1.Oahu is the second oldest of the Hawaiian Islands. It was created by a volcano almost 3 million years ago. It’s also the second smallest of the four main Hawaiian Islands, but has by far the largest population at almost one million people.
2.It’s called the “Gathering Place.” Oahu is called the gathering place, because…well…it’s where the people gather! Oahu is home to a lot of people and it’s by far the most heavily visited of the Hawaiian Islands.
3.Hawaii was the 50th state added to the United States of America. Despite it being a US state, more than one person has asked me if you need a passport to travel there. You don’t. Also, when referring to the contiguous United States, you don’t call it “the states” like you would when traveling internationally. You refer to it as “the mainland.”
4.It may feel like a different country, but remember, you’re still in the US. Hawaii has a very distinct culture and its location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean often makes it feel like a foreign land, so many visitors question how things are done. Here’s the deal, everything works like it does back home, except when it doesn’t : ) Seriously though, your phone service and everything works exactly like it does at home. But you will find yourself subject to the quirks of “island life.” Things move slower so relax and just go with the flow.
5.The Hawaiian Islands run on the Hawaii-Aleutian Time Zone. Hawaii also doesn’t observe Daylight Savings Time so they’re 3 hours behind West Coast time (6 hours behind East coast time) when we’re on Daylight savings time, and 2/5 hours when we’re not.
6.Hawaii is a melting pot of cultures. Here’s some terminology for you: “Hawaiian” refers to anyone born with Hawaiian blood. “Local” refers to anyone born in Hawaii (except white people). “Haole” refers to white people and tourists in general. The term “kama’aina” is also thrown around which refers to anyone from or living in Hawaii regardless of their ethnicity.
RELATED: Not very familiar with Oahu? Read up on the lay of the (is)land and where to stay plus my favorite beach resorts, budget hotels, Airbnbs, honeymoon resorts, family friendly resorts, luxury resorts, and boutique hotels.
7.It seems like a world away but Hawaii is actually only a 5 or 6-hour flight from California. It’s 6 hours going to Hawaii, and 5 hours coming back from Hawaii. Honolulu International Airport (HNL) is the airport that you’ll fly into. You can get a direct flight to Honolulu from Newark (New Jersey), Atlanta (Georgia), Boston (Massachusetts), New York (New York), Washington, DC, Phoenix (Arizona), Dallas (Texas), Houston (Texas), Denver (Colorado), Chicago (Illinois), Anchorage (Alaska), Seattle (Washington), Portland (Oregon), and pretty much every major city in California.
8.Hawaii sits north of the equator, so its seasons match the mainland US seasons. Our winter is their winter, and our summer is their summer. Now, winter is a relative term in Hawaii, but it generally does mean more rain and higher surf (especially on the north shore).
9.Expect to pay more…for everything. This probably isn’t a huge surprise to anybody. The Hawaiian Islands are some of the most remote islands in the world and pretty much everything has to be shipped in. So expect to pay more for food, gas, and other supplies than you would on the mainland US. This doesn’t mean that it’s as outrageously expensive as you might think. As is the case anywhere, you can go luxury, or you can go budget. The choices are there for both and everything in between.
10.The resort areas are more expensive. As an extension of #9, generally speaking everything in a resort area will be WAY more expensive than on other parts of the island. On Oahu, this pretty much means Waikiki. Restaurants and bars will always be more expensive in resorts than in locally owned/independent places. Ko’olina is also a more expensive resort area.
11.Stock up on groceries for your condo or hotel room. If you’re looking to save a few bucks, or just need to pick up some essentials that you forgot to pack, you’ll have plenty of options on Oahu. There are a couple of Costcos, Walmarts, Targets and a variety of grocery store chains (including Whole Foods). And if you need a pharmacy/drug store, that would be Longs (this is a CVS/Walgreens equivalent). While thousands of miles away from home, there’s really nothing that you can’t find on Oahu if you forget to pack it.
12.Casual is the name of the game on Oahu. There’s really nowhere to go on Oahu where shorts and flip-flops won’t do. Even in the nicest restaurants, ladies will be fine in a casual sundress and sandals, and men will be okay with khakis and an aloha shirt. Tommy Bahama rules.