Oahu Island, Hawaii Attractions
Main town: HonoluluOahu is the third largest island in the Hawaiian archipelago and for almost 150 years has been the political, economic and cultural center of the Hawaiian islands.
Covering an area of 607sq.miles/1574sq.km, its coastline measures 137 miles/220km. Oahu evolved from two volcanoes which still exist today in the mountain ranges, Koolau Range and Waianae Range. The older of the two, Waianae Range, evolved between about 3.4 and 2.7 million years ago. Strong erosion has had such an effect that the volcanic craters can no longer be recognized clearly. Oahu is noted for its tuffs which evolved during the last phase of the volcanic creation of the island (Diamond Head, Punchbowl, Chinaman's Hat, Rabbit Island).The island is divided into four geographical areas - the Koolau Range, Waianae Range, Schofield Plateau and the flat land around the coast. Schofield Plateau is formed from lava from Koolau volcano, as is the flat coastal land. The present mountain ranges and valleys are examples of an eroded landscape. Particularly impressive is Nuuanu Pali, north of Honolulu.The origin of the word Oahu is unclear - it is translated as "meeting place" by linguists and this is supposed to refer to the meeting of Hawaiian kings on Oahu. The somewhat down-to-earth nickname "Main Island" reflects the higher position of Oahu among the Hawaiian islands.Oahu's climate resembles that of the other islands. As its mountains are not particularly high, the climate on the side of the island (the west coast) standing in their rain shadow is not nearly so dry as on Hawaii, for example. The island is divided into a windy, damp area (the east coast) and a dry, leeward-facing area (the west coast).More than 800,000 people, four-fifths of the Hawaiian islands' total population, live on Oahu. The inhabitants of this most densely populated island vary widely. The majority of people live in Honolulu and its neighboring towns with the rest of the island being thinly populated.Honolulu is the capital of both the State of Hawaii and the County of Oahu. Since the state reform of government in 1969, whereby the mayor of the principal county town is also the mayor of the whole county, Honolulu is no longer self-governing. The mayor of Oahu County is at the same time responsible for Honolulu so that the importance of the main city, in which more than half of the county's population lives, is not taken into account with regard to government.Along with tourism, farming still has a regional importance for Oahu. The main crops are sugar cane and pineapples, which are grown mostly inland on the fertile ground of Schofield Plateau. Ewa District, to the south of the island, is the traditional area for growing sugar cane.Oahu is of particular importance as a strategic base because of its central position. Large sections of the island (about a quarter of its surface) are military no-go areas where public access is prohibited. The military contributes an important amount to Oahu's economy.Most tourists still arrive on Oahu at Honolulu Airport. About 80% of Hawaii's visitors stay on Oahu itself and spend their holiday almost exclusively on the world-famous beach at Waikiki. This has created an imbalance on the island because Waikiki (Honolulu's beach and tourist quarter) has become devoted solely to tourism and suffers the problems that such mass development can bring. Further development for tourism in the south-west of the island has brought opposition from the native population.As a result, places of interest for tourists are concentrated, for the most part, in and around Honolulu.Kailua and Kaneohe, dormitory towns of Honolulu, are located on Oahu's windward side. Further north is the Valley of the Temples (including Byodo-In Temple) as well as Waiahole (primarily a farming area), Punaluu (a large fishing village) and, above all, Laie, the location of the Polynesian Cultural Center and the large Mormon Temple.The northern tip of the island has become famous principally as a surfers' paradise - at the western end of the only road (suitable only for four-wheel drive vehicles) is Kaena Point, where powerful waves break on the shore. The north-west of the island is the least developed and still fairly closed off to tourists. There are almost no hotels and few restaurants here. Places such as Makaha, Waianae and Maili are inhabited purely by natives and surfers who find the best possible conditions for their sport here throughout the year.
Hawaiian Luaus on Oahu
The luau consists of a traditional meal of a whole roast pig, poi, and other local specialties. Commercial luaus are enhanced by the enactment of traditional ceremonies used in the preparation of such foods. Areas where cultural games and activities are explained, reenacted and where visitors participate are usually included. Finally, the dinner itself is accompanied by a hula show where the highlight is a fire twirling dancer.There are a range of such events which vary in quality of food and entertainment.
Paradise Cove Luau
Paradise Cove offers one of the largest evening Luaus, featuring crafts demonstrations, Hawaiian games, a sunset ceremony and pig roast followed by the traditional Hawaiian Revue. Visitors can participate in net fishing, learn about underground oven cooking and stroll through a Hawaiian village.
Polynesia Cultural Center - Ali'l Luau
Ali'l Luau, a luau dinner and show are held each evening at the Polynesian Cultural Center after the main villages and demonstrations shut down for the day. The show is one of the most professional on the islands.
The west coast and areas inland from the coast comprise west Oahu, including all areas west of Pearl Harbor.
Hawaii's Plantation Village, Waipahu
Hawaii's Plantation Village represent Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean, Portuguese, Puerto Rican and Hawaiian cultures and how these sugar plantation workers lived. This outdoor museum features the Hawaiian Hale hut representing the 1850s, while the majority of the buildings are restored to the years between 1900 and 1935. Some of the buildings are original while others are replicas, furnished with authentic artifacts and Asian art.
Kaneaki Heiau Temple
Makaha Beach Park
Marriott Ihilani Resort
Nanakuli Beach Park
Nanakuli Beach, which encompasses two sections (Piliokahe and Kalaniana'ole), is popular with swimmers, snorkelers, and divers.
Sacred Falls, Kaliuwaa Falls and Trail (closed)
The path along Kaluanui River to the waterfall used to begin at the Sacred Falls Bazaar. The 2 mile/3km trail is now permanently closed.
There are a number of well known events which take place annually on Oahu.
In September the Aloha Festival is celebrated state wide with parades, fairs, and various other events.
King Kamehameha Celebrations
The King Kamehameha Celebrations held each year in June are marked with a floral parade and other traditional observances.
NFL All-Star Week and Pro Bowl
Each February National Football League all stars take part in the NFL Pro Bowl post season game at the Aloha Stadium.
Sony Annual Open Golf Tournament
Each year in January the Sony Open is held on Oahu, attracting top PGA professionals.
Map of Oahu Island Attractions