Photo: Ann Cecil/Getty Images
It's not often that a surf town can claim to be a region's cultural hub, but that's exactly the case here on Oahu's North Shore. This town of 3,300 residents just 31 miles north of Honolulu remains a gateway to the renowned surfing beaches of Waimea Bay, Ehukai (Banzai Pipeline), and Sunset Beach, which infuses the community with the sport's youthful energy and infectious seize-the-day vibe.
Culturally, Haleiwa swells with galleries and museums. Haleiwa Art Gallery anchors the scene, with a collection of works by 25 Pacific Island artists, but the town's beauty isn't just on the walls. With its roots in a tourism boom fueled by the sugar industry in the early 1900s, the area's small and colorful plantation-style architecture adds visual pleasure to every block. (Because Haleiwa is a state historic, cultural, and scenic district, any new construction is designed to blend with historic structures.) And the town's location at the mouth of the Anahalu River on Waialua Bay means blissful views, highlighted by verdant city parks on each side of the harbor. Surf, art, and splendor reign in Haleiwa.
Where to Stay: The oceanfront Ke Iki Beach Bungalows offer a dash of funky old Hawaiian style on an acre and a half of palm-fringed sand, plus great snorkeling right outside your door. Rates start at $155; 866-638-8229 or