Welcome to Oʻahu
Oʻahu attacks your senses. Tropical aromas and temperatures, turquoise waters, a kaleidoscope of colorful fish, verdant rainforest and sensuous scenery, plus so much to do.
Spam, surfing, hula, ukulele, pidgin, rubbah slippah (flip-flops) – these are just some of the touchstones of everyday life on Oʻahu, an island out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. People are easygoing, low-key and casual, bursting with genuine aloha and fun. Everyone knows how lucky they are to be living in this tropical paradise and Oʻahu proudly maintains its own identity apart from the US mainland. You’ll feel welcome whether you’re a globe-trotting surf bum, a fresh-faced honeymoon couple or part of a big ʻohana (extended family) with grandparents and kids tagging along.
Oʻahu has so much going on, especially if you like sun, sand and adventure. Playing in or on the water could keep you happy for months. Learn to surf, and if you're already good, hit the big waves on the North Shore; bodyboard at Waimanalo, stand up paddle at Haleʻiwa, dive into Hanauma Bay’s giant fishbowl, or windsurf or kayak in Kailua Bay. On the land, hike up Diamond Head or atop knife-edged pali (cliffs). Up top, jump out of a plane or soar in a glider above the North Shore; circle the island in a helicopter. It's all there waiting.
Unparalleled Melting Pot
Oʻahu, like the rest of the Hawaiian islands, is proud of its multicultural heritage. The nerve center of the archipelago brings you face to face with Hawaii as it really is, not just a postcard fantasy. All over this island, nicknamed ‘the Gathering Place,’ pulses the native Hawaiian lifeblood, from ancient heiau (stone temples) to sacred hula dances and chants. Mix in the descendants of European explorers, American missionaries and Asian plantation-worker immigrants, plus recent arrivals from all over the Pacific, and you have one of the most multicultural communities on the globe. Boisterous festivals help keep diverse traditions alive.
There’s another side of the island: the ‘country,’ where farms and dirt roads lead deep into a passionate Hawaiian heartland. Where anti-development slogans like 'Keep the Country Country' are everywhere and locals want a fair go to enjoy life in their much-loved and appreciated natural environment. On some wild, rugged and nearly deserted beaches, sea turtles still outnumber surfers. Set your watch to island time and cruise past the Windward Coast’s emerald valleys, rustic ranches and roadside shrimp trucks, savor Central Oʻahu's rich volcanic soils and pineapple fields, or lose yourself on the rural Wai‘anae Coast.