Travel insights from Jenna Buege, contributing editor of The Compass

The Travel Agent’s Ultimate Guide to Oahu

Home to Hawaii’s capital city of Honolulu, Oahu is a bustling island set alongside pristine beaches and tropical vegetation. The city of Honolulu is a unique mix of old and new where visitors will be treated to modern businesses and trendy hipsters, as well as a dose of ancient Hawaiian culture.

Oahu Basics

  • Getting there – Travelers visiting the island of Oahu will fly into the Honolulu International Airport. Nautical-loving travelers can also visit the islands via cruise ship where they will dock at one of the many ports or cruise terminals on the island.
  • Location – Oahu is the second oldest of the six Hawaiian Islands and is divided into five major areas: Honolulu, the North Shore, the Leeward Coast, the Windward Coast and Central Oahu.
  • Climate – Oahu is blessed with pleasant temperatures year-round with averages in the upper 70s to mid-80s. Travelers looking to avoid the island’s rainy season should visit during the months of April through October.
  • Currency – Since Hawaii is part of the United States their currency is the U.S. dollar.
  • Language – Fun fact: Hawaii is the only American state with two official languages: Hawaiian and English. In addition to speaking in two native tongues, many Hawaiians also use a form of slang called Pidgin.


The most popular spot for lodging in Oahu is in the city of Honolulu near Waikiki Beach. Here visitors will find no shortage of classy resorts, rental units and hostels. Visitors also enjoy staying in Oahu’s northernmost point of Kawela Bay for a slice of paradise outside the city center.


The melting pot of ethnicities and cultures in Oahu make for wonderfully unique cuisine. Natives love Romy’s Kahuku Prawns and Shrimp for garlicky seafood goodness paired with soft rice and a tasty shoyu sauce.  Travelers looking to dine at a well-known spot will want to check out the Rainbow Drive-In, an iconic Oahu restaurant popular for its plate lunches and scrumptious macaroni salad. And for dessert? Travelers must try some of Uncle Clay’s unbeatable shave ice to help beat the heat at Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha.


  • Adventure – Leahi, aka Diamond Head State Monument, is an Oahu landmark and popular hiking destination within walking distance of Waikiki Beach. The monument lies within a 760-foot tuff crater and offers fantastic views of the Honolulu skyline. Travelers looking to try their hand at surfing will want to visit Haleiwa, a historic surf town on the North Shore where the buildings are no taller than palm trees. And of course there’s no shortage of fabulous wildlife in Oahu; nature-lovers will love the local Turtle Canyon snorkel cruises and shark dives immersing them in the full wildlife experience.
  • Entertainment – Downtown Honolulu is home to a great art scene, where you'll find a wide variety of art galleries, music clubs and the Honolulu Academy of Arts. There are also many tasty restaurants and shops filling the streets of downtown, making it a convenient place to go for some of the city's best gastronomical delights, an unbeatable offering of shopping options, and bustling nightlife. A trip to Honolulu wouldn't be complete without a visit to the famous Waikiki Beach, where some of the legends of surfing (such as Hawaii's Duke Kahanamoku) got their start. Today, it is a popular gathering place for both locals and visitors who are looking to swim, dine, shop and simply have fun in the sun.
  • Shopping – Visitors will find everything from treasures available only in Hawaii, crafts and local surf styles to high-end jewelry and world-renowned designer fashions at Oahu's malls and shopping centers. Travelers can shop like a local at the Kailua Farmers Market or visit Waikiki’s DFS Galleria, the Royal Hawaiian Center or the Waikiki Beach Walk for luxury goods and designer fashion. For shopping outside the city center, visitors can visit the Ala Moana Center, the largest open-air shopping mall in the world, just west of Waikiki.

History and Culture

  • Pearl Harbor – This National Historic Landmark is home to five significant sites showcasing the beginning and end of World War II.
  • Iolani Palace – The only official state residence of royalty in the U.S., the Iolani Palace was formerly home to two Hawaiian monarchs and then turned into a capital building. This National Historic Landmark is now open for tours where you can view the private living quarters, learn the history of the royal residents and see their crowns.
  • Valley of the Temples – Showcasing the Japanese immigrants’ influence on Hawaiian culture, visitors will find a scale replica of a Japanese temple built entirely without nails in a tranquil, picturesque setting.
  • Polynesian Cultural Center – The Polynesian Cultural Center is the place to be for a taste of authentic Polynesian culture. Travelers can try their hand at traditional activities such as dance and music all while mingling with natives from local villages. The Cultural Center is also a great place to experience an island Luau complete with Polynesian entertainment.   

You May Also Like

How Do You Oahu?

Grab your board and get ready for one gnarly getaway on this one-of-a-kind island with Blue Sky Tours. Iconic Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial As the number one visitor destination in Hawaii, the USS Arizona Memorial is a breathtaking tribute to those lost in the Pearl Harbor bombing. Kualoa Ra

11 Ways Your Clients Can Experience Oahu

A tropical paradise awaits your clients on the beautiful Hawaiian island of Oahu. While they may want to simply relax and unwind, ensure that they explore all that Oahu has to offer with these 11 recommendations crowdsourced by our very own VAX agents. Iconic Pearl Harbor is a must see. For snorkel

Discover Oahu’s Rich Art, Cultural, and History Attractions

Did you know that Hawaii was once a royal kingdom and that surfing originated in the islands? Oahu’s unrivaled array of attractions and experiences showcase the history of Hawaii, the cultural traditions of the Hawaiian people, and Oahu’s pivotal role in World War II. This one-of-a-kind island is pe

Your Guide to the Beaches of Oahu

Oahu’s beaches are a true taste of paradise—whether you’re looking for high adventure on the sea, gentle waves for your first surfing lesson, a romantic sunset view or a family-friendly swimming spot. While you might already be familiar with world-famous Waikiki Beach and the high-octane winter wave


1000 characters remaining
Comment as:

Charity W | 02/21/19 - 03:18 PM

  | reply

VAX VacationAccess | 02/25/19 - 12:08 PM

  | reply

show less

Elizabeth M | 02/19/19 - 11:59 AM

2   | reply

VAX VacationAccess | 02/19/19 - 02:47 PM

Oahu is a great place to get married! There are a wide selection of wedding venues in the area and the close proximity to Honolulu and Waikiki make for the perfect after party. :) 

-VAX VacationAccess

2   | reply

show less

show less