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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Gathering Place
Satellite photo of Oʻahu
Satellite photo of Oʻahu
Location in the state of Hawaii.
Location in the state of Hawaii.
Location 21°28′N 157°59′W / 21.467°N 157.983°W / 21.467; -157.983Coordinates: 21°28′N 157°59′W / 21.467°N 157.983°W / 21.467; -157.983
Area 596.7 sq. mi. (1,545.4 km²)
Rank 3rd largest Hawaiian Island
Highest point Mount Kaʻala
  4,003 ft (1,220.1 m)
Population 905,034 (as of 2008[1])
Density 1,468/sq. mi. (567/km²)
Official Insignia
Flower Ilima
Color Melemele (yellow)

Oahu (pronounced /oʊˈɑːhuː/ in English) or Oʻahu (pronounced [oˈʔɐhu] in Hawaiian), known as "The Gathering Place", is the third largest of the Hawaiian Islands and most populous of the islands in the State of Hawaiʻi. The state capital Honolulu is located on the southeast coast. Including small close-in offshore islands such as Ford Island and the islands in Kaneohe Bay and off the eastern (windward) coast, it has a total land area of 596.7 square miles (1,545.4 km2), making it the 20th largest island in the United States.[2] In greatest dimension, this volcanic island is 44 miles (71 km) long and 30 miles (48 km) across. The length of the shoreline is 227 miles (365 km). The island is the result of two separate shield volcanoes: Waiʻanae and Koʻolau, with a broad "valley" or saddle (the central Oʻahu Plain) between them. The highest point is Mt. Ka'ala in the Waiʻanae Range, rising to 4,003 feet (1,220 m) above sea level.[3]



Southeast Oahu showing Hawaiʻi Kai, Hanauma Bay and Koko Crater
Honolulu, its harbor and Punchbowl Crater
Waikīkī is one of the best known beaches in the world.

The island is home to about 902,168 people (approximately 75% of the resident population of the state, with approximately 75% of those living on the "city" side of the island). Oʻahu has for a long time been known as "The Gathering Place". However, the term Oʻahu has no confirmed meaning in Hawaiian, other than that of the place itself.[4] Ancient Hawaiian tradition attributes the name's origin in the legend of Hawaiʻiloa, the Polynesian navigator credited with discovery of the Hawaiian Islands. The story relates that he named the island after a son.

Residents of O'ahu refer to themselves as "locals" (as done throughout Hawai'i), no matter their ancestry.

The city of Honolulu—largest city, state capital, and main deepwater marine port for the State of Hawaiʻi—is located here. As a jurisdictional unit, the entire island of Oʻahu is in the City & County of Honolulu, although as a place name, Honolulu occupies only a portion of the southeast end of the island (essentially, the Honolulu District).

Well-known features found on Oʻahu include Waikīkī, Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head, Hanauma, Kāneʻohe Bay, Kailua Bay, North Shore.

Being roughly diamond-shaped, surrounded by ocean and divided by mountain ranges, directions on O'ahu are not generally described with the compass directions found throughout the world. Locals instead use "ewa" (pronounced "EE-va") to mean toward the western tip of the island, "Diamond Head" to be toward the eastern tip, "mauka" is toward the mountains and "makai" toward the sea.

Locals consider the island to be divided into various areas, which may overlap. The most commonly-accepted areas are the "City" or "Town side", which is the metropolitan area from Mililani to the area below Diamond Head (residents of the island north of the Ko'olau Mountains consider the City Side to be the entire southern half); "West O'ahu," which goes from Pearl Harbor to Haleiwa; the "North Shore" (northwestern coast); the "Windward Side" (northeastern coast); the "East Coast" (the eastern portion of the island, including both the Windward Side and the area east of Diamond Head; and "The Valley," which runs northeast from Pearl Harbor toward Haleiwa. These terms are somewhat flexible, depending on the area in which the user lives, and are used in a mostly general way.


Waimānalo Beach on windward side of Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi
Pearl Harbor is the home of the largest U.S. Navy fleet in the Pacific. On December 7, 1941 the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked the U.S. forces by surprise.

The old Kingdom of Oʻahu was once ruled by the most ancient Aliʻi in all of the Hawaiian Islands. The first great king of Oʻahu was Mailikukahi, the law maker, who was followed by many generation of monarchs. Kualii was the first of the warlike kings and so were his sons. In 1773, the throne fell upon Kahahana, the son of Elani of Ewa. In 1783 Kahekili II, King of Maui, conquered Oʻahu and deposed the reigning family and then made his son Kalanikupule king of Oʻahu. Kamehameha the Great would conquer in the mountain Kalanikupule's force in the Battle of Nuʻuanu. Kamehameha founded the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi with the conquest of Oʻahu in 1795. Hawaiʻi would not be unified until the islands of Kauaʻi and Niʻihau surrendered under King Kaumualii in 1810. Kamehameha III moved his capital from Lāhainā, on Maui to Honolulu, Oʻahu in 1845. ʻIolani Palace, built later by other members of the royal family, is still standing, and is the only royal palace on American soil.

Oʻahu was apparently the first of the Hawaiian Islands sighted by the crew of HMS Resolution on 18 January 1778 during Captain James Cook's third Pacific expedition. Escorted by HMS Discovery, the expedition was surprised to find high islands this far north in the central Pacific. Oʻahu was not actually visited by Europeans until 28 February 1779 when Captain Charles Clerke aboard HMS Resolution stepped ashore at Waimea Bay. Clerke had taken command of the ship after Capt. Cook was killed at Kealakekua Bay (island of Hawaiʻi) on February 14, and was leaving the islands for the North Pacific.

Mākua Valley Military Testing Area, Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi

The opening battle of World War II in the Pacific for the United States was the Imperial Japanese Navy attack on Pearl Harbor, Oʻahu on the morning of December 7, 1941. The surprise attack was aimed at the Pacific Fleet of the United States Navy and its defending Army Air Corps and Marine Air Forces. The attack damaged or destroyed twelve American warships, destroyed 188 aircraft, and resulted in the deaths of 2,403 American servicemen and 68 civilians (of those, 1,177 were the result of the destruction of the USS Arizona alone).

Today, Oʻahu has become a tourism and shopping haven as over five million visitors (mainly from the American mainland and Japan) flock there every year to enjoy the quintessential island holiday experience that the Hawaiian Islands and their multicultural people now personify.

An earthquake, measuring 6.7 on the Richter scale, struck the Island Of Hawai'i and the surrounding islands at 07:07:49 HST on 15 October 2006, causing an Islandwide power outage and over $200 million in damages.

Tourist attractions

Valley of the Temples near the island's eastern shore
Aerial view, 3D computer generated image

Top beaches


Television and film

Oʻahu has been featured in many movies and television shows, including, but not limited to: Blue Crush, LOST, Dante's Cove, 50 First Dates, Flight 29 Down, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, From Here to Eternity (movie), From Here to Eternity (TV series), Hawaii Five-O, Jake and the Fatman, the Jurassic Park movies, The Karate Kid, Part II, Magnum P.I., Mighty Joe Young, North Shore, Pearl Harbor, Tora! Tora! Tora!, and Windtalkers. The Disney Channel movie Johnny Tsunami as well as its sequel, Johnny Kapahala, use Oahu as the hometown of the family. The Even Stevens Movie, also by Disney, was filmed in various locations on O'ahu. The reality TV show Dog the Bounty Hunter is filmed in the regions of Honolulu, Oʻahu (as well as other regions in Oʻahu), and the city of Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi. The children's series Flight 29 Down was filmed on the island. The hit television series Lost is also filmed on Oahu, and many of the show's stars call the island home. The island's thick rainforests and picturesque beaches are prominently featured. The ABC TV show Hawaiian Eye, while set in Hawaii, was filmed in Los Angeles.

Multiplayer online racing game Test Drive Unlimited takes place on a fully modeled Oʻahu island with 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of roads and highways.



  • Macdonald, Gordon A., Agatin T. Abbott, and Frank L. Peterson. 1983. Volcanoes in the Sea. University of Hawaiʻi Press, Honolulu. 517 pp.
  • Pukui, M.K., S.H. Elbert, and E.T. Mookini. 1976. Place names of Hawaiʻi. University of Hawaiʻi Press. 289 pp.
  1. ^
  2. ^ "Table 5.08 - Land Area of Islands: 2000" (PDF). 2004 State of Hawaii Data Book. State of Hawaii. 2004. Retrieved 2007-07-23. 
  3. ^ "Table 5.11 - Elevations of Major Summits" (PDF). 2004 State of Hawaii Data Book. State of Hawaii. 2004. Retrieved 2007-07-23. 
  4. ^ Pukui, et al., 1976

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Oahu is the third largest of the islands of Hawaii (the Big Island and Maui are both larger), and the most popular tourist destination in Hawaii. As the location of Honolulu, the state capital, and as home to over 85% of the state's population, the island is appropriately nicknamed "The Gathering Place."


Home to the only real metropolitan area in the Hawaiian Islands, Oahu is truly at the heart of Hawaii. For some, this has been both a blessing and a curse for the island.

On the plus side, visitors to Oahu share in all the amenities and conveniences of Honolulu...bustling nightlife, exciting cultural events, and a wide variety of lodging, dining, and shopping options. On the minus side, Honolulu does not embody the vision that most visitors have of Hawaii...peace, serenity, and relaxation. Honolulu is a big city, and has all the problems that go with it, including crime, traffic, high cost of living, and a lack of affordable housing. Oh, and did we mention traffic?

However, a calming oasis can be found on Oahu; you just need to know where to look. There are many resorts located outside of Waikiki that offer less crowded surroundings. Natural beauty can be found in the two mountain ranges (the Koolau and Waianae ranges) that make up Oahu...some great hikes are located just a 15-minute drive into the mountains from Waikiki. Secluded white sand beaches, funky beach towns, pounding winter surf on the North Shore...all of this can be found on the other parts of Oahu.

So, enjoy Honolulu and all it has to offer. But if you don't see the North Shore during the winter when monster waves pound the shore, if you don't take a drive through miles of pineapple fields, and if you don't take time to visit some of the white sand beaches outside of Waikiki, then you really haven't seen Oahu.

Two mountain ranges make up the island of Oahu. The Koolau Range runs along the east side of the island and forms the backdrop for Honolulu; the Waianae Range runs parallel to the Koolau range along the west side.

The majority of visitors to Oahu stay near Honolulu and the beaches of Waikiki. The rest of the island is less visibly touched by tourism, with only a few B&Bs among the houses and natural sites on the Windward Coast and the North Shore.

  • Southern Oahu – the most developed part of the island, mostly made up of the Honolulu metropolitan area
  • Central Oahu – a mostly suburban mix of bedroom communities for Honolulu and miles of pineapple fields
  • The Windward Coast – the wetter and more lush part of the island, home to many secluded beaches, sleepy villages, and one of the largest Marine Corps bases in the Pacific
  • The Leeward Coast is drier, with four rural communities and two up-and-coming resort areas
  • The North Shore – home to some of the largest waves on earth in the winter, and the ocean and surfing are a way of life here

Get in

Flights from all over the world land at Honolulu International Airport just outside of downtown Honolulu. Free Wiki-Wiki (Hawaiian for 'quick') shuttle buses operate between the Main Terminal and Interisland Terminal every 15 minutes.

TheBus [1] routes #19 and #20 run between the airport and Waikiki. The fare is US$2.25 for adults. Exact change is required and space for baggage is limited.

Get around

Car rentals are available at the airport and various locations downtown. A car is worth having for visits to the North Shore or if you are staying outside of Honolulu/Waikiki.

The Oahu bus system, officially called TheBus [2], runs between almost all towns and to most tourist destinations. Fare for TheBus is US$2.25, for adults, exact change is compulsory and it will get you anywhere on the island TheBus goes.

There is a 4 day TheBus 'Tourist' pass available that can be purchased from most ABC Stores (like a 7/11) for US$25.00. Make sure you 'scratch' it correctly before getting on the first TheBus.

Also available from ABC Stores is a very handy guide to TheBus for US$2.95, highly recommended.

Major highways

The following are some of the more important major highways on Oahu. Both the common name and the state route number are given here. Unlike many areas of the U.S., locals refer to state highways by name rather than number.

  • H-1 runs from Kahala in East Honolulu west, through downtown Honolulu, past the airport and out to the western suburb of Kapolei where it joins Farrington Highway.
  • H-2 runs from the town of Waipahu through Mililani to the town of Wahiawa in Central Oahu.
  • H-3 runs from the suburb of Aiea, through the windward communities of Kaneohe and Kailua, to the gate of Marine Corps Base Hawaii.
  • Nimitz Highway/Ala Moana Boulevard (state route 92) runs from Pearl Harbor to Waikiki; it is the main route from the airport to Waikiki.
  • Pali Highway (state route 61) runs from downtown Honolulu to the Windward town of Kailua.
  • Likelike Highway (state route 63) runs from the Kalihi district of Honolulu to the Windward town of Kaneohe.
  • Kalanianaole Highway (state route 72) starts from the east end of H-1 and runs through the East Honolulu suburbs around Makapuu Point, and through the rural community of Waimanalo, ending in Kailua.
  • Kamehameha Highway (state routes 99, 80, and 83) is the main highway on Oahu, starting from Pearl Harbor, going through the leeward communities of Aiea and Pearl City, then through Central Oahu, around the North Shore, and along the Windward coast ending at the town of Kaneohe.
  • Farrington Highway (state route 93) is two separate roads: the south side starts where H-1 leaves off in Kapolei and leads to the Leeward coast communities of Nanakuli, Waianae, and Makaha, ending at the south end of Kaena Point State Park. The north side starts from Waialua on the North Shore through the community of Mokuleia to the north end of Kaena Point State Park(the road used to go around the point but the part that actually rounded the point has been closed and replaced with a nature preserve. A trail connects the two portions).
  • Fort Weaver Road/Kunia Road (state routes 76, 750) goes from Schofield Barracks near Wahiawa south to Ewa Beach.

By Boat

The Boat is no longer in service.


This is a sampling of attractions on Oahu. For more detail on attractions in Honolulu proper, see the Honolulu article.

  • Wet N Wild Hawaii, Farrington Hwy Kapolei (Just off the H-1), [3]. 10:30-4:00. A decent sized water park featuring 14 attractions, including thrilling rides such as the Tornado, Shaka and Cliffhanger, as well as family friendly attractions such as Keki Cove, Kapolei Kooler and the Surfsliders. 38.  edit
  • Polynesian Cultural Center, [4] 55-370 Kamehameha Highway, Laie, HI 96762 (from Honolulu, highway 63 Likelike Highway to 83 Kahekili Highway/Kamehameha Highway, about 20 miles NW of Kaneohe). +1 808 293-3339, +1 800 367-7060 toll free from mainland U.S. Monday-Saturday, 11AM - 8PM; individual attraction hours vary, see website for details. Hawaii's most popular paid tourist attraction, the Polynesian Cultural Center offers something found nowhere else: the opportunity to experience the culture not just of Hawaii, but also of seven other Polynesian island groups, all in one place. Recreated traditional villages of Hawaii, Samoa, Aotearoa (Maori New Zealand), Fiji, the Marquesas, Tahiti, Tonga, and Rapa Nui offer educational exhibits by native islanders, some of which can be hands-on. Award-winning Horizons evening show offers Polynesian entertainment. Basic admission $50 adults, $38 children, includes cultural center and evening show. Alii Luau package $80/$56 includes luau and basic admission. Parking $5. Other premium packages available. Discounts for Hawaii residents and U.S. military.
  • USS Arizona National Memorial— Memorial to those moored at Battleship Row at Pearl Harbor. They were the initial targets of the first wave of attacks on the Americans. The 184-foot memorial was completed in 1961 and a flag is flown from the destroyed mast. Visitors can see a historic short film recapping the events and explore the Pearl Harbor Museum, complete with wartime memorabilia. Open from 7:30AM to 5PM daily and is closed on all major holidays.
  • Honolulu Academy of Arts, [5] 1035 Kinau Street Lot. $10. Considered Hawaii's premier example of kamaaina- (old-time-) style architecture, the Academy is the state's only general fine-arts museum and has expanded steadily over the last decade. It boasts one of the top Asian art collections in the country, including James Michener's collection of Hiroshige's ukiyo-e prints.
  • The Bishop Museum [6]. Founded by a Hawaiian princess, the Bishop musuem displays the world's greatest collection of natural and cultural artifacts from Hawaii and the Pacific.
  • Iolani Palace[7] 364 South King Street. The only Royal Palace on US soil and the seat of the Hawaiian government until the 1960s. $6 - $20.
  • Queen Emma's Summer PalaCE. Built in 1847, the restored home of Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV offers a glimpse into the lifestyle of the Hawaiian monarchy. Hours: daily 9AM–4PM; closed major holidays. Admission: Adult $6, Child 17 and under $1, Seniors $4; reservations required for groups of 20 or more.
  • Banzai Pipeline,North Shore.Banzai Pipeline on the North Shore is the "happenin' place to be.Banzai Pipepline is one of the most famous surf sites for professional surfers all around the world like professional surfer John John Florence and Nathan Fletcher.The best time to head out to Banzai Pipeline is in the winter.That's when the waves could reach up to the possible height of 30 to 40 feet.


Oahu has between 30 and 40 great tourist beaches, several more than 1 mile in length.

  • Kailua Beach Park - Located just below the Kaneohe Bay and directly above Bellows air force station, this beach is famous for its excellent swimming and wind surfing. With nice fine sand - perfect for sunbathing and recreational activities, and a backdrop of tiny offshore islands, this makes for one of Oahu's most beautiful beaches. Recently, the beach has suffered from erosion, removing a significant amount of sand from the shoreline. As a result, the space available on the beach has been severely reduced.
  • Kualoa Regional Park - Located along the Northeast side of the island, this beach is rarely crowded and has a great view of the offshore island, Chinamans hat, so called this due to its resemblance of the peasants chapeau worn by rural Chinese. With Kualoa mountains in the background you might feel you are in the movie Jurassic park, due to the fact that Kualoa range is where much of the footage took place. Also this area was considered sacred by ancient Hawaiians due to the whalebones that would wash on shore that would be used for valuable tools and jewelry.
  • Kahana Bay Beach Park - Located along the windward side of the island, directly across Ahupua'a O Kahana state park, this is one of Oahu's best kept secrets. This beach cove is nestled at the very bottom of the Kualoa mountains and is often over looked by people traveling up the coast due to the outlining of pine trees along the beaches edges. With its seclusion, calm waters and plenty of shady spots for those not fond of the too much sun, you can obviously see why this is one of Oahu's best kept secrets.
  • Lanikai Beach - This small stretch of thin beach is home to some of the most clear and blue water you will find surrounding Oahu, and with views of the two beautiful offshore islands, known as the Mokuluas, you truly feel engulfed in the tropical setting.
  • Ala Moana Beach Park/Magic Island - Known as "The path to the sea", this beach park is famous for its recreational activities. Located just west of Waikikis beaches and directly across from tha Ala Moana mall, this area features a 76 acre park located along the shore, and is often home to many family gatherings and company outings.
  • Sunset Beach - So called due to the beautiful sunsets that occur almost everyday on this spot, this white sand beach is one of the longest running beaches on Oahu, stretching 2 miles in length and between 200 and 300 feet in width at some spots. In the winter months, Sunset beach is home to one of the best surfing spots on the island and features several international surf competitions. In the summer months during the calmer seas this is a nice spot swimming and snorkeling.
  • Ehukai Beach Park - Also known as "Reddish tinged water", this also home of the famous Bonzai Pipeline. In the winter months this beach features 30 to 40 foot waves, when the swells are high, and frequented by many of the worlds best surfers. Part of the triple crown surf tournament, I would stay out of the water in the winter months unless you are familiar with the surf, due to the fierce breaking waves and strong undertow. However in the summer months the calm ocean makes a good spot for swimming and a good sandbar.
  • Waikiki Beach - Meaning "sprouting water", this beach runs along Kalakaua Ave. and is home to many of the areas featured resorts. Often filled with tourists and guests of the hotels that line the beach, this area is where you can take some of the famous catamaran rides that are manned by the beach boys, not the the band, but true beach boys. The calm surf and shallow waters makes a nice spot for wading in the waters, bodysurfing, and beginning surfers.
  • Waimea Bay Beach - Located on the North Shore, in the winter months this is home to some of the largest and most dangerous ride-able surf in the world, with waves reaching 30 plus feet, and with in-shore breaks often at 12 feet, experienced swimmers and surfers need only apply. However in the summer months the calm surf makes for nice swimming and with a nice size beach is great for sunbathing. If you are brave enough you can climb "da big rock", which is a popular free jump spot, and has platforms to jump off of at 5 and 18 feet.
  • Sandy Beach Park - Located along the windward side of the island just past Halona Beach Cove, with calm surf, this is a superb spot for swimming and amateur bodysurfers. However most of the year there has somewhat rough surf and many of the best bodysurfers on the island call this beach home, because the waves here are rivaled by no where else on the island.
  • Bellows Beach Park - Located right near Bellows air force station, this beautiful beach has shallow water and small consistent waves which makes for good swimming and beginning surfers.
  • Hale'iwa Beach - Located in the Historical town of Hale'iwa this brown sanded beach is one of the few spots on the island where you can sit on the beach and watch the sun rise and set. With plenty of beach to lay out and being within walking distance of shops, eating, and sightseeing this is an attractive family spot.
  • Halona Beach Cove - This beach is also nicknamed Eternity beach, receiving the name eternity because of the love scene that takes place on this beach from the movie "From here to Eternity". Most tourists usually go to this spot on the windward side of the Island just passed Hanauma Bay to view the Halona blowhole. The only way to get this beach though is to scale down the somewhat steep cliffs that protect this tiny but very scenic beach. Also beware of the sea turtles that frequent the spot, although they will not harm you, if you are caught touching them or trying to ride them, you will be fined.
  • Barbers Point - Located on the ewa part of the island, this beach is frequented by many of our men and women in the armed forces due to the base that is located just down the road. Also due to its small surf and scarce crowds it is not a bad beach for the beginning surfer. With a bar located right on the beach, open on weekends, and nice views of Honolulu, this beach is a nice spot to get away from your more touristy spots.
  • Ko'Olina - The resort famous for housing many of the pro bowlers that visit every year in February, also features some of the most beautiful man-made beaches on the island. The 4 lagoons, named Kolola(whale), Hanu(turtle), Naia(dolphin), and Ulua(fish), feature some of the most beautiful sunsets that you will not find anywhere else on the island. With literally no surf the lagoons are often nice to just float around in. Given that the lagoons are located about 30+ minutes (rush hour makes it over an hour) from Waikiki these lagoons are generally not crowded and only frequented by locals and guests of the resort.
  • Three Tables - This beach located off the Kamehameha Highway, North Shore, and is sandwiched between Sharks cove and Waimea Bay, it features some very nice snorkeling. Beware of the surf in the winter months though. The waves can sometimes reach 30 to 40 feet in these areas depending on the swells. Therefore most of the snorkeling and the wading the many tide pools along this beach are done in the months of April to October.
  • Pokai Bay Beach Park - Hawaiian for "Night of the Supreme one", this beach is named after the Hawaiian chef Pokai who according to legend brought and planted the first coconut palm tree on the island. This west shore beach is one of the most protected beaches on the island even during the months of rough surf, which makes for nice swimming conditions.
  • Makapu'u Beach Park - Hawaiian for "Bulging Eyes", this beach is located just below Makapuu Point, which is Oahu's eastern most point. Popular for its bodysurfing and picturesque views of Rabbit Island, this beach is a very appealing yet relaxing spot, although beware of the rough surf, strong shore break and undertow, that can arise through-out the winter months.
  • Mokule'ia Beach Park - Located on the northwestern tip of the island, this long white sandy beach is frequented by many of the local Hawaiians for its enticing windsurfing conditions and nice fishing spots.
  • Diamond Head State Park See Honolulu for more details.
  • Round-Top Forest Reserve— Excellent view of Honolulu and the surrounding area.
  • Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden, in Kane'ohe. Translated as "To Make a Place of Peace and Tranquility", the Ho'omaluhia Botanical Gardens certainly does that through 400 acres of lush gardens specializing in Hawaiian/Polynesian plants. There is also a 32-acre lake, picnic areas, and a campground on site.
  • Nu'uanu Pali Lookout. See Honolulu for more details.
  • Hale'iwa Historical town— You may recognize the location as being the site of a former television series called 'Baywatch', but this more than 100 year old historic town offers more than that. Many of the buildings are on the State Register of Historic Sites, and the rustic old building that dot the town are simply charming.
  • Pu'u O Mahuka— National historical sight and Hawaiian holy site.
  • Lyon Arboretum— Located in the Manoa Valley. Operated by the University of Hawaii.
  • Byodo-in 47-200 Kahekili Highway, Kaneohe, HI 96744 (about 5 minutes from Kaneohe town),8:30AM to 4:30PM daily. Situated against the backdrop of steep green cliffs is a recreation of the 900-year-old Byodo-In Temple in Kyoto. The temple grounds include a nine-foot Buddha statue and the three-ton Peace Bell. Byodo-in is in the back of the Valley of the Temples cemetery. Admission $2.
  • Waimea Valley Audubon Center [8], 59-864 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI 96712 (across Kamehameha Hwy. from Waimea Bay Beach Park), 9:30AM to 5PM daily except Jan. 1 and Dec. 25; 9:30AM to 3PM on Thanksgiving Day (4th Thurs. in Nov.) and Dec. 31. Formerly known as Waimea Falls Park, the National Audubon Society received a contract from the City and County of Honolulu to operate the site as a nature preserve. The preserve is home to endangered moorhen and a botanical garden with both endemic Hawaiian plants and other plants from around the world. A 0.75 mile hike on paved trails leads to the centerpiece of the park, Waihi Falls, where visitors can swim in the pool at the base of the falls. Admission $8 adults; $5 seniors, military, and children (4-12); discounts for Hawaii residents.
  • Dole Plantation [9], 64-1550 Kamehameha Hwy., Wahiawa, HI 96786 (about 3 miles N of Wahiawa on highway 99, 1 mile N of the jct. with highway 80; H-2 north to its end, then continue on highway 99, approximately 40 minutes from Waikiki). (808) 621-8408. Visitor center and garden open 9AM to 5:30PM daily; train and maze to 5PM daily. Once a roadside fruit stand, this tourist attraction has been renovated and billed as "Hawaii's Complete Pineapple Experience." Among the attractions are a pineapple variety garden, a 20-minute miniature train ride into the surrounding pineapple fields, and the Pineapple Garden Maze, recognized in the 2001 Guinness Book of World Records as the world's largest maze. Admission free for site; garden tour $3.75 adults $3.00 children; train $7.50 adults $5.50 children; maze $5.00 adults $3.00 children. Discounts available for U.S. military and Hawaii residents.
  • Visit Sea Life Park where you can swim with dolphins, sea lions or stingrays.
  • Try windsurfing, surfing and body-boarding at Waikiki and (less crowded and more scenic) North Shore and Kailua Beach. - see Oahu Surf Conditions, Radar, and Forecasts [10] and Girls Who Surf [11] for lessons.
  • Snorkeling and diving trips leave from Waikiki and most hotels.Oahu especially great for wreck diving as many ships and airplanes sunk during World War 2 - See Diving Sites in Oahu [12]
  • Enjoy horseback riding on the North Shore and Windward Koolau Range
  • Explore hiking all over the island: in particular, Diamond Head State Park (excellent view of Honolulu and the surrounding area). Also visit Lanikai's Pillbox (leftover from WWII sitting above Lanikai). Gives spectacular view of Waimanalo, the Koolau Mountains, Kailua and the Mokulua Islands sitting in the distance.
  • Kayak on the Windward side to the Mokulua Islands which are a bird sanctuary and also offer encounters with turtles which have made a huge comeback in the Windward bay area. It should be noted that it is against state law to violate the sanctuary area. The beach on the islands is not part of the restricted zone, however.
  • Driving tour around East-side of island gives spectacular views. Stop several times along the route to see blowhole, swim in secluded cove, hike up to the Lighthouse for amazing views or check out ancient Hawaiian drawings and Heeiaus.
  • Driving tour over the Pali Highway; be sure to visit the Pali Lookout.
  • Drive up to the Round-Top Forest Reserve. (excellent view of Honolulu and the surrounding area)
  • Snorkeling and sun bathing at Hanauma Bay
  • Viewing Marine Wildlife [13] (the best 1/2 of Oahu is underwater!)- see Wild Side Specialty Tours [14] to sail with whales, dive with dolphins, and snorkel coral reefs with turtles and tropical fish.
  • If the hot weather is too much for you, go ice skating at the Ice Palace in Honolulu (see "Do" in the Honolulu article).
  • Island Adventures Tours & Travel, Drop off & pick up at your hotel, [15]. Personal Guided North Shore Tours including breakfast buffet, lunch, water, transportation, snorkel gear, body boards. We go to secret snorkel cove, Waimea for sunbathing, world famous pipeline, ancient Hawaiian Ruins, Pictures at Turtle Beach then to shop at surf town Haleiwa for shave ice (yummy)! Back to Waikiki by 3:30 $99.00.  edit
  • Tropical Farms More than just another coffee and macademia nut sampling outlet, the Ali'i Tour shows you native Hawaiian culture and plants, as well as the sites of some movie and TV shootings. Tours 1 hour long, 10:45am - 4pm, daily, $15. There is also a luau on Tuesday nighs that has a great reputation. 808-781-2474


Shopping Malls

Shopping malls are mostly everywhere in the major districts. Here are some better-known shopping malls on Oahu that are easily accessible by car or bus.

  • Ala Moana Center - see Honolulu. Largest shopping mall in Hawaii and the fourteenth largest shopping mall in the United States.
  • Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, [16] (see Honolulu). Located in the heart of revitalized Waikiki, the Royal Hawaiian Center is one of Oahu's top shopping malls. The Oahu mall features a wide variety of shopping and dining options amongst its 110 shops and restaurants.
  • DFS Galleria (Duty Free Shops) - see Honolulu. Newly renovated emporium featuring luxury brands alongside souvenier shops. Its main feature is the Tube, a walk-through aquarium visible from indoors and on the sidewalk at the corner of Kalakaua and Royal Hawaiiian Avenues. Some sections are for international travellers only.
  • Waikiki Shopping Plaza - see Honolulu. 75 speciality shops are spread over five floors.
  • Aloha Tower Marketplace - see Honolulu. Waterfront marketplace and shopping mall.
  • Kahala Mall - see Honolulu. Shopping mall that also serves as a key stop on a number of TheBus routes.
  • Koko Marina Shopping Center - see Honolulu. One stop shop for water sports, food, and shopping.
  • Windward and Kane'ohe Shopping Mall— Features over one hundred twenty stores, you'll be sure to find what you need here.
  • Ward Center— Be sure to check out this contemporary retail gallery featuring the works of fifteen of Hawaii’s top artists.
  • Pearlridge Center,[17] on Kamehameha Highway in Aiea, is the main shopping mall in Leeward Oahu. It's actually two malls in one, with two distinct architectural personalities. Uptown Pearlridge, anchored by Macy's, has a plush, wood-toned decor, while Downtown Pearlridge, anchored by Sears, is built around an urban theme. The two building are connected by the SkyTrain, a monorail that runs regularly between the two malls; it is the only monorail in the state.
  • Waikele Center, one mile west of the H1-H2 interchange, is made up mostly of big-box retailers such as KMart, Borders, Lowe's, and the Sports Authority. Across Lumiaina Street from the mall is the Waikele Premium Outlets, [18]made up of upscale outlet stores from such names as Barneys New York, Coach, Michael Kors, Off 5th Saks Fifth Avenue, Polo Ralph Lauren, to name a few. By public transport, take bus 42 (slower) or E (faster city express bus) to Waipahu Transit Center, then change to 433.


See the Eat section in Hawaii for more details on island food in general. Honolulu and Waikiki in particular offer a vast array of dining options for tourists. On the North Shore be on the lookout for shrimp trucks which patrol the highways and offer plate lunches for under $10.


Waikiki offers numerous bars, and Kuhio Avenue in Honolulu is home to most of that city's bars and nightclubs.


Within Honolulu, and particularly in Waikiki there are a vast number of lodging options. Outside of these areas there are very few hotels on the island, but there are at least 1500 condos, vacation homes, Ohanas (a unit attached to a home) and B&Bs. Due to zoning regulations some vacation rentals only accept stays of 1 month or longer.

Stay safe

As with any large urban area, including some of the areas around Pearl City, Waianae, Nanakuli, Waipahu, and Kalihi, "hanging out" at night is not advisable. In Oahu, local law enforcement is very helpful to visitors and will steer you away from potential problems.

Remember, the ocean is not a swimming pool - approach with respect and caution. Surf reports will tell you what the ocean is going to do that day. Conditions vary across the island. Ask lifeguards for advice. Back, shoulder, neck, and ankle injuries from boogie boarding are very common. Boogie board in conditions that suite your ability, and don't follow local kids into waves that aren't breaking nicely.

Get out

To get to the other Hawaiian islands, fly Hawaiian Airlines [19] or go! Airlines [20] from Honolulu International Airport [21].

This is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


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Proper noun




  1. The third largest island of Hawaii.

Simple English

Oahu is the third largest of the Hawaiian Islands, in the United States. It means "the gathering place" (a place where people meet) in the Hawaiian language. Most of the people of Hawaii live there (1.2 million of the state's 1.7 million in the mid-1990s). The total land area is 608 square miles (1,556 square kilometres). Honolulu, the capital city of Hawaii, is on this island. Other well-known places on Oahu are Waikiki, Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head, Hanauma Bay, Kaneohe Bay, and both the North Shore and Makaha (which are famous for very big ocean waves).

Kamehameha I made Oahu his capital when he became the first king of Hawaii. Iolani Palace was built later on by others of the royal family. It is the only royal palace on American soil.

Oahu was perhaps the first of the Hawaiian Islands which the crew of HMS Resolution saw on 18 January 1778. This was during Captain James Cook's third Pacific Ocean trip. Europeans did not land on Oahu until 28 February 1779 when Captain Clerke of the HMS Resolution stepped ashore at Waimea Bay. Clerke took command of the ship after Captain Cook was killed at Kealakekua Bay on February 14.

Today, Oahu has become a tourism and shopping center. Almost 7 million visitors (mainly from the American mainland and Japan) go there every year to enjoy the special island holiday found only in Hawaii.

Oahu can be seen in hundreds of movies and TV shows. Some of them are Magnum P.I., "LOST", Hawaii Five-O and Jake and the Fatman.

Find more information on Oahu by searching one of Wikipedia's sister projects:

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