Oahu, the Gathering Isle
The name Oahu comes from the Hawaiian word meaning “the gathering.” That is a fitting name for the busiest island in the Aloha State. Having a diverse mix of residents and visitors, Oahu can boast the State’s largest population of over 953,200, with more than 387,170 of those living in Honolulu. Oahu is the gathering place of the Hawaiian Islands indeed and one of the most popular vacation places in the Pacific.
Oahu History and Fun Facts
Honolulu can be considered the largest city in the world, in terms of total area covered, because the Hawaii State Constitution states that any island not belonging to a county belongs to Honolulu. This total combines Oahu, and all the small uninhabited islands and islets as part of Honolulu. If calculated together, the total length of these lands would come to about 1,500 miles long.
Waikiki Beach is one of the more famous areas of Honolulu and attracts over 72,000 tourists per day, which is 44% of all visitors in the Hawaiian Islands. Waikiki is also a favorite honeymoon destination for newlyweds who want to enjoy all the finer things of life.
Oahu has been the location for numerous films and TV series over the years. Several of these projects included: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Battleship, The Descendants, 50 First Dates, Jurassic Park, Blue Crush, Mighty Joe Young and the TV series Lost.
Anyone interested in real estate will be amazed to know that in 1885 King Kamehameha V proposed to sell what is known today as Waikiki Beach to a rancher from New Zealand. He priced it at the then shocking amount of $10,000. The rancher refused on the basis that the land wouldn’t be suitable for her to raise cattle. Today Waikiki Beach has some of the most priciest real estate in Hawaii as well as is one of the most sought-after holiday locations in the world. For more information on activities in Waikiki, refer to our Waikiki page for travel tips and must-sees.
Oahu’s Paradise Cove Luau cooks nearly 128 tons of kalua pig each year for the famous nightly luaus. Hawaiian luaus are a must for all first-time visitors on the island.
The Dole Plantation is Hawaii’s only remaining pineapple plantation and is located on the central part of the island. There are daily tours available for those who want a closer look into the plantation that provides one of the most favorite tropical fruits worldwide.
Oahu is 44 miles long, and 30 miles wide and 112 miles around.
Oahu has 50.3 miles of sandy beaches, with reported 594 surfing sites. Though there is no shortage of beautiful beaches in the State, Oahu can uniquely boast of being surrounded by nearly 100 beaches, making it one of the most beach-rich places in the world. Additionally, the average water temperature around the island is 74 degrees Fahrenheit, making it an ideal place for beach vacationers.
Oahu is comprised of two mountain ranges, the Waianae Range on the western side and the Ko’olau Range on the eastern side.
Oahu has decidedly varied landscapes, whether it be ancient volcanic formations, famous surf spots or steep mountain ranges. Diamond Head, also known as Le’ahi Crater, is an extinct cinder cone and is today well-known as a Waikiki landmark. Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach offer some of the more popular surfing on the North Shore. While the beautiful Nu’uanu Pali on the Ko’olau Range offers a breathtaking vista of Oahu’s windward side.
Oahu has a diverse population of 25% Caucasian, almost 40% Asian, 10% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander and 24% from two or more races combined.
Golf fans will be happy to note that Oahu has 36 golf courses, more than any other island in the State of Hawaii.
Must-see Oahu Attractions
Foster Botanical Garden is the oldest botanical garden in Hawaii, established in 1855. It is also known for its prehistoric glen containing some of the oldest plant forms on earth. These are displayed chronologically at the garden.
Iolani Palace is the only royal palace in the United States, located in Honolulu and was inhabited by Hawaiian royalty in the 19th century. For visitors staying in the state capital, our Honolulu page has numerous suggestions for outings and activities for the whole family.
Hanauma Bay’s clear water makes it Oahu’s most beautiful snorkeling location. The nearby educational center gives displays an exhibit of the geological progression of Hanauma Bay as it changed from a volcanic crater to a thriving preserve of Hawaiian marine life.
Waimea Bay Beach Park on the North Shore of Oahu is one of the many famous surf spot that have been popularized in the Beach Boys’ classic hit, Surfin’ USA. This bay is a must-see for families of all ages, as it provides gentle swimming areas for young children during the summer and is a favorite surf location for anyone wanting to meet the challenging waves during the winter.
Pearl Harbor is the naval base that was attacked in 1941 and remains a somber but compelling must-see memorial. Exhibits at Pearl Harbor include: the USS Arizona Memorial, Battleship Missouri Memorial, USS Bowfin Submarine and the Pacific Aviation Museum.
Chief’s Luau at the Sea Life Park is a highly rated event that seems to satisfy every demographic with a dynamic and authentic Hawaiian luau. The night includes traditional Hawaiian foods, stories, folklore as well as dances from Hawaiian, Samoan, Tahitian and other Polynesian cultures.
Mokili’i, more often known as Chinaman’s Hat is a tiny islet off the Kualoa Regional Beach Park and is a popular place for adventuring and picture taking. With proper supervision and careful planning, you can walk to Mokili’i when the tide is low, hike around its coast or undertake the strenuous climb to its summit for a beautiful view of the entire windward Oahu coastline.
Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail, an intermediate-level trail, is located on the south eastern point of Oahu. Here, in December and April, you often can see whales spouting off the coast. Nearby the Oahu Rock Bridge can be viewed from the hilly, rugged and treacherous Sea Cliffs Hike and is a trail that where you should exercise extreme caution and care. Diamond Head State Monument is a moderately strenuous hike with breathtaking views of the beaches and coastline of Waikiki Beach. Stunning waterfall hiking trails may be found at Maunawili Falls Trail, Manoa Falls Trail and Waimea Falls Park.
Waikiki Beach is famously known for 1.5 miles of white beaches on Oahu’s southern coast. Lanikai Beach possesses fine, clean sand and is nestled in a secluded location on the windward side of Oahu. Malaekahana Beach is located in a beautiful woodsy area which is seldom crowded as few people visit this beach. However, it is still consistently ranked within lists of Oahu’s top ten best beaches. Sunset Beach, Waimea Bay and the Banzai Pipeline are the legendary aforementioned surfing favorites on the North Shore. Pokai Bay on the Waianae coast is a hidden treasure famous for soft sands, colorful shallows that are excellent for snorkeling and swimming.
Getting Help on Oahu Vacations
From all-inclusive packages to individual activities, Panda Travel ® can build a personal an itinerary tailor-made for your needs. Start with our Hawaii Travel Tips page to make sure you are prepared for your trip to paradise; we want your vacation to be as memorable and stress-free as possible. For any information that somehow can’t be found on our website, contact us toll-free at (800) 303-6702.