Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in North Shore, HI

  • Published 2022/10/29

Big waves and beautiful beaches keep visitors returning to the North Shore coastal area in Hawaii.

This top surfing destination boasts pristine beaches and surf-perfect waves, which are incomparable to any place in the world.

North Shore is also known for snorkeling activities and sunbathing on its beach coast, which spans 11 miles.

Eat and shop at local stores here for a unique experience of the culture of Hawaii.

If you’re planning your next trip, here are the best things to do in North Shore, Hawaii:

Surf and Swim at Waimea Bay Beach Park

Aerial view of Waimea Bay Beach Park

Kelly Headrick /

The pearl-white sand and aquamarine waters of Waimea Bay Beach Parkalong Kamehameha Highway is a picture-perfect destination for tourists.

Considered the deepest bay in the area of North Shore, the Waimea Bay Beach Park offers a breathtaking view of Waimea Valley when surfing, swimming, snorkeling, and fishing.

It’s also a popular destination for pro-surfers because of its killer waves, especially during winter.

Surfing at Waimea Bay Beach Park

Kelly Headrick /

Rock formations along the coast are also famous in the area.

You can go on a picnic with your family or friends as picnic tables are available on the bay.

Sunny day at Waimea Bay Beach Park

Mike Tiscareno /

Hike the Waimea Valley Trail to the Waimea Falls

People swimming at Waimea Falls

Kelly Headrick /

If you want to try hiking and swimming in Hawaii, trek the Waimea Valley Trail to reach the breathtaking Waimea Falls.

This popular hiking destination stretches a little more than 3 kilometers and would take you around 50 minutes to complete.

The well-maintained trail is composed mostly of paved pathways filled with tall trees, plenty of plants, huts, and rocks leading to the falls.

Trees along Waimea Valley Trail

Mary Baratto /

When you reach Waimea Falls, the sound of the rushing water trickling down will welcome you.

Visitors can swim in the natural water of the falls daily.

Swimmers must wear life vests for their safety while enjoying the water.

Paved trail of Waimea Valley Trail

Jayashri B /

Ride the Pineapple Express at Dole Plantation

Red pineapple at Dole Plantation

cleanfotos /

A vast pineapple plantation with exciting activities awaits you in North Shore, Hawaii.

The Dole Plantation on Kamehameha Hwy features a tour of the step-by-step procedure done on the pineapple farm.

In the 1950s, the Dole Plantation started as a fruit stand which later became a public attraction in 1989 because of its unique experience and activities.

One of the most famous activities here is the Pineapple Express Train tour which takes visitors around the plantation while teaching them the history and importance of the work done at the farm.

Red pineapples at Dole Plantation

mhgstan /

The tour usually takes around 20 minutes to complete.

Mini gardens can also be explored with the Plantation Garden Tour.

Dubbed the World’s Largest Maze, Dole Plantation’s Pineapple Garden Maze will test your analytical and navigational skills; you will surely have fun figuring out how to get out of the maze.

Brave the Waves at Banzai Pipeline

Big waves at Banzai Pipeline

JJM Photography /

Another surfer destination in North Shore is the Banzai Pipeline which is famous for its extremely challenging but photogenic surf point breaks.

Many professional surfers look for this type of curled wave formed when the waves collide with the reefs and banks.

Since the 1960s, famous surfers have braved the waves at Banzai Pipeline to test their skills in surfing.

A surfer watching the waves at Banzai Pipeline

Louise Rico /

Some well-known surfers who rode the Pipeline waves included Phil Edwards and Butch Van Artsdalen.

National and international surfing competitions are frequent at the Banzai Pipeline because of its heavy and big waves.

Though risky and accident-prone, the Pipeline on Ke Nui Rd continues to bring in surfers from all over the globe because of its photo-perfect waves and thrilling experience.

Aerial view of Banzai Pipeline

Dudarev Mikhail /

Bask in the Sun at Sunset Beach Park

Daytime view of Sunset Beach Park

Nature’s Charm /

Sunbathe and play on the sands of Sunset Beach Park, located along Kamehameha Highway.

The shores of this beach are perfect for a picnic with family or friends.

True to its name, Sunset Beach provides visitors with a stunning sunset view.

Popular since the 1920s, Sunset Beach also hosts renowned surfing competitions in the country and the world.

You can also try other activities on the coastline, including skimboarding, snorkeling, and even building sand castles.

You can also spot whales, tortoises, and dolphins at Sunset Beach Park.

Snorkel at Shark’s Cove

People at Shark’s Cove

E.J.Johnson Photography /

One of the top snorkel destinations in the world can be found on Shark’s Cove, opposite Pahoe Road, along Kamehameha Highway.

This attraction has gained international popularity because of its abundant marine life and aquamarine waters.

Looking into the bottom, you will see corals and rock boulders serving as sanctuaries to marine life at Shark’s Cove.

The waters of Shark’s Cove

Yefimova Olena /

Expect to see shoals of fish, green sea turtles, and seals in this area of North Shore.

Visitors and tourists give Shark’s Cove high ratings for the variety of marine life you can see here.

The water is also mostly clear and calm, perfect for a day of exploration.

Aerial view of Shark’s Cove

Joshua ten Brink /

Grab Coffee at Sunrise Shack

For coffee lovers, the pastel-colored shop of Sunrise Shack is a go-to destination.

Located near Ke Nui Road, the stall serves coffee and other fresh food items, which has attracted visitors over the years.

Started in 2016, the coffee and food stall’s mission is to bring friends together in a place where they can surf and enjoy the beach.

Sunrise Shack uses fresh ingredients for its drinkand food offerings as the owners value health and wellness.

Among the popular choices on the menu are the bullet coffees, smoothie bowls, smoothies, avocado toast, and healthy shots.

They also have salads, wraps, and sandwiches.

Drive along the Scenic Route at Kamehameha Highway

Daytime view of Kamehameha Highway

Wirestock Creators /

The scenic Kamehameha Highway is the main road transporting people to most of the tourist attractions in North Shore.

The 31-mile highway comprises various routes traversing different tourist attractions.

With Pacific Ocean as its backdrop, a drive along Kamehameha Highway offers a relaxing and breathtaking experience.

The highway got its name from the king, who united the islands of Hawaii during the 18th and 19th centuries.

A drive along this route will take you to beaches, bays, coves, national parks, and many other attractions in Hawaii.

You can also see nearby islands while driving along Kamehameha Highway.

Take a Sweet Bite at Matsumoto Shave Ice

People eating in front of Matsumoto Shave Ice

Tpt /

Enjoy a cool treat under the heat of the sun while enjoying the sand and the waves at Matsumoto Shave Ice.

Shaved ice in various flavors, sizes, and other combinations is available at this store.

Opened in 1951, Matsumoto Shave Ice serves its specialty in bowls with different colors depending on the flavors.

The store offers flavors like guava, strawberry, lime, sour apple, peach, root beer, and bubble gum.

The process of making Matsumoto Shave Ice

Anthony Quintano from Honolulu, HI, United States, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There are also sugar-free options.

This colorful and sweet treat is a must-try when you visit Hawaii.

Head to the Kamehameha Highway near Emerson Road to grab the Matsumoto Shave Ice and other products.

Exterior of Matsumoto Shave Ice

Achim Hepp from Dortmund, Germany, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Enjoy Scenic Views at the Ehukai Pillbox Hike

View from the Ehukai Pillbox Hike

Spencerlee808 /

If you want to stretch your legs, enjoy some hiking, and see stunning views, the Ehukai Pillbox Hike is an activity to try.

The 3.7-kilometer trail is a go-to hike destination because the place has fewer crowds compared with other trails in North Shore.

This trail is one of the many pillbox hikes in this part of Hawaii.

The name “pillbox” was used because of the abandoned war bunkers, which serve as stations along the hike.

These pillboxes are now painted with graffiti art and have been repurposed as viewing decks when completing the trail.

Hikers are advised to start early to enjoy the views.

If you want to catch the sunset, make sure to bring lights when you take the trail going back.

Savor Shrimp Dishes at Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck

Exterior of Giovanni's Shrimp Truck

Phillip B. Espinasse /

One of the most popular food places in North Shore is Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck, located along Kamehameha Highway near Paalaa Road.

The place offers the best shrimp scampi in town and other shrimp dishes.

The shrimp scampi is popular here, which is made more flavorful with garlic and lemon butter.

Another offering is the hot and spicy shrimp which will surely leave a blistering sensation in your mouth.

Shrimp dishes from Giovanni's Shrimp Truck

Niko Natsuki /

Started in 1993, Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck has been recognized in food contests locally and internationally.

It continues to provide delicious and affordable food to tourists.

Its food truck has also been an iconic vehicle in North Shore because of the signatures of support that fill the outside of the truck.

Rear view of Giovanni's Shrimp Truck

Photograph by D Ramey Logan, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Take a Photo with the Turtles at Laniakea Beach

Two turtles at Laniakea Beach shore

Dmitrii Sakharov /

Also called Turtle Beach, the Laniakea Beach is the entry point in North Shore as it is located in the northernmost part of the region.

Giant turtles along the shore are the most common sight on this beach.

You can get close to the turtles and snap photos with them while enjoying the sand and water on the shore.

Turtles at Laniakea Beach

Reuber Duarte /

However, volunteers on the beach encourage visitors to maintain a safe distance from the turtles to avoid harming or bothering them.

Most of the time, these turtles mix with the rocks along the coast, so be careful in spotting them as you might mistake them for stones.

Though swimming is not advised here because of the big waves, you can try surfing and diving beyond the reef of Laniakea Beach.

A turtle at Laniakea Beach

youli zhao /

Other Nearby Attractions

North Shore is surrounded by other exciting destinations you can visit during your trip.

It is adjacent to various beach and island destinations, easily accessible from the heart of North Shore.

Most of the tourist attractions nearby are a few minutes’ drive only and are located along Hawaii’s main highways.

Here are other nearby attractions you can visit and explore:

Leap Thousands of Feet from the Sky at Skydive Hawaii

Skydiving over North Shore

Severin Bachmann /

If you’re extremely adventurous, the plunge at Skydive Hawaii is the best activity to try near North Shore.

The exciting adventure spot is located around 14 minutes away from North Shore.

Opened in 1988, Skydive Hawaii provides skydiving services to visitors and tourists.

Licensed and professional skydivers are ready to assist you during your jump.

The skydive lets you see the pristine waters of the Pacific Coast and the entire area of the North Shore.

Drops from the sky range from 12,000 to 20,000 feet.

Skydive Hawaii is open daily if you want to try its heart-dropping adventure.

Explore Plant Collections at the Wahiawa Botanical Garden

Gravel pathway lined with plants at Wahiawa Botanical Garden

Leigh Anne Meeks /

About 13 minutes from North Shore, the Wahiawa Botanical Garden houses a rich collection of flora worth visiting.

Mostly tropical, the plants in this garden are native to Hawaii.

Spanning 27 acres, the Wahiawa Botanical Garden opened in the 1920s for experimental planting of trees under the care of the Hawaiian Sugar Planters’ Association.

Trees at Wahiawa Botanical Garden

Daderot., CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It later became a botanical garden and was opened to the public.

During your tour of the botanical gardens, you will see various plant collections, including native Hawaiian plants, ferns, Aroid plants, and Epiphytic plants.

Admission is free, and the garden is open daily.

Trevesia burckii at Wahiawa Botanical Garden

wlcutler, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Final Thoughts

North Shore is a gem for adventure-seekers, especially those who love the beach and the outdoors.

It is home to many beautiful beaches and surf destinations, making it a top tourist spot in Hawaii.

Food and experiences are also abundant in North Shore for tourists wanting to immerse themselves in the local life.

Scenic routes and attractions are almost everywhere because of the beautiful landscape of the Pacific.

If you’re planning your next beach trip, don’t miss the best things to do in North Shore, Hawaii.

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