Oahu – Regions

Out of the main six Hawaiian islands, Oahu has the highest population with only being the third largest island in the chain. It is home to five main regions that make up Oahu’s diversity in its population and environment – Honolulu, North Shore, Windward Coast, Leeward Coast, and Central Oahu. Together these regions bring the mixture of “old” Hawaii before it became the 50th state under the United States of America with the “new” Hawaii with endless development of structures and large buildings in the heart of Honolulu, the Hawaii State capitol.

The diverse regions bring its own personality to life offering visitors and locals many choices of outdoor adventures, large city life, small town life, and a piece of history as you are surrounded by historical sights and distinctive land marks. Oahu is the only island to include regions that are very different from one another.

For example, you can catch beautiful surfing waves in one area, enjoy serenity in another, the tranquility of small towns, and the hustle and bustle of large business establishments. When visiting Oahu, the beauty of the island will draw you to take the time to explore what each region has to offer. It gives the best idea of what Hawaii is with history and the modern world’s influence.

You will be surprised at how one island can hold so many differences in living styles, weather, and scenery. Oahu is where it all began. Its regions are still marked with the way monarchy ended in Hawaii and statehood began.


This region is also the city capitol of the Hawaiian islands. This is where you will arrive by air at the main Honolulu International Airport. This is the largest city in Hawaii covered by many business structures and tall buildings that scale across its white sand shoreline. It is home to the dormant volcanic crater, Diamond Head, the most dominant landmark in this region, which offers spectacular views of this region’s main coastline. Historical landmarks that pre-date statehood are still standing in this region today. This region is the main place to enjoy city-life with still enjoying the beautiful beach views and “old” Hawaii history.

North Shore

The North Shore is the home to surfing and is the best spot in the entire island for surfers wanting to catch large waves, especially during the winter months.  During this time this region also becomes home to the legendary Vans Triple Crown of surfing competition drawing lots of attention. Its shoreline is surrounded with large white sand beaches and clear blue water. Summer is a great time to visit this region when the waves are smaller if you want to learn how to surf or just enjoy time on the beautiful beaches that stretch seven miles long. This is a surfing community that is laid back in a casual environment surrounded by coconut trees and exotic flowers and plants. Its main town in this region is Haleiwa.

Windward Coast

The Windward Coast is framed by the lush green trees and plants of the Koolau mountains. It is a quiet and small community with some of the best white sand beaches on Oahu, which are less crowded than other areas on Oahu. This region is home to the famous Nuuanu Pali Lookout that gives you amazing views of the serene parts of the island. This is the wettest region on the island, as it faces the east where many storms enter the Hawaiian islands. This accounts for its lush forests along the mountain sides and abundant greenery throughout the region. The area is also windier than any other area on the island due to its location. This region is home to the quaint towns of Kaaawa and Kailua.

Leeward Coast

Surrounded by the Waianae mountain is the Leeward Coast of Oahu. This mountain range offers this region the tallest mountain peak on Oahu. This side of the island is very dry, in comparison to the Windward Coast region, with less greenery than in other areas. This region lies on beautiful white sandy beaches without crowds of people. It is a very rural region where life is taken a little bit slower here. This region is quiet and peaceful, offering many opportunities to enjoy the visions of “old Hawaii” with minimal traffic and a small population. This region is often referred to “local Hawaii” as it most closely resembles what Hawaii was like and what Hawaii represents. The people who live in the main towns of Waipahu, Ewa, Nanakuli, Waianae, and Makaha embrace the closeness of its community and hold strong to the Hawaiian culture and way of living.

Central Oahu

Central Oahu is in a valley located between the Waianae and Koolau mountains. Due to the fertility of the soil in this area, it offers locals many opportunities for growing local produce. This region is mostly residential, surrounded by many open fields of land that was once used for sugarcane and pineapple growing in the early years of Hawaii’s plantation days when immigration was at its highest from 1852 to 1946. The most important feature of this region is that it is home to the historical Pearl Harbor naval base, which was attacked on December 7, 1941 leading to the United States entering World War II.