Last updated

Nickname: Gathering Place
Oblique satellite photo of Oahu
Map of Hawaii highlighting Oahu.svg
Location 21°30′N158°00′W / 21.5°N 158.0°W / 21.5; -158.0
Area596.7 sq mi (1,545 km2)
Area rank 3rd largest Hawaiian Island
Highest elevation4,025 ft (1226.8 m)
Highest point Kaʻala
United States
Flower ʻilima
Color Melemele (yellow)
Largest settlement Honolulu
Population1,016,508 (2020)
Pop. density1,704/sq mi (657.9/km2)
Aerial view of Oahu with freeways and highways; 3D computer-generated image Hawaii-Oahu-TF.jpg
Aerial view of Oahu with freeways and highways; 3D computer-generated image
Fly-around tour of the island

Oahu ( /ˈɑːh/ ) (Hawaiian: Oʻahu (pronounced [oˈʔɐhu] )) is the most populated and third-largest of the Hawaiian Islands. [1] The island of Oahu and the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands constitute the City and County of Honolulu. The state capital, Honolulu, is on Oahu's southeast coast. Oahu has a population of 995,638, [2] up from 953,207 in 2010 (approximately 70% of the total 1,455,271 population of the U.S. state of Hawaii, [3] with approximately 81% of those living in or near the Honolulu urban area).



The Island of Oahu in Hawaii is often nicknamed, (or translated as) "The Gathering Place". The translation of "gathering place" was suggested as recently as 1922 by Hawaiian Almanac author Thomas Thrum. It has been speculated[ by whom? ] that Thrum ignored or misplaced the ʻokina because the Hawaiian phrase "ʻo ahu" could be translated as "gathering of objects" (ʻo is a subject marker and ahu means "to gather"). The term Oʻahu has no confirmed meaning in Hawaiian, other than that of the place itself. [4] [5]


Pearl Harbor is the home of the largest U.S. Navy fleet in the Pacific. The harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941, by the Japanese Empire, bringing the United States into World War II. Aerial view of Pearl Harbor on 1 June 1986 (6422248).jpg
Pearl Harbor is the home of the largest U.S. Navy fleet in the Pacific. The harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941, by the Japanese Empire, bringing the United States into World War II.
USS Arizona Memorial (right); USS Missouri (left) in Pearl Harbor Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.JPG
USS Arizona Memorial (right); USS Missouri (left) in Pearl Harbor

The island has been inhabited since at least the 3rd century A.D. [6] The 304-year-old Kingdom of Oahu was once ruled by the most ancient aliʻi in all of the Hawaiian Islands. The first great king of Oahu was Maʻilikūkahi, the lawmaker, who was followed by many generations of monarchs. Kualiʻi was the first of the warlike kings and was succeeded by his sons. In 1773, the throne fell upon Kahahana, the son of Elani of Ewa. In 1783, Kahekili II, King of Maui, conquered Oahu, deposed the reigning family, and made his son, Kalanikūpule, king of Oahu, turning Oahu into a puppet state. Kamehameha the Great conquered Kalanikūpule's forces in the Battle of Nuʻuanu. Kamehameha founded the Kingdom of Hawaii with the conquest of Oahu in 1795. Hawaii was not unified until the islands of Kauai and Niihau surrendered under King Kaumualiʻi in 1810. Kamehameha III moved his capital from Lahaina, Maui to Honolulu, Oahu in 1845. ʻIolani Palace, built later by other members of the royal family, still stands, and is the only royal palace on American soil.

Oahu was apparently the first of the Hawaiian Islands sighted by the crew of HMS Resolution on January 19, 1778, during Captain James Cook's third Pacific expedition. Escorted by HMS Discovery, the expedition was surprised to find high islands this far north in the central Pacific. Oahu was not actually visited by Europeans until February 28, 1779, when Captain Charles Clerke aboard HMS Resolution stepped ashore at Waimea Bay. Clerke took command of the ship after James Cook was killed at Kealakekua Bay (island of Hawaiʻi) on February 14, and was leaving the islands for the North Pacific. With the discovery of the Hawaiian Islands came the introduction of disease, mosquitoes, and aggressive foreign animals. Although indirect, simple exposure to these foreign species caused permanent damage to the Native Hawaiian people and environment.

The Imperial Japanese Navy's attack on Pearl Harbor, Oahu on the morning of December 7, 1941, brought the United States into World War II. The surprise attack was aimed at destroying the American will to fight and making them sue for peace immediately by attacking the Pacific Fleet of the United States Navy and its defending Army Air Forces and Marine Air Forces. The attack damaged or destroyed 12 American warships, destroyed 188 aircraft, and resulted in the deaths of 2,335 American servicemen and 68 civilians (of those, 1,177 were the result of the destruction of the USS Arizona alone). [7] [8]

Today, Oahu has become a tourism and shopping haven. Over five million visitors (mainly from the contiguous United States and Japan) flock there every year. [9]


Enlargeable, detailed map of Oahu Oahu2021OSM.png
Enlargeable, detailed map of Oahu
Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: [10]
Imperial conversion
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches

Oahu is also known for having the longest rain shower in history, which lasted 200 consecutive days. Kāneʻohe Ranch reported 247 straight days of rain from August 27, 1993, to April 30, 1994. The average temperature in Oahu is around 70–85 °F (21–29 °C). The island is the warmest from June through October. The winter is cooler, but still warm, with an average temperature of 68–78 °F (20–26 °C).


Oahu is 44 miles (71 km) long and 30 miles (48 km) across. Its shoreline is 227 miles (365 km) long. Including small associated islands such as Ford Island plus those in Kāneʻohe Bay and off the eastern (windward) coast, its area is 596.7 square miles (1,545.4 km2), making it the 20th-largest island in the United States. [11]

The city of Honolulu—the state's capital and largest city is located on the island. As a jurisdictional unit, all of Oahu is in Honolulu County, although Honolulu occupies only part of its southeastern end.

Well-known features of Oahu include Waikiki, Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head, Hanauma, Kāneʻohe Bay, Kailua Bay, North Shore, and the resort destination Ko Olina.

The island is composed of two separate shield volcanoes: the Waiʻanae and Koʻolau Ranges, with a broad valley or saddle (the central Oahu Plain) between them. The highest point is Kaʻala in the Waiʻanae Range, rising to 4,003 feet (1,220 m) above sea level. [12]


Lanikai Beach Lanikai beach culture.JPG
Lanikai Beach
Downtown Honolulu Honolulu01.JPG
Downtown Honolulu
Waikiki Beach is one of the most well-known beaches in the world Waikiki Beach, Honolulu.JPG
Waikiki Beach is one of the most well-known beaches in the world
Valley of the Temples Memorial Park near the island's eastern shore Byodo-In Tempel.jpg
Valley of the Temples Memorial Park near the island's eastern shore
Jellyfish swim in a tank at Waikiki Aquarium Jellyfish at Waikiki Aquarium.jpg
Jellyfish swim in a tank at Waikiki Aquarium
Mokoli`i island, also known as Chinaman's Hat, offshore of Kualoa Valley Chinaman's Hat - Oahu Hawaii.JPG
Mokoliʻi island, also known as Chinaman's Hat, offshore of Kualoa Valley
Nu`uanu Pali of the Ko`olau mountain Oahu Landscape.jpg
Nuʻuanu Pali of the Koʻolau mountain

Oahu, along with the rest of the State of Hawaii, relies on tourism as a driving force of the local economy. [13] Popular tourists attractions include various beaches around the island such as Ala Moana Beach, Hanauma Bay, Kāneʻohe Bay, Ko Olina Beach Park, Waikiki Beach, among others. Other tourist attractions include Ala Moana Center, Bishop Museum, the Honolulu Museum of Art, ʻIolani Palace, and Kualoa Ranch.

Helicopter view of Oahu Part of Oahu as seen from a helicopter.jpg
Helicopter view of Oahu
Ko'Olina white sand lagoon Ko Olina.jpg
Ko'Olina white sand lagoon

Notable people

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Honolulu</span> Capital city of the U.S. state of Hawaii

Honolulu is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Hawaii, which is in the Pacific Ocean. An unincorporated city, it is the county seat of the consolidated City and County of Honolulu, situated along the southeast coast of the island of Oʻahu, and is the westernmost and southernmost major U.S. city. Honolulu is Hawaii's main gateway to the world. It is also a major hub for business, finance, hospitality, and military defense in both the state and Oceania. The city is characterized by a mix of various Asian, Western, and Pacific cultures, reflected in its diverse demography, cuisine, and traditions.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kamehameha I</span> King of Hawaii from 1795 to 1819

Kamehameha I, also known as Kamehameha the Great, was the conqueror and first ruler of the Kingdom of Hawaii. The state of Hawaii gave a statue of him to the National Statuary Hall Collection in Washington, D.C., as one of two statues it is entitled to install there.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kamehameha II</span> King of Hawaii from 1819 to 1824

Kamehameha II was the second king of the Kingdom of Hawaii from 1819 to 1824. His birth name was Liholiho and full name was Kalaninui kua Liholiho i ke kapu ʻIolani. It was lengthened to Kalani Kaleiʻaimoku o Kaiwikapu o Laʻamea i Kauikawekiu Ahilapalapa Kealiʻi Kauinamoku o Kahekili Kalaninui i Mamao ʻIolani i Ka Liholiho when he took the throne.

The following is an alphabetical list of articles related to the U.S. state of Hawaii:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">King Kamehameha I Day</span> Public holiday in Hawaii on June 11

King Kamehameha I Day on June 11 is a public holiday in the U.S. state of Hawaii. It honors Kamehameha the Great, the monarch who first established the unified Kingdom of Hawaiʻi—comprising the Hawaiian Islands of Niʻihau, Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, Kahoʻolawe, Maui, and Hawaiʻi. In 1883 a statue of King Kamehameha was dedicated in Honolulu by King David Kalākaua. There are duplicates of this statue in Emancipation Hall at the Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C., and in Hilo, island of Hawaiʻi.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hanauma Bay</span> Marine embayment in Hawaii Kai, Oʻahu, Hawaii, US

Hanauma is a marine embayment formed within a tuff ring and located along the southeast coast of the Island of Oʻahu in the Hawaii Kai neighborhood of East Honolulu, in the Hawaiian Islands.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nuʻuanu Pali</span> Section of the windward cliff of the Koʻolau mountain on Oʻahu, Hawaii

Nuʻuanu Pali is a section of the windward cliff of the Koʻolau mountain located at the head of Nuʻuanu Valley on the island of Oʻahu. It has a panoramic view of the windward (northeast) coast of Oʻahu. The Pali Highway connecting Kailua/Kāneʻohe with downtown Honolulu runs through the Nuʻuanu Pali Tunnels bored into the cliffside.

Kamehameha Highway is one of the main highways serving suburban and rural O‘ahu in the U.S. state of Hawai‘i. Informally known as Kam Highway, it begins at Nimitz Highway near Pearl Harbor and Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu, serves the island's older western suburbs, and turns north across the O‘ahu Central Valley to the North Shore. At the North Shore, Kamehameha Highway heads northeast around the northern tip of O‘ahu, then southeast to and just beyond Kāne‘ohe Bay on the windward coast. The road was named after King Kamehameha I.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Young (advisor)</span> British subject and advisor

John Young was a British subject who became an important military advisor to Kamehameha I during the formation of the Kingdom of Hawaii. He was left behind by Simon Metcalfe, captain of the American ship Eleanora, and along with a Welshman Isaac Davis, and became a friend and advisor to Kamehameha. Young brought knowledge of naval and land battle strategies to Kamehameha, and became a strong voice on affairs of state for the Hawaiian Kingdom. He played a big role during Hawaii's first contacts with the European powers. He spent the rest of his life in Hawaiʻi. Between 1802 and 1812, John Young ruled as Royal Governor of Hawaii Island while King Kamehameha was away on other islands. He organized the construction of the fort at Honolulu Harbor. The Hawaiians gave him the name ʻOlohana based on Young's typical command "All hands ".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kaniakapupu</span> Historic ruin in Hawaii, United States

Kaniakapūpū, known formerly as Luakaha, is the ruins of the former summer palace of King Kamehameha III and Queen Kalama on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. Built in the 1840s, and situated in the cool uplands of the Nuʻuanu Valley, it served as the king and queen's summer retreat after the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii moved from Lahaina to Honolulu in 1845. It was famous for being the site of a grand luau attended by an estimated ten thousand guests during the 1847 Hawaiian Sovereignty Restoration Day celebration. The palace had fallen into ruins by 1874; no records exist about its condition in the intervening years. Rediscovered in the 1950s, the site was cleared and efforts were made to stabilize the ruins from further damage by the elements and invasive plant growth. The site remains officially off-limits to the public and trespassers are subjected to citations, although the site is not regularly monitored.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Battle of Nuʻuanu</span>

The Battle of Nuʻuanu, fought in May 1795 on the southern part of the island of Oʻahu, was a key battle in the final days of King Kamehameha I's wars to conquer the Hawaiian Islands. It is known in the Hawaiian language as Kalelekaʻanae, which means "the leaping mullet", and refers to a number of Oʻahu warriors driven off the cliff in the final phase of the battle. There are "varied and sometimes conflicting histories of the Battle of Nuʻuanu."

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Boki (Hawaiian chief)</span> Hawaiian high chief and merchant (c. 1785–c. 1829)

Boki was a High Chief in the ancient Hawaiian tradition and served the Kingdom of Hawaii as royal governor of the island of Oahu. Boki ran a mercantile and shipping business and encouraged the Hawaiians to gather sandalwood for trade.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Honolulu County, Hawaii</span> County in Hawaii, United States

Honolulu County, officially known as the City and County of Honolulu, is a consolidated city-county in the U.S. state of Hawaii. The city-county includes both Urban Honolulu and the rest of the neighborhoods on the island of Oʻahu, as well as several minor outlying islands, including all of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands except Midway Atoll.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">David Kamehameha</span> Prince of Hawaii (1828–1835)

David Kamehameha (1828–1835) was a member of the royal family of the Kingdom of Hawaii.

Butterworth Squadron British commercial ships (1780s–1790s)

The Butterworth Squadron was a British commercial group of three vessels, Butterworth, Jackal, and Prince Lee Boo, that sailed for the Pacific Ocean from London via Cape Horn in late 1791. The principals financing the expedition were Alderman William Curtis, London ship-owner Theophilus Pritzler, and probably John Perry, a Blackwall shipbuilder. The leader of the expedition was Captain William Brown, an established whaling captain from the Greenland whale fishery. Sigismund Bacstrom, a naturalist who had previously sailed as a secretary to Sir Joseph Banks, was the surgeon for the expedition. Bacstrom produced a number of drawings during the first part of the voyage, some of which are still in existence.

Keaunui was a High Chief of ʻEwa, Waiʻanae and Waialua in ancient Hawaii. He was a member of the Nanaulu line and is also known as Keaunui-a-Maweke.



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  2. "US Census Bureau". Archived from the original on October 24, 2021. Retrieved December 9, 2021.
  3. "US Census Bureau". census.gov.
  4. Pukui, et al., 1976
  5. Pukui, Mary Kawena (December 1976). Place Names of Hawaii. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN   0-8248-0524-0.
  6. Van, James (2010). Ancient Sites of Oahu: A Guide to Archaeological Places of Interest. Bishop Museum Pr. Page 5. ISBN   978-1581780956.
  7. https://www.census.gov/history/pdf/pearl-harbor-fact-sheet-1.pdf
  8. "The Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941 - Overview". public1.nhhcaws.local. Retrieved November 30, 2023.
  9. https://files.hawaii.gov/dbedt/visitor/dims/2023%20YTD%20Visitors%20by%20Country%20by%20Month%20by%20MMA.pdf
  10. "NASA Earth Observations Data Set Index". NASA. Archived from the original on August 6, 2013. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
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  12. "Table 5.11 – Elevations of Major Summits" (PDF). State of Hawaii. 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 9, 2013. Retrieved July 23, 2007.
  13. Hawaii Tourism Authority (2019, December). "Fact Sheet: Benefits of Hawai‘i's Tourism Economy". Honolulu.