If you find yourself driving through a town on the North Shore with sand-dusted streets, salt in the air and surf shops on every corner, you’re probably in Haleʻiwa. While Honolulu is technically the capital of Oʻahu, Haleʻiwa can easily be considered the capital of the island’s North Shore. A visitor favorite for literal decades, it’s easy to stop by the same shops and spots as everybody else—Matsumoto Shave Ice, anyone?—but on your next visit, try to check out some of these local favorites as well.
First thing’s first, let’s spend some money. When it comes to cute beachy boutiques in Haleʻiwa, there’s a handful on every street to choose from. Number 808 (66-165 Kamehameha Hwy, 808-312-1579, number808.com) is a storefront that embraces old- and new-school Hawaiʻi, selling vintage aloha wear and souvenirs—they also have a seriously cool collection of stickers. Aside from hard-to-find pieces, they also carry surf brands like Banks Journal, Stussy and Mollusk. Technically, the Old Waialua Sugar Mill (67-106 Kealohanui St.) is not in Haleʻiwa, but it’s only a few minutes away. There is a treasure trove of local businesses in the mill, which no longer produces sugar, such as surf shop Third Stone Hawaiʻi and the wonderful smelling North Shore Soap Factory.
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When it comes to places to eat, you can’t go wrong with well-established visitor favorites like Matsumoto Shave Ice or Kua ʻAina Burger. But, if you want to try something new, Seven Brothers (66-197 Kamehameha Hwy, 808-460-5751, sevenbrothersburgers.com) opened a Haleʻiwa location that is absolutely worth checking out. A longstanding Kahuku favorite that has begun expanding, Seven Brothers serves a variety of mouthwatering burgers such as the Deep Blue, which includes crumbled blue cheese melted on a patty topped with two crispy strips of bacon, Swiss cheese, barbecue sauce, Seven Brother’s house sauce and ranch.
Other local eatery favorites include Banzai Sushi Bar (North Shore Marketplace, 66-246 Kamehameha Hwy B, 808-637-4404, banzaisushibarhawaii.com)—which has some of the best sushi on island, the relaxed Italian joint Spaghettini (66-200 Kamehameha Hwy, 808-637-0104, spaghettinihawaii.com) and Stonefish Grill (66-145 Kamehameha Hwy Suite 3-1, 808-637-5015, stonefishhaleiwa.com) for those looking for surf ‘n’ turf cuisine and specialty drinks on breakfast, lunch and dinner menus.
Look, we know everyone wants to go to Matsumoto Shave Ice, and for good reason. It’s been a favorite among, well everybody, for decades. It’s a part of Haleʻiwa’s history and that will never change. But, if you’re looking to try something different, head across the street from Matsumoto to Aoki’s Shave Ice (66-082 Kamehameha Hwy, 808-637-6782). Using its own recipes for its syrups, Aoki’s has a collection of classic and local favorite flavors—if you haven’t, try Tiger’s Blood—and even sells small to-go “ice cakes” that mix shave ice flavors with ice cream.
When it comes to beaches, there aren’t many local favorites to choose from that aren’t already visitor faves. Aliʻi Beach, Haleʻiwa Beach Park and Puaʻena Point Beach Park will typically have a good crowd on their sandy shores most days of the week. But, you can float inland along the Anahulu Stream, using a rental standup paddleboard or kayak from Tropical Rush (62-620 Kamehameha Hwy A, 808-637-8886, @tropical_rush_hi). Seven miles long, Anahulu Stream is a wonderful waterway that gives visitors a look at a different side of the North Shore’s raw natural beauty.