Darcie Crenshaw Photography | Exploring O'ahu's North Shore - Hale'iwa Town

Exploring O'ahu's North Shore - Hale'iwa Town

January 23, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Hale'iwa North Shore SignOn our way to North Shore's Historic TownHale'iwa This Way


What do you get when you cross a historic town that retains all of it's charm, with North Shore's surf culture?  Haleiwa, Oahu's charming laid-back town, brimming with shopping, dining, and of course, all things surf.  

We begin our day as so many visitors do, stopping along Kamehameha highway to photograph the famous Haleiwa sign.  I hadn't been out of the car adjusting my aperture for more than a few seconds when I felt the stinging bite of red ants on whose hill I'd chosen to stand, but fortunately, it wasn't a sign (no pun intended) of bad tidings for our day.  Red ants or no, surf culture begins to permeate from this point forward when approaching Oahu's North Shore from the leeward side of Oahu.  Haleiwa (Hawaiian for 'home of the Frigatebird'), is just around the corner.    

As no visit to Haleiwa is complete without the cooling, sweet Hawaiian treat called shave ice, and because my two girls were with me, this was our first stop. Yes, shave, not shaved, and certainly NOT a snow cone.  You see, a snow cone is made with crushed ice, shave ice is, well, shaved, from a block of ice and made to order.  There is some debate as to who makes the best shave ice, and as far as I can tell, is clearly based on varied and rigorous scientific methods including, but not limited to; the type off machine you use, the way the ice is packed, the type of ice used, how flavors meld...but I digress.  Matsumoto's is world famous (perhaps because they use all of the proper techniques?) and if you're willing to wait in line, I hear it's worth it.  In our case however, our best kept Haleiwa secret is Anahulu's Shave Ice, right next door to Tropical Rush Volcom Surf Shop.  It's delicious, the wait is a lot shorter, and its prices are reasonable.  


Shave Ice sign, Haleiwa TownAnahulu'sThat's Shave Ice, please

Waiting patientlyAnahulu's Shave Ice, decorated in surf chic SharingPina Colada and Watermelon, Grape, Bubble Gum are the flavors du jour Let the cooling beginWhat girl can resist a pink and purple treat?

After shave ice, we wander through town.  Here, shopping is as varied as the tourists it attracts.  From street-wares, including the requisite tourist finds like painted coconuts and beach towels to upscale boutiques, and everything in-between.  Our favorite finds of the day were shells (for the girls) and handmade batik sarongs (for me).  

For photographers, Smithsonian-exhibited Clark Little  has his gallery in Haliewa, showcasing his amazing wave photography. A must-see.

For SaleSidwalk wares in Haliewa We sell seashells...Souvenirs for every budget Beautiful Batiks

During the winter, the North Shore of Oahu is all about the surf. This is where the foremost surfing competitions are held, including the premier of all, the Vans Triple Crown.   Surfers often wait weeks (or months) for the right conditions, yet when the waves arrive with little notice, the competitions are on - calls go out, surfers, judges, announcers and photojournalists are gathered within hours, grandstands suddenly appear beach-side. It's hard to believe that during the summer months the little ripples at Waimea Bay can turn into giant 30' (or higher) waves during the winter.  As can be imagined, probably the hardest workers during this time are the surfboard repair guys, who fix dings, dents and gashes from the reef and rocks that they're hammered against during the pounding surf.  I was shown the packed-full shop of surfboards in various stages of disrepair, literally dozens, waiting for the kind ministrations of two workers.  Perhaps Haleiwa's most thriving business.  Regardless of the workload, and as is typical of the laid-back attitude by most in this town, they were happy to answer my questions, gracious enough to allow me to snap a few photos, and eager to talk to me about travel.  


Busiest time of the yearFiberglass can be patched, but what about the leg underneath?! Boards The Waiting Game After quite a bit of walking, browsing and a side trip to Waialua (more on this in an upcoming post), the girls decided that with little more than flavored water in their bellies, it was time for something a bit more substantial.  

You won't go hungry in Haleiwa.  Italian, gourmet burgers, pizzarias, Mexican, local fare...and more is on offer.  But nothing is more popular than the food trucks that are found along Kamehameha Highway.  And of those, nothing is more popular than the world-famous shrimp, locally grown in the north shore town of Kahuku. We ate our requisite plates of pungent and robust garlic shrimp, with sides of rice and coleslaw with creamy dressing.  But the highlight was rather unexpected.  Authentic crepes, created by a French chef.  We had a dessert offering, but savory crepes are now on the "must do" list for our next outing to Haleiwa.  

As the girls asked on our way out of town...."can 'next time' be tomorrow?"  

Local FavoriteKahuku Shrimp Unexpected Find Delicious TreatOur second of the day...but who's counting?



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