Visitors most often inquire about safety when it comes to Waianae and Makaha on the west side of the island. It’s a justified question. However, given the legends and lore surrounding the northernmost region, a number of prospective tourists are asking “is the North Shore of Oahu safe?“. Yes, it is. That being said, there are some things you need to know before venturing over to this side of the island. Let’s review.
6 Things You Need to Know About Safety Before Visiting and Staying in Haleiwa and the North Shore of Oahu
Driving (and Parking) Can Get You in Trouble
We generally advise visitors to not bring a car to the North Shore unless staying on the North Shore at Turtle Bay or a vacation rental. Except for conscious (of surroundings) and exceptionally courteous drivers, driving and parking can get you in hot water.
The expression “drive like your kids live here” is the mantra of the road, and there are signs posted on telephone poles and fences to drive this point home. Drive erratically and you may get a *false crack.
Visitor parking along Ke Iki, Ke Waena, Ke Nui Road is also a contentious matter. If you must drive and park to explore the area’s attractions, come early and use the designated parking lots at the beach parks. This leads us to the next point about safety.
*false crack: island expression for an unexpected punch to the face.
Risk of Theft
Automobile break-ins and theft are the only real risk to safety on the North Shore. As mentioned above, park your rented vehicle in designated beach park lots and not under the shaded canopy of community roads.
Other forms of theft may occur if you leave valuables on your towel on a seemingly secluded beach while you swim, snorkel, or surf. No matter how secluded it may appear, there is always someone camped out in the bushes. They aren’t violent, but they will swipe an unattended GoPro if left out in the open while you’re dozens of yards out in the ocean. Apply the same common sense you would apply to your belongings on the mainland and your gear will be just fine.
Don’t Surf Where You Don’t Belong
This is one thing that the North Shore is often associated with when it comes to bumping heads (and boards) with locals. It’s also the easiest confrontation to avoid. Don’t surf the following commonly known spots unless you’ve been invited by (and are with) a surfer who lives here:
- Ali’i Beach Park
- Banzai Pipeline
- Log Cabins
- Rocky Point
- Sunset Beach
- Waimea Bay
Stick to Chun’s Reef, Puena Point, and Turtle Bay (take a lesson) during the spring and summer when the swell is more accommodating to those who don’t have experience surfing on the North Shore. Beyond that, follow the basic rules of surf etiquette and you’ll have tons of fun.
Don’t Turn Your Back to the Ocean
The ocean is the biggest threat to your safety on the North Shore. Unless you’re an advanced swimmer, speak to a lifeguard regarding where you should enter the water. If there are no lifeguards around, stay on the shore. On that note, be cautious even when on the shore during late autumn and winter season swells. This recent video from one of the most unique places to stay on the North Shore says it all:
Respect the Land, Wildlife, Sea, and Sea life
For starters, never litter on the North Shore. Like with bad driving, littering calls for a false crack. In addition to respecting the ‘āina, you will want to keep your distance from sea turtles and seals that bask along the shore. They may snap at anyone who gets too close, and so will a rightfully protective local if they see you disobeying the 10-15 foot rule. And yes, this advice applies to anyone who happens to see “Tinker Dink” (the wild pig) while she’s enjoying a sidewalk snack.
Never approach “Tinker Dink” from behind
Walking Around After Sunset
The North Shore is safe after sunset and at night, especially in Pupukea where the beaches are illuminated by the stars, moonlight, and bonfires. The side roads (Ke Iki, Ke Waena, and Ke Nui) can feel a little spooky given that it gets so dark in the jungle/country, but there’s really nothing to be concerned with.
However, there are some places that may make easily-frightened people uncomfortable after-dark. These are centered around Haleiwa Town, and we’re not going to sugarcoat it. On the corner of Haleiwa Road and Kamehameha Highway there is a 7-11 with a gas station. Next to the 7-11 there is “rumored” meth house which has been so for the last few years. While it’s ironically across the road from the high-end Haleiwa Joe’s restaurant, you may want to avoid walking along or waiting at the bus stop in front of the house that you see in the Google Street View below:
Disclaimer: For legal reasons we will call speculation about the above property a “rumor”. Regardless, we will remain honest with our readers until we can verify that the alleged activity on this property has concluded. Until then, trick or treating is off limits!
Is the North Shore of Oahu Safe? Absolutely, as long as you pay attention to what we’ve laid out above. If you have any other questions about enjoying the seven mile miracle known as the North Shore, leave them in the comment box below. We reply!