At first glance, Haleiwa is still the slow paced country town of yesterday. But, then upon looking deeper you come across the laid back surfer vibe - dig a little more and you find a culinary treasure trove and the home of one of Oahu’s bustling artisanal scenes.
Nestled on the shore of Waialua Bay, Hale’iwa has a small boat harbor, hosts world class surf competitions and is only minutes away from the most famous beaches in the world, important Hawaiian cultural sites, the North Shore Soap Factory and even the world famous Dole Plantation.
Ancient Hawaiians recognized the beauty of the place and had villages scattered across the North Shore. Hawaiian royalty would vacation on the North Shore during summer escaping the heat of Honolulu and Ewa for the cool breezes of the island's Northern coastlines. There have been people living in what is now Hale’iwa since about 1100 AD, but the first European style building was the Queen Liliuokalani Protestant Church built in 1832. The modern town itself was founded in 1898 by Benjamin Dillingham, a local businessman who built a railroad from Honolulu to the North Shore to facilitate the transport of sugar and pineapples. Dillingham saw the touristic potential of the site and built a hotel at the terminus of the railroad and named it the Hale’iwa - which in Hawaiian language means nest of the black frigate bird.
Since that time, the town has grown - but not too much. This is not the hustle and bustle of Waikiki - there are less than 4000 residents in Hale’iwa, though sometimes if you are waiting for a shave ice at Matsumoto General Store, it may seem like there are far more!