July 03, 2012

Things We Love to Do in Laie, Hawaii (and surrounding areas)

Being from Hawaii, we always have friends and family from the Mainland ask what they should do when they visit the Aloha State. I decided it is about time that I write a blog about some of our favorite suggestions. Most of these will be from the North Shore—because that is where we live (when we are in the States anyway)—but I will also list some other things to do on Oahu that are not North Shore. In our opinion, and yes, we may be a bit bias, if you are coming to Oahu, the North Shore is the only place to stay if you want a true Hawaiian experience.


Turtle Bay—There really is only one resort on the North Shore and that is Turtle Bay. It is beautiful and you could spend your whole holiday there with no problem. However, it is also a bit pricey. When you are the only competitor I guess you can be as expensive as you want to. Turtle Bay has hotel style rooms and they also have Turtle Bay Condominiums that you can rent. The Condos are great for someone with a family because there is a kitchen included and that will save on food prices. Even if you don’t stay at Turtle Bay, it is a great place to golf, eat (try the Ribs and fresh cookies and LeiLeis, those are Lady Hiva’s Favorites!), swim, and get a full spa experience.

Beach Rentals—There are plenty of homes—large and small—on the beach or near by the beach that are great to rent. Their prices vary, so shop around. Finding your own place gives you the option to tailor your own holiday.


Sunset Beach: Best place to watch the sunset…duh! Hence the name, I know. We love Sunset Beach (that is where I proposed to Lady Hiva). During the summer months, the water is glassy smooth and the sand is soft, making it a great place to relax for the day. Winter time, the waves are HUGE, more for the experienced ocean goer, but if you are lucky you can see a world famous North Shore surfing competition while you are basking in the sun.
Waimea Bay: Go Jump off Waimea Rock! Located just south of Sunset Beach it is easy to get to. Go early if you want to park close. It is a popular place and the lot is small. Although you can always park in the Waimea Falls parking lot across from the Bay.
Similar to Sunset Beach, Waimea is a great place to relax and swim in the summer and waves get larger in the winter. Make sure to jump off Waimea Rock. There is also a large hole under the rock that you can swim all the way under the rock to the other side.
Sharks Cove: Best place to Snorkel! Located between Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach and across from Foodland Sunset. It is technically NOT a beach, more rocks; but it is free to snorkel here, you just need to either buy your own gear or rent some across the street. Again, go early because it get kind of tight for parking as time goes on. Plenty of sea life to explore.

Maleakahana (Castle Beach): For a fee you can camp in the camp ground if that is your thing to do. But it is also a great beach to learn to surf, body board, or just enjoy the beach. This beach is not as touristy so you have more space to yourself. It is close by Laie so this is one we frequent often.
Hukilau Beach: Best beach for large group picnics and family gatherings. Located south of Malekahana and on the North End of Laie. The waves at Hukilau are never HUGE. They can get big but they are manageable, making it a good place to take young kids. This is a great place to go net fishing at night.

Temple Beach: Beautiful view. Located at the west end of Hale La’a street, the Laie Hawaii Temple for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is at the other end. This beach is calm and serene; A great place to get a tan. It is also a favorite place for locals to get baptized.

Pounders Beach: Best place to Body board. Between Laie and Hau’ula. This beach is not for the weak of heart. It is aptly named, you get pounded. One of my first memories of Pounders beach was enjoying the waves and next thing I know I was at the top of a six foot wall of raging water headed right for the ground! YIKES! So if you are an adrenaline Junky…this is the place for you.
Kokololio (Kakela) Beach: The best place to watch the sunrise. A little farther south than pounders, right across from Hau’ula. Kakela beach is a great place to watch the sunrise. It is a bit rocky, so there are never any waves, but at low tide it is a fun place to walk out and see all the sea creatures or go fish.


Matsumoto Shave Ice: Located on the North end of Haleiwa town. And it is SHAVE ICE. Not SHAVED ICE, SNOW CONE, or any other version that a “Mainlander” would call it. If you want to target yourself as a tourist fast, call it a Shaved ice. HAHA. (Although the swimming suit, sunburn, Jeep Wrangler or Ford Mustang, and a camera may still give you away!) You CANNOT miss going to Matsumotos, make sure to get icecream and Azuki beans with your shave ice to have it truly local. Matsumotos is a blend of Hawaii’s many cultures. Bask in its deliciousness.

Haleiwa Eats: Located in Haleiwa town just north of Matsumotos. A small mom and pop Thai restaurant. Don’t miss the coconut rice.

Teds Bakery: Sunset Beach area. Teds bakery is ONO! (Delicious) The cake, the sandwiches, the pies are all made with love to perfection. The Cholocate Haupia pie is the favorite when the family gets together.

Lei-Lei’s Bar and Grill- Located in Turtle Bay resort. The ribs and the fresh homemade Chocolate Chip cookies are AMAZING! It is a bit more pricey then other restaurants.

Kahuku Shrimp Trucks: A North Shore Tradition. You will pass all the shrimp farms as you drive from Laie to Sunset. Make sure to stop at one of the many shrimp trucks and eat. Everyone has their favorite—and I don’t eat shrimp so pick one and try it out!

Ono-Yo: A new frozen yogurt truck near Kahuku High School. DELICIOUS Or ”ONO” as it is named! Our current favorite is the All-nuts with regular yogurt and caramel. 

Kahuku Grill: A local/granola-ish trendy place in the Kahuku shopping center to eat great food and enjoy time with friends. Really popular with the younger crowds if you are looking to meet someone.

Hukilau Café: Located in Laie just west of Hukilau Beach. This is the very café that was featured in the film 50 First dates. Although they filmed it in another building. Go try the macadamia nut and banana pancakes or if you are really hungry a local breakfast favorite like Portuguese Sausage or a Loco Moco.

Papa Ole’s: In the Hau’ula Shopping Center. Papa Ole’s is a local favorite. Make sure to try the Garlic Chicken and peanut butter rolls if they have them (they sell out fast)

Ambassador Restaurant: In the Polynesian Cultural Center—Food prepared from all different Polynesian cultures, buffet style. All you can eat shrimp and crab legs.


Polynesian Cultural Center: Located in Laie near Brigham Young University-Hawaii. The PCC is Hawaii’s number one paid tourist attraction. You can go and spend the day or just a few hours. In the morning they have villages from all over Polynesia where you can go and try their food, learn to dance, fish, and other cultural activities. In the afternoon there is a Canoe Show Parade that showcases each country. Evening there is a traditional Luau and you can watch the award winning “HA, A Breath of Life” night show. PCC is a non-profit organization to help BYU-Hawaii students countries around the world work to pay for school they could not afford otherwise.

Brigham Young University-Hawaii: Visit the beautiful campus where students from 73 different countries attend. BYU-Hawaii is truly a unique place.

The Laie Temple: A peaceful grounds and visitor center to visit and learn about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

Laie Point: A beautiful place across from Laie Shopping Center. Photo spot for sure. During the whale season you can see whale breeching. For the daring it is a place to jump off the cliffs.

Laie Falls: Located west of Hukilau café, if you want to go ask a local where the trail begins or find a trail map online to experience the hike into nature. But do it well before dark. Hiking in Hawaii after dark is dangerous.

Hawaiian Heiau: An ancient temple located on the top of the mountain near Pupukea. You get there by taking the road next to the Foodland Sunset. The view is spectacular.

Sea Turtles: Just south of Sunset beach and before Haleiwa there is a place where sea turtles usual bask in the sun. You can get close to them, but please do not touch them.

Haleiwa Town: A great place to get the feel of a quaint beach town. There are several restaurants and shops to enjoy while you are there. They also have surfing competitions during the winter months.


-Don’t leave valuables in your car. Sadly, there are times when a car is broken into and things are stolen.
-Going to the beach after is usually not a good idea unless you are with a big group or a local. Several people go there to drink and party and it is a bit more rough at night. If you go, be carefule.
-Beaches close at night, so make sure your car is out before it closes. You can be locked in and/or ticketed.


Waikiki Beach: You have to go see Waikiki just to say you have been there. It is croweded during the day and way over marketed—it is not the REAL Hawaii that you get on the North shore. The beach is not as great either. But there is great shopping and some wonderful restaurants.

Diamond Head: Hike to the top of Diamond Head. It is not a long hike and a beautiful view.

Pearl Harbor: Pay a visit to the Pearl Harbor Memorial. A breathtaking experience. GO EARLY. I mean like 0600-0700 early. Tickets out to the monument are given first come first serve, if you go later you may be there waiting all day to see it. Save yourself some time and go early.

Punch Bowl Cemetery: A place to honor those men and women who lost their lives during WWII.

Dolphins at Electric Beach: On the Westside of Oahu it is named Electric Beach because there is a power plant there. This is one of the places that you are most likely to see a dolphin.

Hanauma Bay: A great place to snorkel and spend the day at the beach. More people than Sharks Cove and you have to pay, but it still is nice. Make sure you go out into the bay not just close to the shore and you will see more sea life.

Kaena Point: Go past Haleiwa west until the road stops. You can then hike to the point for great views and see the whales during the whale season.

Makapu'u Point Lighthouse: Just north of Hanauma Bay. Walk to the lighthouse above Long Sands beach. 


  1. My in-laws (all Mormon) are planning a family reunion in Laie this July. My husband and I (NOT Mormon) will attend the reunion, even though we aren't looking forward to staying in a predominantly Mormon town. We would like to find a few things to do on our own while there that will get us out of the predominantly Mormon culture.
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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. perhaps you can go to hotel street and score some meth!

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  4. We are going to Hawaii soon. It's great to see a fellow LDS church-member's recommendations! I really love the PCC so I hope we can visit that while we're on the island. Aloha!

  5. Really nice post here, HaleKo’olau Hawaii Vacation Rentals on the North Shore of Oahu is a family owned & operated business rated "excellent" on TripAdvisor and ranked the #1 specialty lodging in our area. we mostly like to stay here when we are planning to go.They are providing excellent hospitality.

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  7. Dustin - Thanks for the post. we took you up on most of your suggestions and had a very memorable experience with the entire family. A couple of additions would be the Turtle Beach south of Sunset Beach is across from "mile marker 3" at the end of a dead-end road in a neighborhood.

    We would also highly recommend Hawaii Shark Encounters out of Haleiwa. 15-20 foot Galapagos sharks and a very kid-friendly crew made for an awesome adventure for my 14 year-old son and me.

    I would also recommend getting a personal guide at PCC. It made such a huge difference getting all of the first-hand knowledge and attention for about $20 more. They got us the best seats, and knew about lots of other little activities that others did not participate in, including a 30 minute fishing excursion for the kids, when they had seen enough of the singing and dancing.

    Also - a little surprised you didn't mention the swap meet at Aloha Stadium. Whether waiting for your turn out to pearl harbor, or going soon after, it is a short (2 miles or less) drive. Get ALL of your souvenirs there for a fraction of the cost of other shops. Sandals (my kids called the Jandals because they look like Jesus' sandals), local jewelry, Ukuleles, t-shirts, art work, fresh fruit, drink from a coconut while the open it in front of you, and if you are a sports fan go inside the stadium where the NFL plays it's Pro Bowl and take some photos! Take a bottle of water or Gatorade with you as it goes all the way around the stadium and there is lots to see.

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