Welcome to Oahu, Hawaii

North Oahu

Site Photography © Big Bamboo Stock Photography, used by permission.

North Oahu is bordered on the northern side by the coastal line from Waiahole in the east to Kaena Point on the west. The southern border stretches straight across the island also from Kaena Point to Waiahole.

North Oahu is still a largely rural area of ranches, quiet banana plantations, fields of exotic flowers, secret hiking trails, and old picturesque towns. The eastern part that stretches from Waiahole to Kuhuku has some beautiful rural views. The main areas of interest here are the Crouching Lion (a rock formation which ancient Hawaiians believed to be Kupua, a relative of Pele, turned into rock for having followed Hi’iaka, Pele’s sister), Kualoa Regional Park (great for picnics), Mokolii Island, Kahana Bay, Punaluu Beach Park and the town of Laie.

Laie is the center of Hawaii's Mormon community. The Latter Day influence is evident in the stately 1919 temple, a smaller version of the main temple in Salt Lake City, and the local branch of Brigham Young University. But most conspicuous of all is the Mormon-run 'nonprofit' Polynesian Cultural Center, the island's second most popular attraction behind the USS Arizona Memorial. Here, BYU's Pacific Island students earn their college keep by dressing in native garb and demonstrating Polynesian crafts, dances and games for tourists. Fittingly, there's also a re-creation of a 19th century mission house and chapel.

The biggest town of North Oahu is Haleiwa on the western side. Established by the missionaries in 1832, it quickly grew and thrived, and became a commercial and social center for the surrounding sugarcane plantations. It was also a place where Hawaiian royalty spent time in the summer to enjoy the cooler trade winds. Today, this unique town with its Gunsmoke-type wooden buildings, is a shoppers' dream for art, crafts, clothes, and surfing items.

To the north of Haleiwa is Waimea, the most sacred valley of Oahu. It was once a center of Hawaiian religion, and remnants of ancient temples and villages can still be seen here. Today the valley is the location of Waimea Falls Park, which is an outdoor museum as well as a botanical garden. The garden is one of the finest in the world with 2500 species of flora from around the world, as well as a wildlife preserve and bird sanctuary. Visitors at Waimea Falls Park can also play the sports and games of old Hawaii, watch the resident hula halau perform hula kahiko (ancient hula), and witness amazing cliff-diving performances over the 45-foot high falls. There are also all-terrain vehicle wilderness rides, downhill bike tours, and river kayaking.

On a pali overlooking Waimea Bay, is a well-preserved temple Pu'u O Mahuka Heiau ("Hill of Escape"). Covering an area of over 5-acres, the temple is now a national landmark and a registered state historical site. It was considered a powerful place for the kahuna and one of two places where wives of the ancient chiefs gave birth. The stonework of this heiau, especially on the pathways, shows a high degree of craftsmanship.

North Oahu also offers plenty of opportunities for hiking. An ideal place is Mount Kaala in the Waianae Mountain range. As you hike up the mountain you pass through guava and mango forests, and higher up are misty rainforests with giant ferns, mosses and molds. Once at the top of Mount Kaala, you can view the entire island.

But what North Oahu is really famous for is its shoreline from Kahuku to Kaena Point, known as the Surfing Mecca of the world. During the winter months this rugged shoreline serves up some of the largest and most imposing ocean waves on the planet, attracting thousands of surfers from around the world. The shoreline, known as North Shore, holds three major surfing competitions, collectively known as the Triple Crown. During the summer months, the ocean turns placid , making it a great place for swimming, snorkeling and diving.

To learn more about the North Shore, go to Oahu.US North Shore Page..

For a place to stay, please visit the Oahu.US North Shore Hotel Page.

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