This page last updated: 13 October 2000


::: MAPS OF HAWAII - Island of Oahu :::

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Oahu color 100

Oahu has two mountain ranges separated by a saddle running from Waialua in the north to Pearl lagoon in the south. The Koolau is the longer of the two ranges and extends the entire length of the east side of the island separating "windward" Oahu from the rest of the island. Kuahuanui Peak, at 3,105 feet, is the highest point of the Koolau. The western mountains, known as the Waianae Mountains, are higher at Mt. Kaala (4,030 feet) but shorter in length. Honolulu, the capital of the islands since 1846, is located on the south west coast. Its harbor, the best in the chain for sailing ships, was discovered in the days of the seal and sandalwood trade at the close of the 18th Century.

Oahu is 595 square miles in size. Kaena Point is the westernmost tip, Kahuku point is at the north, Mokapu Point juts out eastward forming the south rim of Koolau Bay (or Kaneohe Bay, if you prefer) and the easternmost point of land is Makapuu Point. Diamond Head forms the south point of the island. Apart from Honolulu Harbor, there were landings for small ships at Waianae, Waialua, Laie, Punaluu, Kaneohe and Waimanalo. Windward landings from Laie to Waimanalo were tricky during the usual northwest trade winds and one mistake could result in being tossed up on the beach by wind and current.

Travel on Oahu was easy from Honolulu to the north point going via the arid saddle between the two mountain ranges. Crossing the Koolau Range was possible at the top of Nuuanu Valley where a pass opens onto Kaneohe. Between the top of Nuuanu Valley and Kaneohe was a steep cliff or "Pali" that stopped all but the more adventurous and daring travelers until a carriage road eventually opened across the Pali. The Oahu Railroad is not mentioned on this map because it was built later. It started at Honolulu and by the late 1890's reached Kahuku via Ewa, Waianae, Kaena Point and Waialua.

For details on Overland Mail Carriage on Oahu.
For details on the Town Postmarks of Oahu.

Southern Oahu, including Honolulu

Oahu south color 150

From Barber's Point, on the left of this map, to Makapuu Point, on the right, is the most densely populated region in all of Hawaii and it has been so since the 1840's. From Barber's Point, going eastward, one travels through the Ewa Plantation lands to the west and north of Pearl Lagoon and 18.25 miles from Honolulu. Not mentioned on this 1887 map are the sugar towns that sprung up in the following years around Pearl Lagoon at Honouliuli, Pearl City (11.8 miles from Honolulu), Waipahu and Aiea (9.5 miles from Honolulu). Going northeast from Honolulu, a road went up Nuuanu Valley 6 miles to the Pali at the top where travelers could look down upon windward Kaneohe (10.7 miles from Honolulu using the carriage road) and neighboring Kailua. Oahu's southeastern windward side was fairly heavily populated with the main towns being Kaneohe, Kailua and Waimanalo (6 miles from Kaneohe and 12 miles from Honolulu using the Pali carriage road).

Northern Oahu

Oahu north color 150

Villages in the northern part of Oahu were situated in three distinct regions. Waianae (30 miles from Honolulu) on the western coast was separated from the saddle region by the Waianae Mountains. A trail crossed the mountains to the saddle, but most travel was south to Ewa or north around Kaena Point to Waialua (50 miles from Honolulu). The saddle was arid and sustained no significant population until late in the 19th Century when irrigation made the land arable and the town of Wahiawa sprung up about where the road passes between the Waialua District and the District of Ewa and Waianae. From Waialua, a good horse trail, and later a carriage road, passed around Kahuku Point to the windward side where the towns of Kahuku (11.4 miles from Waialua), Laie (4.8 miles from Kahuku), Hauula (3 miles from Laie), Punaluu (3 miles from Hauula), Kaaawa, Kualoa (6.5 miles from Punaluu), Waikane, Waiahole (3 miles from Kualoa and 7 miles from Kaneohe) and Heeia were situated. A carriage road connected Waimanalo and Kahuku along the windward shore but the Koolau range was impassable except through Nuuanu Pali or at either end.

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