Oahu facts for kids
|Nickname: The Gathering Place|
Satellite photo of Oahu
|Area||596.7 sq mi (1,545 km2)|
|Area rank||3rd largest Hawaiian Island|
|Highest elevation||4,025 ft (1,226.8 m)|
|Pop. density||1,636 /sq mi (631.7 /km2)|
Oahu (Hawaiian: Oʻahu), also known as "The Gathering Place", is the third-largest of the Hawaiian Islands. It is home to roughly one million people—about two-thirds of the population of the U.S. state of Hawaii. The island is within Honolulu County and the state capital, Honolulu, is on Oahu's southeast coast.
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.
Oahu is 44 miles (71 km) long and 30 miles (48 km) across. Its shoreline is 227 miles (365 km) long. 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.
The island, which is also Honolulu County, has a July 1, 2019 population estimate of 974,563 (up from 953,207 people in 2010 (approximately 69% of the total 1,415,872 population of the state, with approximately 81% of those living in or near the Honolulu urban area)). Oahu has for a long time been known as the "Gathering Place". The term Oʻahu has no confirmed meaning in Hawaiian, other than that of the place itself. Ancient Hawaiian tradition attributes the name's origin in the legend of Hawaiʻiloa, the Polynesian navigator credited with discovery of the Hawaiian Islands. The story relates that he named the island after his daughter.
Residents of Oahu refer to themselves as "locals" (as done throughout Hawaii), no matter their ancestry.
There are three federal freeways, all part of the Interstate System, on Oahu: H1, H2, and H3. H1 runs from Ewa (Leeward side) to Honolulu, where it turns into the Kalanianaʻole Highway. H2 and H3 branch off H1 to take drivers to the North Shore and Windward side, respectively.
The city of Honolulu—largest city, state capital, and main deepwater marine port for the State of Hawaiʻi—is located here. As a jurisdictional unit, the entire island of Oahu is in the Honolulu County, although as a place name, Honolulu occupies only a portion of the southeast end of the island.
While the entire island is officially the City and County of Honolulu, locals identify settlements using town names (generally those of the census-designated places), and consider the island to be divided into various areas, which may overlap. The most commonly accepted areas are the "City", "Town" or "Town side", which is the urbanized area from Halawa to the area below Diamond Head (residents of the island north of the Koʻolau Mountains consider the Town Side to be the entire southern half), "West Oahu", which goes from Pearl Harbor to Kapolei, ʻEwa and may include the Mākaha and Waiʻanae areas; the "North Shore" (northwestern coast); the "Windward Side" (northeastern coast from Kahuku to Kāneʻohe); the "East Side" or "East Coast" (the eastern portion of the island, from Kāneʻohe on the northeast, around the tip of the island to include much of the area east of Diamond Head); and "The Valley" or "Central Oahu" which runs northwest from Pearl Harbor toward Haleʻiwa. These terms are somewhat flexible, depending on the area in which the user lives, and are used in a mostly general way, but residents of each area identify strongly with their part of the island, especially those outside of widely-known towns. For instance, if locals are asked where they live, they would usually reply "Windward Oahu" rather than "Laie".
Being roughly diamond-shaped, surrounded by ocean and divided by mountain ranges, directions on Oahu are not generally described with the compass directions found throughout the world. Locals instead use directions originally using Honolulu as the central point. To go ʻewa means traveling toward the western tip of the island, "Diamond Head" is toward the eastern tip, mauka is inland (toward the central Koʻolau Mountain range, north of Honolulu) and makai toward the sea. When these directions became common, Diamond Head was the eastern edge of the primary populated area. Today, with a much larger populace and extensive development, the mountain itself is often not actually to the east when directions are given, and is not to be used as a literal point of reference—to go "Diamond Head" is to go to the east from anywhere on the island.
Oahu is also known for having the longest rain shower in history, which lasted for 200 consecutive days. Kāneʻohe Ranch reported 247 straight days with rain from August 27, 1993 to April 30, 1994. The island has many nicknames one of them being "rainbow state." This is because rainbows are a common sight in Hawaiʻi due to the frequent rain showers. The average temperature in Oahu is around 70–85 °F (21–29 °C) and the island is the warmest in June through October. The weather during the winter is cooler, but still warm with an average temperature of 68–78 °F (20–26 °C).
The windward side is known for some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Lanikai Beach on the windward coast of Oahu has been consistently ranked among the best beaches in the world.
The island is home to 953,207 people in 2010 (approximately 72% of the resident population of the state, with approximately 81% of those living on the "city" side of the island). Oʻahu has for a long time been known as the "Gathering Place". The term Oʻahu has no confirmed meaning in Hawaiian, other than that of the place itself. Ancient Hawaiian tradition attributes the name's origin in the legend of Hawaiʻiloa, the Polynesian navigator credited with discovery of the Hawaiian Islands. The story relates that he named the island after a son.
Residents of Oʻahu refer to themselves as "locals" (as done throughout Hawaiʻi), no matter their ancestry.
The city of Honolulu—largest city, state capital, and main deepwater marine port for the State of Hawaiʻi—is located here. As a jurisdictional unit, the entire island of Oʻahu is in the Honolulu County, although as a place name, Honolulu occupies only a portion of the southeast end of the island.
Being roughly diamond-shaped, surrounded by ocean and divided by mountain ranges, directions on Oʻahu are not generally described with the compass directions found throughout the world. Locals instead use ewa (pronounced "eh-va") to mean toward the western tip of the island, "Diamond Head" to be toward the eastern tip, mauka (pronounced "moww-ka") is toward the mountains and makai toward the sea.
Locals consider the island to be divided into various areas, which may overlap. The most commonly accepted areas are the "City", "Town" or "Town side", which is the metropolitan area from Halawa to the area below Diamond Head (residents of the island north of the Koʻolau Mountains consider the Town Side to be the entire southern half); "West Oʻahu," which goes from Pearl Harbor to Kapolei, Ewa and may include the Mākaha and Waianae areas; the "North Shore" (northwestern coast); the "Windward Side" (northeastern coast); the "East Side" (the eastern portion of the island, including both the Windward Side and the area east of Diamond Head; and "The Valley" or "Central Oʻahu" which runs northwest from Pearl Harbor toward Haleiwa. These terms are somewhat flexible, depending on the area in which the user lives, and are used in a mostly general way.
Oʻahu is also known for having the longest rain shower in history, with over 200 days spent with continuous rain. Kaneohe Ranch, Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi reported 247 straight days with rain from August 27, 1993 to April 30, 1994. The island has many nicknames one of them being "rainbow state." This is because rainbows are a common sight in Hawaiʻi due to the frequent rain showers. The average temperature in Oʻahu is around 70 to 85 degrees and the island is the warmest in June through October. The weather during the winter is cooler, but still warm with the average temperature of 68-78 degrees.
The windward side, also called the east side, is known for some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Lanikai Beach on the windward coast of Oʻahu has been consistently ranked among the best beaches in the world.
The 300-year-old Kingdom of Oʻahu was once ruled by the most ancient aliʻi in all of the Hawaiian Islands. The first great king of Oʻahu was Mailikukahi, the lawmaker, who was followed by many generation of monarchs. Kualiʻi was the first of the warlike kings and so were his sons. In 1773, the throne fell upon Kahahana, the son of Elani of Ewa. In 1783 Kahekili II, King of Maui, conquered Oʻahu and deposed the reigning family and then made his son, Kalanikūpule, king of Oʻahu. Kamehameha the Great would conquer in the mountain Kalanikupule's force in the Battle of Nuʻuanu. Kamehameha founded the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi with the conquest of Oʻahu in 1795. Hawaiʻi would not be unified until the islands of Kauaʻi and Niʻihau surrendered under King Kaumualii in 1810. Kamehameha III moved his capital from Lāhainā, Maui to Honolulu, Oʻahu in 1845. ʻIolani Palace, built later by other members of the royal family, is still standing, and is the only royal palace on American soil.
Oʻahu was apparently the first of the Hawaiian Islands sighted by the crew of HMS Resolution on January 19, 1776 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. Oʻahu was not actually visited by Europeans until February 28, 1779 when Captain Charles Clerke aboard HMS Resolution stepped ashore at Waimea Bay. Clerke had taken 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, mosquitos and aggressive foreign animals. Although indirect, the 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, Oʻahu on the morning of December 7, 1941 brought the United States into World War II. The surprise attack was aimed at the Pacific Fleet of the United States Navy and its defending Army Air Forces and Marine Air Forces. The attack damaged or destroyed twelve 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).
The 2006 Hawaii earthquake, measuring 6.7 on the moment magnitude scale, struck the island of Hawai'i and the surrounding islands at 07:07:49 Hawaii–Aleutian Time Zone on October 15, 2006, causing an island-wide power outage and over $200 million in damage.
Today, Oʻahu has become a tourism and shopping haven. Over five million visitors (mainly from the contiguous United States and Japan) flock there every year to enjoy the quintessential island holiday experience.
- Ala Moana Beach
- Hanauma Bay
- Kāneʻohe Bay
- Ko Olina Beach Park
- Lanikai Beach
- Sandy Beach
- Sunset Beach
- Waikīkī Beach
- Waimanalo Beach
- Waimea Bay
- Ala Moana
- Aloha Tower
- Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa
- Banzai Pipeline
- Bishop Museum
- Diamond Head
- Kaena Point
- Honolulu Museum of Art
- Kualoa Ranch
- Laie Hawaii Temple
- Mauna Ala
- Makapu'u Lighthouse
- National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific or "Punchbowl"
- North Shore
- Pali Lookout
- Pearl Harbor
- Polynesian Cultural Center
- Triple Crown of Surfing
- USS Arizona Memorial
- USS Missouri
- Valley of the Temples Memorial Park
- Waimea Valley
Due to its beauty, easy access from Hollywood, and incentives offered by the state and local governments, Oʻahu has been featured in many movies and television shows. A sampling of notable films and shows that have shot scenes on Oʻahu includes, but is not limited to:
- North Shore (1987)
- 50 First Dates
- Battleship (2012) is set and filmed on location on Oʻahu and the other Hawaiian islands
- Blue Crush
- Forgetting Sarah Marshall
- From Here to Eternity (1953)
- The Disney Channel movie Johnny Tsunami as well as its sequel, Johnny Kapahala, use O'ahu as the hometown of the family
- Jurassic Park movies
- Mighty Joe Young
- Pearl Harbor
- Some scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides were filmed on Oʻahu
- Soul Surfer
- The Descendants
- The Even Stevens Movie, also by Disney, was filmed in various locations on O'ahu
- The Karate Kid Part II
- Tora! Tora! Tora!
- The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Many scenes from the arena were filmed on O'ahu
- Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
- Baywatch: Hawaiian Wedding
- In the video games Test Drive Unlimited and Test Drive Unlimited 2 players can drive around O'ahu island's 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of road.
- Some aircraft can be flown over O'ahu as it appeared during the later years of World War II in the online multiplayer combat flight simulator War Thunder. Most American aircraft can be flown from the Pearl Harbor airstrip in the game's Test Flight mode.
- Microsoft Flight, released in 2012 as the successor to the Microsoft Flight Simulator series, was set on island of Hawaii. The game had a piece of downloadable content (DLC) called Hawaiian Adventure Pack. Once purchased, it brought detail to all of the Hawaiian islands to the game, including O'ahu. The DLC also brought new airports to land and take off from and new missions to complete, among other things.
- Released in 2016, November 18 Pokémon Sun and Moon features an island that strikingly resembles O'ahu.
- The novel From Here to Eternity (1951) and the film and television series based on it all end with the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.
- Michael Crichton's posthumous techno-thriller novel, Micro, is set in the island of O'ahu.
- Boyd Morrison's book The Tsunami Countdown is set on O'ahu.
- PBS Nature's Condition Black
- Dante's Cove
- The reality TV show Dog the Bounty Hunter is filmed in the regions of Honolulu, Oʻahu (as well as other regions), and the city of Kailua on the island of Hawaiʻi
- The children's series Flight 29 Down was filmed on the island
- The 1979 TV miniseries From Here to Eternity and the 1980 TV series remake, From Here to Eternity, were filmed on location
- Both the original Hawaii Five-O television series and its more recent version, Hawaii Five-0, are set and filmed on location on the island
- Hawaiian Eye, while set in Hawaiʻi, was filmed in Los Angeles
- Jake and the Fatman
- Lost was filmed almost entirely on Oʻahu, with many locations on the island (predominantly Honolulu) serving as a stand-in for other locations (including United States, Australia, United Kingdom, and South Korea). Many of the show's stars still call the island home. The island's thick rainforests and picturesque beaches are prominently featured.
- Magnum, P.I.
- MythBusters shot their 2012 Season's "Duct Tape Island" episode on this island
- North Shore
- The River was filmed on Oʻahu
- Last Resort began and finished filming in 2012 on Oʻahu
Beginning with a contract with the US Navy in 2001, Ocean Power Technologies began ocean-testing its wave power generation system at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii (MCBH) at Kāneʻohe Bay. The Oʻahu system was launched under the company's program with the US Navy for ocean testing and demonstration of such systems, including connection to the Oʻahu grid.
Oʻahu has 343 MW of rooftop solar power, and potential for 92 MW of wind power.
- Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States
- Benny Agbayani, professional baseball player
- Keiko Agena, actor
- Gabe Baltazar, clarinet and saxophone player
- Alexandria Boehm, scientist
- Darren Brooks, actor, writer, producer
- Max Holloway, MMA Fighter, Former UFC Featherweight Champion
- Angelique Cabral, actor
- Tia Carrere, actor
- Brian Ching, Major League Soccer
- Dennis Chun, actor (Hawaii Five-0), son of Kam Fong
- Bryan Clay, Olympic decathlete 2008
- Scott Crary, film director and producer
- Auliʻi Cravalho, actor, singer
- Mark Dacascos, actor
- Caitlin Doughty, mortician, author and YouTube personality
- Diana Ewing, actor
- Sid Fernandez, baseball
- Maile Flanagan, actor
- Kam Fong, actor
- Lauren Graham, actor
- Erin Gray, actor
- Brian Grazer, Oscar-winning film and television producer
- Jeremiah Green, drummer
- Dave Hlubek, lead guitarist and founder of Southern Rock band Molly Hatchet
- Coco Ho, pro surfer
- Don Ho, singer
- Kelly Ann Hu, actor
- Carrie Ann Inaba, dancer, actor, musician
- Daniel Inouye, US Senator, Medal of Honor recipient
- Jack Johnson, musician, folk rock singer-songwriter
- Duke Kahanamoku, pro swimmer, surfer, sheriff
- Samuel Kamakau, historian
- Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, musician
- Nicole Kidman, actor
- Maxim Knight, actor
- Olin Kreutz, football player Chicago Bears
- Clyde Kusatsu, actor
- Teri Ann Linn, actor
- Jack Lord, actor
- Marcus Mariota, NFL football player, Las Vegas Raiders
- Markiplier (Mark Edward Fischbach), Internet personality, video game commentator
- Bruno Mars, singer-songwriter, record producer, musician
- Julie McCullough, actor
- Zack Merrick, drummer in American rock band All Time Low
- Bette Midler, singer, actor, comedian
- Jason Momoa, actor
- Carissa Moore, pro surfer
- Tahj Mowry, actor
- Jamie O'Brien, surfer
- Timothy Olyphant, actor
- Ellison Onizuka, NASA astronaut, STS-51-C, STS-51-L, Space Shuttle Challenger disaster
- Noelani Pantastico, ballet dancer
- Janel Parrish, actor, singer
- Kelly Preston, actor
- Maggie Q, actor
- Jonah Ray, actor, comedian, writer
- Makua Rothman (born 1984), world champion surfer
- Anthony Ruivivar, actor
- Jesse Sapolu, retired football player, San Francisco 49ers
- Garret T. Sato, actor
- Nicole Scherzinger, musician
- Amanda Schull, actor
- James Shigeta, actor
- Jake Shimabukuro, ʻukulele player
- Karen Steele, actor
- Don Stroud, actor
- Heidi Swedberg, actor
- Tua Tagovailoa, NFL football player, Miami Dolphins
- Ronald Takaki, academic, historian, ethnographer and author
- Kristi Tauti, professional figure competitor and fitness model
- Manti Te'o, NFL football player, Los Angeles Chargers
- Paul Theroux, author
- Michelle Wie West, golf LPGA
- Taylor Wily, actor
- Kirby Wright, poet and writer
- Meg Wyllie, actor
- Keone Young, actor
Images for kids
Oahu Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.