Oahu-The Gathering Place
By Deanna Destito
The third largest island in Hawaii, Oahu boasts beautiful beaches, gorgeous sights, and the state’s capital, Honolulu.
The volcanic island’s shoreline is 227 miles long where locals and visitors alike enjoy sun, surf, diverse culture, and many tropical amenities. With 72% of the state’s population on Oahu, it’s no wonder it’s called The Gathering Place.
Learning the lingo of Oahu makes it easier to navigate.
The island is diamond shaped. It’s surrounded on all sides by ocean water and divided into sections by mountain ranges and valleys.
Locals don’t use traditional compass directions, but instead opt for navigating with Honolulu as the central point.
Ewa means traveling to the western tip while Diamond Head is toward the east.
Mauka is inland toward the central Koolau Mountain range, and Makai is toward the sea.
When visiting Oahu, Waikiki is a must-see. A beachfront neighborhood of Honolulu, Waikiki is one of six beaches in the area and home to Kapi’olani Park, Fort DeRussy, Kahanamoku Lagoon, Kuhio Beach Park, and Ala Wai Harbor. Waikiki has a rich history of surfing and long boarding, dating back to the Hawaiian royals of the 1800s.
Today, the beach hosts many surfing competitions as well as an array of outdoor events and performances including hula dancing and canoe races.
If you’re looking to immerse yourself in the lifestyle of Oahu, Kapiolani Community College hosts a weekly farmers market where visitors can purchase some of the many fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers of the area.
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You can even sample coffees, jams, and more. After strolling through the farmers market, stop by Paradise Cove for a luau.
Guests can learn to string together a lei or headband.
You can even learn to throw a spear and sample traditional dishes such as lomi salmon, taro bread rolls, and kalua pork.
For visitors ready to experience history, Iolani Palace is the perfect place to start.
The royal palace was the home to the monarchy of the late 1890s and is the only royal palace on US soil.
Guests can view the private chambers of the royal family as well as other notable areas such as the Imprisonment Room where Queen Liliuokalani was held under house arrest.
The quilt she made during her arrest can also be seen.
The Pearl Harbor Memorial is another important stop for learning about the area’s history.
The World War II memorial is the final resting place of 1,102 sailors killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
It’s built directly over the midsection of the sunken U.S.S Arizona.
Tours are available from 8 am to 3 pm, letting visitors pay their respects and learn about one of the most devastating days in our history.
For a quieter experience, head to the North Shore and find secluded beaches and a quaint shopping area.
It’s also the home of the best shrimp truck, Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck.
Visit the famous surfing Haliewa sign on Kamehameha Highway or stop by Mastumoto’s Shave Ice shop.
No Oahu visit is complete without taking in the beauty of Diamond Head, a crater created 300,000 years ago from a volcanic eruption.
Once the ash settled, it formed the famous ridgeline of Oahu’s skyline.
The area is also known as one of the most scenic hiking trails.
Once you’ve mastered the 760-foot hike, you will be left speechless by the amazing view of Waikiki beach and the splendor of the Pacific Ocean.
Finally, Manoa Falls should always be on your must-see list when visiting Oahu.
The cascading water descends 150 feet down the mountainside, creating a surreal experience for any visitor.
Hikers can also adventure along one of the trails at Manoa Road.
Take in the gorgeous sights and go bird watching as you traverse along the path that gives a full view of the rainforest valley below.