Oahu, ("The Gathering Place") is the most lively of the islands, with the most tourism and perfectly adapted for their needs.
It is the place to savour the Hawaiian Islands as a whole, especially if what you want is to have fun with loads to do.
Great shopping, wonderful restaurants - and, if you care to stay a while, the biggest range of places to stay.
Most of what's lively happens in Honolulu and Waikiki, at the southern end of this, the third largest in the ribbon of islands.
It is by far the most heavily populated, yet, if you have the time, the northern coast is among the most beautiful around.
Here there are the bounties of the fertile lands, the pineapple and sugarcane fields, making the most of the perfect weather.
Two ranges of mountains, the Koolau and the more westerly Waianae ranges, generating an almost perfect climate.
North West of Honolulu takes us to Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial, reminding us of the more modern history of the islands and the pivotal part they played during World War II.
Oahu has the only royal Palace in the whole United States, the Iolani Palace, built in 1882 by King David Kalakaua providing just one of many possibilities for the visitor to the island.
As you travel around Oahu, it becomes evident just how fascinating the it truly is. Catering for golf addicts as well as hikers. From surf boarders to culture (the Polynesian Cultural Center, located on the North Shore, has an added appeal), and is a popular gathering spot.
When Your Cruise Ship Lands
Cruise ships almost all stop off in Honolulu, which when added to the fabulous beach attractions of Waikiki, make a formidable combination.
Honolulu is one of the two main cities on the island, and commands the majority of the attention from tourists. It is the biggest of all Polynesian cities, with a centre just as you might expect like any major US city.
For decades travellers have voted it the 'Best City in the US' and with that has come the challenges of overcrowding, congestion and noise.
The city covers a long narrow strip at the southern end Oahu, with downtown a reasonable and not overwhelming size,. It's a lot quieter than its glamorous image might suggest.
Yet Honolulu is probably the most Hawaiian part of the state, reflecting the many different aspects of Hawaii.
It's a multicultural, beautiful, historic and ultimately exciting, with theater, opera, shopping, nightclubs, fine dining, all set off by majestic mountains, lush rain forests and wonderful views.
The business end of tourism in southern Oahu, Waikiki is where the visitors congregate. If you want action, this is where you will find it. Waikiki has a year-round carnival atmosphere.
The setting is beautiful, right on the Pacific and backed by dramatic cliffs and the extinct volcanoes of Punchbowl (now a military cemetery) and Diamond Head. Beauty is nothing in these islands - it's just not as common to have a city right in the middle of it. That's Waikiki.
And, of course, Waikiki Beach is renowned the world over as the foremost place to learn to surf. It was even invented here over a hundred years ago and has a history and tradition to prove it. So go on, if you have the time, have a go.
And if you've forgotten your board, take a ride in one of those outrigger canoes we usually associate with all things Hawaii 5-O.
Active travelers can race down volcanic mountains on bikes, ramble across pastureland and ancient religious shrines, swim with the green sea turtles off Waikiki Beach and surf past Diamond Head.
Other Oahu Highlights
The U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii exhibits Hawaii's Military history in Waikiki.
Of worldwide renown, the USS Arizona Memorial is one of Hawaii's most popular visitor attractions commemorating the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese in World War II.
Waikiki's Kodak Hula Show A historical look at the islands through the beauty of the hula, performed by those who know it best, Hawaiian resident dancers. Held in Kapiolani Park in the Waikiki Shell, on Oahu, this free hula show has operated here since 1937.
The Polynesian Cultural Center is Hawaii's favorite visitor attraction and has the most authentic luau and the largest night show on Oahu, in addition to all of the excellent cultural exhibits.
Battleship Missouri Memorial is where WWII ended with the surrender of the Japanese forces on Oahu.
Iolani Palace is the only official palace in the United States was once the official residence of the last monarchs of Hawaii, King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani. Visitors must cover their shoes with bright cotton booties to protect the floors and then follow a guide wearing a colorful muumuu on a tour back to the 1800s.
The Arizona Museum displays include historical photos and other artifacts of World War II on the island of Oahu.
The Contemporary Museum is the only museum in the state of Hawaii devoted exclusively to contemporary art. Presented in two locations in Honolulu. The Spaulding House features rotating exhibitions of contemporary art, an eclectic museum shop, a garden cafe and a library.
Hawaii's Living Village is a multi-cultural living history museum sharing the legacy of Hawaii's plantation era on the island of Oahu.
Ten Things You Must Do On Oahu
Waikiki Beach Diamond Head
North Shore Beaches (esp. when surfs up!)
Haunama Bay Nature Preserve
South East Shore Scenic Drive
Bishop Museum and Planetarium
Polynesian Cultural Center
Pearl Harbor/USS Arizona Memorial