Journey Through Oahu's Maritime History
Information about the maritime history of Oahu.
An island located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Oahu has a rich maritime
history that dates back thousands of years.
The Polynesian migration to Hawaii and the discovery and settlement of the
remote islands in the Pacific was a remarkable achievement that took place
before the birth of Christ. At that time, Europeans were sailing close to
the coastline of continents before developing navigational instruments that
would allow them to venture into the open ocean. By the time European
explorers entered the Pacific Ocean in the 16th century, almost all the
habitable islands had been settled for hundreds of years. Today the
Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) carries on the tradition by retracing
the early voyages relying on celestial navigation.
Captain James Cook discovered the natural treasures of the Hawaiian Islands
for the West in 1778. From there, Oahu became host to other explorers,
missionaries, whalers, commercial vessels, tourists and the United States
Matson Navigation Company was a welcome sight as they carried goods and
connected Hawaii to the world. Their long association with Hawaii began in
1882 when Captain William Matson sailed his three-masted schooner, Emma
Claudina, from San Francisco to Hawaii carrying 300 tons of food, plantation
supplies and general merchandise. Increased commerce brought a corresponding
interest in Hawaii as a tourist destination so Matson included passengers
among his precious cargo as early as 1908.
As the early cruise ships began arriving in Honolulu, passengers were greeted
by locals who would go out on small boats to meet the cruise ships, climb aboard
and sing to the people on the ship. In addition to the music, hula dancing
and lei greetings, the Aloha Tower built in 1926 stood just over 184 feet
A-L-O-H-A etched in big letters signaling passengers they had reached the
tropical destination of Oahu.
In the neighboring pier, Pier 7, The Falls of Clyde is moored at the Hawaii
Maritime Center. Boat lovers, sailors and visitors of all ages step back in
time aboard the only four-masted, full-rigged ship left in the world. Built
in 1878, the ship is a national historic landmark.
Oahu was also an important strategic base in Naval history, being home to
Pearl Harbor. The U.S.S. Arizona Memorial welcomes millions of visitors
each year in remembrance of the 1,177 sailors who lost their lives on
December 7, 1941 and as the symbol for the United States entry into
World War II. Next door, the U.S.S. Bowfin Submarine and Museum tells
tales of the critical role submarines played in winning the war. Finally
the U.S.S. Missouri (nicknamed Mighty Mo), which is permanently stationed
at Pearl Harbor, completes the triangle with the signing of the peace
treaty on the deck symbolizing the end of the war.
Today, many boats cruise in the waters off the shores of Oahu for diving
and fishing charters, vacationing yachters, whale watching tourists,
weekend sailors and such. Kayaks and outrigger canoes and even surfers
enjoy the pristine waters. More than 125 beaches grace the shores offering
visitors and locals the best the islands have to offer.
Once on land, the cultural diversity of Oahu creates the spectrum of dining
options from world-class chefs to the small ethnic hole-in-the-wall eateries
to satisfy every taste and budget. The rich cultural history comes alive not
only in the food, but also in the attractions and activities abundant on Oahu.
Whether art galleries, museums, aquarium, shopping, natural beauty, or
nightlife, the island of Oahu offers something for everyone.
Article provided courtesy of the Oahu Visitor's Bureau
History of Oahu
The Hawaiian Monarchy
Regions of Oahu
More Articles about Hawaii
Oahu Island - Main Menu
Islands of Hawaii
Hawaii for Visitors