Three-quarters of Hawaii’s population live on OAHU, which has monopolized the islands’ trade and tourism since European sailors realized that Honolulu offered the safest in-shore anchorage for thousands of miles. Eighty percent of visitors to Hawaii arrive in Honolulu and many remain for their entire vacation. Oahu effectively confines tourists to the tower-block enclave of Waikiki, just east of downtown Honolulu; there are few rooms anywhere else.

While overcrowding and development make it hard to recommend Oahu over its neighbours, it can still give a real flavour of Hawaii. Oahu has some excellent beaches, with those on the North Shore a haven for surfers and campers, and the cliffs of the windward side are awesome.

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  • Sea sports and safety