Local April 29, 2022

North Shore – More than the Banzai Pipeline

To experience the sunny, country vibes of Oʻahu, just go North. Today, when most people think of the North Shore, world-famous surf breaks come to mind, growing to monster-high levels each winter and being tamed by professional surfers from across the globe during prestigious contests. These renowned beaches attract thousands of visitors to Oʻahu. This includes Waimea Bay, home to the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational, after legendary Hawaiian waterman of the same name, and ʻEhukai Beach, also known as Banzai Pipeline, where the Billabong Pipeline Masters is held. In the summertime, the small rocky bay of Shark’s Cove, located in Pūpūkea just before ʻEhukai Beach, is one of the best snorkeling spots. Here you can glimpse tropical fish in a rainbow of colors, eels, honu, or Hawaiian green sea turtles and coral. (It’s advised to only snorkel at Shark’s Cove in the summer months; during the winter, the waves along the North Shore are too big to safely swim and snorkel.)

north shore oahu surf waves

The biggest stopover along the North Shore is Haleʻiwa, a lively surf town home to beach boutiques and local restaurants. Be sure to visit Matsumoto Shave Ice in the Haleʻiwa Store Lots shopping center. This North Shore mainstay opened as a Haleʻiwa general store in 1951. Today, it’s one of the most popular shave ice joints. On a busy day, the store sells more than 1,000 shave ice cones! A visit to the North Shore also wouldn’t be complete without a plate lunch of buttery, garlic shrimp. Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck is one of the original North Shore food trucks. The shrimp scampi is Giovanni’s mainstay menu item. Each plate comes heaped with 12 peel-and-eat shrimp and two scoops of rice.

There’s also the Dole Plantation. Technically it’s in Wahiawā, which is on the way to the North Shore, but it’s one of my family’s favorites. In 1901, James Dole founded the Hawaiian Pineapple Company, later known as the Dole Food Company. It was the largest pineapple company in Islands until it closed in 1991. When I was a kid, we would visit the fruit stands near the plantation, chock full of fresh-from-the-field pineapple. Vendors would chop the pineapple into spears and generously sprinkle them with salt. We’d get so sticky eating the sweet, juicy fruit! Today, you can try refreshing Dole Whip, made with real pineapple, when visiting the plantation.

The North Shore is more than its famous beaches and ʻono, or delicious, food, though. Historians estimate that Hawaiians first settled in the area known today as the North Shore in the 11th century. In particular, Waimea Valley was an especially thriving community, abundant with fishponds and crops of taro, sweet potato and more. Kamapuaʻa, the Hawaiian ruler of Oʻahu dubbed Waimea Valley the “Valley of the Priests” and he and his descendants lived in and cared for the valley for centuries. Today, Waimea Valley is a preserved botanical garden that boasts roughly 2,000 acres. There are more than 5,000 plant species cared for here. Waimea Valley also has taro cultivated in traditional loʻi, or irrigated agricultural terraces and a restored heiau, or place of worship, dedicated to Lono, the Hawaiian god of agriculture, fertility and peace.