A Lay-Day on Oahu’s North Shore

It’s a lay-day on the North Shore, or at least it is for you. Feeling completely surfed-out, with spaghetti arms and raw ribs, it’s time to take a minute out of the water. Now what? Whelp, here’s a brainstorm of North Shore spots, curated just for you, by a local who knows. 

Breakfast: the most important meal of the day

Start your morning with a bullet coffee from Koa Rothman and the Smith brothers (Travis, Alex, and Koa)’s bright yellow, beachside coffee hut. With The Sunrise Shack‘s unbeatable location directly across the street from Sunset Beach, this stop’s local fruit smoothies and keto-friendly options, and papaya, yogurt and fruit brekky bowls will have your social media feed trending and your taste buds buzzing.  

Hungover? After going a little too hard a SURFER the Bar’s open mic night, skip the healthy nonsense and feed the body what it really craves – the greasy goodness of a Ted’s Bakery breakfast sandwich. This classic hub is worth the line. Outdoor seating is available or take the sandwich (and a slice of their famous chocolate haupia pie, addictive cornbread, or their icing-doused cinnamon rolls) for the road.

Now what? Here are some to-dos. 

With the most important meal of the day checked off your list, you are now fully fueled for snorkel or deeper dive session at Shark’s Cove. The US recognized marine sanctuary offers a fish-filled  diving experience for everyone. The shallower rocky cove is perfect for your keiki’s first snorkel while the Turtle Bay and greater Pacific sides of the sanctuary are ideal for deep dives and a variety of bigger fish sightings. Swimming at Shark’s Cove is do-able on flat-to-medium sized days, so check the signs as there is no lifeguard on duty. 

No mask? No problem! Former big wave surfer Liam McNamara’s North Shore Surf Shop is literally right across the street and rents out masks, snorkels, fins, and anything else you may need for your underwater adventure. 

North Shore Surf Shop is also rents bikes so you and your ohana can pedal your way along the Seven Mile Miracle, local style. The bike path is set off the main road and is luhy overgrown with tropical trees and vines, cared for by residents. From Foodland, you can follow the path all the way to Sunset Beach, stopping along the way for a surf check at any of the Right of Ways.

Healing that reef cut? Too much sun? Whatever your reason for spending a full day on dry land, go full-on with the self care. Treat yourself to a massage from Modus Massage at The Cove Collection, located across the street from Shark’s Cove. Massage therapist Carrie Abt is highly  trained for surf-specific injuries and muscle tension, and travels the world with the WSL, working on the muscles and injuries of most of the pros on your fantasy team. Girl knows her stuff and can work out any surf knot ailing you. 

If it’s Thursday afternoon, the place to be is the Waimea Valley’s Farmers’ Market complete with fresh fruit and veg, peacocks, wine and beer, local eats, jewelry, and a breathtakingly natural backdrop. Let the kids run around while you shop. Nab a table or spread out a picnic blanket from which you can let the breeze chill you out while an acoustic melody wafts through your ears. Rain or shine.

Continue down Kam Hwy. towards Haleʻiwa, stopping for a swim with the turtles at Laniakea, the spot frequently referred to by tourists as “Turtle Beach”. The seaweed, or limu, and  protective reef formations of this stretch of beach make Lanis a turtle-spotting haven. Oh, and did we mention it has waves out the back, too? So jump in the water for a swim with these gentle amphibians, just don’t touch or otherwise disturb them, as it is illegal. 

Further down the road, Haleʻiwa’s Surf N Sea has SUP rentals to paddle up the river, transporting you from the tropical Pacfic into scenery reminiscent of a southern bayou. The low hanging trees dip their branches  into the water where turtles cruise upriver alongside you as you leisurely paddle. Beginners welcome. 

Other activities near Haleʻiwa include:

Image source: hawaiisharkencounters.com


From there, it’s onwards to Haleʻiwa Town. Hit the shops: fav’s include The Greenroom Polu Gallery for art; Guava Shop for clothes; SoHa for home decor; The Rocky Point Collective for upcycled aloha wear; and  Eyeland Style Optic for a new pair of sunnies.

Image source: The Rocky Point Collective Facebook

The Waialua Sugar Mill

A short drive out of Haleʻiwa and you’ll be at the Waialua Sugar Mill, an old mill, now home to shaping rooms and shops. The Sugar Mill offers a behind-the-scenes, old-school Hawaiʻi feel when it comes to crafting the boards you ride. Expect to get dusty and dirty when checking out boards from Pyzel Surfboards, Third Stone, Sparrow, Two Crows., and more A couple of closet-sized clothing and jewelry boutiques will keep the ladies happily occupied while you drool over boards. And you can’t leave the Sugar Mill without a jar of the best coconut flavored peanut butter on the planet from Island X Hawaiʻi. No bread or jam need to enjoy this treat.

Image source: hanahou.com

Haleʻiwa town restaurants

If you find your stomach rumbling while in Haleʻiwa Town, stop in for some American-style eats fit for a kahuna sized appetite at Breaker’s. The diner is owned by prosurfer Benji Weatherly and his lovely wife Katerina. The surfboards, tiki mugs, and bamboo bar all contribute to the kitchy aloha atmosphere in this indoor/outdoor family-friendly restaurant. 

On that health kick still? Beet Box offers tasty vegan and vegetarian bites that are good-and good for you. Their breakfast and lunch-only menu offers daily specials and favorites like feta-topped avocado toast, acai bowl, and the Three Little Birds curried veggie burrito.  

Is it happy hour already? Maya’s Tapas and Wine serves up the deals on their cocktail of the day, wine, beer, and mini servings of several their menu favs like charred brussel sprouts and a quinoa salad – each a steal at $5!

Haleʻiwa Joe’s is a destination for dining for a mixed crowd of locals and tourists, with tiki torches illuminating their covered lanai and views overlooking Haleʻiwa’s signature Rainbow Bridge and Haleʻiwa Harbor. Let happy hour roll into dinner of American and Asian-fusion cuisine as the sun sets on another beautiful day on the North Shore of Oʻahu.

After a relaxing day off, get a good night’s sleep so you can join the dawn patrol crowd first thing tomorrow. Aloha!