The North Shore of Oahu is world-famous for the big waves winter brings to surf spots like Pipeline and Waimea. Many tourists venture over to check out the surfers in action as a day trip. While the surfers are certainly fun to watch as they ride the huge swells, there is way too much to see and do on this amazingly beautiful side of the island to limit it to a day trip.
Oahu’s North Shore
Any North Shore adventure should begin by checking in at the Turtle Bay Resort. While it might be the only resort on this side of the island the hotel and property offer high-end accommodations and a stunningly beautiful location. Sitting on a peninsula at the northern-most tip of the island the resort spans over 880-acres. Situated so that every room has an ocean view, your only dilemma is if you want to see the sunrise or set from your balcony.
Wake up early and head to the cove at Turtle Bay known as Bay View Beach. Here you are likely to see the resort’s namesake: the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle. You may be lucky enough to see one resting on the sand. If not, patiently look into the water for shadowy spots and then wait for them to pop up for air.
For breakfast, head to the Palm Terrace restaurant located at the resort for their daily buffet. They also offer menu options like eggs Benedict, North Shore Eggs (two poached eggs on shrimp and crab hash served with papaya salsa) or and their signature omelet with brie, spinach and crabmeat.
Or head into Haleiwa to Ted’s Bakery. While Ted’s is famous for its coconut-chocolate haupia pie (haupia is a traditional coconut milk-based Hawaiian dessert), their breakfast is also a treat. Try the ham, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich or an omelet with one of the scrumptious butter rolls.
Glider Ride & Amazing Views of Oahu
From Haleiwa, continue on Kamehameha Highway toward and through Haleiwa Town to Dillingham Airfield for a glider ride. I know what you are thinking. Well, maybe I don’t.
I know what I was thinking which was somewhere between panic and excitement. My panic increased a bit when I saw how small the glider plane was, but my pilot Dwight smartly gave me little time to think about backing out.
He quickly pushed the plane-yes he physically pushed the plane onto the landing strip hooked the glider to the propeller plane sitting in front of us and before I knew it we were ready for takeoff.
The fact Dwight is a former Navy pilot moved me away from panic to ease and excitement, but the initial awareness I was riding up front created a bit of nerves. Mostly I was scared I would accidentally move a knob, dial, or button of some sort that would take the glide out of the glider.
Luckily, Dwight was a cross between a Zen psychologist and pilot. As we closed the clear hatch for takeoff he calmly told me “Take a breath. Now breathe” as the propeller plane began to taxi and then pull us up into the sky.
The take-off was very smooth. After reaching the right altitude the propeller plane released us, leaving us to soar over the Pacific Ocean while it took a wild dive down and over the water. I should say, Dwight and other pilots with Original Glider Rides also offer acrobatic rides. Count me out of that one- at least for now!
I was very content to glide over the mountains, ocean, and beach. We even passed the area where parts of the television show Lost are filmed. Our ride lasted about thirty minutes; the landing was as smooth as the take off especially with Dwight coaching me “Okay, we are going to land now. Breathe….. and now we are down”. I have to say it was an experience of a lifetime.
Shrimp Truck Plate Lunch
It’s hard to top a glider ride, but one possible way is with amazing food. Head back to Haleiwa town and stop and explore some of the cute shops along Kamehameha Highway. For lunch stop midway through town at the corner of Pa Alaa Road at Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck.
Many of the North Shore shrimp trucks have a specialty. Giovanni’s is the garlic shrimp. Plates come with a dozen shrimp cooked in olive oil, lots and lots of garlic and a scoop of rice. Make sure to order a Hawaiian Sun Passion-Orange drink and you will have a delectable food experience.
Afterward, continue on the highway leading to Turtle Bay. For some great snorkeling during low tides when North Shore waves aren’t at their peak stop at Shark’s Cove. Located just off the highway, this is a great shallow cove that is known as one of the best snorkel spots on the island.
If you are still feeling adventurous, head back to Turtle Bay for an afternoon horseback ride. Turtle Bay has its own stables and offers guided group rides throughout the day. The rides are a low-key excursion along the beach, into the woods a bit and to a filming spot of Lost (your second Lost location for the day!) The ride is about an hour and a great opportunity to see more of the huge property.
By now, you’ll want to lounge by one of the two resort pools for a bit. If you are in a playful mood head to the pool with the waterslide and waterfall. Otherwise, find a chaise lounge with a view of the ocean and enjoy the afternoon sun.
As the sun begins to dip in the sky, head over to the poolside bar, Hang 10 and order a cocktail. Join the dozens or more hotel guests as they find a place on the lawn or wood benches near the ocean side cliffs and watch the sunset.
For dinner head to Ola’s-located on the sand in the cove of Bay View Beach where the day began. The restaurant offers one of the most beautiful settings you’ll find anywhere. Choose a table on the beach or one just inside so you can enjoy the sound of the waves rolling up onto the sand.
Chef Fred DeAngelo has created a menu focusing on locally caught fish and island-grown produce that showcase appetizers like Kahuku corn chowder and traditional Ahi poke topped with Lobster poke. You can go wrong with entrees such as chef’s signature slow-poached togarashi salmon, miso butterfish or Hamakua mushroom risotto.
In one day: gliding in the sky, garlic shrimp goodness, horseback riding, snorkeling, an amazing sunset and a first-class resort without leaving the North Shore of Oahu.
What & Where:
Turtle Bay Resort (57-091 Kamehameha Hwy, Kahuku; 808-293-6000; www.turtlebayresort.com/)
The Original Glider Ride (Dillingham Airfield, Waialua; 808-637-0207; honolulusoaring.com/)
Ted’s Bakery (59-024 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa; 808-638-8207)
Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck (Kamehameha Hwy at the corner of Pa Alaa Rd; Haleiwa)
Click here to see my glider ride!
For more information about Oahu check out these great books on Amazon Oahu Revealed: The Ultimate Guide to Honolulu, Waikiki & Beyond, Frommer’s Honolulu & Oahu Day by Day by Frommer’s, and Driving and Discovering Hawaii: Oahu, Honolulu, and Waikiki
Ready to visit Oahu? Check out these great Airfare and Hotel deals to Oahu
Alexa Meisler is the editorial director of 52 Perfect Days. Born in Paris, France she has since lived in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. She currently resides in San Diego with her husband and son where they enjoy exploring California and Mexico.
Travel has always been a part of her life; traveling to such places as Morocco, Tangiers and Spain as a young child as well as taking many road trips to Mexico with her grandparents as a young girl. Since then, she has traveled abroad to locations such as Russia, Taiwan and throughout Europe.
Prior to working at 52 Perfect Days she was a freelance travel writer; focusing on family and women’s adventure experiences.