Even if you don’t surf, there’s plenty to do in this historic North Shore town.

1. Waialua Bakery

Photography by Daeja Fernandez

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself” is just one of the inspirational quotes pinned to the walls of this cozy Haleiwa bakery, which is tucked farther back from Kamehameha Highway than most storefronts. Every day, owner Anna Swim whips up chewy oatmeal cookies, hearty turkey sandwiches, homemade breads and smoothies. There are only a few seats inside, but don’t let that keep you from stopping in to soak up some words of wisdom with your meal. 66-200 Kamehameha Highway, 637-9079.


Shave Ice Sundays While Matsumoto’s Shave Ice has been around for 56 years, Japanese immigrants began selling shave ice on the North Shore more than a century ago. During the plantation days, however, it was only sold on Sundays—the workers’ one day off. With no electricity, the solid blocks of ice were shaved using carpenter’s planing tools.


2. Raging Isle

Owner Bill Barnfield says his store is the only one in Hawaii with an in-house surfboard shaper. “I’ve always been a really creative person with my hands, and it just didn’t seem that logical to pay people to make my boards if I could do it myself,” says Barnfield, who’s been shaping since the ’60s. Open since 1987, Raging Isle features the latest surf clothing from Hurley, Billabong and Quiksilver, as well as bicycles and skate gear. North Shore Market-place, 66-250 Kamehameha Highway, 637-7797. 

3. Hale‘iwa Eats Thai

There’s more to eat in this surf town than just burgers and shave ice, and Haleiwa Eats Thai is one of the best examples. The four-year-old establishment doesn’t look like a typical Thai restaurant—with turquoise Apple monitors forming a pinwheel on one yellow wall–but its dishes are as traditional as they come. Eat family style to sample the array of curries; we also recommend the Pad Kee Mao. A warning for spice-lovers: When they say Thai-hot, they mean hot. 66-079 Kamehameha Highway, 637-4247.


4. Resurrection City

Over the past 16 years, Ron Artis has painted 854 murals in Hawaii, but he’s best known for bringing pro surfers’ damaged boards back to life by turning them into works of art. Depending on their condition, the repurposed boards either join the “graveyard of boards” on his lawn, are hung inside his studio or are shaped into familiar forms, like the turtle that was once Kelly Slater’s board. You can also catch Artis and his family performing live rock, blue grass and classical music at the studio every day. 66-246A Kamehameha Highway, 637-1211.

5. Global Creations and Interiors

This 14-year-old souvenir store resides in one of Hale‘iwa’s oldest buildings, which was constructed by the Yoshida family in 1923 as a general store. Today, within the building’s original 12-inch-thick lava rock walls, its current resident continues the practice of carrying something for everyone. From slipper-shaped coasters and hand-painted mouse pads to framed photographs and paintings by more than 100 local artists, the selection at this store screams “Hawaii” without having “tourist” written all over it. 66-079 Kamehameha Highway, 637-1780.


Haleiwa History

The North Shore of Oahu is settled by Native Hawaiians. The ocean, valleys, streams, natural springs and fertile land allow for the plentiful growth of taro and sweet potato; the communities thrive.

According to the North Shore Chamber of Commerce, a member of Captain James Cook’s crew wrote that the North Shore is “well-cultivated and full of villages and the face of the country is uncommonly beautiful and picturesque.”

Protestant missionaries Rev. John Emerson and his wife, Ursula, build a mission and girls seminary called the Emerson House and Protestant Church. Today the church is located at 66-090 Kamehameha Highway and known as Queen Lili‘uokalani Protestant Church, for Hawaii’s last monarch, who vacationed in Haleiwa during the summer.

Benjamin Dillingham, a wealthy businessman, founds the Haleiwa Hotel at the end of his railroad, which connects Hale‘iwa with Honolulu. The hotel, literally meaning house of iwa, is named for the solitary black frigate bird that is common to the area.

The Anahula Bridge is constructed. The historic landmark is also known as the Hale‘iwa Rainbow Bridge for its double-arch design.

The state declares Haleiwa a Historic, Cultural and Scenic District. New construction must adhere to strict specifications in order to “preserve the Territorial architecture of Haleiwa’s early sugar industry times.”