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Oahu Hawaii Map

From ancient stone heiau (Hawaiian temples) to 21st-Century high-rises, Oahu is an island of endless contrasts. Geographically only the third largest of the inhabited Hawaiian Islands, it is nonetheless home to nearly three-quarters of the state's 1.2 million residents — 370,000 of whom are concentrated in urban Honolulu, the ultra-modern, south-coast cityscape kama'aina (residents) refer to simply as "Town."

But take a 45-minute drive outside of town to the famed North Shore surfing Mecca and you'll find sleepy Hale'iwa town (pop. 2,225) existing much as it has since it was established by missionaries in 1832.

The majority of the Island of Oahu was created nearly four million years ago, by two now-extinct shield volcanoes, the remains of which are today visible as the Ko'olau and Wai'anae mountain ranges, running parallel to each other along the length of the island's eastern and western coasts.

More recent volcanic activity also created several of Oahu's most visible landmarks: 761-foot-tall Diamond Head, located on Waikiki's eastern border, is a "tuff cone," formed some 100,000 years ago when an eruption of volcanic ash eventually hardened into solid rock. Southeast Oahu's Koko Head and downtown Honolulu's Punchbowl (the latter of which houses the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in its crater) are also tuff cones.

Honolulu, Waikiki, Pearl Harbour and North Shore are all popular tourist vacation destinations. Renting a car and taking a roadtrip to all of these places as well as the more remote state parks will show you the true beauty of Oahu Hawaii.

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June 2, 2014 1:30 PM

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