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Cheatsheet: Get to Know Your Way Around Oahu

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Here's your quick and easy guide to the different coasts, towns, and neighborhoods of Oahu:



A map of Oahu that shows the four coasts - North Shore, Honolulu / Waikiki, Windward Coast, and Leeward Coast.

The text reads "Oahu South Shore" with a photo of surfers in the ocean outside of Waikiki Beach with the Honolulu skyline in the background.

  • Waikiki and Honolulu

  • 95% of Oahu hotels are here

  • Beach + City

  • Most options for food, nightlife, shopping, etc

  • Crowded and touristy

The text reads "Oahu North Shore" with a photo of Sunset Beach and the crooked palm tree.

  • Surf capital of the world

  • Very laid back

  • Iconic food trucks

  • Only a couple hotels and 1 major resort

The text reads "Windward Coast (East Side)" with a photo of Lanikai Beach with the Mokulua Islands in the distance.

  • Tradewinds keep it cooler most of the year

  • Beautiful beaches

  • No hotels or resorts, but some B&Bs

The text reads "Leeward Coast (West Side) of Oahu" with a photo of a colorful sunset over the Ko Olina lagoons.


Towns / Areas

The text reads "Waikiki / Honolulu" with an aerial shot of Waikiki Beach and the Honolulu skyline.

  • Most people stay here. 95% of Oahu hotels are here.

  • City vibe + beach

  • Calm water year round

  • Most options for food, nightlife, spas

  • Beach, surf lessons, catamaran tours, shopping, nearby hikes

  • Crowded and touristy but for a good reason

  • Very walkable but also lots of transportation options — TheBus, Waikiki Trolley, Uber, Lyft, and Taxis

  • 1 hr to the North Shore | 30 min to Kailua

The text reads "Diamond Head Area" with an aerial shot of Diamond Head Crater and Honolulu in the background.

  • Close to Waikiki but away from the noise and crowds

  • Big parks and walking trails and beaches

  • 20 min walk to center of Waikiki

  • Peaceful and relaxing

  • Less expensive than Waikiki

The text reads "Haleiwa town" with a photo of a row of wooden surfboards.

  • North Shore surf town

  • Laid back vibe

  • Beaches, hikes, and surf shops

  • Lots of great food trucks

  • Surf mecca during the winter

  • Need a car to get around

  • Beach town on Oahu's east coast

  • Known for its insanely beautiful beaches. (Lanikai Beach is regularly voted one of the best beaches in the world.)

  • No hotels or resorts

  • Cute coffee shops, restaurants, and boutiques

The text reads "Ko Olina area" with a photo of the Ko Olina lagoons and Disney's Aulani Resort.

The text reads "Pearl City area" with a photo of the U.S.S. Arizona at Pearl Harbor.

  • Home to Pearl Harbor

  • Residential area

The text reads "Ewa Beach Area" with a photo of a Honolulu golf course.

  • Residential area / Honolulu suburb

  • Popular with military members stationed in Oahu

  • Hawaiian Railway Society

  • Few beaches

  • Golf courses


Honolulu Neighborhoods

A map of all the Honolulu neighborhoods - Chinatown, Downtown, Kaka'ako, Ala Moana, Waikiki, Diamond Head, and Kaimuki.

The text reads "Waikiki Neighborhood" with an aerial shot of the Royal Hawaiian resort and waikiki beach.

  • Crowded and touristy but for a good reason

  • Highest concentration of hotels and restaurants

  • Waikiki beach is 2 mi long. Made up of 8 beaches.

  • Everything is close to the beach

  • Surf, swim, catamaran tours, SUP, and more

  • Most nightlife options

  • High end shopping and spas

  • Aquarium and zoo

The text reads "Kaka'ako neighborhood" with a photo of a bold street art mural in Honolulu.

  • Coolest neighborhood in Oahu, but still under the radar

  • Known for its street art around every corner

  • Annual Pow! Wow! Festival. Muralists come from all over the world to paint new murals

  • Way less touristy than Waikiki

  • Farmers Market every Saturday

  • Vibrant food and drink scene. Great coffee shops, fine dining, street food, and local microbreweries

The text reads "Chinatown neighborhood" with a photo of rows of fresh fruit outside a Chinese market.

  • Gritty part of downtown that’s in the middle of a revival

  • Some of the best food on the island — from high end (Senia) to humble (Maguro Brothers)

  • Traditional Chinese markets and noodle factories

  • Used to be one of the seediest parts of Honolulu with drugs, prostitution, and gambling in the 80s and 90s. The last 20 years have brought great restaurants, galleries, and shops.

The text reads "Downtown Honolulu area" with a photo of a pink and orange sunset over tall buildings of Honolulu.

  • Oahu’s main business district

  • City Hall is here too

  • Hawaii State Art Museum and Iolani Palace

  • Aloha Tower Marketplace is the tallest structure in Honolulu

The text reads "Ala Moana neighborhood" with a photo of Ala Moana beach

  • Ala Moana has one of the best swimming beaches in Oahu with calm waters year round and Magic Island (a man made lagoon)

  • Ala Moana Shopping Center is the largest open-air shopping center in the world

  • Large grassy areas with bbqs, restrooms, lots of shade, and walking paths along the water

The text reads "Kaimuki neighborhood" with a photo of a green dragon painted on the side of a building.

The text reads "Diamond Head neighborhood" with a photo of Diamond Head crater and Honolulu taken from a plane.

  • Close to Waikiki but removed from the noise and crowds

  • Big parks, walking trails, and beaches

  • Diamond Head is the most popular hike in Oahu


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