Oahu is home to historic Honolulu, the seat of Hawaii’s government and famous Waikiki. The North Shore is legendary for wild, high waves in winter and surf as smooth as a lake in summer. Oahu has enchanting tropical gardens to explore as well as lush rainforests and miles of white sandy beaches. The outdoor enthusiast will hike exotic mountain ranges, kayak in sapphire bays, golf on the most challenging courses, and surf at the world’s best beaches. History buffs will discover Hawaiian heiau (altars), re-live plantation history, and remember Pearl Harbor.
Visit Oahu to experience local traditions, learn to make a quilt, string a lei, surf, eat shave ice, dance hula, swim with dolphins, snorkel Hanauma Bay, and ride outrigger canoes. As the state’s transportation hub, Oahu is often the starting point for a vacation in paradise.
Oahu: Essential Facts
Learn these Oahu factoids and you will know more than most on your dream Hawaii vacation:
- Oahu is the third largest of the Hawaiian Islands.
- Oahu has a coastline of 112 miles.
- The average temperature range on Oahu is 71-80 degrees F, with variable rainfall on different sections and elevations of the island.
- The highest point on Oahu is Mt. Kaala, which rises 4,020 feet above sea level.
- Honolulu, Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head, Pipeline, Sunset Beach, and Waikiki are all located on Oahu.
- The island of Oahu is formed from the remnants of two large shield volcanoes, the older Waianae Volcano on Oahu’s west side, and the younger Koolau Volcano on Oahu’s east side.
- On the North Shore, beaches are often dangerous in winter with waves higher than 25 feet. In summer, there is often little surf and swimming and snorkeling are excellent.
- Iolani Palace in Honolulu is the only royal palace in the United States.
- Oahu is the most-visited Hawaiian Island.
- The open-air Ala Moana Shopping Center, across the street from Ala Moana Beach Park, comprises 50 acres with 200 shops that attract tens of millions of customers a year.
- Diamond Head is a volcanic crater that was given its name by British sailors in the 1800s. When they first saw the crater at a great distance, the calcite crystals in the lava rock appeared to glimmer in the sunlight and the sailors mistakenly thought there must be diamonds in the soil.
- Queen Liliuokalani was the last reigning monarch of the Hawaiian islands. In 1898, Hawaii was annexed to the United States and Queen Liliuokalani gave up her throne.
- Surfing has been popular in Hawaii since 300 A.D. when Polynesians arrived and played in the surf on “belly boards.”
- Hawaii Standard Time is in effect year-round. Daylight saving time is not observed. Hawaii is 2 hours behind Pacific Standard Time and 5 hours behind Eastern Standard Time. When daylight saving time is in effect on the mainland, Hawaii is 3 hours behind the West Coast and 6 hours behind the East Coast.