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Your Seattle To Hawaii Vacation, Oahu Geography

by Fergy Ferguson


Koolau Mountain Range. Island of Oahu.

How about some more facts for your Seattle to Hawaii vacation on Oahu?  As far as geography goes, Oahu is just shy of 600 square miles, and is the second oldest major island in the Hawaiian chain.  The island sits approximately 2500 miles off the west coast of the U.S., and is located between Kauai and Maui.  Oahu has 2 mountain ranges that were formed via volcanic activity.  The Koolau and Wainae ranges are almost side by side, and consist of over 100 beautiful peaks and the associated valleys.  There are many waterfalls along with lots of lush tropical vegetation in these ranges.  These volcanic mountains and valleys have been used as the focus of many TV shows, and also plenty of movies.

The Koolau mountains run along the east side of Oahu, also known as the windward side.  The windward coast includes the town of Kailua, and also some of the more pristine of beaches on the island.  When on the windward side you look out upon several smaller shoreline islands.  On this side of the island you will also find the Nuuanu Pali Lookout, and The Valley of the Temples.  The Pali lookout affords you one of the best views on the island. The Valley of the Temples includes the Buddhist Temple that is so photographed and utilized in many TV and movie productions.  Because the mountains climb so rapidly and steeply, much of the yearly rainfall of the island falls on The Koolau mountains.

Oahu famously also has several volcanic outcroppings and craters that have become as recognized as their surroundings.  The most famous, Diamond Head, was once used as the primary lookout during World War 2 after the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Further South is Koko Head crater, a smaller and youger crater.  Punch Bowl crater sits above Honolulu, and is home to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.  These craters are all considered extinct, however, the whole Hawaiian chain is prone to volcanic eruptions as evidenced by the worlds most active volcano on The Big Island of Hawaii.

When you go on your Seattle to Hawaii vacation on Oahu, particularly in the winter, you will want to explore the area known as “The North Shore”.  Oahu’s north shore is home to several of the best big wave surfing spots in the world.  As a matter of fact,  Waimea Bay has long been considered the best big wave mecca in the Pacific.  The little town of Haleiwa is the center of this surfing universe, and sports many great little restaurants, galleries, and other interesting activities too.  A drive to the north shore is well worth it for just the beauty of the area, and is also the gateway to The Polynesian Cultural Center.  The PCC is the second most visited activity on Oahu and is a wonderful place to learn about the Polynesian culture of these Hawaiian islands and many more islands of the Pacific.

For 2012, I will be posting more useful tips, and background stories on all the 6 major Hawaiian Islands.  Keep an eye out here for more info to help you plan your next Seattle to Hawaii vacation.

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