Oahu The Gathering Place


The Gathering Place


Overview of O‘ahu

Land Area: 596.7 square miles (1,545.4 sq. km).

Size Comparison: 3rd largest Hawaiian Island; most populated island.

Island Emblem: Pua ‘Ilima—Flower of ‘Ilima (Sida fallax).

Highest Elevation: 4,003 feet (1,220 m), at the summit of Ka‘ala (in the Wai‘anae Range).

Official Nickname: The Gathering Place.

[Illustration: Map—O‘ahu]

O‘ahu is about 44 miles (71 km) long by 30 miles (48 km) wide, with more than 112 miles (180 km) of coastline and at least 100 white-sand beaches. Popular surfing sites are found on all sides of O‘ahu, including the north shore’s renowned Banzai Pipeline where the world’s best surfers challenge the giant winter waves.

O‘ahu has more than 800,000 residents, and each day O‘ahu hosts an average of nearly 70,000 tourists. Hotel rooms and vacation accommodations number more than 36,000 rooms.

[Photograph: Waikīkī]

The prominent geographical features of O‘ahu are two parallel mountain ranges: the older Wai‘anae Mountains and the deep-furrowed Ko‘olau Mountains. Formed by volcanic eruptions more than one million years ago, the two mountain ranges are aligned perpendicular to the northeast tradewinds, creating a wet windward side of O‘ahu (the eastern side) and a much drier leeward side.

The majestic Ko‘olau Mountains run north to south for the entire span of the island of O‘ahu. Between the two major mountain ranges is Leilehua Plateau, a fertile area known for its pineapple production.

[Photograph: Ko‘olau Mountains at Waimanalo (steep, deep furrows)]

O‘ahu has three prominent geologic landmarks known as tuff cones: Koko Head (Kohelepelepe), Punchbowl (Pūowaina), and Diamond Head (Lē‘ahi). These volcanic cones provide visual reminders of the island’s volcanic past. O‘ahu has 62 county parks as well as 25 state parks and three national parks.