North Shore of Oahu: Hawaii’s Unspoiled Paradise

 By Joe Kukura



There’s one surefire way to make sure your Hawaiian vacation isn’t so touristy—go where the tourists aren’t. You can still find an unspoiled tropical paradise which offers beauty and nature beyond your mainlander comprehension by going off the beaten path and heading to the less developed, more authentic side of Hawaii. Simply head to the North Shore of Oahu, where the pristine beaches, tropical hiking trails and authentic, down-home Hawaiian food will truly put you in an aloha state of mind.

You may know Oahu for the busy shopping centers of Honolulu and the crowded beaches of Waikiki. We’d like to introduce you to the other side of the island, where the only things that move fast are the schools of friendly dolphins who swim in its deep blue Pacific waters. A true Hawaiian vacation will take your breath away on the North Shore of Oahu, where sea turtles bask in the sun and exotic birds flutter along the hiking tails. The people of northern Oahu towns like Laie are steeped in the culture of the islands, and the scenery offers so much more than the paved areas more popular with the tourist set. Take a deep breath and a trip to the north side of Oahu for a taste of the real Hawaii.

Pristine Beaches

Far from the crowds of Waikiki Beach, the North Shore beaches offer unspoiled views of spectacular scenery and plenty of room to stretch out and sunbathe. Waimea Bay is a legendary surf spot, but its beach is calm and its waters crystal clear. Malaekahana, or “Castle Beach,” offers long, picturesque stretches and there’s hardly anyone to share it with. Pounders Beach is a great spot for thrill-seeking surfers and bodyboarders looking for epic waves. Kokololio Beach is a fantastic place to watch the sunrise, and the appropriately named Sunset Beach is one of the best places in the world to watch the sunset.

Authentic Restaurants

The little town of Laie might be the closest thing to a city on the North Shore, and the restaurants at the Hukilau Marketplace in Laie offer an endless buffet of homestyle Hawaiian cooking. For a full meal of locally caught seafood and fresh local produce, Pounders offers the sit-down family experience. Poi Boy Dogs offers traditional Hawaiian hot dogs served in the Polynesian style. Aunty Emily’s Polynesian Bakery cooks up sweet treats, while Tutu’s Sweet Shop serves freshly dipped chocolate macadamia nuts, fruits and cookies.

Visitors to historic Laie can also take in Polynesian history and culture—not to mention the food—at the Polynesian Cultural Center. A stroll through the islands of Hawaii, Samoa, Aotearoa, Tonga, Marquesas, Fiji and Tahiti in an afternoon is a great way to unwind while getting to know local people and cuisines from around the South Pacific.

Nature and Hiking


You can get the full spectrum of Hawaii’s forests, vistas and mountain ridges when hiking on the North Shore of Oahu. The Kaunala Trail is a lushly forested hiking trail with unforgettable mountain views. Laie Falls has phenomenal hiking trails that culminate in a beautiful little waterfall and pool. Laie Point is legendary for its whale watching vantage points and has a spot where daredevils love to jump off cliffs into the ocean surf.

The North Shore of Oahu is where your Hawaiian vacation becomes truly relaxing. The pace moves more slowly and you’ll quickly forget the stresses of the modern world. Head up north to try the hiking, good Hawaiian food and crisp, clear beaches that perfectly preserve all of the very best Hawaii has to offer.

This article is brought to you by the Polynesian Cultural Center—all of Polynesia in one place. Click here to register for tours, luaus and special packages. Book tickets 10 days in advance and receive 10 percent off!