Whether you’re an O‘ahu resident or a visitor to the islands, our Hawai‘i Life real estate team has a few tips for doing the North Shore of O‘ahu “like a local.” So that means its a casual, easy, unhurried day enjoying some of the simpler pleasures and hang-outs where you’re likely to bump into North Shore residents doing their thing.
There are loads of great coffee shops on the North Shore – too many to choose from, in fact. Many are serving up Kona or Hawai‘i grown beans (yeah, we make both coffee and chocolate here), but for something truly unique, many surfers and locals head to the Sunrise Shack for a Himalaya-inspired brew known as the Classic Bullet. Sherpas in Nepal and Tibet drink a tea brewed up from yak butter and while this sounds pretty unconventional, you may recall that they’re one of the heartiest, healthiest, strongest people in the world (they climb the Himalaya on the daily and live thousands of feet above sea level, after all).
The Classic Bullet from the Sunrise Shack – a bright yellow roadside fruit stand kind of affair – is made using surfer Laird Hamilton’s organic and mold-free coffee, coconut oil, grass-fed butter and Madagascar vanilla. The “mold-free” part of that sentence refers to coffee that is “unconsciously harvested and stored,” according to the Sunrise Shack’s website. We don’t know about that, but we do know that the classic bullet brew is a supercharger that’ll gear you up for your day of work, play, or North Shore adventures.
Sunset Beach Pillbox Trail
Many North Shore residents keep fit for their surfing adventures by hitting the local trails. A popular hike for many is the pillbox trail overlooking Sunset Beach. The trailhead and marker can be found on the left as you head into the Sunset Beach Elementary School parking lot. On a weekend morning, there’s ample parking and public washrooms right there. Be sure to pack in some water and sunscreen, though this short hike is blissfully shaded for the most part. When you get to the top, there are stunning views of the North Shore’s fabled surf spots and beaches.
The “pillboxes” are old concrete military bunkers or lookout points that dot the island. Many trails on O‘ahu, including the Pillbox Trail in Lanikai will take you on footpaths that lead from pillbox to pillbox where you’ll find the most amazing views (after all, those locations were strategically chosen for their panoramic vistas). Expect the Sunset Beach trail to take about 20 minutes to the first pillbox and you can move along the ridge to another one in just a short ten minutes. The entire route, both up and down, can be done in under an hour. While we didn’t go this far, the trail also leads up into the Sunset Hills neighborhood, above.
You can change into your suit at the bottom of the trail for a cooling dip in the ocean at Sunset Beach. You can’t beat the views and the wide expanse of beach. At certain times of the year, the beach is so deep (from the road to the water’s edge) that your friends might ask “where is everybody?” when you post a picture of the seemingly empty stretch of sand. Of course, when the surf is big, Sunset Beach and Pipeline are packed with surfers and surf watchers. Either way, it’s one of the most renowned beaches in the world, and even locals don’t get immune to its charms. Take a tip and cool off before lunch…
Good Grinds from Haleiwa to Turtle Bay
The North Shore is loaded with great cafés, restaurants, and eateries – with a range of cuisines that includes everything from food trucks and fine dining. Once you’ve had your fill of hiking, walking, touring, and seaside fun, cruise through Haleiwa town for some local grinds (tasty eats). While there are lots of great restaurants dotting the length of this quaint beach town, the food trucks are a special treat, serving up amazing fish and shrimp dishes.
If you’re driving up from Honolulu, the Beet Box Café is a fave among North Shore residents and our team of real estate agents who live and work up at our North Shore office. It’s located right as you exit the highway from Haleiwa and serves up vegetarian food at its best. Choose from a menu of burritos, sandwiches, salads, bowls, smoothies, and fresh juices to fire up your metabolism for a day of active, North Shore living.
In the opposite direction, you can refuel with fancier fare at Roy’s Beach House, located just behind Turtle Bay Resort and overlooking Kuilima Cove. Comfy lounge chairs, a view of the beach, and some seriously delicious grinds await. Not to be missed are the roasted Brussels sprouts and cauliflower with yogurt and honey, one of their signature appetizers that have been on the menu for ages. After lunch, the beach beckons. Take a dive into the protected cove and sun on the beach for a bit before heading out for more adventures or possibly some dessert.
Matsumoto Shave Ice
We would be remiss if we didn’t include one of the North Shore’s most popular attractions in this short list of must-do items. Grab a sweet, syrupy treat at the uber-popular Matsumoto Shave Ice, arguably the most famous shave ice joint on the island. Choose your syrup flavors and decide if you want a scoop of ice cream in the bottom or a “snow-cap” of sweetened, condensed milk poured over the top. It’s worth the wait in line in Haleiwa for this world-famous treat, perfect after a day of adventuring in the sun and salty waves of O‘ahu’s North Shore.