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Seven Stunning North Shore Beaches

Posted on Fri, 2019/08/23 - 7:43am by Jessica Gellert

north shore beaches map

You’re in paradise! “Seas the day” on Oahu’s North Shore by visiting some of the most stunning beaches in the world.  Of course, there are 5 miles of shores for you to soak in the Hawaiian sun at Turtle Bay Resort. However, we recommend you adventure out to some of our favorite North Shore swimming spots not located on property. That’s because North Shore beaches are among the best on Oahu thanks to their white sand, vivid sea life and crisp, clear waters.

Here's our seven favorite North Shore, Oahu beaches located nearest to farthest from your ocean view room at Turtle Bay Resort.

Kuilima Cove Turtle Bay

1. Kuilima Cove
Distance from your hotel room - A short walk
Kuilima Cove is located right next to our hotel. It’s great for snorkeling and home to several of our sea turtle friends. You can rent a beach cabana or umbrella for the day and take advantage of food service from Roy’s Beach House located right on the beach. There is a beach shack here where guests can rent their free snorkeling equipment, boogie boards and life vests. Make sure you bring your GoPro too! Swim to the right of the buoys and make sure to ask our beach staff about current conditions for your safety.

Kawela Bay Turtle Bay Resort

2. Kawela Bay
Distance from your hotel room: 1.5 miles on the trails. 2.1 miles drive.
This pristine bay may look familiar when you see it. It has starred in several movies and television shows, including Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Pirates of the Caribbean and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (just to name a few). A short stroll from the sandy shore will lead you to our famous banyan tree, which has also starred on the big and small screen. Kawela is where our Shaka Kayaks Sea Turtle Tours, surfing lessons and outrigger canoeing adventures take place.

kawela bay turtle kayaking
If you don’t feel like walking to Kawela, you could also see it on our horseback ride tour. Another option is to drive to the fruit stands on Kamehameha Hwy. and park along the fence. This will bring you to a short distance walk from Kawela Bay.


sunset beach

3. Sunset Beach
Distance from your hotel room: 4.3 mile drive
About a 5 -7 minute drive from Turtle Bay Resort  is the famous Sunset Beach. This vast, two mile stretch of white sandy beach lives up to its name. It really is a great place to watch the sunset. It is also a popular surf spot but recommended for the advanced during the winter months. Sunset is also a great surf Mecca and home to The Vans Cup of Surfing’s second crown, the Vans World Cup. During the summer, ocean is mostly calm and perfect or a nice swim.

4. Banzai Pipeline
Distance from your hotel room: 5.5 mile drive
If you want to sound like a local, just call this shore Pipeline or Pipe. This beach is said to have the most dangerous waves on the North Shore because the huge swells break in shallow water just above a sharp reef. Breaking over the reef creates large, hollow, thick curls of water that surfers can tube ride. Pipeline is home to the Billabong Pipemasters, which is the third jewel of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. When the surf is up, beginners should stay out of the water. Believe us, even if you stay out of the water you won’t be bored watching the experienced surfers get tubed on dangerous waves.

 Sharks Cove

5. Shark’s Cove
Distance from your hotel room: 6.4 mile drive
Shark’s Cove is one of the best places to snorkel on Oahu’s North Shore.  Despite its name, the cove does not have more sharks than other North Shore beaches. The cove got its name from a popular story that says that the outline of a reef outside the cove looks like a shark when seen from above. Inside the cove is shallow and perfect for all ages. It is unique not only because of its spectacular underwater rock formations, but also because of its diverse marine life. Tropical colorful fish, sea turtles and other sea creatures are the cove's constant inhabitants.  Shark’s Cove is part of an 80-acre Marine Life Conservation District. People need to respect the cove's marine inhabitants and keep the area clean.There are also tide pools to explore. If you would rather snorkel in deeper water, this stop offers that as well. You’ll spot sea turtles, tropical fishes and colorful coral. Wear reef walkers, as there are sea urchins on the reef and you may accidentally brush one with your foot. Do not stand on the reef, this injures the coral.

Waimea Bay

6. Waimea Bay
Distance from your hotel room:  7 mile drive
Waimea Bay is fun year-round. During the summer, the bay is a calm, saltwater swimming pool. It’s a great place to chill in the refreshing deep blue water. Beach goers seeking a thrill enjoy jumping off the 30-foot rock located at the end of the bay. There are also caves to explore below the rock and nearby. In the winter, monstrous waves roll in and pro surfers descend to risk their lives and put on quite a show. Waimea Bay is home to the prestigious Eddie surf contest, held in memory of Hawaiian Waterman Eddie Aikau. Year-round it’s a great spot to get your Hawaiian tan on. Keep in mind, the shallow shoreline drops off quickly. Dolphins and sea turtles are occasionally spotted here. Waimea Bay is also part of the Marine Life Conservation District.

(Photo: @danpullara)

7. Chun’s Reef
Distance from your hotel room: 9.2 mile drive
This surf site is located between Waimea Bay and Haleiwa town.  It’s a great place for beginners to learn how to hang ten. Chun’s Reef was named for John Chun, a former resident of Kawailoa, who owned a two-story house nearby on a long lane that parallels Kamehameha Highway. All of Chun’s children were avid surfers, but not at the surf site fronting their home. That site, now called Leftovers, has a rocky shore that was hard on surfboards in the pre-leash days of the 1950s and 60s. The Chun children surfed more often at another surf site nearby that was free of rocks and sea urchins. A close family friend, Edna Reese, named it "Chun’s Reef," and by the 1960s the name was well established. Today, Chun’s Reef is one of the North Shore’s famous surf sites but it’s also great for families that want to enjoy a day at the beach. 

Do you have a favorite beach? Share in the comments below. Be sure to share your North Shore adventures on social media with the hashtag #TurtleBayResort.
Don't feel like leaving Turtle Bay Resort? We don't blame you! Here are seven beaches you can walk to from your hotel room.