The North Shore and South Shore

Which shore of Oahu will you enjoy the most? Well, it depends very much on what you’re in the mood for…

Just the facts: Honolulu’s population is 390,000, with a claim to fame of Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head Crater views.

Driving through Haleiwa Town
Driving into Haleiwa Town, Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

Vibe: A melting pot of cultures, with an artsy Chinatown, a university and top-end restaurants and shops. The seat of the Hawaiian government, tropical Honolulu and its southern environs are equal parts superb beaches and vibrant nightlife.

Shops on North Hotel street in Chinatown
Chinatown, Honolulu, Shops on North Hotel Street, Credit Requirements: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

Off the Beach: The Iolani Palace to see how the Hawaiian monarchy lived, and Pearl Harbor tours bring people aboard the battleships.

Hawaii Capitol and downtown Honolulu
Honolulu Downtown, Credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson


Just the facts: Haleiwa’s population is 3,900, with a claim to fame of 30-foot waves at Banzai Pipeline in the winter months. Waimea Bay beaches are for swimming in the summer only

Vibe: Laidback with no building taller than a palm tree, the North Shore is not only on opposite sides of the island from Honolulu, but opposite ends of the spectrum, with fruit stands along side rural roads. Board shorts are the clothing of choice. And it’s the waves, not the nightlife, that are top tier.

Off the Beach: Polynesian Cultural Center shows the lifestyles of the South Pacific, and a fantastic luau. Dole Plantation has with the World’s largest maze