Oahu

Guide


Oahu arguably the most exotic US city is known as “The Gathering Place” in the Hawaiian Islands. The third largest Hawaiian island is home to the majority of Hawaii’s diverse population, a fusion of east and west cultures whose origins can be found in the traditions of the Native people. It’s this contrast between the ancient and the modern that makes discovering Oahu so enjoyable.

The clear blue waters of Kailua Beach meet the cityscape of Honolulu. The historic architecture of Iolani Palace meets the Pearl harbor memorials. The big city of Waikiki meets the small town of Haleiwa on the North Shore. Whether you’re unwinding on the sands of the island’s beautiful beaches, hiking on iconic Diamond Head or enjoying some of Hawaii’s best shopping Oahu offers a mixture of modern living in jam-packed Honolulu and the allure of slow-paced island life on its northern and eastern shores.

  • Honolulu the Capital City holds the nation’s only Royal Palace and financial district along with art galleries, hipster bars and the open markets of Nuuanu and Chinatown.
  • Waikiki famous for its world-class shopping, restaurants and beach.
  • Pearl Harbor Hawaii’s largest natural harbour and he resting place of USS Arizona sunk on 7th December 1941.
  • Southeast Oahu communities line the steep sides of the valley that leads to Maunalua Bay – a snorkelers favourite with a string of hidden beaches.
  • Windward Oahu contains the majestic Koolau Mountains offers a respite from the city with long stretches of sandy beaches and charming eateries.
  • Best known for world class surfing the North Shore also offers the plantation town of Haleiwa, farms, restaurants and hiking trails.
  • Central Oahu is located between Waianae and Koolau Mountains is a mix of farms, communities and malls.
  • West (Leeward) Oahu a rugged part of the island is based around Kapolei a “second city” with suburban homes, golf courses and tech firms.

Key facts


Capital:Honolulu
Land Area:960 sq. km | 597 sq. km
Population:953,200
Languages:English, Hawaiian
Currency:US Dollars
Exchange Rates:UK£1 = US$1.6
Money:ATM’s available and credit cards widely accepted
Visas:None for stays up to 3 month subject to eligibility

Getting there and around


Long Haul Flights

From the U.K there are numerous daily services offering “one stop” connections to Oahu – Honolulu Airport.  Typical journey times last at least 18 hours and therefore it is important to take into account such things as refuelling stops and seat comfort when choosing a carrier and fare. Honolulu is very well served from mainland North America (see USA/Canadian below). We have a selection of suggested City and Fly Drive stopover packages that can be tailor-made to your exact requirements. If planning multiple stopovers on-route (see international destinations) you may wish to consider a Round the World ticket.

AirlineFromviaFrequencyFlight Time
United #LondonLos Angeles or San   Francisco ~10+ Daily18h 50m
United, Delta, AmericanLos AngelesNon-Stop10+ Daily5h 35m
United, HawaiianSan FranciscoNon-Stop10+ Daily5h 15m
HawaiianLas VegasNon-Stop3 Daily5h 50m
Air Canada, WestjetVancouverNon-Stop2 Daily5h 40m
HawaiianPago Pago (American Samoa)Non-Stop2 Week5h 45m
Air New Zealand, HawaiianAucklandNon-Stop2-3 Week9h 25m
United, Japan Airlines, Korean, DeltaTokyoNon-Stop4 Daily7h 30m
Korean, Hawaiian, AsianaSeoulNon-Stop2-3 Daily11h 20m
Fiji AirwaysFijiNon-Stop3 Week6h 45m
JetstarMelbourneNon-Stop2-3 Week11h 40m
Jetstar, Hawaiian, QantasSydneyNon-Stop3 Daily10h 40m
HawaiianBrisbaneNon-Stop4 Week10h
HawaiianPapeete (Tahiti)Non-Stop1 Week5h 55m

# Other carrier combinations are also available.
~ It is also possible to connect through other North American cities.

Itinerary suggestions:

It is possible to fly out of one US City and into another e.g.
London – Los Angeles – Honolulu – San Francisco – London

If visiting two or more of the Islands, fly non-stop into Honolulu, take an inter-island flight from Honolulu to Maui and then a non-stop flight back to Los Angeles e.g.
London – San Francisco – Honolulu (Oahu) – Kahului (Maui) – Los Angeles – London

Combine any of the US/Canadian Destinations below to create an itinerary e.g.
London – Las Vegas – Honolulu (Oahu) – Lihue (Kauai) – Los Angeles – London

Round the World itinerary e.g.
London – Vancouver – Honolulu – Auckland – Sydney – Singapore – London

Honolulu International Airport on Oahu is Hawaii’s major airport, serving as the entry point for most of Hawaii’s visitors. All major domestic carriers and many international carriers serve Oahu, so you can get here from just about anywhere:

US/Canadian Destinations: Vancouver, Calgary, San Diego, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Dallas Fort Worth, Atlanta, San Francisco, Phoenix, New York, Seattle, Guam, Houston, Washington and American Samoa.
International Destinations: Auckland, Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai, Fiji, Melbourne, Sydney, Manila, Papeete, Brisbane

Inter-Island Flights

Oahu Airport Destinations: Lihue Airport (Kauai), Kahului Airport (Maui), Kapalua Airport (Maui), Molokai Airport, Lanai Airport, Hilo Airport (Big Island), Kona Airport (Big Island)

AirlineFromviaFrequencyFlight Time
Hawaiian, Island AirKahului (Maui)Non-Stop10+ Daily40m
Mokulele Flight ServicesKapalua (Maui)Non-Stop8 Daily45m
Hawaiian, Island AirLihue (Kauai)Non-Stop10+ Daily40m
HawaiianKona (Hawaii the “Big   Island”)Non-Stop10+ Daily45m
HawaiianHilo (Hawaii  the “Big Island”)Non-Stop10+ Daily50m
Island AirLanaiNon-Stop8 Daily35m
Mokulele Flight Services, Island AirMolokaiNon-Stop10+ Daily35m

Note: There are non-stop flights from the US mainland to Maui, Kauai, and Hawaii’s Big Island. For the neighbouring islands of Lanai and Molokai you will need to connect through Oahu (Honolulu) or Maui (Kahului).

Driving

To really experience all that Hawaii offers, we suggest renting a car. Reserve your rental vehicle in advance because quantities can be limited on some islands. Many visitors also enjoy taking bus tours to conveniently explore the Islands. Shuttles, taxis and public transport are available on most islands but may be limited in more remote regions.

Driving Times From Waikiki To:

  • Downtown Honolulu : 20 minutes
  • Haleiwa Town: 1 hour
  • Hanauma Bay: 35 minutes
  • Honolulu International Airport (HNL): 35 minutes
  • Ko Olina Resort : 50 minutes
  • Kualoa Ranch: 55 minutes
  • Nuuanu Pali Lookout: 35 minutes
  • Pearl Harbor: 35 minutes
  • Polynesian Cultural Center: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Turtle Bay Resort: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Waimea Bay: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Public Transport

Oahu’s city transport system is aptly named “The Bus”. Fares are reasonable, routes are extensive and there are special visitor passes for multiple day uses. Another affordable option is the trolley (tram). The routes and destinations are not as extensive as The Bus but the trolley goes to most major tourist attractions and offers tickets for unlimited rides over a certain number of days. For more information on passes/fares, bus routes to popular attractions please contact us.

Taxis are a great way to travel when in a group and the cost can be shared. You can find taxi stands at most major shopping malls, in the business district and at the airport. Note that rather than hailing a cab, finding taxi stands at major shopping malls and businesses as well as calling for pick-ups via hotel concierge or phone is the norm in Hawaii.

When to go


Oahu is generally drier on the Leeward Coast (west) and wetter and greener on the Windward Coast (east). The resort area of Waikiki and the surfing mecca of the North Shore offer pleasant weather year round. Big wave surf season on the North Shore begins in November and ends in February. World-class surfing competitions also take place here between November and December. During the summer, the big waves of the North Shore subside leaving ideal beach going conditions.

There are generally two seasons on Oahu. Winter (November through April), when temperatures typically range in the low-20s to high-20s, and summer when the high can run into the low-30s. Average air temperature ranges from 23 degrees C to 31 degrees C with moderate humidity of 53% during the day. Gentle trade winds keep even the warmest months comfortable, so any time of year is a good time to visit Oahu.

Honolulu (Oahu)
Mean Daily Temperatures – Centigrade/Fahrenheit

 

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High | LowHigh | LowHigh | LowHigh | LowHigh | LowHigh | LowHigh | LowHigh | LowHigh | LowHigh | LowHigh | LowHigh | Low
Temp (C)27 | 1827 | 1827 | 1927 | 1928 | 2129 | 2230 | 2230 | 2230 | 2230 | 2128 | 2027 | 19
Temp (F)81 | 6481 | 6481 | 6681 | 6682 | 7084 | 7286 | 7286 | 7286 | 7286 | 7082 | 6881 | 66
Rain Days10910108787891111
When to goA good time but may be some considerationsA good time but may be some considerationsA good time but may be some considerationsA good time but may be some considerationsA good time but may be some considerationsA good time but may be some considerationsA good time but may be some considerationsA good time but may be some considerationsBest time to travelBest time to travelA good time but may be some considerationsA good time but may be some considerations

Travel possible but not recommended
A good time but maybe some considerations.
Best time to travel.

Things to see and do


Home to the state capital and the majority of Hawaii’s population, Oahu is a vibrant mix of natural and cultural wonders with the modern arts, entertainment and amenities of the 21st century. See pro surfers charge the big winter waves of the legendary North Shore, relive American history at the memorials and museums of Pearl Harbor, or soak up the sun and take a surfing lesson on Waikiki Beach

Pearl Harbor

  • Five Pearl Harbor Historic Sites honour this National Historic Landmark where World War II both began and ended;
  • USS Arizona Memorial, Battleship Missouri Memorial, USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park, Pacific Aviation Museum and USS Oklahoma Memorial

Honolulu, Oahu – Waikiki, Diamond Head, Museums & Palaces

  • Aloha Tower is a historic Honolulu landmark and home to an outdoor shopping and dining marketplace.
  • Kapahulu is a small neighbourhood right next to Waikiki where you can find unique shops and some of Honolulu’s best local food.
  • Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve –  This Marine Life Conservation District is one of Oahu’s most popular snorkelling destinations.
  • Leahi (Diamond Head) – Hike to the top of the iconic Diamond Head State Monument for panoramic views of Waikiki and Honolulu.
  • The most famous Kamehameha Statue stands in front of Aliiolani Hale in Downtown Honolulu.
  • Once a playground for Hawaiian royalty, Waikiki is now a vibrant gathering place for visitors from around the world.
  • Downtown Honolulu and Chinatown are Oahu’s historic centres for government, business and the arts.
  • Duke Kahanamoku Statue – This iconic statue of “The father of modern surfing” welcomes visitors to Waikiki with open arms.
  • National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific –  One of the nation’s prominent national cemeteries, the National Memorial of the Pacific honours the sacrifices of America’s Armed Forces.
  • The Honolulu Academy of Arts is Hawaii’s largest fine-arts museum. Shangri La is one of Hawaii’s most architecturally significant homes.
  • Bishop Museum houses the largest collection of Hawaiian artifacts in the state and is a popular destination for the whole family.
  • Iolani Palace, Oahu The only official state residence of royalty in the US, Iolani Palace’s grounds and galleries are now open to the public as a museum.
  • Visit Washington Place in Downtown Honolulu, the residence of Queen Liliuokalani, Hawaii’s last reigning monarch. It is located in Hawaii’s Capital Historic District and is open for private tours.
  • Queen Emma Summer Palace – The summer retreat of Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV.

Windward Coast

  • Kailua Beach Park overlooks Kaneohe Bay and the Mokulua Islands and is a great spot for kayaking, windsurfing and other water sports.
  • Valley of the Temples Memorial Park houses Byodo-in, a replica of a Japanese Buddhist Temple.
  • Makapuu Point Lighthouse –  Hike to this scenic point on Oahu’s easternmost tip for incredible views and whale watching during the winter.
  • Nuuanu Pali Lookout is one of Oahu’s most popular scenic spots with panoramic views of Windward Oahu and the Koolau mountain range.

Leeward Coast

  • Kaena Point is a sacred site at the westernmost tip of Oahu accessible only by hiking.

North Shore

  • Waimea Bay is a legendary surf spot influential in the birth of big wave surfing.