The Central Oahu region encompasses the fertile valley in the heart of Oahu, between the Koolau Range on the east side of the island and the Waianae Mountains on the west side.
This area is not as interesting as Honolulu, Waikiki, Windward East, or the North Shore, as it consists largely of residential areas and pineapple plantations. However there are definitely some sights to see and certainly, the most significant landmark in the area is historic Pearl Harbor in the south, near Pearl City.
Central Oahu Tour Suggestions
Things to do in Central Oahu
Pearl Harbor is a solemn reminder of a tragic day. It is one of the most significant sites in the history of the United States and a National Historic Landmark. The area consists of a number of museums and memorials that honor those who served in World War II, including USS Battleship Missouri Memorial, USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park and Pacific Aviation Museum. After the WWII attacks, Pearl Harbor remained an active base. Today it is still a Naval Harbor as well as the final resting place of the USS Arizona, which is a memorial to the 1,177 young sailors who died during the Japanese sneak attack.
The Central Oahu area is divided into the communities of Pearl City in the south, Mililani in the center and Wahiawa to the north. Each area has its own distinct environment. Pearl City is known for its retro style architecture and is home to the Aloha Stadium – the site for the NFL Pro Ball held annually, as well as the Pearlridge Shopping Mall. In earlier times the area was largely used for rice paddies and fields plowed with water buffalo.
The area named Waipahu is located on the northwestern shore of Pearl Harbor and was a town that suffered considerable damage with the Pearl Harbor attacks. Hawaii’s Plantation Village in Waipahu is an outdoor museum that showcases the lifestyles and traditions of those who worked on the sugar, banana and pineapple plantations in the past, and features model homes displaying the original plantation worker homes. At Plantation Village, they tell the story of Hawaii's various cultures, including Hawaiian, Chinese, Portuguese, Puerto Rican, Japanese, Korean, and Filipino.
Mililani is a bedroom community that sits on former plantation fields and was once the site of a small Hawaiian town. The area is dotted with eateries and it is a good place to stop in for a bite to eat en route to the North Shore from Waikiki and Honolulu. The Mililani Golf Club is a par-72, 6455-yard course that is open to the public and is situated in a prime location nestled between the mountain ranges. The newer part of Mililani is called Mililani Mauka, which hosts most of the commercial and retail centers. Wahiawa is located right in the heart of Central Oahu, on the plateau between the two volcanic ranges that comprise the island.
Wahiawa means ‘place of noise’ in Hawaiian, which could be a reference to the fact that heavy surf of the distant coast could once be heard here. The town is surrounded by a reservoir (Lake Wilson), as well as a military base(Schofield Barracks) and agricultural fields. There are a number of sights to see in the Wahiawa area. The Tropical Lighting Museum contains exhibits of artillery guns, vehicles and other artifacts from 1941 to the present day. The Wahiawa Botanical Gardens house a collection of ferns, flowers, and trees from all parts of the Hawaiian Islands. This rainforest garden cradled along a 27-acre ravine between the Wai'anae and Ko'olau mountain ranges is a haven particularly for tropical flora requiring a cooler climate.
It is open 7 days a week from 9 am to 4 pm.
Dole Pineapple Plantation
Dole Pineapple Plantation fields are located at the northern part of Wahiawa. This maze of pineapple gardens is open from 9am-5.30 daily and includes a miniature train ride, where visitors can learn about the history of the pineapple plantations in Hawaii. It is also in the Guinness Book of World Records for displaying the largest pineapple garden maze.
Admission is free but rides cost from around $3 to $5. A stroll through the mini-gardens is also worthwhile, with many flowers, fruits, and native plants on display. North of the pineapple fields is coffee fields, where visitors can experience a real coffee plantation and purchase premium quality Hawaiian coffee. Also located in Wahiawa is the Kukaniloko Birthstones State Monument, which a historic site, formerly used as a birth site for royal births in earlier times. It consists of an arrangement of 180 stones in a half-an-acre area of land that is surrounded by eucalyptus and coconut fields.
Hawaiian Railway Society
The Hawaiian Railway Society was formed in the 1970’s and it preserves the only active railway in all of the islands. It is now on the National Register of Historic Sites. Open every Sunday, the historic track runs west of old Ewa and visitors can enjoy a relaxed and unique experience while hearing stories about the history of railroading in Hawaii.
Central Oahu has some interesting sights on offer, and it is worth stopping in at some, especially in the Wahiawa area, while en route from Honolulu and Waikiki to Oahu’s North Shore.