Oahu is the island that truly has it all. While many visitors come for just a quick stopover due to the convenience of the international airport or to sightsee at Pearl Harbor, this island is much more than it seems at first. There is so much to enjoy– lovely beaches, stunning scenery, history, culture, first class shopping, and the bulk of Hawaiian history.
The bustling city of Honolulu and the beach district of Waikiki is the first experience of many travelers. The calm waters of Waikiki Beach are perfect for lazy days, learning to surf, and enjoying views of majestic Diamond Head crater on the horizon. Honolulu is where surfing was born, and the statue of Duke Kahanamoku pays tribute to its creator, constantly draped with flower leis from visiting admirers.
The historical site of Pearl Harbor is also within the city, but on the northern side. The harbor is still an active military post today, but visitors are allowed access to the national park areas to explore and understand what unfolded here on December 7, 1941, a day that will live in infamy. And it truly does. While large, the crowds that pass through the site daily maintain a hushed and reverent attitude. Several museums on-site do an excellent job of laying out the historical events leading up to the attack, the day itself, and the aftermath.
Then visitors are taken in small groups via ferry out to the Arizona Memorial, which serves as a sunken tomb to the soldiers who never made it out of the ship. The experience is humbling and sobering, a reminder for all of us to learn from history and to appreciate the sacrifices made by others for our freedom.
The central valley spreads north between the eastern and western mountain ranges and has historically been home to the Dole Pineapple Plantation, which tourists may visit today.
While these sites are most visited by travelers, the island of Oahu has a side that the vast majority overlook–the North Shore. Outside the bustle of city life, the island sprawls green, lush, and mountainous to the north with as much natural beauty as any other.
On the North Shore, you’ll find small charming towns, rusty food trucks serving the best shrimp on the islands, and the heaviest wave in the world. Hawaii has always been known for surfing, but no other destination has a wave quite like the North Shore. Just past the town of Haleiwa you’ll find the Bonzai Pipeline, home of the top surfing championship in the world every year in early December. This year, I found myself here in late November and decided to check out the conditions. As I sat on the beach, digging my toes in the coarse sand and watching the most powerful waves I could imagine pounding the shore, I began to notice the locals doing the same. One by one they would drop in just for a few minutes, very likely on their lunch breaks from work, to feel the wind, watch the surf, and chat with one another. All were preparing for the event coming in two weeks, and it was a privilege to be in their presence and observe their habits.
Overall, Oahu is the most widely varied island in terms of experience. You can easily immerse yourself in a remote area of jungle, spend hours surfing with the locals, hike a historic volcanic crater, and party late into the night at a lively nightclub…all on the same island. This island has long been home to Hawaiian royalty and American politics alike, and it’s easy to see why. You could spend months here and never live the same day twice, which means there’s always a reason to return again!
Ready to experience Oahu? Set up a consultation with Christine or one of our other Hawaii specialists today!