Like a Local in Haleiwa: Where the Locals Go and Eat!


If you’re planning on going to the North Shore of Oahu and you want to go and eat like a local in Haleiwa, you’ve come to the right place.

Haleiwa town is full of shops and restaurants for tourist but do you really want to know what the locals do when head North? Allow me to give you a peak of what’s behind the curtain.

As mentioned in the Aloha Proud page of this blog, Hawaii has a huge Asian influence when it comes to the local culture and it will become pretty clear, pretty quickly if you follow me.

I live in Aiea, which is the central area of the island of Oahu so I’m writing this post from a perspective of someone who does not live on the North Shore. North Shore is lined with beautiful beaches so most locals will typically head up North to hang out on the beach with family and friends all day.

Local’s can either fully prepare their beach day by bringing a pop-up tent, grill, table, folding chairs, coolers (ice chest), food, drinks, alcohol, speakers, etc. which seems over the top but it’s very common. If you are planning to just visit Hawaii I’m sure you won’t be packing all of those things and I don’t recommend you purchase those things either. I’m just sharing.

This blog is more for a local that is going to spend the day on the North Shore who is not hauling all of the items listed above. This blog is explains more of a grab-n-go type of beach goer.

Paalaa Kai Mini-Mart

One of the local stops before heading to the beach is Paalaa Kai Mini-Mart.

Locals love Spam Musubi! A spam musubi is a ball of rice wrapped in nori. A spam musubi is just that with a slice of spam. I know, I know, it might sound odd to you because its a canned meat but I’m for real.

Locals eat spam a lot and we even have spamjam festival that occurs in Waikiki every year where there’s full on entertainment and numerous local restaurants that will showcase their signature spam dish.

If you are curious about the famous spam musubi, you don’t have to take a drive all the way out to Paalaa Kai mini-mart to get one because they are sold everywhere.

You won’t have to look very far no matter where you are staying or what island you are visiting.

If you really want to try one to say that you have tried a spam musubi, I say just drive to the nearest 7-11 and I can guarantee you that they will have a spam musubi for you.

Paalaa Kai mini-mart and bakery are located right next door to each other. When you are heading to the North Shore of Oahu, check out these places.
Paalaa Kai Mini-Mart
There is a refrigerator with lots of Korean vegetables in the Paalaa Kai mini-mart.
Paalaa Kai Mini-mart Refrigerator

They not only have spam musubi’s but they also have hot dog musubi’s, spicy shrimp and bim bap rolls (pretty much a musubi), or plain musubi’s.

There are bento (packed meal) options containing various combinations of the deep fried items to choose from as well.

There are different types of musubi's and bento's to pack a long with you before heading to the beach. Check out Paalaa Kai mini-mart.
Musubi selection at Paalaa Kai Mini-Mart

They have a hot shelf containing several deep fried items such as: chicken, shrimp, calamari (squid), and mandoo (Korean dumpling).

Pick up some fried chicken to bring along with you to the beach. When heading to the North Shore of Oahu, make a stop to Paalaa Kai mini-mart.
Deep fried options inside Paalaa Kai mini-mart

Snow Puffy from Paalaa Kai Bakery

Right next door to Paalaa Kai mini-mart is Paalaa Kai bakery.

Paalaa Kai bakery sells a delicious array of pastries, cakes, pies, sandwiches, jellies, and more.

They are most known for their Snow Puffy.

The Snow Puffy is an original Paalaa Kai Bakery creation and is served cold.  The outer crust of the Snow Puffy is flaky and buttery. The inside is filled with creamy custard.  Each Snow Puffy is topped off with swirls of chocolate fudge and powdered sugar.

Paalaa Kai Bakery is home to the famous snow puffy. Snow puffies will melt in your mouth so better to grab a couple more than originally planned.
The outside of Paalaa Kai Bakery
Go early if you want the best selection of pastries at Paalaa Kai Bakery.
They were starting to sell out of everything since I got there later in the day
Paalaa Kai Bakery has these brownie sticks that are so delicious. When in the area, pick up a small container.
Another personal favorite of mine: Brownies from Paalaa Kai Bakery.
My snow puffy that I practically swallowed from Paalaa Kai Bakery. Pick one up for your self when you head to the North Shore of Oahu.
My snow puffy that I devoured!

Pick Up Poke from Malama Market Like a Local in Haleiwa

Locals love poke and we eat it a lot. Oh and by the way, it is pronounced POH-KAY and all it is is chunks of raw Ahi (tuna) fish.

Any major supermarket will have a poke section. Poke is pretty much raw fish that is seasoned with different sauces and toppings. Some sauces will be sweet while other sauces are spicy.

Some poke options may have small pieces of onions or seaweed to give it a crunchy texture.

One of my favorites is the California Style poke which is poke mixed with imitation crab, cucumbers, avocado, and mayonnaise.

Malama Market in Haleiwa is a good supermarket that will have just about anything you need.
Front of Malama Market in Haleiwa
Malama Market has a poke section to fulfill your poke cravings. Head to Malama Market in Haleiwa.
Many options of Poke at Malama Market in Haleiwa
Pick up a Ted's Bakery pie from Malama Market in Haleiwa if you don't want to stand in line at Ted's Bakery.
The sweets section inside Malama Market in Haleiwa

Eat Huli-Huli Chicken like a local in Haleiwa at Ray’s Kiawe Broiled Chicken

In my opinion, this is the best huli-huli chicken on the island of Oahu.

Huli in the Hawaiian language means to turn. The huli-huli cooking technique means that the chicken is constantly turning to get a nice even cook.

Ray’s Chicken keeps it simple. You can find them on the left side of the Malama Market parking lot under a tarp tent with the rotating right next.

It won’t be hard to miss because you’ll be able to smell the chicken cooking with Kiawe from a distance.

If you like chicken, the smell is hard to resist.

Keep in mind that they only set up on the weekends and only accept cash. The chicken is so good and so moist.

They can get busy so if possible, call in your order about 20 minutes before.

Ray's Kiawe Broiled Chicken sets up right next to Malama Market in Haleiwa.  This is the best huli-huli chicken on Oahu.
Ray’s Kiawe Broiled Chicken is right next to Malama Market in Haleiwa
The chicken is fresh and hot when you order from Ray's Kiawe Broiled Chicken in Haleiwa. The constant turning method of cooking keeps the moisture distributed within the chicken.
Ray’s Huli-Huli style chicken is a must try

Local kids jumping off Rainbow Bridge in Haleiwa

If you are driving through Haleiwa on the weekend, you will likely see the local kids jumping off the side of the white bridge.

I do not recommend this for kids who have not done this before at this particular bridge.

The local kids know where to jump in and how to time their jumps in order to stay out of each others way. They also look out for kayakers and standup paddle boarders who are coming out from underneath the bridge.

Most of the kids are from around that area so they all know each other from school, the small surrounding neighborhoods, or may even be related somehow.

The local kids from Haleiwa and surrounding area love to jump off Rainbow bridge to cool down.
Rainbow Bridge in Haleiwa
Rainbow Bridge located in Haleiwa is iconic to the North Shore of Oahu.
Kids jumping off Rainbow Bridge in Haleiwa

Eat like a local in Haleiwa at Teddy’s Bigger Burgers

There are a few burger joints in Haleiwa town but Teddy’s Bigger Burgers are the best of them all.

Some of their featured burgers are named with cute creative twists of local places and things. Just a few examples of what I mean: the Kilauea Fire Burger, Volcano Burger, or simply the Hawaiian Burger.

The patties are nice and juicy. The onion rings are deep fried to crispy goodness and their fries are cut thick.

When at Teddy’s Bigger Burgers, you may as well order a hand-scooped ice cream shake.

Their shakes are thick and worth the calories in my opinion. They have the basic flavors such as chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. In addition they have the Kona Coffee, Peanut Butter, Pineapple, Nutella, Dreamside, and Root Beer flavor. Yumm.

The local burger of choice for the locals is Teddy's Bigger Burgers. Check them out if you're ever in the Haleiwa, North Shore Oahu area.
Teddy’s Bigger Burger in Haleiwa Town

Locals love Shaved Ice from Matsumoto’s

Matsumoto’s is by far the most popular shaved ice shop in Haleiwa. Matsumoto’s shaved ice is a favorite for the locals as well as the visitors.

The line can get extremely long but people insist that if they are going to eat shaved ice, it’s going to be from Matsumoto’s.

To be completely honest, I don’t really know why but then again I too, like so many others, only want to go there. I love getting the scoop of vanilla ice cream to make my sweet treat even sweeter.

Matsumoto's Shave Ice has been a crowd favorite for many years. They have expanded in order to keep up with the customer demand. Find this place in Haleiwa.
The extended Matsumoto’s Shave Ice shack

Locals eat at Haleiwa Joe’s for Dinner too

Sometimes when visiting a new place, its hard to determine if a restaurant is a tourist trap or if the locals really eat there. Well the quick answer is, Yes! The locals do like to dine in at Haleiwa Joe’s.

The food is delicious and serve a lot of local favorite dishes. A lot of their dishes serve seafood but if you’re not in the mood for seafood, they do serve bone-in prime rib.

The staff are friendly which is always an extra plus.

For a nice quick date night, the locals will reserve a table at Haleiwa Joe's Seafood Grill in Haleiwa. The menu is packed with lots of local favorites.
Haleiwa Joe’s sign

Locals eat at Uncle Bo’s

This is the second location of Uncle Bo’s. The original location that is on Kapahulu Avenue (near Waikiki) is always packed.

Uncle Bo’s restaurant is not too casual yet not too fancy so if you show up in a nice dress, that would be perfectly okay.

If you were to show up in a tank top and a nice pair of shorts, that would also be okay.

They serve a lot of Asian fusion type dishes. Keep in mind that the portions are big so you’ll want to share.

Every time I’ve been here I always try something different and I have not been disappointed yet.

My favorite dishes to order is the Boca Rota and the SOS soup.

In addition to their amazing menu, they have a good bar with their own specialty drinks.

Uncle Bo's is such a hit with the locals that they opened a second location in Haleiwa. If you make it out there, check out their signature drinks.
Uncle Bo’s second location in Haleiwa