The North Shore of Oahu is home to some of the best surf in the world in the winter months and endless golden sand beaches during the summer. While on the North Shore you can expect to find an abundance of green sea turtles, chill-vibes, and endless palm trees. It’s one of my favorite regions in the world due to the laid-back vibes. These are the best North Shore Oahu beaches.
BEST BEACHES ON THE NORTH SHORE OF OAHU
In this blog post, I’ll detail all of the best beaches on the North Shore of Oahu in Hawaii!
TOP 3 PLACES TO STAY ON OAHU
Ehukai Beach Park/Banzai Pipeline
‘Ehukai, or “sea spray”, is a small stretch of beach across from the Sunset Beach Elementary School and is the public access point to Pipeline, which is arguably the most famous surf break in the world. If you are in town during the winter season, this is a great spot to watch some massive, barrelling waves. However, it’s not a good place for swimming during these winter months due to the ferocious nature of the waves and currents.
On a day with a big swell, Ehukai Beach can be best observed from the Peace Hike. The view of the waves from the hike is what Hawaii is all about. The meeting of the majestic mountains and the powerful ocean.
The most famous surf beach in the world serves up some monster barrels in the winter. The highlight of the year is the Billabong Pipe Masters, which brings the best surfers from around the world to compete in the World Surf League Event. It is the last event of the year and often decides the world champ for the year!
BEST RENTAL CAR COMPANY IN HAWAII
North Shore Shark Cage Adventure
Launching from the Haleiwa Boat Harbor, this is one of the top activities on the North Shore. On the North Shore Shark Cage tour, you will travel 3 miles off the coast to an area that is inhabited by a large shark population and you will be jumping in a shark cage behind the vessel to face-to-face these amazing 5′ to 15′ long sharks. For 20 minutes under the water, you’ll be surrounded by around a dozen sharks or even more. I definitely recommend this tour to anyone as it will be a highlight of your Hawaiian vacation.
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Waimea Bay has it all going on. Huge waves in the winter, which reach bigger than 40ft. In the summer the jump rock is a popular hangout. Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles and fish swim around the rock formations below the surface and there are even a few underwater tunnels to explore. Waimea Bay is definitely one of the best North Shore Oahu beaches and is unmissable during your time on the island.
There is this very popular tour that takes you to all of the top beaches on the North Shore but also includes a visit to the famous Waimea Waterfall.
THE FOUR MOST POPULAR OAHU TOURS
- Doors-Off Oahu Helicopter Flight Tour: My number one recommendation is to do a heli-flight (doors off) and be blown away when you see Oahu from the air.
- North Shore Shark Cage Tour: The biggest adrenaline rush you can have in Hawaii is beneath the surface with sharks!
- Eco-Friendly Dolphin and Snorkel Tour: One of the best experiences I had on Oahu was swimming with the beautiful spinner dolphins on this exact tour.
- Turtle Canyon Snorkel Cruise by Catamaran: The number 1 MOST POPULAR snorkel tour on Oahu. GUARANTEED Turtles!
Keikis is not a beach you go to for a refreshing dip. A powerful shore-break pounds into the sand. Photographers and bodyboarders who have somehow acquired super-human levels of courage test themselves in amongst the huge sets. This is the playground of Clark Little, one of the North Shore’s most famous photographers.
As you can guess by the name this isn’t a bad spot to end the day. However, most of the beaches on Oahu have a great sunset. This is another beach that gets a huge swell in the winter! The beach also rose to fame with a few palm trees that shoot out sideways, creating a great photo opportunity. It’s worth taking a look but please don’t climb the trees as they are quite fragile and we hope they can last for many more decades. It’s definitely one of those beaches on the North Shore of Oahu that is a must-visit.
For a day-tour that takes you to the top sights around the island of Oahu including the beat beaches on the North Shore, you should check out this one: Oahu Circle Island Tour
Turtle Bay Resort is a fancy accommodation on the North Shore for those not looking to mix it in Waikiki. They have a little bay, which is man-made, where the water is protected. It’s quite far from Waimea and Sunset Beach and is usually only visited by the hotel guests rather than visitors to the North Shore.
Also known as turtle beach this little stretch of sand is incredibly popular for one big reason. Each year huge Hawaiian Sea Turtles come and rest on the shore. Tourists pack the beach while volunteers try and keep the crowds from going too close. The turtles are also out in the water and you can snorkel with them but remember to stay more than two meters clear of the turtles.
Haleiwa historic town has a great relaxed, surf vibe to it. Tons of galleries, coffee shops, and other stores line the main street. The beach itself has a few surf competitions throughout the year and is a hotspot for turtles. Haleiwa Beach is one of the best North Shore Oahu beaches to try a Standup Paddle Board lesson. I love watching the sunset here from the parking lot as you have a line of massive palm trees that create perfect silhouettes.
Pupukea Beach Park is where you can find Shark’s Cove. This is one of the premier snorkeling spots and a great, safe little spot for kids and families. The tide pools provide a fantastic area for snorkeling without having to worry about the elements of the ocean. Turtles, fish, and lava tunnels will make this one of your favorite snorkeling spots on Oahu.
Velzyland has both rights and left surf breaks and is a popular surf spot. Velzyland is public but seems private as it is not directly off the main road and is one of the off-the-beaten-path beaches of the North Shore on Oahu.
WHERE TO STAY ON OAHU
- Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort (Overall Favorite): In the heart of Waikiki, this high-end resort is right on the beach with a private lagoon.
- Sheraton Waikiki (Luxury): A luxury resort with the most amazing infinity pool on the island, which overlooks the beach.
- Ewa Hotel Waikiki: (Value): Ewa Hotel is just one block back from the beach and is just over $150 USD.
- Waikiki Beachside Hostel (Budget Choice): A budget alternative, which is still in an amazing location.
- Disney Aulani Resort (Family Choice): This is a resort your kids will never forget. It honestly feels like you are living in a theme park.
MORE OAHU BLOG POSTS
I lived on Oahu for two years and loved adventuring from the beaches to the mountains to the waterfalls! These are my most popular blog post and guides from the beautiful island of Oahu to help you plan your trip!
- What to pack for Hawaii: THE HAWAII PACKING LIST: WHAT TO PACK
- A helpful guide to choosing accommodation: WHERE TO STAY ON OAHU
- Most epic hike on Oahu: THE STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN OAHU, HAWAII
- The best Waterfalls: AMAZING WATERFALLS ON OAHU, HAWAII
- Ultimate Cliff Jumping Guide: 11 BEST CLIFF JUMPING SPOTS ON OAHU
- Guide to Swimming with Sea Turtles: WHERE TO SEE TURTLES ON OAHU
- The best Waterfall Hikes: TOP WATERFALL HIKES ON OAHU
- Best Tours: 20 BEST TOURS ON OAHU
- The Ultimate Guide to Oahu: 80 AWESOME THINGS TO DO ON OAHU