When in Oahu, live with aloha as the locals do…
Although Oahu isn’t Hawaii’s largest island, it is the most visited – and for good reason. In Honolulu alone, there are a multitude of attractions to explore: Diamond Head, Pearl Harbor, and beaches with incredible views, just to name a few.
A few years ago, I was lucky enough to have an entire week in Oahu. With a week’s amount of time on my hands, I wanted to dedicate an entire day to exploring another side of the island: The North Shore.
An easy drive from the Honolulu area, the North Shore of Oahu has a couple of the island’s most famous eateries, iconic beaches, and even a particularly fruity tourist attraction. Keep reading to explore my one-day itinerary of Oahu’s North Shore.
Stop #1: The Dole Pineapple Plantation
Start your day on the North Shore of Oahu with a trip to the Dole Pineapple Plantation. It’s a must when you’re visiting Hawaii.
As we all know, the pineapple is one of Hawaii’s most-loved fruit – if not the most-loved – so why not get better acquainted with how it’s grown?
Your tour of the Dole Plantation begins by walking through a large building filled with souvenir shops. At the end of this building, step outside through the back doors to enter the pineapple garden. This is where you’ll find a walkable area with 20+ varieties of the spiky fruit (in various stages of growth) on display.
It’s plenty of fun to walk around the Dole garden, but if you’d like to upgrade your experience, you have the option of paying for the Pineapple Express Train Tour. This tour seemed popular with families visiting. Kids love getting on trains, right? I know I did when I was that age!
Don’t forget the Dole Whip
Before you leave the Dole Plantation, don’t forget to indulge in an order of Dole Whip. If you’re uninitiated to the amazing taste of Dole Whip, here’s what you need to know…
It’s a soft-serve sorbet, with an irresistible balance of sweetness and tartness. If someone took the essence of all that’s delicious about the pineapple and melted it down into dessert, it would be Dole Whip.
At the Dole Plantation, the Dole Whip is served in an adorable waffle ice cream cone, with a pineapple stick for garnish. It’s even wrapped up in a decorative paper that reads, “JOY” – which is exactly what you’ll be feeling with all of that delicious Dole Whip in your belly.
Stop #2: Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck
Now that you’ve had dessert for breakfast, it’s time to tuck into something more savory for lunch.
Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck is one of the most popular places to eat – not just on the North Shore, but in all of Oahu. And they’re known for – you guessed it! – shrimp. Not just any shrimp, either… Giovanni’s specializes in the most decadent shrimp you can imagine: buttered and grilled up, with a heaping topping of garlic. Even the steamed rice on the side is coated with a healthy serving of garlic.
Needless to say, you don’t see many vampires dining here. Grab lots of napkins and prepare to get messy.
Stop #3: Laniakea Beach (AKA Sea Turtle Beach)
If you’re looking to check, “See the sea turtles in person” off your Hawaii bucket list, there’s no better place than Laniakea Beach. Located on the North Shore of Oahu, Laniakea is a gorgeous beach where the sea turtles go to bask in the sun. Wedged in the sand, these chill creatures like to hang out all day. Laziness (and cuteness) at its finest.
This is a very popular beach for that reason. (It also features stunning views and beautiful rocks to climb, so that helps!)
I recommend stopping by on a weekday when there’s less chance of the beach being packed with people. But even if it is crowded? It’s so worth checking out. Here are some photos of Laniakea Beach to tempt you to visit.
Stop #4: Matsumoto’s Shave Ice
Yes. More dessert.
Hawaii is known for shave ice, so don’t leave the North Shore without trying one of Oahu’s best shave ice shops, Matsumoto’s. At Matsumoto’s, you can choose from a large variety of shave ice flavorings and toppings. It’s the perfect sweet treat for a hot day on the island.
Bonus: you can pose for an embarrassing souvenir photo outside Matsumoto’s shop.
Stop #5: Haleiwa Harbor
You’re gonna need a walking break after eating all of that shave ice. Take a stroll from Matsumoto’s Shave Ice shop down to the Haleiwa Harbor, which is just a short distance down the road.
Get a glimpse of the passing boats that glide in and out of the harbor. It’s a peaceful way to spend some time before heading back to Matsumoto’s parking lot for your next North Shore stop.
Stop #6: Banzai Pipeline
Surf’s up. Beginners are guaranteed to wipe out on these waves.
The Banzai Pipeline is an infamous beach on Oahu’s North Shore. Known as the place where surfers go to show off their abilities, it’s a must-see. Take a seat in the sand, and watch from a distance… unless you’re very confident in your ability to handle strong waves.
I’m bummed that I didn’t have a telephoto lens with me, but I managed to snap a few good photos anyway. (The crop tool was my friend.)
Have you been to Oahu? What would be your first stop on this list?
Let me know in the comments below!