Aloha and Welcome to Oahu!
Oahu is known as “The Gathering Place,” which is fitting as it’s the most popular destination for travelers to the islands – and for good cause. From the North Shore to the southern beaches, the island is brimming with activities to enjoy and stunning sights to see, and to ensure every visitor to the island gets the experience they deserve, we’ve compiled this quick guide to the island.
The North Shore
When people talk about Oahu, they often mean the beaches of Waikiki. Of course they’re spectacularly beautiful, but limiting oneself the southern edge of the island means missing out on many hidden gems in other parts of Oahu.
The North Shore is a spark of natural beauty, brimming with expansive forest reserves, laid-back towns, and miles of golden, sandy beaches. Botanical gardens stretch across acres of land while waterfalls are tucked away in the deepest reaches of thick, lush jungles. For a look at old Oahu culture, take a stop at Waimea Valley for a string of cultural exhibits.
It’s pretty much the opposite of Waikiki, and also a terrific complement to it.
The Windward Side
Between the North Shore and the southern edge of Oahu is the Windward Side. Here, you can enjoy stretches of soft beach that overlook scenic islets like Mokolii, more commonly known as Chinaman’s Hat.
This is also the location of Kualoa Ranch, a popular excursion for travelers to Oahu. Familiar to visitors from movies like Jurassic Park and Mighty Joe Young, Kualoa Ranch hosts an array of fun activities, like ATV rides over rolling plains and ziplining over some of Hollywood’s favorite locations.
Before you hit the beach, make a stop at a slice of Oahu that’s of major historical importance. Pearl Harbor was the site of the December 7, 1941 surprise Japanese attack that marked the start of World War II for the US.
Though still an active military base, visitors can explore the Pearl Harbor’s many memorials and exhibits for an in-depth look at the events of that long-ago Sunday morning. Take a short boat ride to the USS Arizona Memorial to pay respects to the 1,177 men who lost their lives when the mighty battleship exploded and sank. Get a taste of what life was like aboard a submarine during World War II at the Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park. Stand on the deck of the Battleship Missouri where the surrender documents ending the war were signed.
No look at the wonders of Oahu would be complete without mentioning the place that’s the very symbol of Hawaii tourism. Waikiki is a tourist district extraordinaire just minutes from historic downtown Honolulu and Diamond Head Crater. Nestled between these historically fascinating settings, Waikiki offers fun in the sun and world-class dining and shopping along with some quirky adventures, like a visit to the Waikiki Aquarium or a boat ride to snorkel in the crystalline waters of the Pacific.