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.

U.S. Military Bases on Oahu

Pearl Harbor There are a ton of military bases on Oahu. Strike that, there are two tons – or maybe more like 250,000 tons. close to 50,000 active military personnel plus their wives and children makes at least 125,000 people who don’t live in Hawaii except as a duty assignment. Add to that the 15-25,000 reserve personnel and the 100,000 people who in some way rely on the bases for their employment and what you have is nearly 1/4 of the population here in Hawaii either in or beholden to the military. Hawaii is one of a very few states that have at least one base for every branch of the armed forces – and, actually, we have more than one of almost all of them. Counting the bases, like counting the personnel themselves is impossible because the definition of bases seems to change – for example Joint Base Pearl Harbor or whatever it is now. It’s not just the Navy and Marines who have a base in Hawaii – it’s every branch. Plus the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, and state and local police. In any event, here are the bases.

Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu

Bellows Air Force Base in Waimanalo

Fort Shafter Army Base in Honolulu

Schofield Barracks Army Base in Wahiawa

Tripler Medical Center Army Base in Honolulu,

Fort Derussy Army Base in Waikiki

Wheeler Army Airfield in Waihiawa

Camp Smith – Joint Base in Aiea

US Coast Guard Base Honolulu

Kaneohe Marine Corps Base Hawaii

Bellows Marine Corps Training Area

NCTAMS PAC in Wahiawa (Navy)

Pearl Harbor Naval Base, Pearl City

Kunia Field Station Navy Base in Kunia

Iroqouis Point Naval Station, Ewa Beach

So, if you count them that way – there are sixteen U.S. Military Bases on Oahu. The most heavily fortified island and city in the United States and quite possibly in the world. All the bases sit on prime land that once belonged to the Hawaiian Kingdom and thereby to the Hawaiian people – you can’t go on the bases unless you have clearance. Sorry.

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