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Whether you’re planning your dream Hawaiian getaway or just curious to learn more about the stunning islands that make up the 50th state, you may be wondering—where exactly is Oahu located? As the most populous Hawaiian island and home to the state’s capital Honolulu, Oahu is a top destination for vacations, honeymoons, and tropical adventures.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Oahu is the third largest of the Hawaiian Islands, located in the North Central Pacific Ocean roughly 2,450 miles from California. It sits southeast of Kauai and northwest of the Big Island of Hawaii.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll give you an in-depth look at exactly where Oahu, Hawaii calls home. You’ll learn about its geographic coordinates, surrounding islands and oceans, proximity to the U.S. mainland, and how to get yourself there to experience its famous beaches, culture, cuisine, and aloha spirit.

The Geographic Location and Coordinates of Oahu

Located at 21° 28′ North, 157° 59′ West

The island of Oahu, part of the Hawaiian island chain, is situated at 21° 28′ North latitude and 157° 59′ West longitude in the North Pacific Ocean. This places Oahu roughly 2,500 miles from the US mainland and about 4,000 miles from Japan.

The island’s geographic coordinates indicate its sub-tropical location, with warm and pleasant weather year-round.

Oahu’s latitude near the Tropic of Cancer results in relatively consistent temperatures and sunlight exposure. The island enjoys an average high of 85°F during the summer and 79°F in the winter. Thanks to Oahu’s low-latitude location, daylight hours remain consistent as well, with only about a 30 minute difference between the winter and summer solstice.

The Third Largest of the Hawaiian Islands

Spanning about 600 square miles in area, Oahu is Hawaii’s third largest island, behind the Big Island of Hawaii and Maui. However, Oahu has the highest population among the islands, with roughly 1 million residents calling it home.

The island consists of two separate volcanic formations: the older Waianae mountain range to the west and the younger Koolau range to the east.

The Waianae Mountains feature the island’s highest peak – Mount Ka’ala, which rises to an elevation of 4,025 feet above sea level. The iconic Diamond Head crater sits along the southeast coast near Waikiki, with a summit elevation of 761 feet.

Significant coastal plains stretch across both the north and south shores, allowing for the development of towns and agriculture.

Island Area (sq. miles) Highest Elevation
Hawaii (Big Island) 4,028 13,796 ft (Mauna Kea)
Maui 727 10,023 ft (Haleakala)
Oahu 598 4,025 ft (Mount Ka’ala)

The smaller land area and high population density make Oahu quite built up compared to its neighboring islands. However, it still features world-class beaches, natural sights, culture, dining, and resort accommodations to delight visitors.

For more on planning the perfect trip, check out’s guide to Oahu.

Oahu’s Place Within the Hawaiian Island Chain

Southeast of Kauai, Northwest of Hawaii Island

The island of Oahu is centrally located within the Hawaiian island chain, surrounded by some of Hawaii’s most famous islands. To the northwest sits the lush, garden island of Kauai, known for its towering waterfalls and Na Pali coast.

Oahu lies southeast of Kauai across the Kauai channel, which separates it from its sister island by about 70 miles of open ocean.

To the southeast of Oahu sits Hawaii Island, the largest island in the Hawaiian chain. Hawaii Island is often called “the Big Island” due to its size compared to the other islands. It is home to Mauna Kea volcano, the tallest mountain in Hawaii, as well as the continuously erupting Kilauea volcano in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Oahu and Hawaii Island are separated by the Alenuihāhā Channel, which spans about 30 miles.

Part of the Hawaiian Archipelago

The Hawaiian Islands form an archipelago of 8 major islands and many smaller islets, stretching across 1,500 miles in the central Pacific Ocean. The islands were formed by undersea volcanoes produced by a geological hotspot under the Pacific tectonic plate.

Oahu is the third largest of the main Hawaiian Islands after Hawaii and Maui. Along with Kauai, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Niihau, and Kahoolawe, Oahu makes up the inhabited Hawaiian Islands, which are considered the 50th state of the United States.

As part of the Hawaiian archipelago, Oahu shares the same ecology and geology as its neighboring islands. All the islands have lush green landscapes, sandy beaches, volcanic peaks, and a tropical climate.

Distance from the U.S. Mainland and Other Reference Points

Roughly 2,450 Miles from Los Angeles

When it comes to tropical getaways, Oahu is situated nearly 2,450 miles southwest of Los Angeles, California. This equates to about a 5 hour and 30 minute nonstop flight time. While that may seem far, it’s much closer than other iconic beach destinations like Tahiti which clocks in at around 2,600 miles from the City of Angels.

Closer to Tokyo than San Francisco

An interesting geographic fact about the island of Oahu is that Hawaii’s capital city Honolulu is actually closer to Tokyo, Japan than it is to San Francisco, California. The distance between Honolulu and Tokyo is around 3,860 miles, while Honolulu to San Francisco is approximately 2,400 miles.

This makes Oahu a very convenient vacation spot for Japanese tourists and Hawaiian Airlines even offers direct flights between Honolulu and Tokyo.

How to Get to Oahu

Nonstop Flights from Major U.S. Airports

Oahu, the most populous Hawaiian island, has two major airports that offer nonstop flights from several airports across the mainland United States. Honolulu International Airport and Kalaeloa Airport welcome direct flights from major hubs like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Denver, Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta, and New York.

Some major airlines like Hawaiian Airlines, United, American, Delta, Alaska, and Southwest offer regular nonstop services to Honolulu. The average flight time is between 5-6 hours depending on your departure city.

As per the Hawaii Tourism Authority, over 15.6 million visitors came to the Hawaiian islands in 2021, with a majority heading to Oahu. So getting convenient nonstop connections is not an issue.

Cruise Ships from the Mainland

Apart from flights, Oahu also receives cruise liners from the U.S. mainland regularly. Major cruise companies like Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, and Carnival Cruise Line operate Hawaii cruises as part of the Mexican Riviera or Panama Canal itineraries.

These cruises are usually 10-14 days long with a day or two halt at Oahu along with other Hawaiian islands like Maui and Kauai. Cruises depart from key ports in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver.

As per the Hawaii Tourism Authority, Oahu received over 229,339 cruise visitors in 2021. While flight is faster, cruises let you experience island hopping at a more relaxed pace.


Whether you choose to fly, sail, or swim your way there (just kidding! ), the island of Oahu awaits with its renowned beaches, rich culture and history, and status as the undisputed hub of Hawaiian cuisine.

Now that you know precisely where Oahu is perched within the Pacific island paradise, you can start planning your own Hawaiian adventure in one of the world’s most beautiful and fascinating destinations.

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