During the summer months you’ll find pristine waters, perfect sunsets, encounters with migrating dolphins and sea-turtles and sandy picnics, making for the epitome of an endless summer. During winter months massive swells roll and storm the shores, the entire surf industry flocks to these Hawaiian waters for a number of the biggest competitions of the year in the birthing grounds of this awe-instilling sport. Curious about what you can do here? Read on to discover my favorite North Shore Oahu activities.
Snorkel at Shark’s Cove during the summer months on a clear, Hawaiian day for a real underwater experience. The cove is made solely out of rocks and reef formations that are home to some of the most stunning wildlife you’ll encounter on the island. Many consider snorkeling here to be better than at Hanauma bay and rightly so as the tides bring in a variety of wildlife to the area and it feels just like the area was made to snorkel in as the main area is enclosed by the rocks. That being said, you’ll want to watch out for those rocks which can easily cut you if you’re not careful. Get reef-walkers or simply swim over the ocean scenery with your snorkel and fins. You can even venture outside of this area if you’re confident in your snorkeling abilities and are looking for a bit more of an adventure. Parking can be tricky so again, go early and put on that sunscreen.
After snorkeling you’ll probably have worked up an appetite. A favorite local spot isn’t far away. It’s known as Pupukea Grill and it’s nothing more than a humble, blue food-truck but what they serve up is definitely worth checking out. The kalua-pork quesadillas are a local favorite as they feature a mouth-watering mix between Hawaiian and Mexican food which is as filling as it is savory. They also serve up breakfast burritos, spicy ahi bowls (another local favorite), salads, smoothies and other local treats that are a must when up north. There’s an area where you can sit down and eat which is decorated with signed photos of many, many surfers who frequent the grill during the winter months. After eating here, you’ll definitely see why. They’re closed on Monday and are open from 11am-5pm, Tuesday through Sunday.
Waimea Bay is one of those places that are too iconic to pass up. It is the home of the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational surf contest during the winter months where “the bay calls the day” meaning the contest only runs when the waves are “big enough” meaning over 20 feet, at least. This spectacle is one not to miss as the waves here are incredible. During the summer months you can find people jumping from the rock in the bay which yields an impressive jump into crystal clear waters; snorkeling in hopes of coming across dolphins; or riding the shore break on bodyboards for a few good rides. Like most places up north, parking is limited. You guys know the drill. Arrive early.
Right across the street from Waimea Bay is Waimea Falls, which is tucked away in what the Hawaiians knew to be the “Valley of the Priests,” making it a sacred place. Back in the valley don’t expect to have any phone service but who needs it when you’ve got a waterfall to swim in and old Hawaiian ruins to explore. While you must pay an admissions fee, the falls are only a 3/4 of a mile hike away and you can guarantee that they’ll be flowing. On Thursdays there’s a farmers market where you can go and eat, listen to live Hawaiian music and buy handmade goods.
Add to these North Shore Oahu activities to your day of exploring. You’re sure to see why this section of the island is a favorite for visitors and locals alike.