Woman standing in front of Waimea Falls on Oahu
January 14, 2019
| by
Maria Mancuso

Oahu Activities: Top 5 things to do when visiting Oahu’s North Shore

Watch Sea Turtles sunbath, swim with Sharks, climb a waterfall and eat the best Pineapple in the world.

You’ve likely heard of Oahu’s North Shore and the massive waves that can be seen off the world-famous beaches like Waimea and Pipeline during the Winter months.  But there is much, much more to enjoy during a day or 2 exploring Oahu’s North Shore.

This article, ‘Top 5 things to do when visiting Oahu’s North Shore’ with give you an introduction to just a few of the many things to do, see and experience on your visit to the North Shore.

Top 5 things to do when visiting North Shore on Oahu

1.  Visit Waimea Bay & Jump off the Rock
Waimea Bay is an amazing destination on the North Shore of Oahu.  Waimea Bay Beach Park and the Waimea Bay comes to life as the winter swells roll into the North Shore Beaches. Surfing Waimea Bay and other beaches including, Sunset Beach and Banzai Pipeline, is a top destination many experienced surfers.  For tourists, it is a good idea to watch the surfing action safely from the sandy beach.

An exciting activity, but not as daring as surfing the monster waves, is climb up and jump off the rock at Waimea Bay into the crystal-clear blue water below. 

Pineapple ready to be picked

2.  Visit Dole Plantation
The Dole Plantation is an absolute ‘must do’ during any visit to the North Shore. There are an estimates 1.2 million visitors to the Dole Plantation each year.  

The Dole Plantation is located outside Wahiawa town along the way to Oahu's North Shore.  The Dole Plantation offers many fun activities and interesting tours for visitors including the Plantation Garden Tour, the world-famous Pineapple Garden Maze, Plantation Center, the Pineapple Express Train and their large Plantation Country Store.

They offer many interesting activities during the tours including the Pineapple cutting demonstrations, information on processing the Pineapples, growing farm, and of course you cannot miss out on eating the famous Dole Whip Sundae!

Definitely put the Dole Plantation on your list of, “Top 5 things to do when visiting North Shore on Oahu.”

3.  Hike Waimea Falls and Swim in the Waterfall
Waimea Valley is an amazingly beautiful part of Oahu and home to an easy walk/hike through a botanical landscape that includes over 300 species of tropical plants. The trail through Waimea Valley leads to the popular, 50-foot-high Waimea Fall. You can hike to the waterfall in just a few minutes and cool off with a swim in the clear water at the base of the waterfall.  

If you are looking for a bit more excitement you can climb to the top of the waterfall and jump off the top into the water below.  Do this at your own risk.

Waimea Falls is managed by Waimea Valley, a non-profit organization that is dedict4edto preserving the area around the falls and the valley. There is an entrance fee of $8 for children and $16 for adults over 12 years of age – as of January 1, 2019.

4.  Swim with Sharks:
You’re out a couple miles into the ocean, you jump off a boat into a cage that is floating in the open ocean…and you are surrounded by Galapagos sharks.  Sound fun? Then you are in luck because this is an activity offered on the North Shore of Oahu and it is as exciting as it sounds.

The Sharks are attracted by the sound of the boats motors after decades of boats discarding fish and crab back into the ocean at this spot.  The Galapagos Sharks have no interest in harming or attacking humans, so this is a safe and exciting  adventure to be had by young teens and adults alike.  Just imagine the photos you can show when you arrive home from your Hawaii vacation and you have photos of you in cage with a 9-foot shark over your shoulder!

As a bonus, you are likely to see Dolphin, Sea Turtles and depending on the time of the year, you can even see migrating Humpback Whales.

Needless to say, bring your camera and remember to take some anti-sea sickness medication if you are prone to getting seasick as the waves can make for a moderately rough ride.

A sea turtle making its way across the beach
See Sea Turtles on Ali’I Beach

5.  See Sea Turtles on Ali’I Beach
There are a couple of great places to see these beautiful Sea Turtles up close, but not too close. They are a protected species and you can receive a fine for getting too close or for touching these amazing animals as they come to shore and lay on the beach to relax in the sun.

The first place is Laniakea Beach. You can certainly see Sea Turtles here but the best spot for Sea Turtle watching is on Ali’I Beach on the far North Shore of Oahu.

It is illegal to touch or get too close to the Sea Turtles. They are an endangered species and vigorously protected! Feel free to watch them from a distance but give them space!  In fact, there are Sea Turtle Guardians who volunteer and stand watch on the beach to ensure the Sea Turtles are not touched and visitors keep a safe distance.

Ali’I Beach is very popular for this activity, so it can get crowded.  Come during the earlier hours and on weekdays if you can to avoid the biggest crowds.
The best time to see the Sea Turtles enjoying the warm sun and soft sandy beach is around lunch time, between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. 

Sea Turtles are an unofficial mascot of the Hawaiian Islands and we respect their place in what makes our islands such a special place to live on and to visit. 

6.  Visit the Polynesian Cultural Center
The Polynesian Cultural Center not only features one of the most entertaining Luau’s on all the Hawaiian Islands. This is not as authentic as a family Luau, but the entertainment and cultural educational aspect of a visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center should not be missed.

The Polynesian Cultural Center is situated on 42 acres of beautiful, lush land. The Polynesian Cultural Center presents singing and authentic Hawaiian dancing on a Canoe Pageant, IMAX Theater and many activities and demonstrations that show the history of Hawaiian Islands. 

The Polynesian Cultural Center offers a great Luau with entertainment of course, with delicious roasted pig from an underground fire pit and a spectacular night show with a cast of 100 performers including Hula Dancers, Fire Dancers, singers, and other traditional entertainers.

Included in the price of the Luau is a daily showing of, ‘Ha: Breath of Life’ a spectacular live production that illustrates life on a Polynesian island.

7.  Shrimp Trucks
OK, we saved this for last because if you have enjoyed only a couple of the activities on this list, then you are sure to be hungry, and there is no better place to satisfy that hunger than a plate lunch of Garlic Shrimp, salad and Rice.

Due to the crazy success of the Shrimp Trucks over the years, there are more and more of them appearing along the road to North Shore.  We happen to prefer the original ‘Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck’, but hey, that’s us.  There are plenty to choose from.

Some of the Shrimp Trucks serve several various dishes but the ONE dish that you must try is the Garlic Shrimp lunch plate.  Be prepared to wait in line for your meal regardless of when you visit, these trucks are that popular.

Recommendation: Bring wet-wipes and/or hand sanitizer as many of the Shrimp Trucks do not offer a facility to wash your hands after enjoying the delicious meal.

Of course, this article, ‘Top 5 things to do when visiting Oahu’s North Shore’, only presents 5 things to do on the North Shore, there is an almost endless list of activities to enjoy during a day or 2 on the North Shore of Oahu. 

If you are unsure of what to do, just get in your rental car and drive to the North Shore, part of the beauty of the island is discovering your own activities and enjoying your own adventures.

We hope you enjoy whatever you do during your visit to Oahu.

Visit our Oahu Visitors Guide

View our Oahu Photo Gallery