Digital Nomad's Guide to Oahu, Hawaii
Aloha, digital nomads. Welcome to the North Shore of the island of Oahu – home of some of the best waves in the world, and Haleiwa was voted the Best Surf Town in America. Oahu isn’t just for surfers, though. There are plenty of opportunities for an Hawaiian digital nomad on the island.
Any beach loving digital nomad will fall in love with Hawaii – especially the chilled palm tree lined North Shore. There are surf spots, hiking trails, and açai bowls galore. Not to mention, at our coliving and coworking locations in Oahu, you can find your community of fellow digital nomads and remote workers in Hawaii. Mahalo!
Here are some tips and recommendations for you if you’re planning on spending some time as an Oahu Hawaii digital nomad coliving and coworking at Outsite – the only coworking community on the North Shore!
Getting Around Oahu
Renting a car is the simplest way to explore Oahu, especially because there is so much to see and do all around the whole island. You’ll likely want to venture out of the North Shore area and check out other spots on the island. However, if you can’t drive or don’t want to rent a car, there are certainly other ways to get around .
The major cities in Oahu are relatively walkable. If you’re staying at Outsite Oahu – Haleiwa, you’ll be a ten minute walk from town, and a ten minute walk from Kaiaka Beach Park. If you’re staying at Outsite Oahu – Sunset Beach you’ll be a five minute walk from the food trucks and and an eight minute walk to surf beach.
Biking is a great way to get around locally. There are bike paths that you can safely ride on, and any route you take is likely to be super scenic! Google Maps is a great resource for finding your way around on bikes. They will recommend the best routes to travel somewhere by bike, as well as tell you if the terrain is mostly flat or hilly. Bikes are available at Outsite Oahu – Haleiwa and Outsite Oahu – Sunset Beach.
Uber or Lyft in Oahu
Ride shares are available on the island of Oahu, but more so nearby Honolulu than the North Shore. You can take an Uber or Lyft to or from the airport if you aren’t renting a car. The cost of the trip to or from the airport will be around $60-$90.
Public Transportation in Oahu
Public transport in Oahu is limited to their bus system, which is aptly called The Bus. The Bus will take you pretty much all around the island. You can even go from Haleiwa on the North Shore to Honolulu on the North Shore (and vice versa) on The Bus. Again, Google Maps is a great resource for figuring out your route with public transportation. Just put in your start and end point and it will tell you what bus stops you’ll need to go to and when the bus departs.
Cafes with Wifi on the North Shore of Oahu
Coffee Gallery is a homey cafe where you can enjoy small batch coffee from Hawaii as well as other parts of the world. You can also have plenty of delicious baked goods made from scratch. There’s both indoor and outdoor seating – take your pick for where you’d rather buckle down with your laptop.
For a quaint coffee shop with top notch baristas, head to Brew & Foam. The reasonable prices are a pleasant surprise for such great coffee – think $2 for a small drip coffee or single espresso shot. There are also some fun specialty drinks, like the Iced Haupia Mocha, which is espresso, cacao, milk, coconut whipped cream, and ice. If you’d prefer a smoothie over caffeine, they’ve got you covered for that too.
This spot is a favorite amongst both tourists and locals alike. There’s a good amount of seating (outdoors, too!) so you won’t have trouble finding a spot to park yourself for a couple hours. Plus, their drinks are made with 100% Kona coffee, meaning the coffee was cultivated on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Green World Coffee Farms
This is more of an excursion than a spot to work, but there is wifi. Head to this 7-acre coffee farm to see how Hawaiian coffee is grown and to have samples of the different types, then buy a cup of your favorite at their espresso bar. You can also purchase coffee from the farm to take the taste of Hawaii home with you.
Where to eat on the North Shore of Oahu
Here you’ll find sushi that’ll work for anyone’s palate – seafood lover, vegetarian, or vegan. Many people say this spot is the best sushi on the North Shore. Plus, they have a sweet happy hour where you can get $5 select drinks and $5 select hand rolls!
As an island in the middle of the pacific ocean, it’s no wonder that hawaii is home to some delicious and fresh seafood. Get your fix at Haleiwa Joe's where you can have your ceviche, shrimp, fish tacos, or king crab overlooking the “Seven Mile Miracle” strip of beach. There are a few vegan and vegetarian options, too.
If you go to Hawaii and don’t eat shave ice, did you even go to Hawaii? Arguably the best (and definitely the most popular) shave ice spot is Matsumoto. You’ll have trouble choosing what flavor to get, because they offer soo many! You’ll find the usual suspects like strawberry and pinapple, but also some more unique flavors like pickled mango, lychee, and sour green apple.
This spot is a can’t miss for vegetarians. This vegetarian and vegan friendly cafe always has fresh ingredients, recieving fresh produce 4 times a week. They only serve breakfast and lunch, but breakfast is served all day. Bonus: There are lots of gluten free options, too!
Oahu is big on food trucks, and Pupukea Grill is one of the very best on the North Shore. The truck serves up Hawaaiin street food ranging from tuna plates to coconut curry quinoa bowls to sushi. It’s super close to Shark’s Cove, which makes it the perfect spot to grab a bite after swimming and snorkeling.
Definitely the most Instagrammable of the bunch is The Sunrise Shack – a small bright yellow stand near sunset beach which is most known for its smoothie bowls, but they also have juices, avocado toast, and bullet coffee.
Bars & Nightlife on the North Shore of Oahu
If you love live music, this is the spot for you. You can catch some shows almost every weekend, and there are also karaoke nights and open mic nights. There’s a good selection of beers, wine, and a bunch of tropical cocktails. Check out their schedule of events on their site here.
Maya’s brings Spanish and Mediterranean flavor to Hawaii with traditional tapas like Patatas Bravas, Shishito Peppers, and Champinones (and that’s just a little sample, there’s a huge food selection!) Pro tip from our Oahu Community Manager, Trini: 'Happy Hour is every night at 9PM! Score yummy cocktails for cheap after a long work day, or after dinner'.
For a chilled atmosphere in a gastropub, check out Stormy’s. This is a favorite with the locals. You’ll be able to try plenty of types of beers, as well as reasonably priced cocktails, around $10.99. Plus, since it’s a gastropub, you’ll have many delicious bar food options.
Move your nightlife plans a few hours earlier so you can catch an epic sunset at this pool bar. The pool and patio overlook the beach, so you’ll feel like you’re in paradise (especially if you’ve got a mai tai in hand). There are also plenty of local live music acts to see. Check out the upcoming lineups on their site here
If you need your sports bar fix, head to Breakers, where you can always see whatever American sports game you’re looking to watch. You can sip on fun specialty cocktails like the “Lava Flow,” which is a fruity rum based drink while you watch the game.
Hiking Trails in Oahu
Want to see the Banzai Pipeline from above? Hike up to the Ehukai Pillboxes, which will only take you about 30 minutes from bottom to top. This trail is never too crowded, since it’s a bit of a local secret. You’ll be rewarded with beautiful ocean views at the top that’ll make you never want to hike back down.
Kaiwa Ridge AKA the Lanikai Pillbox Hike is one of the best on the Windward side of Oahu, and arguably one of the most popular hikes in Oahu. This 1.8 mile short and steep hike has one of the most beautiful views in Oahu, overlooking Lanikai Beach and Kailua, as well as Nā Mokulua, two unmistakable islets off the coast.
This 3.5 mile trail is more of a strenuous walk than a hike, since it doesn’t have too much elevation. Still, you’ll see beautiful coastal views of the west side of Oahu. When you get to the westernmost tip, you’ll get to experience a bird and nature sanctuary. Bonus: in the winter, you can see whales off the shore!
If you’re looking to take a swim during your hike, try the Waimea Valley Trail, which features a large waterfall and swimming area. The park will provide you with a free – and mandatory – life vest for safety if you decide to swim. You’ll see plenty of unique nature along the way.
This Oahu hike is a long and challenging one, but well worth the trek. It’s not recommended for beginners, since at points it can be a bit dangerous. You’ll see multiple waterfalls along the way, greenery galore, and beautiful ocean views. Plus, how often can you say you’ve visited a crater?!
Best Surf Spots on the North Shore of Oahu
This is one of the only beginner surf spots on the whole island of Oahu. Many surf schools operate out of Haleiwa Beach Park since the waves tend to be smaller and more manageable than the others on the North Shore. This beach is just a 5 minute walk away from our coliving location Outsite Oahu - Haleiwa.
This break is another beginner/intermediate friendly spot. Even in the winter, waves are a bit more manageable, and certainly less dangerous than the surf spots to follow on this list! There’s some good shallow “white water” which makes for good learning-to-surf conditions.
This is NOT a spot for beginners, and probably not even a spot for intermediate surfers. The waves here are giant barrels, especially in the winter, when waves can regularly be about 10 feet! However, there are times when the swell can cause the waves to be even bigger. Surfers from all around the world come to the North Shore to surf the pipe, but be careful – the giant waves and shallow sharp reef can be very dangerous. This is also where the Billabong Pipe Masters competition is every December.
One of the best places to watch the sunset on the North Shore of Oahu also happens to be one of the best places to surf. Again, this isn’t a spot for beginners. The waves here are also big, around 10 feet in the winter, as well, but always can be bigger depending on the swell. Our coliving location Outsite Oahu - Sunset Beach is just an 8 minute walk away from the surf breaks.
Don’t let the word “bay” in the name fool you – the water here is anything but calm. This spot is near the Banzai Pipeline, so you can expect some massive waves here. It’s common for waves to be well over 10 feet here, and this spot attracts world class surfers, too.
To check the conditions at these surf spots (and any others on the island) head to Surfline.com. This site allows you to check out live streams of the waves and see how tall they currently are.