Episode 85: 5 Fun Facts About Oahu to Know Before You Visit Hawaii

by | May 10, 2023


Discover 5 fun facts about Oahu, such as the significance of the indigenous Oahu Elepaio bird, the controversial Ka’ena Point Space Force Satellite Tracking Station, the breathtaking Nu’uanu Pali Lookout, Oahu’s ancient Heiau temples, and the transformation of Waikiki from swampy fishponds to a famous tourist destination.

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In this episode, Bryan Murphy discusses 5 fun facts about Oahu that every visitor should know before traveling to Hawaii.

The episode dives into intriguing details about the island’s unique features, history, and culture, while reminding visitors to travel responsibly and respect local customs.

The five fun facts about Oahu are:

  1. Oahu’s indigenous bird, the Oahu Elepaio, plays a significant role in Hawaiian culture and the island’s ecosystem.
  2. The Ka’ena Point Space Force Satellite Tracking Station, located on the westernmost point of Oahu.
  3. Nu’uanu Pali Lookout, an important historical site and a must-see destination with breathtaking views. While in this area, there are some breathtaking waterfall hikes to consider.
  4. Oahu’s ancient Heiau temples, such as Pu’u o Mahuka Heiau on the North Shore and Ulupo Heiau in Kailua, that offer visitors a connection to the island’s ancient past.
  5. The surprising history of Waikiki, which has transformed from a swampy area dominated by fish ponds and taro fields to the iconic tourist destination it is today.

Throughout the episode, Bryan not only shares these lesser-known aspects of Oahu but also highlights the importance of traveling with Aloha.

This concept embodies responsibility and respect for the local culture, environment, and historical sites.

The episode encourages visitors to explore Oahu’s beauty and sacred places with a sense of reverence and appreciation for the island’s rich history and spiritual traditions.

This podcast episode captures Oahu’s hidden stories and remarkable facts, inspiring visitors to delve deeper into the island’s wonders.

With a focus on responsible tourism and genuine respect for the local culture, travelers can create unforgettable memories while exploring Oahu’s breathtaking and sacred sites.

So, before embarking on your next Hawaiian adventure, remember these 5 fun facts and travel with Aloha.

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5 Fun Facts About Oahu to Know Before You Visit Hawaii



[00:00:00] Bryan Murphy: One of the things I absolutely love about Hawaii is that there is always something new to explore and discover. And in today's episode, we're going to explore five things you probably didn't know about the island of Oahu. Whether you're a seasoned traveler or just planning your first trip to Oahu, I guarantee you'll learn something new and interesting today.

[00:00:21] So grab your favorite beverage, sit back and join me as we uncover some fun facts about the island of Oh, Aloha, welcome to Hawaii's best here. You'll learn what to know before traveling. As we discover Hawaiian culture, local businesses, and the experiences that make Hawaii one of the most incredible places in the world.

[00:00:43] And now your host, Brian Murphy. Aloha, and welcome back to another episode of Hawaii's best. So glad to join me today on episode 85. And if you're tuning in for the very first time, just want to say Aloha. Thank [00:01:00] you so much for joining me and if you found this podcast That means that you're interested in hawaii.

[00:01:05] You love hawaii maybe you're traveling to hawaii for the very first time and that's what this podcast is all about but more than just Talking about fun facts and things to do in hawaii This podcast and Hawaii's best travel is all about traveling with Aloha. So with everything that we do, it's all about being a responsible visitor to the islands and how we can travel responsibly.

[00:01:28] And we do that by learning from local and native Hawaiians there in Hawaii. And we have a lot of episodes that we cover. One of those episodes that I wanted. Just draw your attention to is from a previous episode back in January of this year, 2023, where we had Elijah Kala McShane on, and he talked about five ways to show respect for the island's culture and people when traveling.

[00:01:51] So that's episode 77. You can go to hawaiisbesttravel. com slash episode 77, and you can listen to that there. Maybe after [00:02:00] you listen to this. Episode about five things you may not know about the island of Oahu. First one on the list, you're probably familiar with Hawaii's state bird, the Nene, but did you know that Oahu has its very own indigenous bird?

[00:02:15] It's called the Oahu Elipaio and it's a fascinating little creature with a big role in both Hawaiian culture and the island's ecosystem. The Oahu Eleopaio is a small bird that belongs to the monarch flycatcher family. And these little cute birds are quite active. And in ancient times, Hawaiians believed that Eleopaio were guarding spirits of canoe makers.

[00:02:37] These skilled craftsmen would venture into the forest to select the perfect tree for building a canoe. And as they inspected the trees, they would watch for the presence of the Eleopaio. If an ellipio was found on a tree, it was believed that the bird was searching for insects to eat. And this indicated that the tree was not suitable for canoe building as it was [00:03:00] likely infested with insects and would rot.

[00:03:03] Now, on the other hand, if the ellipio did not land on the tree, the canoe maker would assume it was free of pests and would proceed with confidence in their selection. And in this way, the Alepio played an essential role in the creation of canoes, which were obviously vital mode of transportation for ancient Hawaiians.

[00:03:23] These little birds also play a crucial role in maintaining the health. Of Oahu's native forests, as they are insectivores, they help control insect populations, which can have damaging effects on native plant species if left unchecked. And in this way, the Alepio serves as a vital link to the island's ecosystem, helping to preserve the balance of life within the forest.

[00:03:49] All right, number two on the list of fun facts about Oahu is the Ka'ena Point Space Force Satellite Tracking Station. However, Before I go on, I just want to [00:04:00] acknowledge and take a moment to address the controversy, maybe you're not aware of it, that surrounds the Catana Point Satellite Tracking Station.

[00:04:08] As with many military installations, there are concerns about the environmental impact and the potential disturbance to the natural and cultural resources of the area. Many argue that the presence of this tracking station disrupts the delicate balance of the surrounding ecosystem, potentially affecting wildlife and plant species.

[00:04:31] Additionally, there are concerns about the visual impact of the facility on the otherwise pristine and quiet landscape and how it might detract from the natural beauty of the area. There are cultural concerns as Canada Point holds a great significance for Native Hawaiians. The area is considered sacred and is associated with numerous cultural traditions and legends.

[00:04:56] For some, the presence of a military [00:05:00] installation in such a culturally significant location is seen as a sign of disrespect. It's important to acknowledge these concerns and recognize that there is an ongoing dialogue about preservation of the environment and cultural heritage of Hawai'i. So with that in mind, it's located on the westernmost point of O'ahu nestled within the landscape of the Wai'anae mountain range.

[00:05:25] It's quite a sight to see. It's a series of large white golf ball like structures perched on a remote. Cliffside that overlooks the ocean. And if you're traveling on the West side, you're staying on the West side, especially if you're in the Coalina resort area in the town of Kapolei, it's worth taking a drive out to Kenna point.

[00:05:44] You can go to the station. Obviously it's not open to the public, but you can get a glimpse of it by hiking the Kenna point trail. Which is a beautiful coastal hike that takes you through the wildlife sanctuary and offers stunning [00:06:00] views of the ocean and surrounding landscape. All right, number three is the Nu'uanupali lookout.

[00:06:08] This important landmark is a must see destination for anyone interested in the rich history and culture of the Hawaiian islands. Located on the windward side of Oahu, the east side, the New Anupali Lookout offers a panoramic vista of the lush Ko'olau mountain range, the sprawling windward coast, and the quaint little town of Kailua.

[00:06:31] But beyond its natural beauty, this scenic spot is also the site of a pivotal moment In Hawaiian history, in 1795, King Kamehameha I, who sought to unite the Hawaiian islands under a single rule, led his army into the fierce battle against the defenders of O'ahu, led by Chief Kalani Kupule. This conflict, known as the Battle of Nu'uanu, Marked a turning point in Kamehameha's conquest.

[00:06:56] Kamehameha's forces relentlessly pursued their [00:07:00] adversaries to the steep cliffs of Nu'uanu and tragically hundreds of O'ahu warriors were driven over the edge of the cliffs to their death, resulting in a decisive victory for Kamehameha. This triumph allowed him to consolidate his rule and establish the Kingdom of Hawaii, which lasted until the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893.

[00:07:22] Today, the lookout stands as a reminder of this important chapter in Hawaiian history. So as you gaze out into this beautiful landscape, it's, it's really hard to imagine the fierce battle that took place here and the loss of life that took place here on that very spot. All right. Number four, as we continue our journey through Oahu's fun facts, we're going to continue to stay back in time and explore the ancient world of Hawaii and it's Heiau's or sacred site.

[00:07:51] Temples. Oahu is home to several well preserved haeaus that offer visitors a chance to connect with the island's ancient past. [00:08:00] One such example is the Pu'u o Mahuka haeau located on the north shore of the island. This haeau is the largest on Oahu covering over two acres and it's believed to have been a vital site for religious ceremonies and a focal point for political and social life in the area.

[00:08:18] So be sure you take some time if you're up at the north shore Getting some shrimp, getting some shave ice. Be sure to take a visit to that. Hey, Al. And another one on the east side, the windward side of the island is the Ulupo Heiau located in Kailua. This massive stone structure is thought to have been built around.

[00:08:36] The 12th century and was initially used for agricultural rituals. Now, later on, it was repurposed for ceremonies related to warfare and training of warriors. And today the Ulupo Heihau is surrounded by a beautiful garden and efforts are being made to restore and preserve the site for future generations.

[00:08:55] So it. Probably goes without saying, but I probably should say, because it's important to say that [00:09:00] while visiting these, it's critical to approach them with the utmost respect and reverence. They are sacred sites, and it's essential to recognize their cultural and spiritual significance. So keep in mind that these are not places for climbing.

[00:09:13] Picnicking or other casual activities. Instead, use your visit as an opportunity to learn, to appreciate, and to honor the rich history and spiritual traditions of the Hawaiian people. As we wrap up our exploration of the fascinating hidden stories of Oahu, let's dive into the surprising history of one of Hawaii's most iconic Tourist spots, that's Waikiki.

[00:09:38] Before the arrival of Westerners, Waikiki was a vastly different landscape. The area was dominated by swamps, fish ponds, and taro fields fed by the many streams that flowed from the nearby mountains. These wetlands provided an abundant source of food for native Hawaiians who cultivated the crops like taro and sweet potato.

[00:09:58] Waikīkī was also [00:10:00] home to a number of Hawaiian royalty, or ali'i, who built their residences along the shoreline there, and they were drawn to the area's natural beauty, mild climate, and fertile land. So the ali'i would use Waikīkī as a retreat, enjoying surfing, canoe racing, and other traditional Hawaiian pastimes.

[00:10:18] As Western influence grew in Hawai'i during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Waikīkī's transformation began. It began with the construction of the Moana Hotel in 1901, known as the Moana Surfrider today, and it was followed by the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in 1927. Then Waikiki started becoming a popular destination for tourists seeking sun, sand, and surf, and everything that Waikiki was known for in that area.

[00:10:48] However, the development of hotels, resorts, and other infrastructure brought new challenges and the once plentiful streams that fed Waikiki's wetlands were diverted to accommodate the growing population and this led [00:11:00] to the decline of Waikiki's swamps and fish ponds as well as an increase in the risk of flooding.

[00:11:06] The Ala Wai Canal played a critical role in transforming Waikiki into the tourist destination that it is today. So it's essential to acknowledge the development of Waikiki has not been without its consequences, particularly for the environment and native Hawaiian cultures. The loss of wetlands has had a significant impact on local flora and fauna, and many of the traditional practices and lifestyles of the native Hawaiians have been altered or lost as a result.

[00:11:36] So next time you're there in Waikiki, soaking up the sun on one of the nine beaches in that area, take a moment to appreciate the rich history that lies in that area. As we wrap up this episode, I want to remind all of us, myself included, as we travel to Hawaii, we travel with aloha, we travel with responsibility when visiting Oahu or any of the Hawaiian islands.

[00:11:57] Please remember to respect local culture, environment, [00:12:00] historical sites, and always tread lightly as you explore these beautiful and sacred places. And to get more resources, go to hawaiisbesttravel. com slash episode eight, five, and you'll get everything that we mentioned in this resource, but I just want to say thank you so much for joining me on this episode and until next time, be well, aloha.

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