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Things to do in North Shore of Oahu with Kids

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If you are planning a trip to Oahu, a visit to the North Shore is a must. There are many things to do with kids in North Shore of Oahu in Hawaii. Use this list of Things to do in North Shore of Oahu with Kids to plan your trip.

things to do on the north shore of Oahu Hawaii with kids

Things to do on the North Shore of Oahu with Kids

We had so much fun exploring the North Shore. If you think of relaxing in Hawaii on beautiful beaches with turquoise water and soft sand along with calm and quiet this is the part of Oahu you want to explore. 

Located just an hour away from the bustling city of Honolulu, the North Shore of Oahu presents a serene and tranquil escape. Spanning 17 miles along the northern coast, this idyllic stretch exudes a rural and laid-back vibe. With a plethora of over 50 stunning beaches, amazing jungles, waterfalls, and breathtaking scenery, a visit to the North Shore is an absolute must for anyone exploring Oahu. There are so many things to do in North Shore of Oahu with kids that the whole family will enjoy.

We broke our trip up as best as we could to explore the Island. The Hawaiian island of Oahu is divided into 5 major sections. Those sections are Honolulu, the Windward Coast, Central Oʻahu, the Leeward Coast, and the North Shore. For this post, we are going to focus on the Things to do in North Shore of Oahu with Kids.  

If you are planning a trip around the whole Island when you are taking your vacation, be sure to check out our 7 Day Oahu Itinerary.

Things to do with kids on Oahu Island in Hawaii

things to do on the north shore of Oahu Hawaii with kids

Where is the North Shore Located?

The North Shore is located on the island of Oahu, which is part of the Hawaiian archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. Specifically, the North Shore is on the northern coast of Oahu, extending from Kaena Point in the west to Kahuku Point in the east. It is approximately 40 miles (64 kilometers) from the island’s capital city of Honolulu.

What towns are in North Shore Oahu?

The North Shore of Oahu is home to several charming towns and communities. Here are some of the main towns you can explore:

Haleiwa: Haleiwa is the largest and most well-known town on the North Shore. It serves as the central hub for visitors and offers a variety of shops, art galleries, restaurants, and food trucks. It has a laid-back atmosphere and is famous for its surf culture.

Waialua: Located just east of Haleiwa, Waialua is a small town known for its historic sugar mill. It has a more rural feel and is surrounded by agricultural fields and beautiful scenery.

Sunset Beach: While not an official town, Sunset Beach is a prominent area along the North Shore. It’s famous for its stunning beach and world-class surf breaks, attracting surfers and spectators from around the globe.

Pupukea: Pupukea is an area that encompasses the famous Shark’s Cove, a popular snorkeling spot. It also includes Foodland Pupukea, a grocery store where you can stock up on supplies.

Laie: Located on the northeastern side of the North Shore, Laie is home to the Polynesian Cultural Center, a popular attraction that showcases the diverse cultures of Polynesia. It also houses Brigham Young University–Hawaii.

things to do on the north shore of Oahu Hawaii with kids

Is Oahu North Shore worth visiting?

Yes, the North Shore of Oahu is definitely worth visiting! It is known for its breathtaking natural beauty, world-class surfing, charming towns, and rich cultural heritage. We had so much fun exploring North Shore! This list of things to do in North Shore of Oahu with Kids will help you plan the perfect trip.

How long to spend in North Shore Oahu?

The amount of time you should spend in the North Shore of Oahu depends on your interests, schedule, and the activities you plan to do. While some people visit for a day trip, others choose to spend several days exploring the area. There are many Things to do in North Shore of Oahu with Kids and some of them will take all day such as the Polynesian Cultural Center, while things like swimming and rock jumping will be a short trip.

Things to do in North Shore Oahu

No matter if you are looking for an adventure, beautiful scenery or tasty food there is something for everyone when you are visiting the North Shore area of the Hawaiian Island of Oahu. 

sea turtles in north shore

See the Hawaiian Sea turtles

Laniakea Beach is a great spot to take the kids, also known as turtle beach because that is where the Hawaiian green sea turtles can be seen when you are in the North Shore.  

The sea turtles at Laniakea Beach are protected species, and they often come ashore to rest and bask in the sun. Their presence on the beach has made Laniakea a popular destination. 

When visiting any Beach where you can see sea turtles, it’s crucial to respect the turtles and their environment. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:

  1. Observe from a Distance: It is important to maintain a respectful distance of at least 10 feet (3 meters) from the turtles. Do not touch or disturb them in any way.
  2. Be Mindful of their Space: The turtles need their space, so avoid crowding them or blocking their path if they are moving towards or away from the water.
  3. Do Not Feed the Turtles: Feeding the turtles is strictly prohibited, as it can disrupt their natural behavior and diet.
  4. Follow Local Regulations: It’s important to adhere to any posted signs or instructions provided by local authorities or conservation organizations.

Location: Laniakea Beach Pohaku Loa Way, Haleiwa, HI 96712

kid Jumping off the big Rock at Waimea Bay Rock

Jump off the big Rock at Waimea Bay Rock

Waimea Bay Rock, also known as “Jump Rock,” is a prominent feature located at Waimea Bay Beach Park on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. It is a large rock formation that has become a popular spot for thrill-seekers and cliff-jumpers.

My older 2 kids have had to jump off a rock into the water on their bucket lists forever. While we were in Hawaii they got to check that off and spent over an hour jumping off the large rock formation and into the water. 

Jumping off Waimea Bay Rock is a thrilling activity that attracts locals and visitors alike. However, it’s important to note that cliff jumping can be dangerous, and caution should be exercised at all times. Before attempting a jump, it is crucial to assess the current conditions, such as water depth, tide, and any potential hazards such as submerged rocks or strong currents. So please if you are choosing this activity do it safely. 

Location: 61-031 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI 96712

Swimming at Waimea Bay

Go Swimming at Waimea Bay

While the big kids were busy jumping off the rock at Waimea Bay the younger two kids and I went swimming. 

Swimming at Waimea Bay can be a delightful and refreshing experience, but it’s important to be aware of the conditions and exercise caution. 

Waimea Bay is known for its large and powerful waves during the winter months (typically November to February), attracting experienced surfers from around the world. During this time, the conditions are generally not suitable for swimming due to the strong currents and heavy surf. If you’re not an experienced water person, it’s best to avoid swimming during winter.

During the summer months (typically May to September), the ocean at Waimea Bay becomes much calmer, and the water is usually more inviting for swimming. The bay itself forms a protected area that provides a safer swimming environment for visitors.

Location: 61-031 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI 96712

child playing in the sand at Waimea Bay beach park

Waimea Valley

After swimming at Waimea Bay you you can head on over to Waimea Valley to go on a hike and check out the waterfall Waimea Falls, also known as Waihi Falls. We did not get the chance to visit, but it is on our list for the next time we are in Oahu. 

Waimea Valley and Waimea Bay are located relatively close to each other on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. The distance between the two is approximately 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers), which can be covered in a short drive or a leisurely walk.

If you prefer to drive, it typically takes less than 5 minutes to travel from Waimea Bay to Waimea Valley, depending on traffic conditions. You can take Kamehameha Highway (Route 83) and follow it along the coastline to reach Waimea Valley.

Waimea Valley offers a range of recreational activities and experiences for visitors to enjoy. Along with swimming in the waterfall pool, you can take leisurely hikes through the valley, exploring nature trails that showcase the beauty of the surroundings. There are also picnic areas where you can relax and enjoy a meal amidst the tranquility of the valley.

Location: 59-864 Kamehameha Hwy Haleiwa, HI 96712

Shave Ice at Matsumoto Shave Ice

Get Shave Ice at Matsumoto Shave Ice

We planned a specific stop for getting shaved ice at Matsumoto while exploring North Shore after a friend of mine told me it was a must-stop place. 

A visit to Matsumoto Shave Ice is not only about the delicious treat but also about experiencing a part of North Shore’s cultural heritage. It has been serving shave ice since 1951 and remains a beloved destination for locals and tourists seeking a refreshing and delightful taste of Hawaii.

Shave ice is a traditional Hawaiian dessert that consists of finely shaved ice piled high in a bowl or cone and topped with various flavored syrups. What sets Matsumoto Shave Ice apart is not only the quality of their shave ice but also the wide array of flavors and delightful toppings they offer. The flavor options are aplenty and the servings are huge. We bought 3 different ones to share amongst us and it was a lot and we had some leftover that we could not even finish eating. 

Location: 66-111 Kamehameha Hwy #605, Haleiwa, HI 96712

North Shore Macadamia nut company

North Shore Macadamia Nut Company

If you are a big fan of Macadamia nuts like I am then you have to stop here. Not only is this a great place to pick up tasty treats like macadamia nuts and local honey but a great stop for kids too. The owners are amazing and will teach the kids how macadamia nuts are cracked out of their shell. The kids will even be able to try it themselves. My kids loved this quick little stop that we made.

After learning about macadamia nuts, we shopped a bit and grabbed some snacks for the ride.

Scenic Drive on Kamehameha Highway

Take a Scenic Drive on Kamehameha Highway

While we are not ones to just sit in the car and drive I am glad we took the time to make sure we drove the Kamehameha Highway. This drive is amazing and I highly suggest doing it to see the views and not just for getting places. 

This road is the main road running along the North Coast of the island of Oahu. Kamehameha Highway, also known as Route 83, stretches along the northeastern coastline of Oahu. The highway covers approximately 34 miles (55 kilometers) from Pearl Harbor to the eastern edge of the North Shore.

Taking a scenic drive on Kamehameha Highway is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the natural beauty and laid-back atmosphere of Oahu’s North Shore. It provides an opportunity to enjoy stunning views and explore charming towns.

As you drive this scenic route, you’ll have the opportunity to see stunning coastal views. With stretches of sandy beaches, rugged cliffs, and turquoise waters its a must see. Along the way, you’ll pass by various attractions, towns, and natural landmarks that are worth exploring or stopping for a visit. Lots of places along the route have pull off areas where you can also take amazing photos.

One notable feature along Kamehameha Highway is the picturesque Waimea Bay. Here you can take in the beauty of the bay and watch surfers tackling the large winter waves or simply relax on the beach. Further along the route, you’ll encounter the legendary Banzai Pipeline. This is a famous surf break renowned for its massive, barreling waves and world-class surfing competitions.

Keep an eye out for hidden beaches, tide pools, and lookout points that provide panoramic views of the ocean and surrounding beauty.

kids at the Polynesian Cultural Center

Polynesian Cultural Center

This interactive cultural park offers various activities that introduce kids to the diverse cultures of the Pacific Islands. Kids can learn traditional dances, play traditional games, and enjoy a Polynesian luau. There is a lot to do when you are visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center. This spot is one that you will want to plan at least a full day for. You can see our full guide on visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center with kids.

Food trucks in north shore

Get Lunch at the Food Trucks

There are many options when it comes to food trucks in the North Shore and they make for the perfect spot for lunch. We stopped at a few different ones just to get a taste of what they had to offer. Everything we ate was all delicious. We never made it to Giovanni’s Shrimp truck which was on our list, but I can not be too sad because everything that we ate was amazing. 

North Shore Oahu is renowned for its vibrant food truck scene, offering a diverse range of delicious and flavorful cuisine. Many of the trucks use fresh, locally sourced ingredients which I love. You’ll have the opportunity to savor the flavors of Hawaii while enjoying the laid-back atmosphere. 

  • Haleiwa Town: Here you will find a cluster of food trucks that line the streets. You’ll find a wide variety of options, including local Hawaiian dishes, fresh seafood, Mexican cuisine, gourmet burgers, Thai food, acai bowls, and more.
  • Shark’s Cove: Shark’s Cove is not only a popular snorkeling spot but also a gathering place for food trucks. Here, you can indulge in a delicious meal while enjoying the scenic coastal views. The food trucks offer a mix of Hawaiian favorites, such as plate lunches, poke bowls, shrimp plates, and vegetarian options.
  • Sunset Beach: Along the stretch of Kamehameha Highway you’ll find a handful of food trucks. From fresh fruit smoothies and acai bowls to gourmet tacos and mouthwatering BBQ.
  • Kahuku: This area is known for its food trucks and shrimp farms. Here, you can feast on succulent garlic shrimp plates, traditional Hawaiian plate lunches, grilled fish tacos, and other local delights.

Tips for Visiting North Shore

There are a few things that you can do that will make your exploring of the North Shore in Oahu easier. I hope these tips help you with your planning of things to do in North Shore Oahu.

  • Plan for Traffic. Be aware that traffic can be congested, especially during peak tourist times or when popular surf competitions are taking place. Give yourself extra time to travel between destinations and be patient on the road. If you are coming from Waikiki it can take up to 1.5 hours if there is traffic.
  • Plan your day in advance. Knowing where you want to go and what you want to see will make your day go smoother. It will also allow you to see everything on your bucket list. 
  • Explore the Beaches. Don’t just stop at one beach when you are in the North Shore. The North Shore is famous for its beautiful beaches. Take the time to visit different beaches along the coast. Each beach has its own unique character and offers different experiences.
  • Try Local Food. Don’t miss out on the delicious food trucks and local eateries that the North Shore is known for. We mentioned getting shave ice earlier, but when you are there a stop at Island Vintage Coffee. It is a must for the adults who love coffee. Be sure to try the Macadamia Nut Mocha, it’s amazing. 
  • Respect the Environment. The North Shore is a pristine natural area, so be mindful of preserving its beauty. Respect the beach and ocean by following proper etiquette. Be sure to dispose of trash, and avoid any damage to the coral reefs or marine life.
  • Check Surf Conditions. If you’re interested in watching or participating in water activities, keep an eye on the surf conditions.

Destinations to Visit With Kids

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