Oahu is Hawaii’s third-largest island, with an area of 597 square miles and 112 miles of coastline, including some of the world’s most beautiful and famous beaches. It is also known as “The Gathering Place” due to its population of over 900,000 people. Oahu’s culture is a melting pot of different backgrounds, with people from China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Brazil, Europe, the Philippines, Australia, and New Zealand. The size of Oahu is evident in all of its wonders, from the winter waves at Pipeline to the panoramic views from the top of Diamond Head.

Aloha readers! Are you dreaming of a tropical paradise with sun-kissed beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush green mountains? Look no further than the island of Oahu, the third-largest Hawaiian island and a true gem of the Pacific. But just how big is Oahu, and what makes it so special?

So, are you ready to experience the magic of Oahu for yourself? Join us as we uncover the island’s hidden treasures and discover what makes Oahu a unique and enchanting destination. What activities are you most excited to try? Have you visited Oahu before, and if so, what were your favorite spots? Let’s start our journey together and find out why Oahu is truly the heart of Hawaii.

How Big Is Oahu?

This small but mighty piece of paradise is Hawaii’s third-largest island, and it packs a powerful punch with its diverse range of experiences and sights. Oahu is not to be underestimated, with an area of 597 square miles and 112 miles of coastline, including some of the world’s most beautiful and famous beaches.

Akaka Falls Hawaii USA

Akaka Falls, Hawaii, USA

Oahu, at 44 miles long and 30 miles wide, may appear small compared to other destinations, but what’s on the inside counts. There are over 100 trails on this island, ranging from mountains and valleys to waterfalls and beaches. There are also historical and cultural sites to visit, neighborhoods to discover, and restaurants to enjoy. Oahu is also known as “The Gathering Place” due to its population of over 900,000 people. But what makes it even more fascinating is the variety of its inhabitants.

Oahu’s culture is a melting pot of different backgrounds, ranging from Polynesian descendants who discovered Hawaii 1500 years ago to people who moved to work in the sugar cane and pineapple fields. Locals hail from China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Brazil, Europe, the Philippines, Australia, and New Zealand, among other places.

So, just how big is Oahu? The answer is conditional. With its bustling cities and highways, Oahu may appear enormous to someone from Molokai, which has only one main road and no stoplights. However, to someone from Manhattan, Oahu may appear small. After a few months of living in Oahu, it can begin to feel like a small town when you run into familiar faces while going about your daily routine.

The size of Oahu is evident in all of its wonders, from the winter waves at Pipeline to the panoramic views from the top of Diamond Head. Oahu is not to be missed, with a 26.2-mile course for the Honolulu Marathon and a 112-mile coastline to explore.

Oahu, Hawaii 5 Best Things To Do

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Are you planning a trip to Oahu, Hawaii, and wondering what the best things to do are? Well, look no further because I’ve got you covered! Oahu has something for everyone, from hiking to surfing to indulging in sweet pineapple treats. So, let’s dive into this gorgeous island’s top 5 must-do activities.

Stairway To Heaven Hike

This is not a hike for the faint of heart, but the breathtaking views at the summit make it all worthwhile. The Stairway to Heaven, also known as the Haiku Stairs, was built during World War II to allow soldiers access to the radio antenna at the top. While the illegal route was closed due to storm damage in 2015, it remains a popular choice for many hikers. However, if you don’t want to risk being fined or arrested, there is a legal way to reach the summit.

Oahu Hawaii USA2

Oahu Hawaii

The legal route is known as the Moanalua Valley Trail and is not for the faint of heart. This hike is 17.2 kilometers long and gains 1530 meters in elevation. While the journey is difficult, the breathtaking views at the top will make your heart sing.

If you’re brave, you can always take the illegal route up the stairs. If you’re interested, I’ve even written a guide on hiking the Stairway to Heaven illegally. Just keep in mind that if you are caught, you could be fined up to $1,000 USD and/or arrested. So, if you decide to go this route, do your homework and proceed at your own risk.

Go Surfing At Waikiki Beach

Are you ready for some fun in the sun? If you’re heading to Oahu, Hawaii, then you absolutely must add surfing to your list of things to do. And where better to learn than at the iconic Waikiki Beach? The crystal-clear waters of Waikiki Beach are renowned worldwide for their gentle waves, making them perfect for beginners. So whether you’re a seasoned pro or a complete newbie, you can confidently hit the waves.

You can book a surfing lesson at Waikiki Beach for as little as $ 40 USD. And if you’re feeling extra daring, why not ask some of the friendly locals if they can give you a lesson? After all, the best way to learn is from those who know the waters best. Hawaii boasts warm temperatures year-round, so it’s an ideal spot to visit for a winter surf break. Imagine feeling the sun on your face, the sand between your toes, and the rush of adrenaline as you catch a wave and ride it to shore. Sounds like paradise, doesn’t it?

And if you’re not quite ready to hit the waves just yet, you can also rent surfboards, paddleboards, and floaties from Waikiki Beach. So whether you want to stand up and ride the waves or just float along and take in the stunning views, there’s something for everyone.

Explore Honolulu

Honolulu is the capital of Oahu, the island’s beating heart, and the center of all things arts, culture, and food. If you want to see iconic sights that you’ve only seen on TV, this bustling city is the place to be. And if you’re a fan of Hawaii Five-0, you’ll understand what we mean. The Iolani Palace is first on the list. This historic structure housed Hawaii’s Royal Family during the island’s monarchy. It’s a breathtaking sight that will make you feel like you’re a part of Hawaii’s rich history. Don’t forget to take a photo in front of the palace to show off your Hawaiian adventures to your friends.

Hanauma Bay Oahu Hawaii Honolulu United States

Hanauma Bay, Oahu Hawaii, Honolulu United States

The King Kamehameha Statue is up next. A must-see is this 18-foot bronze statue of the King who unified the Hawaiian islands in the 1800s. It’s an impressive sight to behold, located in front of Iolani Palace. And if you’re into politics, the Hawaii State Capitol Building is a must-see. This official state house of Hawaii has been around since the late 1960s and is a great place to walk around and admire the architectural marvel.

If you’re looking for something artistic, go to Chinatown. It’s one of the hippest areas in downtown Honolulu, with art galleries, cafes, vintage clothing stores, bars, and nightclubs. Everything from modern art galleries to traditional Chinese medicine shops can be found here. Speaking of iconic images, Aloha Tower is impossible to overlook. This now-retired lighthouse, which was built in 1926, is a symbol of Hawaii. There is a fantastic observation deck with stunning views of the city.

If you’re looking for a place to unwind and relax, Ala Moana Beach Park is the place to be. It’s the ideal spot to catch a breathtaking sunset, with the Ala Moana shopping mall on one side and the beach on the other. The Hawaii State Art Museum is a must-see for anyone interested in Hawaiian art. This old Spanish Colonial former YMCA is filled with breathtaking Hawaiian art.

Finally, the Kawaiaha’o Church is the oldest Christian church on Oahu. It’s an interesting take on the New England-style gothic church made of coral slabs. That’s all there is to it, folks. There is something for everyone in downtown Honolulu. Everything from historic landmarks to trendy cafes won’t disappoint you. Take the Waikiki Trolley Red Line to see everything this vibrant city has to offer.

Diamond Head Crater

Aloha, adventure seekers! Are you ready for one of the best things to do on Oahu? Let’s put on our hiking boots and head up to the crater at Diamond Head, shall we? The volcanic tuff cone of Diamond Head dominates the right side of Waikiki beach (with your back to the waves). It’s a great place to walk off too much loco moco and offers some of the best views of Waikiki without a helicopter (but don’t get us wrong, a helicopter tour of Kauai’s Nepali coast is a must-see).

Even if you’re not a big fan of exercise, you shouldn’t be scared of the idea of hiking up Diamond Head. The hike isn’t as hard as it sounds, and the view from the top is well worth the effort. You can take your time and enjoy the climb, which is only 760 feet (228 meters) high and has good, steady stairs and a well-paved path. Also, there are two different ways to get there: the “quick-but-hard” way or the “slow-but-easy” way. You can choose the one that works best for you.

Diamond Head Crater

Diamond Head Crater

You can hike up Diamond Head on your own if you want to try something new. I did it and had a great time, but you’ll need to know how to read a map to find where the trail starts. There are many guided tours if you would rather have someone show you the way. If you go on a guided tour, you’ll learn more about the route and the sights along the way. You’ll also be driven to the trailhead and then back to your hotel. If this sounds like the right choice for you, you can book a guided tour of Diamond Head here. It’s one of the most popular tours on Oahu and gets great reviews.

Let’s talk about the actual hike now. The path to the top of Diamond Head goes through a tunnel, old military bunkers, and a series of switchbacks. You’ll have to walk up steep stairs and through tight spaces but trust us. The views are worth it. Once you get to the top, you’ll be able to see the Pacific Ocean and Honolulu in a wide, beautiful view. It’s the perfect place to enjoy the island’s beauty, take some photos, and just chill out.

If you like volcanoes, you should make sure to visit the Haleakala volcano on Maui and the Volcanoes National Park on Big Island. But let’s think about Diamond Head for now. This Oahu hike is easy and great for families and people who love being outside. And while you’re here, don’t forget to check out the other great hikes on Oahu. We promise you this beautiful island is full of exciting things to do.

Dole Plantation

The Dole Plantation is more than just a pineapple farm—it’s an adventure! You can learn about the plantation’s history and how pineapples are grown, try your hand at making chocolate, and even cut your own pineapple (for free!). And if you’re feeling brave, you can try to find your way through the world’s biggest maze. This maze’s 2.5 miles of twists and turns will make you scratch your head, but don’t worry. There’s an app to help you find your way.

And when you finally get out, treat yourself to a frozen pineapple whip (trust me, it’s worth it). There is also a vintage train tour and a plantation garden tour for people who want to take their time. The Dole Plantation is a great place to go with kids and is a must-see for anyone who wants to try Hawaii’s sweetest fruit. The next thing on the list is hiking up to the Diamond Head crater, which will increase your heart rate. This volcanic tuff cone, which is on the right side of Waikiki beach, gives some of the best views of Waikiki without having to pay for a helicopter tour.

Honolulu USA

Honolulu USA

The hike is not as hard as it might seem. The trail is well-paved, and there are two ways to get to the top: quickly and hard or slowly and easy. And what’s best? It’s good for families, so your children can race you to the top. If you’re feeling brave, you can go on the hike by yourself and enjoy the peace and quiet. Or, if you want company and to learn more about the area, book a guided tour. You’ll be driven to the trailhead and back to your hotel, and along the way, you’ll learn some insider information that will make your experience even better. Diamond Head is one of the best things to do on Oahu and a must-see for anyone who loves nature.

Why Visit Oahu, Hawaii?

Do you want to know how big Oahu is? Well, let me tell you, it may be small compared to other Hawaiian islands, but it packs a punch! Oahu covers 597 square miles, making it the third-largest island in Hawaii, but with a population of over 1 million people, it’s also the most populous. Don’t let the numbers fool you, though. Oahu is a treasure trove of natural wonders and urban delights, attracting millions of visitors annually. So why should you visit Oahu? Let me count the ways!

First and foremost, Oahu is home to some of the world’s most famous beaches, like Waikiki, Lanikai, and Sunset Beach. You can’t visit Hawaii without spending some time on the sand, and Oahu’s beaches offer something for everyone, from calm, crystal-clear waters for swimming to monster waves for surfing.

Speaking of surfing, Oahu is also known as the “Surfing Capital of the World,” thanks to its legendary North Shore. Every winter, the world’s top surfers flock to Oahu’s North Shore to ride waves that can reach up to 50 feet tall! But you don’t have to be a pro to enjoy the waves. Plenty of surf schools and rental shops on the island cater to beginners.

But Oahu isn’t just about beaches and surfing. The island is also home to some of Hawaii’s most iconic landmarks, like Diamond Head and the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. Hiking to the top of Diamond Head is a must-do activity on Oahu, and the views from the summit are breathtaking. And a visit to Pearl Harbor is a sobering reminder of the events that brought the United States into World War II.

Keikis Beach

Keikis Beach

If you’re looking for a taste of Hawaiian culture, Oahu has you covered there too. The island is home to the state capital, Honolulu, which is a hub of arts, culture, and history. You can explore museums and galleries, take in a hula performance, or sample local cuisine at one of the island’s many restaurants.

And last but not least, Oahu’s natural beauty is simply stunning. From the lush, verdant valleys of the Windward Coast to the rugged, volcanic terrain of the Leeward Coast, there’s no shortage of awe-inspiring landscapes to explore on Oahu. You can take a scenic drive around the island or go on a guided hike to some of the island’s hidden gems.

Get Lost In Oahu: The Top Must-Do Experiences For Travelers


Oahu is an incredible destination that’s well worth the visit. From its stunning beaches and lush hiking trails to its vibrant cultural scene and delicious cuisine, there’s something for everyone on this vibrant island. And, as we’ve discussed, Oahu isn’t just big in terms of size but also in terms of experiences and opportunities. So whether you’re an adventurer, a foodie, a culture buff, or simply looking to relax and soak up the sun, Oahu is sure to deliver.

Now, it’s your turn to explore this amazing island! Have you been to Oahu before? What was your favorite thing about the island? Or are you planning your first trip and have some questions? Don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below! And if you have any other travel tips or recommendations for Oahu, we’d love to hear them too.

In the meantime, don’t forget to check out some of our other articles on Hawaii travel, from the best beaches to the top cultural experiences. And remember, whether you’re exploring the bustling streets of Honolulu or hiking through the lush forests of the Ko’olau Mountains, there’s no better place to experience the beauty and diversity of Hawaii than on Oahu. So pack your bags, grab the sunscreen, and prepare for an adventure you’ll never forget!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

How big is Oahu compared to the other Hawaiian Islands?

Oahu is the third-largest Hawaiian Island after the Big Island and Maui. It has a total land area of approximately 597 square kilometers (or 231 square miles).

How long does it take to drive around the entire island of Oahu?

The drive around the island’s perimeter on the Kamehameha Highway (Route 83) takes around three hours without stopping. However, if you plan on exploring some of the attractions along the way, it could take anywhere from a full day to several days.

How many beaches are on Oahu?

Oahu is home to over 125 beaches, each with its own unique character and features. Some of the most popular ones include Waikiki Beach, Lanikai Beach, and Sunset Beach.

How many people live in Oahu?

As of 2021, the estimated population of Oahu is around 990,000 people. It is the most populous of the Hawaiian Islands and home to the state’s capital, Honolulu.

What are the best ways to explore Oahu’s size and attractions?

There are many ways to explore Oahu, including driving around the island, taking a guided tour, hiking to some of the island’s stunning viewpoints, or even taking a helicopter tour for a bird’s eye view. It all depends on your preferences and how much time you have.

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