Wahiawa means “place of noise” or “rumbling” in Hawaiian, although the moniker has nothing to do with the traffic or roadwork that seems to run on a never-ending cycle in this central valley neck of Oahu. Instead, it signals the sounds of the pounding winter waves from the nearby North Shore. It’s this very proximity to the North Shore that often gets Wahiawa overlooked by visitors. However, if you take a closer look you’ll find that this rustic town has more to offer than a first inspection indicates. Below is a breakdown of what to check out when spending a few hours within Wahiawa’s inconspicuous but welcoming embrace.
5 Most Enjoyable Things to See and Do in Wahiawa on Oahu
Spend a Couple of Hours at Oahu’s Best Coffee Shop
There may not be a lot to do within the designated district of Wahiawa, but it is home to the best coffee shop on Oahu. Given the quality of beans, scenery, and barista-skills on the island that’s saying a lot! The aptly named Surfer’s Coffee is indeed a gathering place for board riders who make their way from other parts of the island towards the world’s epicenter of top quality waves – the North Shore. But the establishment offers more than funky surf decor. In addition to fantastic espresso, acai bowls, pastries, soups, and sandwiches, the expansive cafe has a cool gift shop where you can scoop up souvenir mugs, t-shirts, and hoodies. And when it comes to “fun things to do” you’ll especially enjoy the soundstage and live local music scene that blows through the venue throughout the week. View more on Surfer’s Coffee in Wahiawa.
Check Out the Cool Boutique Shops
Wahiawa is packed with pawnshops and a GoodWill, which may appeal to pickers and treasure-hunters out there. However, it is also home to a few destination boutique stores. Next to Surfer’s Coffee are a trio of shops that you should definitely check out. For starters, there’s The Vintage (view directions) which as the name indicates, is an antique shop that houses a collection of vintage curio, knick-knacks and Hawaiiana. When done browsing or shopping at The Vintage, take a hopscotch leap over to Santo Loco (view directions) which is a contemporary surf shop with a hip collection of boards, gear, and accessories. There’s also Niu on the very same block, which is a women’s boutique store that offers cute and casual clothing and accessories for women of all ages, shapes, and sizes. Further up on California Avenue is 6Sixty Apparel (view directions). 6Sixty is a literal one-stop-shop for local brand clothing, shave ice, snacks and more. It’s pretty awesome.
Don’t worry, we’re not going to send you packing a pole and down into the reddish brown stream under the HI-80 S bridge. There’s a much better (and healthier) alternative where you are pretty much guaranteed to hook a fresh tilapia, catfish and/or grass-carp – Ali’i Agriculture Fishing Farm. This is definitely not a typical “things to do” suggestion but visiting fishers (especially those with kids) will really enjoy themselves. View more about this unique Wahiawa experience.
Walk Through Wahiawa Botanical Garden
Found between the Wai‘anae and Ko‘olau mountain ranges lies Wahiawa Botanical Garden, also known as the “tropical jewel” of the Honolulu Botanical Gardens. The near 30-acre garden and forested ravine was developed over nine-decades ago in the 1930s, when the land was leveraged by sugar plantation owners as an experimental arboretum. Open from 9 AM to 4 PM every day (closed for holidays) the garden offers FREE daily tours that take visitors through the lush tropical rainforest. Get directions here.
“Do” Dole Plantation
We saved the biggest and best for last. There’s no denying that a visit to the world famous Dole Plantation is the most popular thing to do in Wahaiwa. In fact, you can spend a whole morning and afternoon partaking in pineapple field tours, snapping photos, and perusing hoards of pineapple themed goodies and artisan wares found in the gift shop. It’s also a vibrant (in look, taste, and feel) place to grab breakfast, lunch, and a dessert that is sweet, tart, and oh-so delicious. View everything you need to know about visiting Dole Plantation.
Once you’ve had your way with Wahiawa, be sure to enjoy a fun-filled day in Haleiwa on the North Shore. Heading back to town? Then check out our guide to fun things to do in Waikiki Beach.