About Oahu - An Overview
Traveling, visiting, stopping by, relocating to, or living permanently in Oahu? Here's a little information on the island itself.
Oahu is separated from the other islands of Hawaii by the Kauai and Kaiwi channels. It is the third-largest Hawaiian island taking up nearly 600 mi.² and has the greatest density of residence and population. The island has two parallel mountain groups, the Koolau and Waianae range with a central plateau in the middle.
The known history of Oahu dates back to about 500 CE, with the royal capital moved from Lahaina on Maui to Honolulu on Oahu in 1845.
What is Oahu Known For?
Oahu is the most populated island in Hawaii by far, as well as holding the state capital of Honolulu. The island is also known for the site of Pearl Harbor, where Japanese forces stage their first attack against the United States entering the US into World War II. The monument for this attack can be visited in Pearl Harbor just west of downtown Honolulu.
Oahu is home to one of the best surfing spots in the world, the North Shore. Surfing competitions pale in comparison to those you’ll find on the islands North Shore. Waikiki Beach is also a prominent landmark hosting thousands of tourists each day. Waikiki and Honolulu are right next to each other and provide some of the most beautiful but populated beaches in the world.
Diamond Head Natural Monument is the most prominent and visually one of the most recognized landmarks and volcanoes in the world. It is known for historic hiking trails, beautiful coastal views, and its military history. The land surrounding and including Diamond Head Natural Monument was purchased in 1904 by the government and designed for military use. Fortification of the area began in 1908 with the construction of guns and placements and an entry tunnel through the North wall of the crater from Fort Ruger. Today, however, it’s more of a tourist destination than anything.
Related: 13 Things No One Tells You About Living in Hawaii
What Makes Oahu Unique
Oahu is known as The Gathering Place and is the third-largest of the islands that make up Hawaii. It is made up of two overlapping volcanoes, as previously mentioned. Oahu's asymmetrical butterfly shape is formed by these two mountain ranges slicing through the center in what what is now called Wahiawa. Volcanic eruptions in the southeastern portion of the island formed Diamond Head, Koko Head, and Punchbowl Craters, which have all created Oahu’s uneven typography. But don’t worry, these volcanoes have been dormant for centuries.
Read More: The History of Hawaii
Locations Of Note And Facts About Oahu
Oahu is home to the only Royal Palace in the United States. Lolani Palace had electricity before the White House and was the first palace in the world to have flushing toilets.
The beautiful destination of Waikiki was not so beautiful at one time. It was once a swampy area full of rice patties, Taro fields, and billions of mosquitoes. But, once the Ala Wai Canal was constructed in 1928, the marshland was drained and it became the beautiful piece of paradise we know today.
Oahu is one of the most remote islands in Hawaii, and the Hawaiian islands are considered the most remote chain of inhabited islands in the world. The nearest population center located over 2000 miles away and the nearest island over a thousand miles away.
Hawaii doesn’t use daylight savings time. Hawaii Standard Time is two hours behind Pacific Standard Time and the rest of the year it’s three hours behind.
In Honolulu, it is illegal to annoy a bird. No, seriously. It’s also illegal to have billboards - keeping the scenery as natural and is obstructed as possible.
Oahu hosts more visitors every year than all of the other Hawaiian islands combined. This aptly fits its nickname of the “Gathering Place”.
More: What's the Weather on Oahu
Oahu’s Famous Food
Hawaiian cuisine in general is some of the most exotic and delicious anywhere on the planet. One of the best things about Hawaii is we have an abundance of delicious food right here - from tropical fruits and vegetables to Macadamia nuts, to some of the freshest seafood in the world. Some of the more well-known Hawaiian food includes:
- Loco Moco – short-grain white rice topped with a hamburger patty, gravy, and a fried egg.
- Poke - fresh cubed tuna or other seafood mixed with sesame oil, seaweed, and vegetables eaten raw and found just about anywhere including the local gas station and Costco.
- Poi - definitely an acquired taste, poi is made from mashed Taro root, often with sweet potato included and it’s primarily eaten with your index and your middle finger scooped up and simply popped right into your mouth.
- Lau Lau – one of our favorite Hawaiian dishes of slow-roasted meat, typically pork, salted, seasoned and wrapped in a leaf steamed or baked Intel mouthwatering Lee tender and delicious.
- Malasadas - think of been yay mixed with the donut hole only bigger, filled with delicious fillings like guava, coconut cream, and pineapple. These are definitely some delicious bites to check out either from restaurants or food trucks.
Wanna work off that food? Here is the Best Hiking Trails on Oahu
How Big is Oahu?
Although Oahu is only about 597 mi.², it can take between 8 and 12 hours to drive around the entire island. Things are a little bit slower on the island, so you’re not going to be going 70 on the freeways anytime soon. You'll also need to watch out for chickens, fruit stands, children, and food trucks along the way. If you want to go all the way around Oahu, it's usually a good idea to give yourself a day or two to drive around the entire island. That way you have plenty of time to take in the amazing sights, sounds, and tastes.
Related: 20 Essential Stops on Your Drive Around Oahu
Live Like a Local
Oahu is more graceful and accepting of tourists than some of the other islands. It’s natural to find a few locals that will offer tips and suggestions, and many of the locals thrive on the tourist industry.
However, if you recently moved here, just know that you probably won’t be treated like a local for a while. While the tourist industry reigns on Oahu, it may take you a while to really get used to the culture of Hawaii - or as we like to call it, the Aloha Spirit. But don’t worry, once they realize that you’re here to stay, many will welcome you with open arms. There will always be people that you won't get along with, but I've found them to be few and far between.
One of the easiest ways to get involved is to simply talk with the locals. Ask where they like to go to church, eat, play, and some of the hidden places that once they trust you, you’ll be excited to learn about. Welcome to Hawaii and especially Oahu. If I can help make the transition easier, feel free to contact me anytime. Browse all of my latest posts about Hawaii and learn more about the beautiful island of Oahu.
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