Central Oahu Neighborhoods of Wahiawa and Mililani

Wahiawa and MillaniTowards the center of Oahu you have two communities that sit higher than anywhere else on Oahu because they are on the central plain between the Ko’olau and Waianae Mountain Ranges. Mililani which is mauka (mountain direction from beach) of Pearl City and Waipahu and Wahiawa which sits in just about the exact middle of Oahu.

Mililani Town

Mililani has about 50,000 residents split between Mililani Town and Mililani Mauka – split by the H-2 freeway. It is a planned residential community that sits on former plantation lands. It was designed by famed architect Al Boeke and the first homes were sold relatively recently in 1968. You won’t find any historic landmarks in Mililani from the colonial or territorial periods. Mililani is literally an ‘all American’ suburb town that is the only place in Hawaii to ever win the official designation of ‘All American Town’. In 2005 it was designated as one of the best places to live in the USA by Money magazine. Tourists and visitors will find little to no reason to visit Mililani.

In Hawaiian, Mililani means beloved place of chiefs and that may be true because as the third wealthiest town/neighborhood on Oahu – there are definitely some chiefs living there. Wahiawa, on the other hand, means ‘place of noise’ which is funny because it is one of the quietest places on the island – which might actually be the point because in Wahiawa, you don’t hear the roar of the ocean and so the noise of the wind, birds, and the land itself is probably the loudest.

Wahiawa sits closest to the middle of Oahu. For Hawaiians, this made it a place of power. It is the ‘piko’ or bellybutton of this island. The town was a sacred place for Hawaiian people it is where healers trained in pre-European contact Hawaii. It is where high ranking women would choose to give birth. It is a sacred and powerful place where there was a significant population of Hawaii’s third gender, the ‘mahu’ were centered.

Wahiawa, Hawaii

Today, Wahiawa is a bit of a pit – a typical military town surrounded by bases and military housing. You will find no shortage of fast food, pawnshops, payday loans, furniture rentals, and tattoo shops there along the main strip through town – though – in recent years, residents have made an attempt to clean the town up and are finding some success. Surfer’s Coffee Bar and the surrounding businesses are clean, interesting, and make a nice stop on the trip from North Shore to Oahu. Some decent restaurants have set up shop in Wahiawa. And if you get off the main drag – you will find the free, beautiful, and very well kept Wahiawa Botanical Gardens.

Wahiawa Botanical Garden

Wahiawa has a population of about 18,000 people. The surrounding military bases of Schofield Barracks and Wheeler Field both have significantly larger populations than the town. South of Wahiawa you find Mililani and north of it you find Hale’iwa. Just to the North of Wahia’wa are the Kukaniloko Birth Stones, Green World Coffee Plantation, and the Dole Plantation.

Amelia Earhardt on Oahu and in Hawaii

On January 11, 1935 Amelia Earhardt became the first person to fly from Hawaii to California. Not the first woman (though she was that) but the first person. Three years earlier she had become the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic (it was 5 years after Lindbergh had become the first person to do so). She had also been the first woman to fly as part of a crew across the Atlantic. In 1937 – she and her navigator disappeared over the Pacific Ocean as they tried to become the first aviators to fly around the world.

Earhardt came to Hawaii twice. She was suppossed to come a third time on the 2nd to last leg of her trip around the world – but disappeared before making it back to the islands.

Her first visit was December 27, 1934-January 11, 1935 – this was when she set the record as first person to fly from Hawaii to North America. The flight took 18 hours – think about that next time you complain about the 5 hours it takes today to fly between Hawaii and the West Coast.

“Over the Christmas holiday (1934,) Amelia Earhart and George Putnam, along with Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mantz, arrived in Honolulu on December 27, having sailed on the Matson liner SS Lurline. Amelia’s Lockheed Vega was secured on the ocean liner’s deck. The group spent two weeks vacationing in Hawaiʻi.” She visited Hilo on the Big Island and planted a banyan tree on  the “Hilo Walk of Fame.”

Amelia Earhardt PlaqueHer second trip was March 17 through March 20, 1937 and was a part of her first attemptto fly around-the-world – which failed with a fiery crash on Wheeler Field. – where the Pacific Aviation Museum is now.. Her final attempt flew in the other direction and ended in her disappearance.

A commemorative plaque sits at the Diamond Head Lookout to commemorate her trans-pacific solo flight. Documents from that flight were placed in a copper box and inserted into the plaque’s base on March 6. It was dedicated on March 14, 1937.

Despite many theories, no one knows what really happened to Earhardt and Noonan. Did they crash in the Pacific and drown? Land on an atoll and live as castaways? Get captured by the Japanese? The truth is – we will probably never know for sure. But she was here…in Hawaii.

 

 

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