Oahu

Oahu (Hawaiian: O'ahu) is the most populous of the Hawaiian islands, the third largest in size (after the Big Island and Maui) and the cultural, financial, and top tourist destination of the Hawaiian islands. As the home of the city of Honolulu, the state capital, and as home to over 85% of the state's population, Oahu is appropriately nicknamed "The Gathering Place."

Oahu is truly at the heart of Hawaii. The city of Honolulu is busy, and its Waikiki district even more so. Oahu is home to the only real metropolitan area in all the Hawaiian Islands. For some, this has been both a blessing and a curse for the island.

On the plus side, visitors to Oahu and local Hawaiian residents themselves are not left out of all the amenities and conveniences that only a large city, such as Honolulu, can provide. Days spent dashing about, bustling nightlife, great restaurants, exciting cultural events and establishments, good public transportation, and a variety of shopping and lodging options. Combine this with the city and island's extensive beaches, parks, mountains, recreational areas, and quaint towns and this makes one enjoyable metropolitan area. On the minus side, Honolulu is a big city and has all the big city problems that come along with it, such as traffic, high cost of living, and some crime.

Honolulu may not embody the vision that some visitors have of Hawaii after looking at so many postcards: serenity and relaxation. True, one can relax on Oahu just by going to the right destinations on the island, you just need to know where to look. A calming oasis can be found as there are many resorts located outside of Waikiki that offer less crowded surroundings. Natural beauty can be found in the two mountain ranges, the Koolau and Waianae ranges. Some great hikes are just a short drive into the mountains from Waikiki. Secluded white sand beaches, funky beach towns, pounding winter surf on the North Shore. All of which can be found in other parts of Oahu.

So enjoy Oahu and all it has to offer. But if you don't see the North Shore during the wintertime when monsterous waves pound the shore (think of the opening scene of the 1970s show Hawaii Five-O), then you have really missed something. Brave and experienced surfers attack these waves! If you don't take a drive through miles of pineapple fields, and if you don't take time to visit some of the white sand beaches, mountain trails, and scenery outside of Waikiki, then you really haven't seen all Oahu has to offer.

Full article is available at wikitravel.org/en/Oahu
Credit: List of Contributors