This is Oahu, Hawaii: the economic, political and social centre of the Hawaiian archipelago, home to iconic Waikiki Beach, historic Pearl Harbor and Hawaii’s state capital and largest city, Honolulu.
Not your typical tropical isle, Oahu is a rare island metropolis. The island blends 125 beautiful beaches with a countryside of extinct volcano craters, rainforests and waterfalls, and an urban landscape of exceptional dining, shopping and entertainment.
One million people, three-quarters of Hawaii’s population live on Oahu and over five million people visit each year. That’s a whole lot of aloha (love) for this island, and for good reason.
Oahu is one of the most culturally rich places on Earth, largely a result of the Hawaiian monarchy as well as the plantation era when people flocked to the islands to work in the sugar and pineapple fields. Visitors will encounter an interesting mix of multiethnic backgrounds from Native Hawaiian to Polynesian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Filipino, Chinese and more.
Every Oahu itinerary should include Waikiki on Honolulu’s south shore. It’s a cosmopolitan mix of dining, night-life, entertainment, shopping and activities, all within walking distance to world-famous Waikiki Beach. More than 90 per cent of Oahu’s accommodation is in Waikiki, and there is always something new and exciting to discover.
Beyond Waikiki there is only a handful of luxury resorts, and they’re located in Kahala (Kahala Hotel & Resort), Ko Olina (Aulani, a Disney Resort and Four Seasons Resort Oahu) and on the North Shore (Turtle Bay Resort). Alternatively, there is a growing number of vacation rentals around the island. If time permits, combine a stay in Waikiki with one of these more remote areas.
Hawaii itself is a destination blessed with some of the world’s best surf breaks, snorkel and dive sites, golf courses, natural wonders, scenic hikes, historical attractions, hotels and resorts, festivals and events, and the list goes on.
Best time to go: Oahu has the least number of visitors in February, April and November. These are the best months to escape the crowds and nab a cheaper hotel rate. For the best chance of seeing humpbacks whales, visit Oahu from December to April, and to catch the North Shore’s big wave surf travel between December and February.