Oahu - Hawaii's Gathering Place

Waikiki Sunrise in Oahu

Duane Walker/Getty Images

Oʻahu is the third largest of the Hawaiian Islands with a land area of 607 square miles. It is 44 miles long and 30 miles wide. Oʻahu's nickname is the "Gathering Place." Its where the most people live and it has the most visitors of any island.


As of the 2018 ( U.S. Census estimate): 980,000. Ethnic mix: 42% Asian, 23% Caucasian, 9.5% Hispanic, 9% Hawaiian, 3% Black or African American. 22% identify themselves as of two or more races.

Biggest Towns

Note: The island of Oahu comprises the County of Honolulu. The entire island is governed by the mayor of Honolulu. Technically speaking the entire island is Honolulu.


Honolulu International Airport is the principal airport in the Hawaiian Islands and the 23rd busiest in the U.S.A. All major airlines offer direct service from the U.S. and Canada to Oʻahu.

Dillingham Airfield is a general aviation joint-use facility on the north shore of Oahu near the community of Waialua.

Kalaeloa Airport, formerly Naval Air Station, Barbers Point, is a general aviation facility that uses 750 acres of the former Naval facility.

Major Industries

  • Tourism
  • Military/Government
  • Construction/Manufacturing
  • Agriculture
  • Retail Sales


At sea level, the average afternoon winter temperature is around 75°F during the coldest months of December and January. August and September are the hottest summer months with temperatures in the low 90s. The average temperature is 75°F - 85°F. Due to the prevailing trade winds, most rainfall hits the north or northeast facing shores, leaving the south and southwest areas, including Honolulu and Waikiki, relatively dry.


  • Miles of shoreline - 112 linear miles
  • Beaches - 69 accessible beaches. 19 are lifeguarded. Sands are white and sandy in color. The largest beach is Waimanalo at 4 miles in length. The most famous is Waikiki Beach.
  • Parks - There are 23 state parks, 286 county parks and community centers, and one national memorial, the USS Arizona Memorial.
  • Highest peak - Flat-topped Mount Kaʻala (elev. 4,025 feet) is Oʻahu's highest peak and can be seen from just about anywhere west of the Koolau summit.
Bishop Museum exterior
TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre

Popular Attractions

The attractions and places consistently drawing the most visitors each year are the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial (1.5 million visitors); the Polynesian Cultural Center, (1 million visitors); Honolulu Zoo (750,000 visitors); Sea Life Park (600,000 visitors); and the Bernice P. Bishop Museum, (500,000 visitors).

Cultural Highlights

The island's many annual festivals fully illustrate Hawaii's famed ethnic diversity. Celebrations include:

  • Chinese New Year (late January/early February)
  • Honolulu Festival (March)
  • Lei Day (May)
  • King Kamehameha Day Floral Parade (June)
  • Aloha Festivals (September)
  • Hawaii International Film Festival (November)


There are 9 military, 5 municipal, and 20 private golf courses on Oʻahu. They include five courses that have hosted PGA, LPGA and Champions Tour events (four of which are open for public play) and another, Koʻolau Golf Course, that has been rated the toughest challenge in America.

Waikele Golf Club, Coral Creek Golf Course, and Makaha Resort & Golf Club are highly rated. Turtle Bay is the island's only 36-hole facility. Its Palmer Course hosts an LPGA tour event each February.


  • Hanauma Bay was selected as America's Best Beach for 2004 by Stephen Leatherman, Ph.D., aka Dr. Beach.
  • Waikiki's Halekulani Hotel is consistently rated as one of the top hotels in the world. Its La Mer restaurant is consistently selected as the island's top restaurant.
  • Waikiki Beach is considered the world's most famous and most photographed beach.
  • Oahu is the home to ABC's Lost which ran for six years and remains one of the most talked about series in television history.
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