Surfer in Oahu Beach

Surfer in Oahu Beach

Shaka Guide's Legendary North Shore Loop Itinerary

Shaka Guide

What to Expect

On Shaka Guide’s Legendary North Shore Loop, you’ll spend the day on Oahu’s North Shore learning about the island’s surf history and exploring beaches, a cute seaside town, and historic sites.

This tour features 20 stops and 107 audio points making it a full day of fun!

This tour has two starting points: Waikiki and Ko Olina on Oahu’s west side.

Just select the starting point that works best for you and the tour will travel in a clockwise loop, returning where you began.

Please note, that this tour cannot be done in the opposite direction.

This tour is similar to our Grand Circle Island Tour, but you’ll arrive at the North Shore earlier in the day.

If you want to take the tour counter-clockwise around the island, check out our Oahu Grand Circle Island Tour.

legendary north shore loop tour map by shaka guide

*This sample itinerary starts and ends in Waikiki.*


This tour takes approximately 6-8 hours to complete. We recommend you start the tour early, by 9:00 a.m., if you’re looking to make it to every stop.

Leonard's Bakery

Approximate time: 10 minutes

It’s time to fuel up for the day ahead, and what better way than a deep-fried, Portuguese donut, known as a malasada?

We’ll guide you to Leonard’s Bakery, one of Oahu’s most famous spots for these delicious treats.

Leonard’s features eight different types of malasadas from its original that’s coated in sugar to custard-stuffed varieties filled with flavors like haupia (coconut), guava, and macadamia nut.

There’s usually a line, but don’t let that deter you -- it moves pretty fast.

Moanalua Gardens

Approximate time: 30 minutes

This 24-acre garden is steeped in history. The original Moanalua Gardens was located at a different site, but dates back over a century!

When the gardens were moved to their current location structures from the original were preserved and transported to the gardens you’ll visit today.

The gardens are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and charge $10 admission for non-resident adults and $7 for children 6-12. 

Green World Coffee

Approximate time: 15 minutes

Need a quick cup of joe for the day ahead? Stop by Green World Coffee. This shop has a cafe where you can grab a to-go cup.

While you’re there check out the shop for its wide variety of coffees using beans from different farms across Hawaii.

They also offer free samples of coffee, tea, and chocolate--as well as free tours of their coffee farm.

Green World Coffee is open Monday - Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday - Sunday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Dole Plantation

Approximate time: 45 minutes+

brown house facadeDole Plantation, Oahu

The Dole Plantation is a family-friendly spot with several activities, a sprawling gift shop, sweet treats like pineapple soft serve, and the Instagram-famous Dole Whip.

While you’re there you can go on the Pineapple Express -- a train ride through the plantation; weave your way out of a pineapple maze and go on a self-guided garden walking tour.

If you only have time for one activity, we recommend the train ride.

This spot is worth it to shop for a variety of pineapple-flavored treats, from candies to pancake mix.

The plantation is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. 

Note: The activities at Dole Plantation require an entrance fee, but you can visit the gift shop and cafe (for a Dole Whip) without paying an entrance fee.

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Hale'iwa Town

Approximate time: 1 hour

Haleiwa is a seaside town with a beach, river, mom-and-pop shops, and loads of local eateries.

While you’re there, stop into some of the one-of-a-kind art galleries, shop for unique souvenirs, grab a bite to eat, or enjoy some delicious Hawaiian shave ice at Matsumotos or Aoki's Shave Ice.

You can also kayak, surf, stand-up paddle board, and even go diving with sharks.

Pro Tip! If you’re hungry for some breakfast, we recommend Kono’s for the breakfast bomber with pulled kalua pork.

North Shore Soap Factory

Approximate time: 30+ minutes (depending on if you do the guided tour)

Check out the all-natural Hawaiian Bath and Body hand-crafted skincare products made locally right on the North Shore. The factory is located at the historic Wailua Sugar Mill.

One of the best parts? The guided tour of the factory (paid) will show you how the soap is mixed, swirled, cut, and boxed! Call ahead to make reservations.

The soap factory is open daily until 4pm.

Matsumoto Shave Ice

Approximate time: 20 minutes

Dating back to the early 1950’s this dessert spot serves up Hawaiian shave ice in dozens of flavors! It’s a favorite spot for locals and visitors alike.

There will most likely be a long line, but don’t let that stop you -- it moves fast.

Or--cross the road and check out Aoki's Shave Ice, another local favorite.

Laniakea Beach

Approximate time: 10 minutes

Also known as Turtle Beach, this little beach is a natural feeding ground for honu or sea turtles.

This beach tends to get crowded and parking is extremely limited. If you can’t find a spot, just keep driving down the road.

If you do stop at the beach, be careful while crossing the road from the small parking area and please be mindful to keep your distance from these protected animals.

Getting too close to sea turtles will result in a large fine.

Waimea Bay

Approximate time: 45 minutes

white sand beachWaimea Bay, Oahu

Waimea Bay is a gorgeous moon-shaped bay with a spectacular white-sand beach. During winter, the shore break is fierce and not suitable for casual swimming.

However, during the summer when the water is calm, you can swim, snorkel, and, if you’re feeling adventurous, try a 30-foot rock jump!

Note: Parking in this area can be difficult at times, especially if the surf is up. If the main parking lot is full, look for street parking or sometimes there is paid parking across the street at Waimea Valley.

Pu'u o Mahuka Heiau

Approximate time: 20 minutes

Now, we’ll take you to one of our favorite hidden gems on Oahu.

You’ll drive up an unassuming road until you reach Pu’u o Mahuka Heiau.

This National Historic Landmark might look like nothing more than a series of rock walls, but over 250 years ago, it was a major temple in Oahu.

Learn about this heiau and see artist depictions of what it must have looked like from the informational displays near the parking lot.

Please remember that a heiau is a sacred place of great cultural and historic significance and should be respected as such.

Pro Tip! Take a walk around the heiau for a great view of Waimea Bay.

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Shark's Cove

Approximate time: 1 hour

Shark’s Cove is a Marine Life Conservation District, known for some of the best snorkeling and diving because of its diversity of sea life just below the water.

If you’ve got kiddos with you, to the left of Shark’s Cove is an area of tidepools, perfect for children to wade through the water and paddle around.

Because the lava rocks here are very sharp, we recommend wearing water shoes and being extremely careful as you enter and exit the water.

If you need snorkel gear, you can rent some across the street.

RELATED: Shark's Cove: Your Guide to Snorkeling on Oahu's North Shore

Banzai Pipeline

Approximate time: 30 minutes

Officially named Ehukai Beach, Banzai Pipeline is a surfer’s mecca.

“Pipeline”, as surfers call it, is known for its quintessential barreling waves that curl like a pipe.

Each winter surfers from all over the world test their might at “Pipe” during the annual Billabong Pipeline Masters competition.

Hundreds of people flock to the beach to catch a glimpse of these athletes in action.

Even during the summer months, when waves have calmed and the surfers have relocated, parking is limited. If you can’t find a spot, look for street parking.

We recommend just admiring the surfers at this beach as it’s not safe for swimming, even in summer.

Sunset Beach

Approximate time: 15 minutes

beach on a sunsetSunset Beach, Oahu

Even though this beach is a famous surf spot, as its name suggests, it’s also a great place to watch the sunset.

At this point, it’s probably too early to stay for sunset without skipping all the awesome things that are left to do on the tour, but we recommend you come back another day.

Pro Tip! This beach, as well as all the beaches along the North Shore, has large waves during the winter months of October to April. We recommend watching the surfers from the shore. Swimming is dangerous during this time.

Ted’s Bakery

Approximate time: 15 minutes

At this point you might be hungry for some lunch, but can we suggest some pre-lunch dessert?

You’re on vacation, right? We’re about to visit some great food trucks, but first, we’ll stop at Ted’s Bakery for some famous cream pies.

The specialty is their chocolate haupia, but they also have strawberry guava, blueberry, and pineapple macadamia nut, just to name a few!

If you did want to grab some lunch, Ted’s also has burgers, plate lunches, and sandwiches.

Kahuku Fruit Stands

Approximate time: 5 minutes

As you’re driving through the North Shore, you’ll pass a few fruit stands along the way.

One of our favorites, Kahuku Fruit Stands, is located just before Turtle Bay Resort. Stop for some locally grown fruit that’s cut, chilled, and ready to eat.

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Kawela Bay

Approximate time: 30 minutes

Park at Kahuku Fruit Stand and walk across the street to find a pathway that will take you to Kawela Bay -- a picturesque beach with banyan trees, soft sand, and turquoise waters.


Kahuku Shrimp Trucks (and Food Trucks)

Approximate time: 30 minutes

Now it’s time for some lunch! Known for its shrimp trucks, Kahuku is home to dozens of eateries serving up warm plates of garlic shrimp.

But, shrimp isn’t all you’ll find, look out for:

  • pizza
  • plate lunch
  • burgers
  • yogurt, and
  • huli huli chicken -- another local favorite

Please note: Most, if not all of the food trucks in Kahuku are cash only.

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La'ie Temple

Approximate time: 5 minutes

On our way to the next stop, we’ll quickly drive by La'ie Temple.

No need to get out of the car, just listen as we tell you the story of this site that was designed after King Solomon’s temple described in the Bible.

With its gleaming white finish, the temple is dubbed the “Taj Mahal of the Pacific.” 

Here you’ll find a visitor center with clean restrooms if you want to make a pit stop.

La'ie Point

Approximate time: 10 minutes

shore Laie Point, Oahu

Stop for a quick view of a breathtaking sea arch at La'ie Point.

As waves crash below, you’ll see just how this magnificent geologic wonder was formed!

See if you can spot the lizard from the story that the tour describes.

Polynesian Cultural Center

Approximate time: 20 minutes

The Polynesian Cultural Center is one of Oahu’s most visited attractions.

It features island villages that represent six Polynesian islands:

  • Hawaii
  • Tahiti
  • Samoa
  • Fiji
  • Tonga, and
  • Aotearoa (New Zealand)

The center also has a luau, night show, and marketplace.

Please note: A visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center is a full-day excursion. We recommend you stop by to check out the marketplace and come back another day if you’d like to do the activities.

Kahana Bay

Approximate time: 20 minutes

Go for a quiet beach walk at Kahana Bay, a gorgeous spot without any crowds. There’s also a public restroom if you need a bathroom break.

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Kualoa Ranch

Approximate time: 15 minutes - 2 hours (depending on activities)

Kualoa Ranch is a 4,000-acre private nature reserve with a working farm and an adventure haven.

The ranch offers all sorts of adventure tours and activities, including the Hollywood Sites Movie Tour, Jurassic Adventure Tour, and UTV Raptor Tour, plus ziplining, kayaking, and horseback riding.

Feel free to make a quick stop at the gift shop, museum and restrooms today.

If you want to do one of their amazing adventures, we recommend you make reservations and come back another day.

Mokoli'i (known locally as Chinaman’s Hat)

Approximate time: 10 minutes

island shaped like a chinaman's hatMokoli?i, Oahu

Pull into Kualoa Regional Park for a stunning view of Mokoli'i Island. Known for years by its nickname, Chinaman's Hat, the cone-shaped island is a well-recognized landmark on the Windward side.

This is just a quick stop for the view, but if you’re looking for some more adventure, you can come back another day with a kayak and paddle out and explore the island.

Byodo-In Temple

Approximate time: 30 minutes

Our last stop of the day is at Byodo-In Temple, a site that was built in 1968 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii.

Nestled under the Ko'olau Mountains, the temple is a replica of a 950-year-old Japanese temple in Uji, Japan, that is listed as a United Nations World Heritage Site.

Please note: Byodo-In is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. General admission is $5 per adult, and they accept credit or debit only.

Return to Waikiki

Approximate time: 30 minutes

Now we’ll begin to make our way back to Waikiki with more stories about Oahu’s rich history along the way!

When you’re in Hawaii, we ask that you act respectfully toward the locals, land, and wildlife. 

Please pick up your trash; never touch any marine life, plants, or other animals; and avoid unsafe spots.

Hawaii’s natural resources are precious, and it’s up to all of us to help preserve these resources.

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Ready to take the tour? Check out Shaka Guide's Legendary North Shore Loop Tour!

We hope that we’ve given you all the information you need to make the most of your day. Your vacation is extremely important to us so if you have any questions feel free to reach out at aloha@shakaguide.com.

Shaka Guide recognizes the use of diacritics in the Hawaiian language including the okina or glottal stop and the kahako or macron. In some instances, these have been omitted on our site to ensure the best online experience for our users since not all online platforms recognize these marks. We understand the importance of these diacritics to preserve the language and culture of Hawaii.

Ready to take the Legendary North Shore Loop? Here's everything you need to know before you go!

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