Oahu: Urban Energy to Amazing Natural Wonders

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Oahu: Urban Energy to Amazing Natural Wonders

All Things Go

Do you have a favorite island? Or is that like asking which one of your children you love best? You can’t say. Not publicly, anyway. A far-from-scientific survey-taker (that would be me) has asked that question to many a Hawaiian traveler (the one about the favorite island, not the favorite child). And interestingly, the island of Oahu rarely is the answer. Odd, since it’s the one that attracts most visitors.

But it’s the green-in-spirit Kauai or fashionable Maui that often top the chart. And the still-growing Big Island seems to be a favorite among Hawaiians for its relative dearth of overt commercialism.

Me? I love all the islands for their own unique character, but my heart will always love Oahu a little more. Maybe a lot more. It’s the sweet-hot of Hawaii; a pinch of this and a smidgeon of that. Urban, yet organic. Bustling, yet laid back. Slick, but still natural. Kitschy, but cultural. As my friend Lori says about the island, quoting the Sufjan Stevens lyric we grew so fond of while driving there “All things go.” On Oahu, that is so true.

Who can deny the dazzling and energized spirit of Waikiki – the pulse of which (to me) beats out of the harmonic sparkle of Duke's Restaurant and broadens out across this most famous of beaches.

But to get the complete Oahu experience, one needs to get out of the city hub – at least once. Drive the windward side beneath the rugged Kualoa mountains (the ones in the TV show Lost for those that need a pop culture reference point) or hit the gorgeous white sands of Kailua Beach. Head up to the famous North Shore for awesome waves (winter months) or to hurl your crazy self off a cliff at Waimea Bay.  

Even the short 15 minute drive to hike Diamond Head counts (go early, people!).  For it is from this high vantage point, looking down upon Honolulu city and beyond, that you see the mish and the mash of this island. Nature and city, homes and hills, commercialism and culture – all coexisting, thriving, merging into the spicy-sweetness that is Oahu. All things go, indeed. 

Dennis Rockney is a freelance writer, director and photographer who lives in sunny (j/k) Portland, Oregon, but has the good fortune to visit Hawaii several times a year.

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