How to Plan Your Trip to the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii

The North Shore of Oahu is a little haven away from the bustling city of Honolulu. It’s known for its famous “Seven Mile Miracle,” which is 7 miles of straight perfect waves, beaches, and coastline starting in Hale’iwa and ending up at Velzyland. There are endless waves to surf, beaches to explore, hikes, good food, and overall amazing vibes. Use this guide on how to plan your trip, where to eat different meals, shop, and more.

woman looking out at the ocean

How to Plan Your Trip:

Fly into HNL (Honolulu, Oahu). It’s imperative to rent a car if you’re staying on North Shore. You can use one of the chain car rentals, or if you’re looking for a cheaper rental option, use Turo. I recommend using Turo because it allows you to rent cars directly from locals, so it’s less expensive, and you’re also supporting a local business.

Where to Stay:

If you’re looking for a local experience: I’d recommend staying in Hale’iwa or as close to Hale’iwa as possible. This is where all of the restaurants, shops, and easy access to pretty much everything you want to do are. There are so many great waves to surf in Hale’iwa, and it’s also really easy to drive to Honolulu from Hale’iwa as well. If you want a great place to rent, check Hawaii Life Vacation Rentals for a great place to stay.

If you’re looking for a classic “Hotel Vacation’ or tourist experience: stay at Turtle Bay Resort. It’s super nice, right on the beach, has great bars, pools, restaurants, and an epic golf course. It’s pretty pricey, but it’s the only hotel option on North Shore.

Overall Tips:

  • You have to rent a car if you’re coming to North Shore
  • Besides Hale’iwa, there is no commercial business licensing on the North Shore. That’s why there are so many food trucks! So you’ll see a ton of food trucks, and many of them are really delicious. See my recs below for food and meals.

two women surfing on the north shore of oahu


  • Local farm delivery via Farmlink: use this link for $10 off your first order
  • Farmers Market: at the Waialua Sugar Mill, Saturdays 8:30am-10am. Everything is usually sold out by 10am
  • Celestial Natural Food: pricey but great healthy options


  • Hi Pie Bakery & Cafe: good coffee, poi banana bread, and vibes
  • Tropical Tribe: best acai bowls on North Shore. The acai is shipped direct from Brazil. Get the Tropical Tribe Bowl with the Tropical Topping. Also incredible coffee!

  • Farm to Barn: Unbeatable vibes! Outdoor on a farm. Go on Friday or Saturday AM, usually live music. Good healthy breakfast foods, juices, also good burritos.
  • Nalu Health Bar: Healthy grinds, good acai bowls.

  • Cafe Hale’iwa: Classic egg breakfasts, waffles, pancakes, OJ, etc. This is definitely more of a popular spot amongst the locals – recommend!

  • Beet Box Cafe: I usually go here for lunch, but they also have amazing healthy breakfast. It’s vegetarian, they are known for their juices, smoothies, breakfast burritos, and sandos.

  • Ted’s Bakery: Best bakery on the island, for all of your sweet tooth pastry needs. Famous place right in Sunset Beach!

acai bowl topped with fruit

Photo credit: Tropical Tribe | Traditional Acai bowl from Tropical Tribe in Haleiwa


  • Beet Box Cafe: Favorite place for lunch, super healthy and delicious. I highly recommend the 3 Little Birds Sandwich (my #1 favorite), Portobello Sandwich, and the Veggie Burger. The juices and smoothies and kombucha on tap are all really good too. The shop next door, Coco’s Trading Post, is so epic and mostly everything is from Bali, make sure to stop in.

  • Poke for the People: Best poke bowls on North Shore, in Hale’iwa.

  • Waialua Bakery: Epic sandwich spot! You have to get a sandwich and a smoothie, the smoothies here are insane and cheap ($5). Don’t get anything on the rolls, make sure to get your sandwich on the wheat bread. Also, they have gluten free bread, it’s not on the menu so you have to ask for that. Popular spot for locals. Cash only!

  • Nalu Health Bar: Get the ahi tuna sandwich – so bomb!

  • Wicked Hi Cafe: Delicious fresh cooked sourdough pizzas, and insanely good lilikoi (passionfruit) shave ice freezes. Located in Waialua, cool thrift store upstairs.

  • Seven Brothers: Great burgers. I usually get the ahi tuna and coconut shrimp plate, it’s insane. There’s one of these in Kahuku, one in Hale’iwa, and one at the food trucks near Sharks Cove… so you’re guaranteed to find one close to you!

  • Raised by the Waves: Vegan cafe in the Kahuku sugar mill. I like their juices, smoothies, and their tempeh sandwich. It’s right next to Seven Brothers, so if you’re with someone who is craving a burger, and you want something healthy, it’s a good place to divide and conquer.


  • Banzai Sushi Bar: My favorite restaurant to get dinner on north shore. They play surf films and have traditional tatami floor-style seating. Good sushi, solid drinks. Hot tip: put your name on the waitlist from Yelp in order to get a spot.

  • Kahuku Beer Garden: such a fun spot! Great beers on tap. Hot tip is to get food to go from one of the food trucks or seven brothers, take it to the brewery and eat there! We do this once a week!

  • Elephant Thai Truck: SO GOOD, amazing Thai food, located in Sunset Beach. One of my favorite date nights: pick up Thai from Elephant Truck, take it to Sunset Beach across the street, and have a picnic on the beach while watching the sunset. So fun. A must! Order ahead online, if you wait until you get there, the wait is a few hours.

  • Maya’s: Tapas, cocktails, wine, vibes. Great spot where a lot of locals go, probably the best drinks I’ve had on north shore. Live music on Thursdays which I love! You must make reservations ahead of time because it’s fully booked every night. Do not go here for lunch, this is a dinner spot. Food is mediocre, but vibes and drinks are great.

  • No 7 Japanese Food Truck: Yummy sushi on the north shore. Jordan and I eat here once a week, haha! Super casual and so yummy. Always a lot of locals here, guaranteed to have a good meal. Hot tip: go to Malama Market across the street to get booze for BYOB. Order: garlic shrimp on spicy tuna (MUST), spicy ahi bowl, super chirashi bowl, any of the rolls.

  • Surf N Salsa: Local spot, great tacos and Mexican food. Good vibes. Casual, inexpensive!

  • Sunset Bar at Turtle Bay: Best place for drinks at sunset on the north shore in my opinion. Casual menu. Get here an hour before sunset to grab a seat and relax.

  • Alaia Turtle Bay: Upscale dining at a price. Overlooks the water, great for a boojie date night. Make reservations.

  • Roy’s Beach House at Turtle Bay: Great menu, great drinks, located on the beach. Expensive, but a solid date night for a vacay. Make reservations


  • North Shore Yoga Co Op: Best yoga classes on north shore hands down! Wide variety of different classes offered every day except Tuesdays and Sundays. Highly recommend: Kara, Kilty, Sarabeth, and Kendyl’s sound bath on Thursdays at 11am.


  • Ehukai Pillbox Trail: quick 45-minute hike through bamboo forests and trees and ends up with beautiful views. I do this hike at least 1x/week. You can see pipeline from above! Start at Sunset Beach Elementary School.

  • Lulumahu Falls: one of my favorite hikes on island. A bit of a drive from north shore, but definitely worth it, especially if you take the route down the east side of the island.

  • Kuliouou Trail: Really incredible hike that takes you through the greenery and up, up, up onto the top of the island. You can see all of Kailua and the east side from the top, along with views of the city… it’s truly epic. About 5 miles roundtrip and a great workout. Highly recommend this one.

  • Kaiwa Rudge / Lanikai Pillbox Hike: Another one of my favorites, a bit of a drive. I like to hike all the way to the 3rd pillbox. Insanely stunning views!

  • Ka’ena Point: Great trail on North Shore. This one is pretty flat and coastal; it’s a good one to do with parents or someone who doesn’t like inclines. It’s about 2 miles in and 2 miles out, pretty easy. Great place to go about 2 hours before sunset. I personally love this area, Mokule’ia – it’s right up against the mountains and the water is aqua blue. Some ancient Hawaiian folklore states that Kaʻena Point is the “jumping-off” point for souls leaving this world.

  • Laie Falls Trail: Long 8-mile hike on north shore. Pretty incredible.

SHOPPING RECS (all in Hale’iwa):

  • Mahina: cutest clothes, boho, beachy.

  • Guava Shop: cute clothes, bikinis, bags, jewelry — they have it all.

  • San Lorenzo Bikinis: best bikini shop on island. They have tons of stuff, and it’s all local.

  • Coco’s Trading Post: crystals, decor, hanging laterns, yogic stuff, all the vibes! One of my favorite places to shop.

  • Polu Gallery and Greenroom Gallery: for all of your local art needs.

About the Author

Emily Meersand

Emily Meersand is a REALTOR Associate with Hawai'i Life. With a passion for real estate that expands over a decade, Emily brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her hybrid role at Hawaii Life. Her focus is on single family homes, investment opportunities, and property management. From personal experience, she knows real estate ownership is a means to a better life: whether it’s purchasing your dream home, an investment in cash flowing rental properties, or helping you manage your rental portfolio. Over her career, Emily has led Sales, Growth, Training, and Support functions at multiple high-growth startups. She graduated cum laude from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in Business-Economics and a minor in Finance and Accounting. She's also an accomplished real estate investor and co-founder of Russum Investments. Her business partners with everyday investors who want to earn passive income through real estate, with a special focus on long-distance single-family investing. She owns and operates 56 units nationwide. Outside of her career in real estate, business, and sales, she is a mom, a yoga teacher and practitioner. She leads group classes, along with surf and yoga retreats all over the world. She's a firm believer that having a fulfilling life outside of the workplace leads to thriving success inside of the workplace. You can email me at emilymeersand@hawaiilife.com or via phone at (808) 459-8429.

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