The North Shore of Oahu is a world of its own, a different kind of place than anywhere else on the island. Throughout Hawaii and across the world in the surfing culture, from the historic town of Haleiwa to the Turtle Bay Hotel is called the North Shore. It’s been dubbed “The Country” for decades. The nickname comes from not only the fact that compared to Honolulu, otherwise known as “Town,” the North Shore really is country, but when the area was first discovered by surfers there were barely any homes, the roads were empty, and the only access was by a long dirt road weaving through cane fields.
Today the North Shore is quite different, it has fallen victim to its own popularity but it is still a beautiful place. It’s truly become the world mecca of surfing. The famous surf break Pipeline breaks in the winter, offering huge, perfect, world class waves that the best surfers around the world travel to every year to surf for fun and during competitions. Large homes now line the beach, mixed up with a few old ones that sit low between the modern houses. The roads out here are almost always crowded to be honest, but of course it’s still another story compared to an L.A. highway or even Honolulu. The surf breaks usually have crowded line-ups, but the waves are some of the best a person could find.
But even with the crowds, there just people who love and appreciate the area really, the North Shore still has it’s tropical gorgeous allure the drew people here over 50-years ago. The beaches are very long with fine white sand. In the summer the ocean is usually calm and crystal clear. During the winter the waves can get up to 50-feet high, inspire an intrigue that can keep you watching them, and the people who ride them for hours. The morning is an ideal time to go the beach here. It’s usually not crowded to around 11 a.m., everything is calm, and it’s a wonderful time for a morning swim or beach walk.
From about October through December, or sometimes early January depending on when the last surf contest wraps up, the North Shore is loaded with professional surfers. They come for a number and sometimes combination of reasons. Here, the up and coming surfers can make a name for themselves by getting photos taken surfing perfect waves in hopes of having them submitted to surfing magazines. Others come for the contests. There’s the contests for amateurs, then there’s the contests for the surfers who’ve been competing on the world wide surfing tour all year and it’s these contests that determine the surfing champion for that year. Of course, there’s the famous Eddie Aikau contest at Waimea Bay. This contest is only for elite big waves surfers from all over the world. The waves must be breaking at a height of at least 20-feet high for the contest to be a go. The contest didn’t happen for years on end because the waves simply didn’t get quite big enough. When it happened it 2009 for the first time in years, over 50,000 people were drawn to the North Shore to watch. Traffic didn’t move, cars were parked in places they shouldn’t have been, the North Shore was nuts that day.
In quaint Haleiwa Town, there are numerous shops, boutiques, and eateries to browse and enjoy while on the North Shore. It can be a shopper’s paradise for those who enjoy small unique shops. Big box and large chain stores are absent out here. The eateries are good too. From the collection of local lunch wagons on the west end of town (try the exquisite Thai food here), to the bustling Mexican restaurant and chart house style place on the other end of town, Haleiwa has food covered.
When on the North Shore make sure to take the time and explore. Eat, walk the beach, swim, ride the bike path, and even take a surf lesson. Just try and avoid rush hour.