Located 26 miles from the bustling nightlife and fast-paced culture of Honolulu, Oahu’s North Shore feels a world away. As part of the north-facing coastal area of the island, between Kaena Point and Kahuku Point, it is home to some of the largest waves on earth, attracting surfers worldwide. Notable surfing spots on the North Shore include Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach, and the winter months are when the surf is the highest.
The North Shore was thought to have been settled in the Waialua and Ko’olauloa Districts along the North Shore around 1100 AD, where communities thrived along valleys, streams, and bays, such as the Anahulu River and Waimea Valley. For centuries residents lived in villages along these waterways, growing sweet potatoes and taro.
The first Westerners landed at Waimea Bay in 1779 to replenish fresh water supplies from Captain Cook’s ship. They noted that the area around Waimea River was “well cultivated and full of villages and the face of the country is uncommonly beautiful and picturesque.”
It wasn’t until 1832, when Christian missionaries came to Waialua District to build a mission that development really began on the North Shore; the Emerson House and a Protestant church in the heart of the village was established at that time. Today, that church is known as the Queen Liliu’okalani Protestant Church, named after Hawaii’s last queen, who vacationed in Hale’iwa. At the end of the 19th century, the area was further expanded by Benjamin J. Dillingham, a wealthy businessman who built the Hale’iwa Hotel.
One of the draws of real estate on the North Shore is that it’s an often forgotten hidden treasure of the Hawaiian Island Chain. It’s also more sparsely populated than some other parts of the island. Just an hour’s drive from Waikiki Beach, the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, Ala Moana, and Iolani Palace, it offers a completely different feel.
Some of the most popular things to do on the North Shore include: the Polynesian Cultural Center, the Dole Plantation, the Waialua Sugar Mill, the Laie Hawaii Mormon Temple, North Shore Surf and Cultural Museum, the North Shore Country Market, and Pupukea Marine Life Conservation District.
Must-see outdoor attractions are the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing event, the James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge, and taking in the incredible views from Pu’u O Mahuka Heiau and Ka’ena Point.
The main road through the area is the Kamehameha Highway (highways 99 and 83). There is a bypass around Haleiwa called Joseph P. Leong Highway, which is useful in avoiding the two-lane road through Haleiwa.
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