Third largest of the islands, Oahu is home to Honolulu and 75 percent of the state's population. The island's geographic center has dramatic highlands of sheer green cliffs sculpted by wind and erosion. A lei of more than 50 beaches encircles the island, with each beach known for its special ocean sport: snorkeling, windsurfing, fishing, swimming, kayaking.
Early in the previous century, the Moana Hotel (now the Sheraton Moana Surfrider), built in 1901, and the "Pink Palace of the Pacific," the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, opened in 1927, launched Waikiki as a first-class destination. Now this 11/2-square mile playground hosts more than 120 hotels and condominiums, with almost 31,000 rooms. The new Hawaii Convention Center is on Oahu as well.
A sightseeing trip to Diamond Head, an extinct 760-foot volcano east of Waikiki, can be accomplished by coach and some easy hiking, and offers a visual perspective of the islands. On a clear day, attendees will see not only the legendary resorts and the entire leeward coast, but also the neighbor islands of Lanai, Maui, and Molokai. Around the ocean side of Diamond Head, colorful surfers and windsurfers are always out on the waves for visitors to watch.
On the other side of Honolulu at Pearl Harbor, groups won't want to miss the battleship Missouri, where the treaty was signed that ended World War II. In 1999, the "Mighty Mo" joined Oahu's other WWII monuments, the Arizona Memorial, a tribute to the men who died on the Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the Bowfin, one of the few remaining WWII submarines.
Scott Raine, who brought groups of more than 4,000 attendees to the island in two incentive trips arranged for Galileo International, found that the U.S. military on Oahu is more than willing to make its facilities available to groups. He rented Fort DeRussey, just west of Waikiki Beach, for an evening beach barbecue.
The new $14 million Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park in Kapolei, opened in May 1999, sets aside a picnic cove just for groups, with eight shaded pavilions that can accommodate 100 to 1,000 people. The park is full of waterfalls, fountains, water canons, wavepools for tube or body surfing, and slides of all sizes and descriptions that will keep groups of all ages going for hours of fun.
For a special meeting event, both American Hawaii Cruises and Royal Hawaiian Cruises make a variety of top-of-the-line charters available to groups. Charters can include seasonal whale-watching, sunset sails, and inter-island cruises with delicious food and lavish island entertainment.
* After the December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, the sumptuous Royal Hawaiian Hotel was turned over to the U.S. military and provided a warm welcome and a little relaxation on Waikiki for thousands of soldiers and sailors .
* Oahu was formed by two volcanoes that erupted four to six million years ago; they have been worn by weather and erosion to form the island's western Waianae Mountains and central Koolau Mountains.
* Iolani Palace in downtown Honolulu is the only Royal palace on U.S. soil. Hawaii's last kings and queens ruled from Iolani Palace until 1893 when, in the face of the arrival of 160 U.S. Marines, Queen Lili'uokalani ended the monarchy forever. Group tours of the Victorian palace are available Tuesday through Sunday.