5:15 p.m. | Dine at the Ali’i Luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center
Take a seat in an outdoor theater by a waterfall, sling an orchid lei around your neck, and feast on an all-you-can-eat buffet of traditional Hawaiian food, including pork cooked in an underground imu oven. As you dine, costumed performers play traditional Hawaiian music and dance two different styles of hula. Arrive early to explore the surrounding 42 acres of the center, devoted to half a dozen Pacific island cultures.
7 p.m. | Snorkeling at Shark’s Cove
This beginner-friendly swimming area in Pupukea is one of the most popular snorkeling and scuba diving spots on the North Shore, with relatively shallow tide pools, caves on the northwest, and reef fish and turtles found in abundance (contrary to its name, sharks are not). When the sun sets, the 45-foot depths and superior visibility of the area make for great night diving.
10 a.m. | Visit Historic Haleiwa
Drive 12 miles west from Turtle Bay, under the arches of the Rainbow Bridge, and spend a few hours meandering this centralized historic district once devoted to the sugar plantation industry. Today, you’ll find a walkable stretch of galleries, boutiques, and coffee shops that resides in plantation-era buildings, as well as an artist’s haven.
12 p.m. | Grab a Cone at Matsumoto Shave Ice
It might be just a ball of frozen water saturated with flavored syrup, but after 65 years, the shaved ice from this Haleiwa institution still brings out serpentine lines of customers pining for the 36 flavors. For a treat with a few more frills, order the Ichiban Special: flavored shaved ice served with a scoop of ice cream and sweet red Azuki beans.
2 p.m. | Visit Pu’u o Mahuku Heiau
This seventeenth-century temple, with a name that means “hill of escape,” was a religious and cultural center from Oahu’s pre-colonial past. What remains today on the two-acre hilltop site that overlooks Waimea Bay and Waimea Valley are just crumbling rock walls, an eerie reminder of the human sacrifices that once went on within.
4 p.m. | Massage at Turtle Bay’s Nalu Kinetic Spa
Wind down in an outdoor massage cabana with open-air views that overlook gardens and a soundtrack of surf lapping at the shoreline. Alongside a full menu of body wraps, facials, and deep-tissue treatments, there are uncommon offerings like Serene Surrender, a restorative two-hour split between a private yoga session and aromatherapy massage.
10 a.m. | Watch the North Shore’s World-Class Surf
From October to March, the North Shore is like nature’s own IMAX theatre: Surfers from across the world resemble tiny ants on 40-foot-plus wave faces, carving and shooting through barrels before the lip smacks the shoreline with a sonic boom. Getting in the water is strictly for experts, but if you post up on the sand at Banzai Pipeline or visit during a contest like the Vans Triple Crown, you’ll see man meeting nature at its most mammoth.
1 p.m. | Waimea Valley
Often overlooked because of the world-class surf break across the way, this historic Hawaiian site is home to a 150-acre botanical garden that’s its own North Shore destination. From the entrance, it’s a three-quarter-mile walk through 5,000 species of plants – including one of the largest collections of loulu palms, a spiky plant that resembles a coconut tree – before finding the 45-foot waterfall at the end.