Oahu – the heart of Hawaii – is only the third largest island in the archipelago in terms of area, but it is the most populous. Oahu means “meeting place”. Most of the islanders live in and around Honolulu, the capital of the 50th state of the USA. It is people of different origins and religions who have come together here over the course of history to form a multicultural community and today make up the charm of the island. Honolulu is probably one of the most fascinating metropolises in the USA: Where else are there skyscrapers between tropical green mountain ranges and a turquoise ocean, where else are there two extinct volcanic craters in the middle of the city and where else can you find such a dazzling, ethnic diversity and such a famous beach as Waikiki right on your doorstep?
However, Waikiki is much more than beaches and beach life. Around 200 hotels, vacation rental complexes, 1,000 shops, around 500 restaurants and most of the tourists who make Hawai’i’s heart beat every day can be found in almost four square kilometers. As narrow as downtown Honolulu – one of the largest financial centers in the Pacific region – may appear at first glance, spacious parks, tropical gardens and green spaces run through the city. Incidentally, Honolulu is one of the few metropolises in which billboards are prohibited.
Oahu is crisscrossed by two mountain ranges: the Koolau Mountains to the east and the Waianae Range to the west, from which rises Mount Kalaa, Oahu’s highest mountain, at 4,700 feet (1,231 meters). Lush greenery, tropical rainforests and exotic gardens characterize the interior. Pineapple plantations like the Dole Pineapple Visitor Center, the Del Monte Pineapple Variety Garden, and the Wahiawa Botanical Gardens are popular attractions on the Leilehua Plateau.
Location and Size
According to answermba, Oahu is 1,546 km² and the second oldest of the six Aloha Islands between Kauai and Maui. The two mountain ranges, which were shield volcanoes long ago and are now long extinct, run almost parallel. More than 100 ridges stretch from the ridges creating beautiful valleys and breathtaking views.
Almost 900,000 people live on Oahu – that’s around 70% of the entire state’s population.
Honolulu International Airport (HNL) is 6 miles northwest of Honolulu and 9 miles from Waikiki. HNL is also Hawaii’s busiest airport, where most visitors arrive.
There are two seasons on Oahu: winter (from November to April) with temperatures between 21° and 29° C degrees, and summer with temperatures also exceeding 33° C. The average air temperature is between 23° and 31° C, the average humidity 53% during the day. With gentle trade winds making even the warmest months pleasant, Oahu is a year-round destination.
Oahu’s west side is typically drier than the wet and green east side. Weather in the resort area of Waikiki and the surfing mecca of the North Shore is pleasant year-round. Big wave surfing season on the North Shore starts in November and ends in February. World-class surfing competitions take place between November and December. In the summer, the North Shore’s big waves die down and beach conditions are ideal.
|Average temperatures in Honolulu in °C|
Casual clothing is the order of the day. A thin jacket is enough in the evening. Slightly smarter attire should be chosen for restaurants and nightclubs. Suits and ties are rarely worn.
The Beaches on Oahu
There are more than 200 beautiful, white-sand beaches along the approximately 180-kilometer-long Oahu coastline. Whether it’s Waikiki Beach in the south, Sandy Beach and Makapuu Beach in the far southeast, Waimanalo Beach Park, Kailua Beach and Kaneohe Bay in the east, or Waimea Bay in the north, Oahu has a beach for everyone. For example, Sunset Beach and Banzai Pipeline on the North Shore are internationally known surf spots with the most beautiful waves in the world, but also the most powerful in winter. In summer they are excellent bathing beaches and are well known for their spectacular sunsets.
Sights on Oahu
Waikiki: The Hawaiian royal family once cavorted here. Today, this historic hotspot is a meeting point for visitors from all over the world. Waikiki is best known for its beaches. Most rooms are only two or three blocks from the ocean. With Diamond Head in the background, Waikiki’s calm waters are ideal for a surfing lesson. Other attractions include the Honolulu Zoo and the Waikiki Aquarium.
Pearl Harbor:This National Historic Landmark includes five sites commemorating the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack. Named for the pearl oysters that were once harvested there, Pearl Harbor is the largest natural harbor in Hawaii. The port is a World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument and the only US naval base to be designated a National Historic Monument. The devastating Pearl Harbor airstrike claimed 2,390 lives and injured hundreds, propelling the United States into World War II.
North Shore: During the winter months, this legendary surfing mecca attracts the world’s best surfers. If there’s such a thing as a perfect wave, you’ll find it on Oahu’s North Shore. The North Shore’s beaches stretch for more than 7 miles and are home to surfing competitions, including the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing.
Iolani Palace: Located in downtown Honolulu, the Iolani Palace is a National Historic Landmark and the only official royal residence in the United States. The last two monarchs of the Hawaiian Kingdom lived here from 1882 to 1893: King Kalakaua and his sister, and the successor Queen Liliuokalani.
Nuuanu Pali Lookout
Just 5 miles northeast of downtown Honolulu, the Nuuanu Pali Lookout offers panoramic views of the Koolau Cliffs and the Windward Coast.
The silhouette of Diamond Head State Monument can be seen in the Honolulu skyline behind Waikiki. This 750-foot (231 m) high tuff crater is one of Hawaii’s most famous landmarks.
From Waikiki, it’s a short drive or bus ride to Diamond Head Crater. This moderate hike includes two flights of stairs totaling 175 steps, as well as dark tunnels and old military bunkers that require a flashlight. The breathtaking view from the top of Diamond Head is worth the effort.