The most traveled island in all of Hawaii, Oahu is home to Waikiki, Honolulu, Pearl Harbor, and the famous surfing beaches of North Shore. This island destination offers a bustling city at one end and remote countryside at the other.
Nicknamed "the Gathering Place" Oahu captivates locals and visitors alike with 4 out of every 5 Hawaii residents calling Oahu home. Honolulu is the capital and ecomonic hub of Hawaii, stretching along Oahu's south shore and includes many must-see neighborhoods like Waikiki, Chinatown, the Waterfront District, and the Historical District.
Waikiki is both a beach and a neighborhood, and the most visited destination in Oahu. Waikiki is bordered by the Ala Wai Canal to the north and Kapiolani Park to the east. Within this two and a half mile stretch is an array of hotels, shops, restaurants, activities, entertainment, and of course, the beach.
With so much variety packed into a walkable neighborhood (map), it is unnecessary to rent a car if you plan to vacation in Waikiki. Many activity providers outside of Waikiki include transportation, or offer transportation services at an additional charge.
Outside of the city, visitors should visit Haleiwa, a small surfing village with some eclectic shops, restaurants, and art galleries that are fun to explore. Haleiwa Harbor has several boating activities, including shark tours, while Dillingham Airfield offers skydiving and gliding activities.
Just past Haleiwa are some of the most famous surfing beaches in the world, including Waimea Bay, Sunset Beach, and Bonzai Pipeline. During the winter time, swells easily cap over thirty feet and Haleiwa buzzes with excitement as professional surfers from around the globe come to compete.
On the windward side, Kailua is a hip, mostly residential beach-community with a handful of restaurants and not much in the way of nightlife. What makes Kailua special is a few miles of beautiful powder-white sandy beaches. Kailua Beach is often hailed as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, with scenic islands within kayaking distance, shallow blue waters stretching as far as the eye can see, and fewer crowds than Waikiki.
Useful Oahu links:
- Go Oahu Card - get discounts on major attractions and activities throughout Oahu
- Which Island? - Not sure if Oahu and you are meant to be? Get a quick breakdown of the top 4 Hawaii Islands