Oahu’s North Shore

north shore oahu

The rocky but secluded North Shore of Oahu

Oahu has surprised me on many levels so far.  With access to a car, you can really go explore every corner and find yourself on a turquoise secluded beach easily.   That’s exactly what I did on the North Shore.  Ron and I drove to the North shore to do the Shark Cage Experience early in the morning and decided to make a whole road trip out of it.  My North Shore day turned out to be one of my favorite days so far!

After floating with the sharks near the town of Hale’iwa, we grabbed a big breakfast and then took off for the the end of the road…literally.   We drove towards Ka’ena Point until we could go no further.  The road used to go around the Northwest corner of Oahu, but due to poor road conditions and erosion it is no longer a functioning road.  So we drove until the road turned to dirt, and then pulled over and parked near a little beach.

There was NO ONE at the beach.  I was in Hawaii…on a beach…a beautiful white sand beach…..turquoise waters….waves lapping up on shore…and not a single soul around me.  It seemed impossible that this could be Hawaii.  I promptly laid out a big blanket, put my bag down, kicked off my flip flops and laid down to take a nap.  Now this is my definition of paradise.

After a quick power nap, we were up and heading back to Hale’iwa for a ‘must-eat’…shave ice.  No, that’s not a typo, it’s called shave ice – not shaved ice.  (If anyone knows why – please let me know!)  I had heard about this cool treat and now it was my chance to dig in.  My verdict…it was like a snow cone, but the ice was much more fine. My mango, passion fruit, and strawberry shave ice hit the spot and we were on our way again.

Next we came face to face with quintessential Hawaii – Waimea Bay – home of the biggest waves around.  I was quite excited to see these monster waves and the surfers who ride them, however luck was not on our side – the surf was flat.  Just another reason to come back one day.

The North shore drive is dotted with tantalizing treats.  Food trucks like Giovanni’s is famous for it’s shrimp.  As we pulled up there were lines and lines of people waiting for their styrofoam plate of shrimp flooded in garlic.  And so I sauntered up to the counter and ordered my very own plate of garlic shrimp.  After using an entire container of napkins, I was finished with my garlicky, bathed in butter  shrimp and realized that I would be wreaking of garlic for days…but it was worth it!

On the healthier side the North shore is also dotted with fresh fruit and vegetable stands.  We filed our back seat with plenty of Hawaiian grown produce and kept moving along the North Shore.  After all of this food it was time for another nap.  Beaches line the North shore so it was only a matter of minutes until we found another little beach to spread out the blanket and take another power nap.  Yes – that’s right…two beach naps in one day; this very well may have been the best day ever!

Finally – it was time for dessert at Ted’s Bakery where we had yummy haupia (coconut gel) pie.

Yes – all we did was eat and sleep all day.  It’s a rough life on the North Shore.

We finally turned the corner towards the mountainous Windward Coast and pointed the car full of food towards Kailua.

Quite possibly the perfect day.


sunrise clouds

Sunrise from the Shark Encounters boat


rocky beach

The end of the road - Ka'ena Point


shave ice hawaii

Brunch...a little Shave Ice for a snack in Hale'iwa


surf waves

Catching waves...



Fruit stands temping us along the North Shore highway


food truck

Giovanni's famous garlic shrimp...vampires would hate it!



tree beach

A tree holds on along the Windward Coast



We still have room in the car for a few more delicacies! Fresh avocados!


fence mountains

The mountains of the windward coast tell us we are about home.





Your Comments

18 Comments so far

  1. Sounds like a glorious day. So glad you’re enjoying Hawaii.

  2. Lauren says:

    I’m so happy I came across your gorgeous photos! I’m in the midst of planning a multi-family trip to Oahu & Maui – just when I think ‘WHY AM I DOING THIS?’, I see pictures like these.

    And I realize – Hawaii’s actually not complicated at all, is it?

    • Sherry says:

      Hawaii is nothing like I expected…unless you stay in Waikiki. The rest of this very big island is completely gorgeous, slow, and simple. With a car – you can easily get to remote areas that are stunning. I have done very little typical ‘tourist’ things and that’s what I love about it – I don’t feel bombarded with tourism here in Kailua. Let me know if I can be of any help. I will be doing lots of writing about my time here over the coming month or so!

  3. I’ve done this exact drive along the North Shore coast, it’s absolutely breathtaking in person!

  4. Love your pics!

    But we found the avacados have a different taste to them in Hawaii, not as tasty. But the mango’s yummy!

    Nancy & Shawn

  5. Mark H says:

    GReat photos. It looks a wilder and more remote place than I imagined. I picture highrises and ugly beach resorts when people mention Hawaii – obviously unfair imagery from your fine photography.

  6. Hi Sherry:
    I’ve spent several months in Hawaii over the years – actually carried my surfboards to the North Shore one year to try out the waves but the water was just too fast for someone who was used to Atlantic and Caribbean waves. I see from one of your comments that you are in Kailua – that;s my favorite part of the island. Hope you get a chance to go further north on that side of Oahu. From Kaneohe to Punaluu it is absolutely stunning!

    • Sherry says:

      I didn’t know that you surfed Barbara! Very impressive – I’ve never tried it! yes – I stayed in Kailua with a good friend – what a gem of a town. I had use of his car too – so I went driving around the whole island…perfect!

  7. Chris says:

    Love this post and the huge pictures! Kailua is a beautiful place and I am glad you’re enjoying your time.

  8. You covered all my favorite things about the north shore in this post with awesome photos!
    It was great seeing you speak at MPG in SF. I’m ready to run and jump off the cliff!

  9. Ashley says:

    I actually used to live on the North Shore- I miss it soo much! These pictures are incredibly beautiful. Almost makes me feel like I’m home again!

  10. Deb Schaffer says:

    The North Shore is the best part of Oahu – barely edging out Kailua! Last time we hiked out to Ka’ena point, we saw the monk seals lying on the beach near the point. Amazing!

    • Sherry says:

      I wish we would have hiked to the point – but we actually ended up taking all day to slowly drive back to Kailua from the North Shore stopping at so many places along the way. Next time I will do the hike!

  11. Mike C says:

    Beautiful photographs, Hawaii has long been on my wish list. This post just bumped it up a spot.

    • Sherry says:

      Mike – I hope you make it there – this was my first trip to Hawaii and I just loved it. Especially the Big Island. I have much more to come on the diversity of the Big Island so stay tuned!

  12. Debbie says:

    Great photos! We loved driving around the North Shore during our trip to Oahu.

Share your view

Post a comment