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Tip: This town is best known for hosting the annual Merrie Monarch Festival.
Happy in Haleiwa
By Ali Resich
People travel from all over the world for a taste of country living in historic Haleiwa town, located on the North Shore of Oahu. It may be a surfer seeking to ride a wave at any of the numerous world-class surf spots found along the coast, or an art enthusiast wanting to dive into a cultural hub. And nobody’s trip to Haleiwa is complete without a stop at Matsumoto’s or Aoki’s for a classic shave ice. But the seemingly quaint surf town is actually rich in plantation era history that lives on through its old-fashioned ambiance. A preserved piece of the past comes together with a colorfully thriving community to make Haleiwa a must-see destination.
The picturesque town’s main street, filled with early 20th century architecture and nestled against the backdrop of majestic Kaena Point, exudes the kind of charm that seems to only exist in movies. “I see a double rainbow almost every weekend,” says artist and wax chandler Scott Bechtol, who runs The Iwa Gallery in the center of town.
His is one of many vibrant galleries, all of which display local artists’ work. “Appreciating nature and its beauty is a community view that’s reflected in the art,” says Wyland Gallery Haleiwa’s senior art consultant Matt Maletta.
This is no surprise, as the area’s gorgeous setting is impossible to ignore. Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles, or honu, are often found basking in the sand at beautiful Laniakea Beach (also known as “Turtle Beach”). In fact, there are many ways to soak up the outdoors while in Haleiwa, like renting jet skis for the adventure seeker or trying your hand at kayaking and stand up paddle boarding for a day of family fun.
Locals and tourists alike also love to escape from the excitement of Waikiki to a haven of quiet boutiques, surf shops and laid back restaurants. The host of food trucks scattered about are just as popular, selling favorites like fresh shrimp from nearby town, Kahuku. And there’s one local snack that Haleiwa residents, especially kids, can’t live without — Ken Terukina’s pickled mango. The lifelong Haleiwa resident has been selling the refreshingly sweet snack from his house for 15 years and counting (just follow the “pickled mango” sign at the foot of the stop sign past Anahulu Stream Bridge).
There is no place on Oahu quite like distinguished Haleiwa. With a firm grasp on its roots, the friendly town continues to gleam with life and is the perfect place to spend the day.
Other Haleiwa Highlights:
• North Shore Chamber of Commerce Building — A restored, 1924 plantation-style cottage that now serves as an office and visitor center.
• Anahulu Stream Bridge — Commonly known as “Rainbow Bridge,” this overpass is a Haleiwa landmark.
• Opal Thai Food — Located in Haleiwa Town Center, this food-truck-turned-restaurant is a delicious example of Haleiwa’s diverse eats.
• Lokoea pond — This 17th century fish pond built by Hawaiians predates the town itself and remains a tie to the North Shore’s past.
• Haleiwa Beach Park — Enjoy stunning views overlooking Kaena Point, the northwest tip of Oahu.
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