For surfers, the North Shore’s appeal is hard to ignore. Even if you don’t plan to brave the crowds at one of the many iconic breaks along the Seven Mile Miracle, simply watching the waves crash at Pipeline is more than enough to leave you in awe. Despite the North Shore being one of Oahu’s top attractions, it still maintains its small-town appeal that will make you want to slow down, relax, and stay awhile. The North Shore may be the surfing world mecca, but there’s a lot more to the Seven Mile Miracle than just the waves. For Ultimate North Shore Travel Guide, continue reading below.
Getting to the North Shore
The North Shore of Oahu is perhaps the most sought-after destination in the surfing world. Still, getting to the North Shore isn’t always easy. As the name suggests, the North Shore is located on the Northern Coast of Oahu in the Hawaiian island chain. Oahu’s North Shore is only about 25 miles from the heart of Honolulu, but due to the island’s notorious traffic, it may take up to an hour to reach the North Shore via I-H-2 N
As we mentioned in our Hawaii Surf and Travel Season Guide, during the winter on the North Shore, the ocean roars to life, and the world-class waves that make up the Seven Mile Miracle are hit with enormous amounts of swell. During the summer, the waters off of the North Shore are often as calm as a lake. The waves on the North Shore are not to be taken lightly. Outside of a few beginner breaks, most of the nearby breaks are best suited for experienced surfers. While there are dozens of surf breaks along the North Shore, a few stand out as the North Shore’s most coveted waves. These include Pipeline, Backdoor, Sunset, and Haleiwa.
If you’re not an experienced surfer, you can still enjoy the waves on the North Shore with expert guidance from our surf instructors. Our North Shore Surf Lessons prioritize fun while teaching you the fundamentals of surfing. If you’re an intermediate surfer and want a guided North Shore Surf Experience, we’ll show you the ropes at our favorite waves.
Sites and Activates
The North Shore may be known for its surf, but there’s plenty to do out of the water. From breathtaking hikes and stunning reef passes to professional-quality golf courses.
Sharks Cove is the North Shore’s best snorkeling and diving spot during the summer when the water is calm. Rent snorkeling gear or bring your own and explore a lively underwater world right off the shore.
Sea Turtle Safaris
Pile onto a SUP Squatch (giant stand-up paddleboard) piloted by our guides and head out into the water on an unforgettable adventure. On the Jamie O’Brien Surf Experience Turtle Safari, you are guaranteed to encounter sea turtles, as well as a variety of other tropical sea life. Our Turtle Safari packs in as much fun as possible into a wildlife tour and guarantees you and your crew have a great time on the calm waters of Kawela Bay.
Sunset Pillbox Hike
The Sunset Pillbox Hike is a short yet steep climb that takes you up the mountain right behind Pipeline. Once you reach the top, you’ll be able to see the entire North Shore. For trail access, park at Ehukai Beach Park, and the entrance will be on the left. This hike can get extremely muddy after the rain.
Golf at Turtle Bay
Turtle Bay Resort has not one but two professional-quality courses. Stretched along the stunning North Shore coastline, the Arnold Palmer and George Fazio courses have hosted the PGA Tour, the LPGA tour, the Hawaii State Open of Golf, and the Golf Channel’s The Big Break.
The North Shore may not have all the dining options of the city but there’s still plenty of local spots to try while you’re in town.
The Sunrise Shack
Professional surfers and brothers Alex, Travis, and Koa Smith along with their good friend Koa Rothman founded the Sunrise Shack in 2016. Now, the Sunrise Shack is a go-to spot for North Shore locals and travelers alike for coffee, smoothies, and healthy eats.
Haleiwa Bowls is a healthy food staple along the North Shore that serves a variety of Acai and smoothie bowls. Haleiwa Bowls is the perfect pre or post-surf stop.
If you’re looking for an upscale night out, head over to Turtle Bay Resort to dine at Lei Lei’s on the Golf Course. From perfectly cooked steaks to fresh caught and expertly prepared steaks, Lei Lei’s is the spot to go for date night on the North Shore.
Where to Stay
If you want to stay in the heart of the north shore without dealing with the hassle of finding an expensive vacation rental, book your stay at Turtle Bay Resort. Perfectly located in the heart of the North Shore, guests in Turtle Bay can choose between traditional guest rooms, suites, ocean Bungalows, and Private Villas. With seven different dining options, two golf courses, and access to some of the best surf on the planet, you’ll never have to venture too far.