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The Island of O'ahu (the Gathering Place) holds the capitol of the State of Hawai'i, Honolulu. To the airlines, HNL. Waikiki is a suburb of Honolulu. This is about 880 acres of Hotels and shopping that has become world famous as a tourist destination. O'ahu is often overlooked as a destination, and sometimes thought of as a stopover for its sister Islands. But, this is a great Island, if you like hiking and exploring, and there are many interesting beaches that are not as crowded as Waikiki.
O'ahu hold most of the population, though it is only 597 square miles.. At almost a million, residents are mostly located on the South part of the Island. There are 112 miles of great beaches that are not nearly as crowded as Waikiki. Plan on exploring them and the many mountain trails in O'ahu's mountains. Driving time between Waikiki and the North Shore is only about 40 minutes.
There are major airports on the four largest Islands so you can fly directly into them from most Mainland locations. InterIsland service connects all of the 6 main Islands.
O'ahu has the history of Pearl Harbor and the war memorial at the Punch Bowl, and the even older history of the Hawaiian Monarchy. The Iolani Palace is a bit of history, which you should not miss. There is great kayaking around Kaneohe and shark diving out of Hale’iwa. Giant Hawaiian green sea turtles can almost always be seen on the beach at Laniakea. In the Winter months. Swells in the North Pacific result in huge waves on the North Shore beaches, drawing surfers from all over the world. O'ahu is not all crowds. There are plenty of things to do in and around its two mountain ranges, the Ko’olau Range on the East and the Wai’anae Range on the West provide some great scenery.
It is often nice to plan one or two days on O'ahu, even if you are planning a longer stay on another Island. That gives you time to appreciate some of the history, that you might otherwise miss.