Haleiwa Travel Guide
The Hawaiian Islands are known for their beaches, hikes, and outdoor adventures, but the townships, culture, and people are all part of experiencing paradise, as well. On Oahu, you can appreciate all of the above and more via the shops, restaurants, art galleries, and outdoor experiences in and around the town of Haleiwa, located on Oahu's North Shore.
The Town of Haleiwa
Haleiwa is one of the North Shore of Oahu’s most popular places to visit. It’s a quintessential beach town with everything you need to experience the joys of island time. When you arrive, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped onto the set of 50 First Dates (meet-cute not included).
You can take a slow walk downtown or visit the large number of attractions the area has to offer, from restaurants and food stands to shops and art galleries. And, if you’re looking for outdoor adventures, there’s plenty of that, too.
The town itself is about an hour from Waikiki or about forty minutes from Ko Olina. On Shaka Guide’s Grand Circle Island Tour, you’d arrive at Haleiwa between Turtle Beach and the Dole Plantation. You can also get to Haleiwa on Shaka Guide's Legendary North Shore Loop.
RELATED: The Ultimate Oahu Travel Guide
Haleiwa Town first started to attract a crowd in 1898 when The Haleiwa Hotel was established. For the incredible price of $10, visitors had a 2-day excursion to Haleiwa that included an overnight stay at this grand Victorian hotel. The hotel has long since disappeared, but the small shops and eateries that make Haleiwa so unique continue to give it its small-town flair.
Where to Eat in Haleiwa
Ossewa, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
There are loads of great places to grab a quick bite or sit down for a nice dinner in Haleiwa. The shave ice and smoothies around town are particularly great additions to any day in the sun. And, if you’re in Haleiwa early in the day, there are a few great breakfast spots, as well. Here are some of our recommendations!
6. Farm to Barn
7. Coffee Talk
9. Haleiwa Joes
11. Big Wave Shrimp
13. The Beet Box
14. Banzai Sushi Bar
Where to Shop
Hawaii Tourism Authority / Blake Bronstad
Surf n Sea is one of the most popular stores in all of Hawaii. You’ll almost certainly see one of their iconic stickers around the island during your time on Oahu. The store features a large selection of surfboards, surf products, clothing, bags, and other beachy merchandise.
HIC is another staple establishment on Oahu among locals, students, and tourists alike. You’ll find clothes and gear from popular surf brands inside.
You’re probably already familiar with the outdoor recreation brand Patagonia. They sell all kinds of outdoor clothing and equipment. The Haleiwa Patagonia is in an adorable building just off Kamehameha Highway.
Haleiwa is a great place to experience local Hawaiian artists. There are tons of galleries to view, which are often free to the public. Each of the following galleries is excellent and well worth the visit:
Haleiwa’s Surrounding Outdoor Attractions
Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Heather Goodman
There are plenty of things to do in and around Haleiwa. From beaches and hikes to lessons and tours, Haleiwa’s location puts your visit right at the center of several excellent outdoor adventures.
There are three beach parks in Haleiwa. For surfing, especially if you’re a beginner, check out Pua’ena Beach park on the north end of the town. On the southern side, Haleiwa Beach Park features facilities like showers, picnic tables, and a basketball court. Ali’i Beach is a bit narrow and rocky, but it’s beautiful and has an adjacent volleyball court. The southernmost beach, Kaiaka, has a short loop trail - on which we’ll go into more detail in the next section.
The Kaiaka Bay Trail is a nice short loop for anyone looking to take a stroll. The loop takes you right along the scenic beach. It can be completed in well under half an hour, but be sure to take your time along the jaw-dropping coastline views. The loop is somewhat rocky, so be sure to have some close-toed shoes with you.
Finally, Haleiwa is less than fifteen minutes from the famed Waimea Valley, which is both a wonderful hike and a gorgeous botanical garden. If you are taking our Circle Island Driving Tour, you’ll come to the valley two stops before Haleiwa.
RELATED: Waimea Valley Travel Guide
Haleiwa Lessons, Rentals, and Tours
Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Ben Ono
There are several great establishments from which to rent equipment, take lessons, or book tours. You can rent kayaks, surfboards, or SUPs from Rainbow Watersports. Tropical Rush is famous for giving shave ice with surfboard rentals and also offers snorkeling gear and kayaks.
North Shore Eco Tours is based in Haleiwa but can take you on hiking and off-roading trips all over Oahu. You can book surf lessons from a number of businesses in town, including Surf N Sea, North Shore Surf Girls, and Sunset Suzy’s.
While you're in Haleiwa you can also get your adrenaline pumping with a shark dive! Check out these shark dives for the chance to see these misunderstood animals up close.
Tips and FAQs
Is it hard to find parking?
No. Sometimes Haleiwa does get a bit crowded, but you can almost always find parking behind the first row of buildings off of Kamehameha Highway. The Northshore Marketplace usually has open spaces.
What’s the weather like?
Oahu has two seasons, a wet winter from November to April and a dry summer from May to October. There are about 276 sunny days a year, and the area gets about the national average of rainfall at 37 inches. If you're visiting in the winter months, you might not be able to swim at the beaches due to big swells.
When is the best time to visit?
The town will be the most full around the winter holidays, summer vacations, and spring break. Surfing is best during the winter when the waves stay comparably small to the larger surrounding breaks (but still bigger than other parts of the island). Generally, the North Shore is also busier in the winter months due to the surf competitions that take place at this time.
One thing to look out for is traffic, try to leave early in the morning - or later in the afternoon - to avoid traffic to Haleiwa. And, if you want to head back to Waikiki or Ko Olina, we suggest you leave by 2:30 to avoid gridlock. If you're visiting Haleiwa later in the afternoon, note that some restaurants and establishments close before or around 5 p.m., so just do some research if there's a spot your really want to visit.
Regardless, anytime you visit Haleiwa is a good time!
How long should you spend there?
Depending on what kinds of things you enjoy - you can really spend any amount of time in Haleiwa. Stop by for a quick bite on your way to some North Shore beaches, or stay the whole day meandering through art galleries and shops, enjoying a local restaurant, trying an outdoor activity like surfing or shark cave diving, and visiting one of Haleiwa's beaches. No matter how long you choose to spend, you’ll have a lovely time - we’re sure of it!
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