Oahu, or “the gathering place,” is home to Hawaii’s capital city of Honolulu and the iconic Waikiki Beach. Conquered by King Kamehameha I in 1795 during the Battle of Nuuanu, this volcanic island is the third largest of the Hawaiian island chain. Oahu’s shores saw battle casualties once more in 1941 during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In 1959, Hawaii became the 50th state in the union. The rise of the sugar and pineapple industries led to a wave of immigrant plantation workers from countries such as Japan, Korea, China, Portugal and Puerto Rico. This mix of ethnicities still influences Oahu’s culture today.

What to Do

Oahu is home to Waikiki Beach, a beautiful stretch of beach that is home to surf competitions, outrigger canoe races and some of the best luaus on the shore. Shop at the boutiques and booths on Waikiki’s Kalakaua Avenue before heading to Pier 38 for the Honolulu Fish Auction. Local fishermen sell their tuna and hapupu to the highest bidders using a dialect exclusive to the auctioneer and buyers. Enjoy cocktails on the beach while watching the sun set, or head to Puu Ualakaa. This state park offers beautiful photo ops of the island and its pristine waters, and in the evening it’s one of the best spots to enjoy the quintessential romantic sunset before clear starry skies fill the night. For nightlife, head to Waikiki or Honolulu for the island’s best nightlife.

Where to Stay

Waikiki Beach has a line of towering hotels with oceanfront views and easy access to the shore. Hotels and hostels away from the beach are more affordable options for a stay on Oahu. For longer stays, vacation and condo rentals are a good option.

Getting There

Located in the Hawaiian island chain, Oahu is a nearly 600-square mile island located between the islands of Kauai and Molokai. Visitors can reach the island via Honolulu International Airport.