More from Oahu’s North Shore Hawaii

Genie Davis September 21, 2010 1 Comment

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Enjoying your visit to the laid-back North Shore? From the Waimea Bay area, continue north into the town of Haleiwa, where art and craft fairs frequently run on weekends. Any time, you’ll find some charming galleries and shops, offering handcrafted souvenirs, tasty baked goods, soaps and candles. And the crowded but always fun Matsumoto’s Shave Ice competes with Aoki’s Shave ice for your desert dollar. Either is an excellent bargain if you don’t mind the lines; add sweet beans or ice cream to the shaved ice for an even more decadent treat. Just be sure to have plenty of napkins, or that rental car’s going to get a little bit sticky.

Aokis Shaved Ice North Shore Oahu

Aokis Shaved Ice North Shore Oahu

For a more balanced meal, there’s fresh fish at Haleiwa Joe’s, with a patio view of the bay and boats.

Outside of Haleiwa, you’ll find the Waialua Sugar Mill. The old plant now houses some wonderful shops from surf board shapers to glass makers. Open on weekends: a movie theater. The small town ambiance and interesting craftsmen who work here make this a pleasant stop. Also in Waialua: the distinctly low key Surf and Cultural Museum. Antique surfboards, the first motorized board and old wooden boards make a fascinating collection. After the curators give you some perspective about the big waves and surf culture of the North Shore, drive on down the road for some unspoiled beach scenery near Dillingham Air Field, before turning down into the center of the island.

If you’ve recovered from your shave ice fix, you’ll find more sweet treats at the Dole Plantation. Now this is a heavily tourist frequented sight, but it’s still a lot of fun. There’s pineapple and the whipped cream ultra sweet Dole Whip just in case you still need a sugar rush. You can explore the grounds and learn about the different types of pineapples grown here and the history of the pineapple industry. Even more fun is the maze, reputedly the world’s largest maze. It sprawls over three acres with over two and a half miles of paths through hundreds of Hawaiian plants. Those who finish quickly may win a prize and even have their names recorded on a sign by the maze’s entrance. We didn’t fit into the fastest category by any means, but we had a great time. The plantation garden tour will fill you with pineapple facts; while a pleasant break from walking a true kid pleaser can be found on the Pineapple Express, a two mile train journey brimming with information about the Dole agricultural business and the history of the plantation.

USS Arizona Memorial - Pearl Harbor Hawaii

USS Arizona Memorial - Pearl Harbor Hawaii

Further down the spine of Oahu, near Pearl City, you’ll find another kind of plantation worth exploring. Plantation Village contains a museum as well as preserved plantation houses, and the excellent guides accommodate any age with their involving stories and historical information. You can sample some local fruit and learn why foreign labor was necessary to Hawaii’s economy and growth, and get a sense of the lifestyle of the plantation, good and bad.

Naturally, if you’re near Pearl City, you’ll want to take your family to Pearl Harbor for an awe inspiring look at the Arizona Memorial & the USS Missouri. There is often a long wait to take the boat onto the Memorial proper; however, the museum and visitor’s center and a view of the memorial from the shore may suffice for younger family members. That was how we experienced this moving site, and we still felt that we got a lot out of the experience.

Waimea Bay Hawaii - Summer Time

Waimea Bay Hawaii - Summer Time

Again alternating well traveled attractions with scenery off the beaten path, we loved spending an afternoon at Yokohama Bay State Park. Although close to the North Shore in miles, because no paved road connects the north shore to the west, to see the raw beauty of Yokohama Bay and Kaena Point, you’ll need to access these areas from this central part of the island, taking the H-1 to Farrington Highway. It’s a long drive in Hawaiian terms, about 45 minutes from the H- 1/Farrington interchange, but the breathtaking beauty of the state park that’s literally at the end of the road is worth it. Again, the surf is rough here, not suitable for the little ones to go in the water without hand holding, and even that at the water’s edge. The beach itself though is a wonder here, from the lush green hills reaching down almost to the sand to small waterfalls created on the rocky shore front at every pull of the waves. We loved having a picnic in this scenery, and being on a relatively deserted beach with friendly life guards ready and willing to explain the beauty and power of the ocean to our kids. It’s the kind of place mostly locals frequent, and it’s not unusual to have this area almost entirely to yourselves.

Yokohama Bay Hawaii - empty enough for you?

Yokohama Bay Hawaii - empty enough for you?

If you decide to stay on this side of the island for a night, try the Makaha Beach and Golf Club. Another low key, family friendly older style resort with laid back service and washer/dryer available for those sandy bathing suits. Otherwise, after a relaxing afternoon, head on back through the center of the island to your North Shore base.

There’s one more tourist-centric attraction that’s well worth your time, and that’s the Polynesian Cultural Center in the heart of Laie – the town with the rock arches. To us, the PCC is a kind of Hawaiian cultural Disneyland, founded by Brigham Young University. Great hands-on crafts and food demonstrations, a vastly entertaining canoe-pageant, and a luau dinner show are among the attractions of this culturally driven theme park. The exhibits represent eight South Pacific island cultures through a series of island villages laid out around the park. Guides involve visitors in games, language, crafts, music and history. We made and tasted poi, played games with a stick and coconut balls, sang along with a musical group, and drummed. Interactive history. The luau itself is an excellent value and very family-friendly – no alcohol served on the premises. The fire dancers alone are worth the price of admission, and while many visitors take a tour bus back to a Honolulu hotel, its a short drive back to either the Turtle Bay or the Kei Iki, and a much more relaxing experience.

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Genie Davis is a multi-published fiction author, screen and TV writer, and travel writer. If it was possible, she'd like to spend every day traveling. www.geniedavis.com

Tags: , Reviews, Travel Excursions
One Comments to “More from Oahu’s North Shore Hawaii”
  1. avatar Oahu’s North Shore, Hawaii – Beyond Honolulu « Tots and Travel – Family Vacations and Reviews says:

    [...] the island to the west side. I’ll cover some of these attractions in an up and coming article More from Oahu’s North Shore Hawaii. Aloha for now! VN:F [1.9.4_1102]please wait…Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)VN:F [...]