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Seeking world-renowned surf, quaint 1900s architecture and clear-water beaches filled with turtles? Say aloha to Haleiwa on Oahu Island. This Hawaiian destination sits on a section of the North Shore known as the Seven Mile Miracle for its stunning scenery as well as winter waves reaching up to 12 metres high. Come in the cooler months to see the epic surf and international competitions or choose summertime to bask on calmer shores of glittering gold sands.
You can stay in a Haleiwa hostel right across from the Pupukea Marine Preserve, also known as Shark's Cove, where there's snorkelling and diving. You'll find accommodation with shared kitchens, as well as one with resident cats. Some spots put on yoga classes, with lanai (covered patios) to chill on and others are close enough to the beach to hear the crashing waves. To help you explore the North Shore, whether on land or underwater, many Haleiwa hostels have bikes and snorkel gear for hire.
Haleiwa sits at the point where the Anahulu Stream meets Waialua Bay, about an hour from Waikiki on the south coast by car. Surf beaches across the area include Banzai Pipeline, Sunset Beach and Waimea Bay. Haleiwa town itself is known for shopping, with clothes boutiques and art galleries in the old sugar plantation buildings. Most of the food trucks and juice bars are on the Kamehameha Highway, which runs through this bohemian destination.
Head to Haleiwa's Alii Beach Park for vibrant orange sunsets or hike along the paths above Pupukea to the slopes off Kaena Point for sparkling ocean views. You can jet-ski, kayak or scuba dive in the Pacific, or leap at the chance to skydive or hang glide. There are also plenty of opportunities to take to the waves, with lessons available from surf schools in town who will teach you in gentler spots that are suitable for beginners.
It's relatively easy to get to Haleiwa by bus from popular areas on Oahu like Honolulu and Waikiki. Services run from the Ala Moana Shopping Centre. Haleiwa is tiny, so you can cover the town and its beaches on foot. For a fun way to get around when heading a little further out, you could hire a dune buggy or a scooter. The nearest international airport to Haleiwa is Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, a 35-minute drive away or a couple of hours by bus.