It’s no secret that Haleiwa is in my top 5 when it comes to favorite places in Hawaii. What’s not to love about a quaint beach town built on big waves, mom-and-pop eateries and whimsical shops filled with treasures? Haleiwa is tucked on the (fabled) North Shore of Oahu and is the a must stop on any trip to the islands. But Kait, why? I’ve been to tiny beach towns before. Well, I’m so glad you asked! Today I’m sharing my Top 10 Things To Do In Haleiwa!
1. Matsumoto’s. There’s a reason this shave ice stop has been on the map for decades now. Started by a couple in 1951, Matsumoto’s is known around the world as Hawaii’s best shave ice. Picking up a rainbow ice (with ice cream!) is an absolute must. Read more about this famed spot here.
2. When in Hawaii, coffee is king. Just driving to Haleiwa on Kamehameha Highway (Route 99 if you’re trying to read a map!) you’ll pass acres of coffee trees harvested by local farms. In Haleiwa, a Frozen Vintage Mocha from Island Vintage Coffee will cool you off in an instant (the peaberry crunch adds something that is indescribable) or Coffee Gallery for a regular cup of joe. You can’t go wrong!
3. Located across the street from Haleiwa Beach Park sits a macadamia nut farm stand, aptly named North Shore Macadamia Nut Farm. The people who run it are extremely friendly, the nuts are very fresh and the coconut roasted flavor is unlike any other I’ve had across any island I’ve visited. These are perfect snacks for a beach day or to bring home for friends and family!
4. After you leave the Mac Nut Farm, head across the street to Haleiwa Beach Park. Walk to the right until you reach a shaded area with a beach tucked behind it, often used for surfing camps and lessons. It’s a great area to spot sea turtles without the hassle of stopping at Lanikea (Turtle Beach). Please be aware that touching or otherwise disturbing the turtles is a federal offense, but observing from a distance with a great camera lens is encouraged 🙂 Just want to relax? No problem! Haleiwa Alii Beach Park is easily accessible and offers ample parking. It’s a short beach, which means minimal walking from car to water, but it’s great for catching rays or finding some zen.
5. If you’re heading through Haleiwa in the evening, I cannot say enough good things about Opal Thai Restaurant located near Long’s Drugs. It’s the closest Thai food we have encountered outside of Thailand and it’s, hands down, my favorite restaurant on the island. I even had my birthday party here! It’s nothing to look at from the outside, but the cozy atmosphere inside and incredible food will leave you begging for more. The pan fried basil tofu squares are what dreams are made of! *Definitely make reservations*
6. Adventure seekers should look into One Ocean Diving, an educational conservation company that hosts shark diving tours regularly out of Haleiwa Harbor. I was terrified of sharks for a very long time and in an effort to learn more and conquer a fear, we took this on shortly after moving here. It’s still in my top ten activities!
7. Haleiwa’s iconic Rainbow Bridge is a fun place to stop and snap a photo, as is the pair of rainbow angel wings mural just on the other side of it, adjacent to the shave ice stop.
8. If you’re looking to try stand up paddling, Haleiwa is a great place to test the waters. The protected cove and river provide relatively calm waters for both professional and amateur paddlers. Not only is it a great workout, you can often spot turtles and other wildlife in the river while you paddle.
9. What’s a trip to the North Shore without stopping by some food trucks? There’s no shortage of shrimp trucks, dessert trucks and really anything (!) scattered around Haleiwa.
10. There is no shortage of cute shops in Haleiwa Town, whether you’re looking to stock up on surfing goodies, trinkets to take home or something fashionable to wear. My favorite spots include Mahina, Sand People, Pineapples Boutique, North Shore Goodies (hello Coconut Peanut Butter!), Guava Shop and Clark Little Gallery (amazing photography of Hawaii). It should be noted that there are many, many more amazing shops to stroll in and out of and it’s a great activity if the weather isn’t cooperating.
Have you visited Haleiwa? What was your favorite part?