Since I'll be there in a week, let's reminisce about Oahu shall we? Oahu is the best place to be raised. And the best place on Oahu is Kailua (biased, I am). Three of the most scenic roads in America are the Likelike, Pali, and H-3 highways that take you from Honolulu to Windward Oahu.
The biggest problem with Oahu is that it's super expensive and getting more so. I just can't imagine what the rent is for a simple 1-bedroom apartment. But I guess you can say the same thing about New York or Boston. I used to go to the "neighbor islands" (as we called them) when I was younger, just for sightseeing. I took my board to the Big Island once but it was a wasted trip. Oahu still has the best waves. Private schools are very competitive to get into, and the public school system is not the best. I attended Kainalu Elementary, Kailua Intermediate, and Kailua High School. They weren't bad, and I certainly would have learned more had I studied harder. But you probably would cut class too if there were waves to catch every day. I never really noticed the isolation while growing up there, though I would get claustrophobia if I lived there today. There are always things to do and the weather makes you want to be outdoors, which is a good thing. Food is a great part of life here, from shave ice to lau laus to great Cantonese cuisine. Even today my rice cooker is my most used kitchen appliance. I do not, however, touch SPAM. Had too much of it growing up. I guess the main thing I would say is that if you aren't an ocean person, you'll probably never really and truly enjoy living on Oahu. Not everyone is a surfer or wants to go to the beach. As for the church there, thankfully there are many healthy evangelical congregations on Oahu. I'll be speaking at one of them a week from Sunday. Most congregations are multi-ethnic, which I love. I once spoke in a church that featured a hula dancer before the message. It was unbelievably lovely. But it's not just the churches that celebrate the many cultures that have come together on the islands. For me, Hawaii is truly a melting pot. We refer to our elders as "aunty" and "uncle." We hug and kiss. We celebrate May Day with lots of leis. The aloha spirit is undeniable. The 19 years I spent there were the best years of my life -- to that point. I loved living in Southern California for the next 27 years, and now I am in love with life in Southern Virginia. No, you can't find shave ice here, and I miss going barefoot everywhere. But I am content.
Is Oahu worth visiting? As an Oahu local, the short answer is yes. Hawaii is never far from my heart. In fact, I try to go through life with a little slice of Hawaii in my mind.