North Shore of Oahu so unique. The surfing and tremendous waves are fantastic to experience, but the marine life, nature, and food are to die for.