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Things to do in North Shore’s Old Haleiwa Town

Endangered-Hawaiian-Green-Sea Turtle-on-the-sandy- beach-at-North-Shore-featured-image

When people say “Hawaii”, you think of gorgeous beaches, famous surf breaks, a tropical paradise, and its “aloha” spirit.  However, there is another side to paradise. This beautiful island of Oahu is home to a rich Hawaiian culture and intriguing history. 


Hawaii’s origin is so lengthy that the date of its first settlement is still being debated to this day. What is common in these debates, is that the island’s first settlers were the Polynesians from the Marquesas Islands. These citizens settled in small communities ruled by Ali’i (chiefs) and lived as highly skilled farmers and fishermen. 


Every island and town in this archipelago has its own tales of how it built itself into what they are right now. One old town in particular, located on Oahu’s North Shore is Old Haleiwa Town

History of Haleiwa

Roughly an hour north from Waikiki, you will find the town of Haleiwa. This district is known for being a cultural hub and surf town of the North Shore. 


The origins of Haleiwa started in the late 1800s. Benjamin J. Dillingham, became a new hotel owner in the area and named his new lodge “Haleiwa”, which translates to “Home of the Iwa” or the Great Frigate Bird, a local sea bird.


The area was not getting that much attention before the hotel’s construction. But as soon as it was established, people were drawn to the district’s beauty and started to flock to Haleiwa. The hotel, closed its doors in 1943. 


Despite its closure, the Haleiwa Hotel had established itself as a dream destination for many affluent visitors. No one can deny how significant its contribution was to Oahu’s tourism. 


Today, the restaurant Haleiwa Joe’s stands where the hotel once stood. The area is also filled with cool surf shops, boutiques, incredible art galleries, and charming local restaurants in plantation-era buildings. 


Today, Haleiwa is known as one of the most famous surf towns in the world. It’s also a great place to visit if you’re interested in art or history.


Here are some of the places you can visit in this small yet fascinating town.

How to get to Haleiwa?

The town is on the northwest corner of Oahu, nestled along Highway 99 also known as Kamehameha Highway by locals.  


Haleiwa is just a short 35-minute drive from the airport. It is about a one-hour drive from Waikiki. You can either take a city bus, rent a car, or book a tour operator offering to visit Haleiwa. If you ask a local on Oahu which is a must-see location on the island, the consensus majority will say “You gotta check out the North Shore”. Which is exactly where Old Haleiwa Town is nestled in. 


Things to Do and Places to Visit in Old Haleiwa Town

Here are some exciting things you can do while visiting the beautiful town of Haleiwa.


Stroll around Old Haleiwa Town


Take a step back in time as you stroll around one of Oahu’s oldest towns. One tour operator makes their last stop there (Go Tours Hawaii’s Dole Pineapple Farm Tour) if you are interested in a guided tour of the town’s history.


After emerging yourself in learning the history and contributions of pineapples to Hawaii, allow this excursion to give you more insights into what Oahu looked like before.  


Apart from having the vibe of Haleiwa’s earlier years, this whimsical surf town is filled with modern boutiques, surf shops, and shave ice stops you’ll be sure to love. 


Want to learn more about this tour? Try visiting our website at


Enjoy Surfing in Haleiwa Beach Park


The North Shore is bustling with many surfing spots. One of these is the Haleiwa Beach Park. Unlike the other beaches, Haleiwa Beach Park is known for its calm waves, perfect for those who only want to swim and relax or begin learning surfing. 


To get to Haleiwa Beach Park, all you have to do is take Haleiwa Road toward Kamehameha Highway. 


Visit Haleiwa Art Gallery


Image from Haleiwa Art Gallery

Calling out all the art enthusiasts out there – this one’s for you!


For over 20 years, Haleiwa Art Gallery has been at the center of Oahu’s art community. This space has provided a much-needed venue for island-based artists to promote their works. 


The goal of this gallery is to reach a wider audience by delivering diverse and original artworks. The gallery also aims to enrich the artistic experiences of both artists and enthusiasts. 

Check out Waimea Valley Botanical Gardens


If you are interested in the tourist attractions just outside of Haleiwa, you can check out the Waimea Botanical Garden. This exceptional garden is 4.5 miles away from the town of Haleiwa and is known for its beautiful waterfall that you can swim in after exploring the gardens.


This attraction promises extraordinary botanical collections locally and from all over the world. Some of the plant assortments you can find in the valley are rare and endangered. 


Waimea Valley also sports a healthy list of various animal species, such as honeycreepers, peacocks, geckos, and skinks. There is also a pond where you can marvel at the beauty of the koi fish. 



If you are interested to learn about Hawaiian culture and get the history on the places you visit on the North Shore, be sure to book this tour Hidden Gems Waimea Botanical Gardens & Waterfall


Have a Taste of Matusmoto’s Shave Ice


Matsumoto’s Shave Ice has been a family-owned shave ice stop since 1951. This is arguably the most popular place to get shave ice on the entire island. This is why you should not be surprised if you see people lining up in front of the store. 


This shop started as a small grocery store and only gained popularity when it began serving shave ice with homemade syrup. 


Although the original building is no longer there, the new facility opens up in a courtyard where you can find a bench to enjoy the taste of your favorite shave ice flavors. Locals will sometimes add extra toppings such as vanilla ice cream, li hing mui powder (plum powder) or a snow cap, also known as condensed milk. 

Travel in Time with Go Tours Hawaii


Knowing the history of the place you visit will significantly help you appreciate its beauty even more. If you want to be guided through your experience, there are local tour guides and operators that know the islands like the back of their hand. Go Tours Hawaii is an example of a trusted tour operator. 


At Go Tours Hawaii, we devote ourselves to giving our clients an authentic Hawaiian experience. If you want to know more, check out our website at