Reed Travel Features
HONOLULU -- By the turn of the century, Hawaii had its first
resort development outside Waikiki.
The wealthy could escape Honolulu city life, staying at the
fancy new Haleiwa Hotel on Oahu's north shore.
Families, too, would take the new Oahu Railway & Land Co.
train from downtown Honolulu to Haleiwa for a day at the
Haleiwa remains and is promoted as Oahu's "last historic
The elite no longer shoot game birds and pigs in the hills or
row on the town's Anahulu River.
With the Depression, the hotel became a private club, then a
World War II officers' club, before its demolition in the early
The railway closed in 1947.
Before 1899, Haleiwa did not exist.
Both the hotel and Waialua Sugar Co., its mill a few miles west,
were established that year, beginning the area's development.
Now, Haleiwa again is confronting change.
Not only has sugar gone, but a new bypass road means that
tourists must watch for signs saying how to reach it.
Previously, they had to drive through town.
Last October, Waialua Sugar Co., with a mill employing 174
people, closed, marking the end of the sugar industry on Oahu.
In its heyday, long ago, the plantation employed 2,000; in the
1980s, about 350.
Owner Dole Food Co. is experimenting with alternative crops for
the 12,000 acres of cane.
In October 1995, the 2.3-mile Haleiwa bypass, built way beyond
budget, for $32 million, was completed.
Today, Haleiwa is a mix of boutiques, gift stores and art
galleries, in old frame buildings or new ones built in a similar
plantation design, with 120 businesses in all.
Sprawling along several miles of Kamehameha Highway, it also is
Oahu's surfing capital, gateway to the famous Waimea Bay, the
Banzai Pipeline and Sunset Beach and home to more than a dozen surf
The population swells in winter, when pros from around the world
compete, beginning with the Triple Crown of Surfing in late
Vacation rental prices jump (there are no hotels here; the only
one, Turtle Bay Hilton, is down the coast).
Before the bypass, visitors drove through Haleiwa (35 miles from
Waikiki) on the 90-mile circle-island route.
The route, along the H2 freeway through the pineapple fields of
central Oahu and around the east coast, provides Oahu with one of
its most popular sightseeing itineraries.
For months after the bypass opened, Honolulu papers reported
Haleiwa's plight, merchants lamenting lost business.
"I'd say Haleiwa's business is still down a little," said Joe
Lazar, president of Haleiwa Main Street.
Tour buses continue to stop, and the mill's closure, he said, so
far has had no real impact.
However, North Shore residents, particularly those who might
have stopped for gas, fast food or a beer, now are more inclined to
bypass the town.
Lazar added, though, that because of the bypass, "I like the
town a lot better. Long term, we have a brighter future.
"It was congested, crowded and noisy, particularly on
Lazar, manager of the Chart House restaurant, has seen a drop in
his breakfast business.
He should know about congestion.
The Chart House is on the old hotel site, by the narrow Anahulu
River bridge, built in 1921. This is the town's big bottleneck.
The bridge also provides picturesque views toward the mountains,
popular with painters, although the rustic wooden homes along the
riverbank went a decade ago.
Haleiwa was designated a special historic design district by the
City and County of Honolulu in the mid-'80s, with 34 buildings
The move came after its old theater was demolished, galvanizing
public opinion toward preservation.
Haleiwa Main Street, formed seven years ago, lost its full-time
director early in 1996 after the state eliminated funding for Main
The all-volunteer group is planning to beautify and improve
signage at the town's entryway.
It spearheaded the restoration of the courthouse (built in
1912), on which the state spent $500,000, and it has yet to choose
Haleiwa has seen new businesses move in.
The North Shore Marketplace, one of several shopping centers,
It also has donated space for a new attraction, the nonprofit
North Shore Surfing and Cultural Museum, which will open soon and
will be run by a community group, the Wai-alua/North Shore
For the visitor, Haleiwa must have the biggest choice of
restaurants in rural Oahu, drawing on visitors and a north shore
population of 15,000 (4,000 of them in the Haleiwa and Waialua
The latest to open is Porto-fino, at the Marketplace, offering
northern Italian and Mediterranean cuisine.
Haleiwa has two Mexican restaurants, Rosie's Cantina and
Cholo's, and two seafood eateries, Jameson's and the Chart
It has Pizza Bob's and China Chop Suey and, for fast food,
several drive-ins as well as McDonald's, Pizza Hut and KFC.
Ralston Antiques and Collectibles is a new addition to the
The seven or so art galleries include Wyland; Thomas Dier (in a
converted gas station), and the newest, the Art Plantation, which
displays the work of more than 20 local artists.
Matsumoto's Shave Ice is probably Haleiwa's best-known store,
and Fujioka's Supermarket is noted for its extensive wine list.
Haleiwa also has the two beach parks -- Haleiwa and Alii -- and
a small boat harbor.
Ocean activities offered include gamefishing, catamaran rides
and jet skis.
Windsurfing, surfing and snorkeling lessons and equipment also