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Oahu Neighborhoods

Oahu Neighborhood Profiles: North Shore

O'ahu's Spectacular North Shore

"Where Life is One Big Vacation"

A former sugar plantation town, Kahuku still retains its warm-hearted plantation village personality. The old sugar mill is now a shopping center and the old plantation hospital is a modern medical facility. Today's townsfolk live in homey, modestly priced residences and turn out en masse for Kahuku High School athletics and activities.

The community of Laie is surrounded by opulent natural beauty, but is most renowned for its world-famous inhabitant: the 42-acre Polynesian Cultural Center, one of Hawaii's most popular visitor attractions. The cozy community is home to slightly more than 5,500 people. Residences are in the medium-price ranges and are served by a newly expanded shopping center and the only movie theater and hotel in these parts.

Mother Nature blessed the North Shore with some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world. This is rural Hawaii, with giant, sweeping vistas of pristine green countryside, never-ending azure ocean and miles of sandy beaches edged with tropical trees. This must be one of the most peaceful, beautiful places on earth. But, wait, what is that? A 20-foot wave?

Welcome to the Surfing Capital of the World. The endless North Shore summers are self-indulgently laid-back and leisurely. But come November through April, the once-tranquil beaches are pounded by monster waves reaching bone-crushing heights. In come droves of big-wave surfers and wannabes, and the North Shore rocks.

Most of the visitors stay in vacation homes and bed and breakfasts, since the North Shore big surf vicinity has no hotels. The only luxury resort in the area is the Turtle Bay Hilton in Kahuku.

Communities on the North Shore are small, homes aren't cheap, and it's a long way to everywhere from here. Still, a lot of the North Shore populace commutes to other parts of Oahu to work and returns here to scoff at those who live any other way.

The neighborhoods of Waimea, Sunset Beach and Kawailoa are all tiny and situated precariously close to such world-famous surfing spots as Banzai Pipeline, Kimmieland and Gas Chambers. But residents take heart in the fact that the land has been there as long as the waves.

The large, monied community of Pupukea is perched on a ridge above the action, with to-die-for views of it all.

The undisputed star of North Shore neighborhoods is Haleiwa, a charismatic community proud to be a part of the State List of Historic Places. Once a playground of Hawaiian royalty and weekend getaway of Victorian-era vacationers, today's Haleiwa is a quaint hamlet of rustic Paniolo architecture, charming shops, art galleries and restaurants. "Baywatch Hawaii" is also filmed here, which makes it a favorite people-watching spot.

Waialua is a former sugar plantation town that's undergoing a well planned metamorphosis, including new businesses in renovated buildings at the old Waialua Sugar Mill. The new Waialua Town Master Plan calls for revitalization that retains the community's country character. This can only be good news for Waialua, a good-natured, home-town kind of place, with moderately priced homes, good schools, a post office, library, recreation center and lovely beach parks.

*Content provided courtesy of the Honolulu Advertiser