Oahu Travel Guide
Oahu is Hawaii's "Aloha Island," its "Gathering Place," its melting pot. It's the hub of the islands where a majority of Hawaii's population resides. It has in it Hawaii's only metropolis, Honolulu, and one of the world's most famous beaches, Waikiki. It has hula girls and swaying palms, golden sands and misty mountains, mai-tais and kalua pigs, and some of the most spectacular surf breaks on the planet – think "Banzai Pipeline." It is also as American a tropical paradise as you'll ever find, the locale of such Hawaiian-American TV dramas as Magnum P.I. and Hawaii Five-O, where the good guys give chase to bad guys in loud, colorful Aloha shirts and, often enough, floral board shorts and flip-flops.
Main Sights and Attractions
Top priorities in Oahu are of course the unabashedly touristy Waikiki Beach; the Pearl Harbor War Memorial, built atop the sunken USS Arizona; the hugely popular Polynesian Cultural Center which offers a complete island experience, with hula shows and luaus in an authentic Polynesian setting; Iolani Palace, which has the distinction of being America's only royal palace; the snorkeling mecca of Hanauma Bay; Bishop Museum, the richest museum in the Pacific, alternately known as the "Smithsonian of the Pacific"; the Ehukai and Sunset beaches on the North Shore, locales of world surfing competitions; and Byodo-In Temple in the misty Ko'olau Mountains on the island's windward coast. The island, besides, has more than 45,000 hotel rooms and rental condominium accommodations, over 750 restaurants, and a wealth of recreational possibilities – swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing, windsurfing, sailing, biking, hiking, horseback riding, golfing and beachcombing, among others.
Oahu is the third largest of the Hawaiian islands, encompassing 608 square miles. It comprises two distinct volcanic land masses, the Waianae Mountain Range and the Ko'olau Mountain Range, joined together by lava flows that form the flat, fertile Leilehua Plateau in the center of the island. The Waianae Range, which comprises the west side of the island (or the leeward coast) and has at its center Mount Ka'ala, the highest point on the island (elevation 4,020 feet), is largely dry, arid, and sparsely populated; while the Ko'olau Mountains along the east side (or the windward coast) are lush, and home to Kane'ohe and Kailua, important population centers. Between the windward and leeward coasts lies Central Oahu, with Honolulu and Waikiki just to the south of there and the North Shore directly to the north.
Oahu lies approximately 25 miles northwest of the island of Molokai, 75 miles northwest of Maui, and 95 miles southeast of Kauai. From Los Angeles it is 2,550 miles distant, from San Francisco 2,360 miles, and from Tokyo, Japan, 3,830 miles.
Oahu has a population of nearly 900,000, which represents approximately 75% of the entire population of Hawaii, and is by far the most popular destination in Hawaii, drawing around 4.5 million visitors annually.
© Indian Chief Travel Guides
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