Oahu is the third largest island on Hawaii and home to Honolulu, the state capital. It is also the most populous island in Hawaii and has the nickname “The Gathering Place” because of the concentration of the state’s population on the island. From historic towns, iconic beaches and an exciting nightlife, the island has a lot to offer. Oahu enjoys the best and worst of having a big city at its center. It has a great infrastructure and transport system with lots of shopping and eating, but yet it also has its share of traffic woes and expensive accommodation.

Exploring Oahu

Iolani Palace, Honolulu, Hawaii

Oahu, being the heart of Hawaii, has a lot of things to see and do when you visit. Here are some of its attractions that you absolutely cannot miss.

The Honolulu Museum of Art has an old local style building with an enviable collection of Asian art along with local artists’ collections. The Bishop Museum has the world’s largest collection cultural and natural artifacts from all over the Pacific.

At the Polynesian Cultural Center, you can experience the culture and art of the various islands of Polynesia along with local Hawaiian culture.

Lolani Palace is the sole royal palace in all of United States and is the place where the Hawaiian Parliament now sits. A cemetery buit in the volcanic caldera of a dormant volcano, The Punchbowl is a beautiful yet solemn place. Over the years, it serves as a cemetery for martyrs of the United States armed forces.

Beside these attractions, you can also lounge about on the many beaches on the island, surf, snorkel and even dive in the Pacific waters.

Oahu’s Cuisine

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Hawaiian cuisine is a mix of local, Chinese and Japanese style of cuisines and cooking methods. Most of the snacks and food items are very unique to Hawaii, so make sure you try as many as you can on your visit.

You can buy shrimp from the many highway trucks for an inexpensive yet tasty meal. A plate lunch is the most common local meal which includes either fish or meat, two scoops of rice and a pasta salad. A Luau is a traditional Hawaiian feast, which is an elaborate buffet with entertainment like hula dancers and local music.

A few local specialties that you should not miss trying are, Lomi salmon, an island salsa, Haupia, a coconut milk based dessert, Ahi, season and cut raw fish, shaved ice in your choice of flavor is great to beat the heat and Saimin, the local noodle soup. Snacks include dried salted plums, dried seafood, dried and picked fruits and macadamia nuts. Beer is the most common drink, with locally brewed varieties available.

Activities in Oahu

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The island is full of shopping malls, so you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to shopping. You can buy international brands as well as local garments like aloha shirts and skirts, as well as a number of locally made accessories and trinkets. There are waterfront marketplaces and flea markets if you wish to go shopping without going away from the beaches. There are also some themed contemporary retail malls and galleries that you should check out while in Oahu.

Gambling is illegal and the laws against it are pretty strict, so refrain from engaging in any such activities to avoid problems.

If you do not feel like doing much while in Oahu, you can simply head to the beach, lounge around next to the sparkling ocean, enjoy local food or a nice drink, and watch the sun set on the island. All the shopping and tourist areas are well connected by public transport.