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Which Island for 1st Trip?

Discussion in 'US - Hawaii Timesharing' started by Firepath, Apr 10, 2018.

  1. Firepath

    Firepath TUG Member

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    We are considering a mid May trip in 2019 but have never been before and the more I read the more indecisive I become on which island to choose. We thought about the multi-island cruise but prefer to use our timeshare. We want to use our Worldmark points but can also use Club Pass for Wyndham if there is any availability. I'd like to book WM at the 13 mos. window (coming up soon) then try to switch to Wyndham at 9 mos. In order to book flights early, I probably should only consider the islands which have both. I think that is the Big Island and Kauai only. Or I could just book WM on Maui and stick with that, or try (and possibly miss out) on Oahu using Club Pass. This may be our only trip ever to Hawaii. We also have DVC we could use for Aulani on Oahu at 7 mos. but don't have enough points for a full week. I know if will have to book WM as soon as it's available. Does anyone know what Wyndham availability might be at 9 mos. out?
     
  2. klpca

    klpca TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    Any chance you could stay for longer than one week and do two islands? Two weeks would be ideal.

    The answers will be all over the place as far as which island. I have a personal favorite (Maui), but it is primarily activity driven. What do you see yourself doing? Do you want to see historic things, do outdoorsy things - snorkeling, hiking, or see natural features such as an active volcano or waterfalls? Do you mind driving? The Big Island - Hawaii - is big and it takes a lot of driving time so see various things, Kauai is much smaller, Maui is in the middle. Tell us what you like - then we'll all give our opinions on where we think that you should spend your vacation, lol. ;)

    I don't know anything about the ins-and-outs of WM or Wyndham, but if you need to stay within those systems that may be a deciding factor on which island. Maybe you could do Aulani for less than a week and combine it with a full week on another island. Also, have you looked at flights? Sometimes there are direct flights to certain islands - so it's something to consider.
     
  3. Kapolei

    Kapolei Guest

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    In geological time, Big Island is the youngest, so you got tall mountains and lava everywhere. Kauai is the oldest, so you got lots of green forestation. Oahu is the population center with lots of history. I would suggest a couple of days on Kauai, then a couple of days on Oahu, then a week on the Big Island.
     
  4. alwysonvac

    alwysonvac TUG Lifetime Member

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    If the OP has any travel date flexibility, they can also try to obtain a Hawaii week via an RCI exchange or Interval International exchange. They could book the WM week as a backup at the 13 month mark as they continue their exchange week search.

    However timeshare exchanges require
    - travel date flexibility (wide search to increase your odds for match)
    - booking flexibility (may take months for your search to get a match which may mean a delay in purchasing airfare)
    - more money in terms of fees (exchange company membership fee if they don’t already belong, exchange reservation fee and potential resort fees).
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2018
  5. DaveNW

    DaveNW TUG Review Crew: Expert TUG Member

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    The problem with trying to go to Hawaii for a first trip is that each island has its own appeal, and they are each very different from each other. You need to decide how you want to spend your time and what you want to do/see, and THEN decide which one to book.

    But since you're booking with WM, you can always change a reservation. Given how tough it can be to book anything in Hawaii, I'd say get what you think you want, and make firmer decisions later.

    Good luck!

    Dave
     
  6. ljmiii

    ljmiii TUG Member

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    The easy answer is to use your DVC points to go to Aulani for however many days you can. Aulani is beautiful, Mid-May shouldn't be too tough to book at 7 months before or after your week somewhere else, and it will take care of Oahu. As for the more difficult question, all the islands offer beautiful beaches and opportunities for snorkeling, sailing, hiking, or just relaxing with a tropical drink. That said...

    Kauai is the Hawaiian paradise most people imagine. Lush, tropical, and lots of local flavor. For the most part less expensive than the other islands.
    Maui (or at least Kaanapali and Wailea) is focused on mainland tourism and offers lots of outdoor activities, mid-high end restaurants, and nightlife.
    The Big Island is more like three different islands. Kona-side is dry and offers a more or less mid-point between Maui and Kauai. Hilo-side is kind of like Kauai but with more rain. The South coast is remote and very quiet but the nearby Volcano National Park is uniquely wonderful as is the little town of Volcano.

    If we knew more about what you would like to do I'm sure we could offer better advise.
     
    TXTortoise likes this.
  7. geist1223

    geist1223 Guest

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    We have had no problem Booking Bali Hai on Kauai through Club Pass at the 9 month Booking Window. Though it will cost you a lot more Points than through RCI. What we did several years ago was Book Bali Hai through Club Pass (2 Bedroom 20K WM points) then we put in a request for the exact same week through RCI. If it came through it would only be 10K WM Points. It did come through and we were lucky it came through about 30 days before travel date. So it was only 4K WM Points. Cancelled Club Pass Reservation.

    As others have said if you can do 2 weeks vice 1 week please do it. Spend 4 to 5 days on O'ahu. There is a lot to do and see that has important history but you don't need a full week. Then you have to make a choice Hawai'i Mau'i, or Kaua'i. Do some research to decide on which Island for the rest of your time. They are all fun, have lots to do, and are different. My favorite Island is Mau'i and Patti's is Kaua'i. But then we also enjoy the Big Island.

    See if your Library has the "Revealed __________ " series of books - Hawai'i, O'ahu, Mau'i, etc. They are some of the best guides for the Hawaiian Islands. Review them and decide which Island is best for you. If you are into serious walking or relaxed hiking take Trek Sticks.
     
  8. taterhed

    taterhed TUG Member

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    If you feel 'compelled' to go see the monuments at Pearl.....then I understand that few days on HNL might be appropriate.
    If you feel like you've always wanted to see Waikiki--and hear Hawaii 5-0 music in the background--then I understand why a 'few' days in HNL might be appropriate. Otherwise....I'd skip Oahu. Palm trees, cement swimming pools and movie stars. Ooops that's Beverly Hills. More like Palm trees, concrete malls and traffic. Lots of traffic.
    Now of course, Aulani is nice and far from the city life of HNL, but you would be driving 30 mins to join that traffic every time you wanted to go see something in HNL.

    The big island is nice, we're going next year I think, but it's also got a lot of driving because it's such a huge island. A short stay on Hilo would involve a large percentage of your time in the car to see the parks and volcano. Plus, it's not a lush jungle with white sandy beaches sort of island than many envision. We're going for the once in a lifetime trip to see an active volcano (and more), but will stay in the park for a night or two. I'm not knocking Hilo, but I'm saying that's it a different experience that's best appreciated over a week with relaxed expectations--not frantic sightseeing motives.

    Kauai is the real 'pearl' of the Pacific for me. Crumbling, green volcanoes in the mist. White sandy beaches with few people. Dense jungle and grasslands. Water everywhere. Trails along cliffs that have NO ROADS. A grand canyon that isn't 120 degrees in the shade. Volcanoes, jungle, desert, sandy beaches. Check. The people on Kauai are real. (Not that they aren't on other islands). Real groceries, restaurants, farmers markets and more. If you love shopping malls, fancy stores, a plethora of amazing expensive restaurants and shops; don't expect to find them on Kauai, there aren't many. If you love cooking fresh Kauai shrimp on the barbie, cool mai tai's while watching the sunset and hiking to see waterfalls.... then Kauai is for you. The island is small enough to drive, but not big city traffic.

    Maui is a bit of Kauai with a lot more development and surface area. Volcano, check. Jungle, dessert, quiet beaches, check. Good restaurants, check. Big resorts, check. So, you can drive to the ends of the earth, climb your volcano, hike thru the jungles to waterfalls, walk along sandy (busy) beaches and sit at a bar with music and people to watch the sunset.....or hike down to a black/red beach with few people, lots of water and amazing views. Of course, it's a 3 hour drive back to civilization.

    If you can't do two weeks, my normal advice is one island. Too much driving, flying, changing to enjoy the experience.
    If you can do 7-14 days, and feel the need to see Pearl and Waikiki, then I'd advise a week on Maui or Kauai and a few days on HNL to see what you've come to see and remember from TV and movies. So, 7 on Maui or Kauai and 3 on HNL. Might as well stay in Honolulu if you're going for the sights, it's a big drive to Aulani and back (several times) and you'll need a rental car.

    Also, don't forget: the first day is a pretty big day of travel, even for West coasters. Early at airport, check-in, flight, luggage, rental car, drive, groceries, check-in, whew. Long day. Plan for it. If you plan to do HNL and see the memorials, you need to make reservations and buy tickets etc... It's NOT like going to a National Park as you normally would, there are plans to be made. Study it, you'll probably buy a tour. It costs $$$ and takes a whole day pretty much.

    WM in Kihei is nice....the reviews are good for BI Worldmark. I'm pretty certain you could do better by Interval or RCI exchange though.

    Good luck!
     
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  9. x3 skier

    x3 skier Tug Review Crew: Rookie TUG Member

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    I always think of Honolulu as Indianapolis with an ocean and better weather. Except for Pearl Harbor, I only go there to change planes.

    Kauai is my favorite followed by the Big Island.

    Cheers
     
  10. geist1223

    geist1223 Guest

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    WM Kapa'a Shores. Mainly 1 Bedroom Units. There are so called 2 Bedroom Units on the top floor (no elevators) and the 2nd Bedroom is actually an open Loft. It is right on the ocean, but not a swimming area. Only "2" Bedroom Units on top floor have clothes washers and dryers. There is a coin operated laundry on site. When we stayed there the Office would give WM Owners enough coins to wash and dry. You just told them how many loads. This is a share Resort - WM, VI, and some privately owned Condos. It is WM Managed. We had an end 1 Bedroom in the same wing as the Office. So from the lanai turn left and 15 to 20 steps to the ocean. No AC. When we were in the Unit we would leave the Front Door, Bedroom Window, and slider open for air flow. At night just the bedroom window open with fans going. A nice thing about Kapa'a is it is about in middle of Island.

    We also have stayed at The Point at Poipu on II Trade before we became DRI Members. Much nicer rooms. There is a $25 per day resort fee for non-owners.

    While it is only 62 miles from Ke'e Beach in the north to Waimea in the south it can easily take 2 hours to drive without any stops. Two lane Highway (except in Lihue area).
     
  11. brianfox

    brianfox TUG Member

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    If this may be the only trip you take to Hawaii, then Kauai. Period.
    If seeing a volcano is on your bucket list, then Big Island, but Big Island is far less green. Staying on a black rock for two weeks may get a bit old.
    While the thought of Pearl Harbor might be tempting, Oahu is just like your hometown's biggest city, except with palm trees. Not worth the traffic or smog. Avoid Waikiki.

    Definitely splurge on a helicopter flight (I recommend Safari).
    Depending on the time of year, seriously consider a place with central AC. All depends on your tolerance, but why stick to your sheets at night on a once in a lifetime trip?

    I would not suggest island hopping. Between checkout/checkin, car rental pickup/return, packing/unpacking an entire day is blown even if you are doing a 45 min island hop to a different island.


    EDIT: Having re-read OP, I see that Aulani may be an option. Although it's on Oahu, Ko Olina is a very nice place to stay for two weeks. Traffic on that side is not bad at all. You can visit Pearl Harbor since you're on Oahu and later that night talk complain about the horrible traffic. I will say that the Ko Olina side of the island is not that green. If you stay at Aulani, make sure you drive out to Kaneohe one day. The north side of the island is absolutely beautiful.

    However, I would still pick Kauai over Aulani for a once in a lifetime visit.
     
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  12. Egret1986

    Egret1986 TUG Review Crew: Expert TUG Member

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    Though we've only been to Kauai and the Big Island, I believe your descriptions of all the islands will assist most anyone trying to make the "big" decision on which island(s) to visit.

    I have recently made an exchange into one of the Hilton Honolulu hotels. I grabbed it feeling like that if I'm going to go to HNL, then let's stay in one of the higher end properties on the island. We usually don't stay in name brand timeshares. This exchange will be paired up with a week in Maui. It will be during "peak" whale season.

    All this is to say, my plans are to see parts of Oahu outside of Honolulu. A couple of days seeing "the sights/sites" will be all I need of that type of atmosphere. We are not "big city" folks. It causes a bit of anxiety in both of us. In my past researches, when determining which islands we would visit for our 2015 trip, most people don't like Oahu here on TUG; all for the reasons that you stated. However, there were hints from a few that Oahu had so much more to offer outside of Honolulu, which made it a fantastic place to go. Because of those postings, I decided a week on Oahu could be wonderful.

    We loved both these islands when we visited in 2015 in the same order.

    Hawaii-loving Tuggers, am I being delusional in believing that a week on Oahu, based out of Honolulu, could be a great choice if mostly exploring outside of the city? Can you answer without bias? Have you actually explored Oahu outside of the city? We don't mind driving. We did a lot of that when we visited the islands on our first trip. However, if logistically and otherwise this is just too much effort; please set me straight. Honolulu and Waikiki would simply be side trips, not the major focus of the Oahu stay.

    Based on your personal experiences, would you drop the exchange to HNL and head straight to Maui for two weeks (or Maui and Kauai)? Would you plan to use the exchange for a shortened week on Oahu (experiencing the city area only), then head to Maui for a longer stay?

    I've read enough Hawaii threads here on TUG to know that everyone has their favorite islands. Those that seem to favor Oahu seem to be those that love the "big city vibe". Are there any Tuggers out there that love Oahu for what it offers outside of city areas?

    To the OP, best wishes in making your decision.
     
    DaveNW likes this.
  13. bizaro86

    bizaro86 TUG Member

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    I think sometimes folks who have done Hawaii many times get a bit jaded about Oahu. It's a great island, and still definitely paradise. For a first time visitor especially, there are lots of things to do. Pearl Harbor, Diamondhead, Dole Plantation, Polynesian Cultural Centre, Luau, Iolani palace, fireworks at Hilton Hawaiian Village, etc. It is the "classic Hawaii" from TV, and I think it's worth seeing. There are also good beaches and snorkelling on Oahu, so I don't feel like you need to miss out on the tropical vacation idea by going there. If I was recommending only one island for a first time visitor I'd recommend Oahu. I do think if you're only going to go once it does make sense to try and stretch for two weeks if at all possible, and pick one of the other islands as well.
     
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  14. brianfox

    brianfox TUG Member

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    I agree with you IF it's a first (of many future) trip to Hawaii. However, for the OP, this trip may be the only time they visit Hawaii in their life. Based on that, I cannot recommend Oahu.

    It's like Tahiti - if you were going there for a once in a lifetime visit, the island of Tahiti is not the place to go. It would be Bora Bora or Moorea.
     
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  15. taterhed

    taterhed TUG Member

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    First, let me apologize for making Oahu sound like suburbia.

    The problem is: I've been there way too may times....for vaca, for work etc... I can't imagine why we're planning to go to KoOlina in 2019, but we really want to see and experience the resort. So many people love it.

    I do remember the first time we visited the island...the first year of my marriage. We were in love, we were in Hawaii, we ate sushi, laid on the beach, drank too much....and drove a rent-a-wreck. I still remember sailing a sunfish on the eastern shore...and learning the Japanese words for many food and drink items.
    It was paradise.

    Now, Honolulu and Waikiki simply don't offer what I'm looking for. That's not to say that the island isn't beautiful--it is. That isn't to say that there aren't many amazing things to see and do on the island--there are. Simply that it's not high on my list.

    The first time I saw Pearl and walked across the memorial.....it brought tears to my eyes. It's a very special thing to remember the horrors of war why we don't ever want to see that kind of destruction ever again.

    Plus, many people would say that Kauai, with it's jungles and two-lane roads, it's laid back look and craterous potholed clay roads, the never ending stream of chickens.....is nothing special. No big fancy malls or restaurants, no glamor. (OK, maybe Princeville has some glamor).
    But for me, Mahaulepu beach and the heritage trail is what I go to visit, to walk, to experience.

    So, no, I would enjoy the HGVC digs on Oahu. I would get out and visit the museums, the north-shore and all that Oahu has to offer. Maybe if you enjoy it properly, instead of merely wandering the streets of Honolulu and the dark stinky backrooms of Moose McGillycuddy's, you'll have a great experience and some great memories. Of course, happy hour at Duke's on a beautiful night is not a bad thing.

    Really, sorry for talking down Oahu. I'm talking down the experience of staying in Honolulu/Waikiki and NOT seeing the real Oahu. I think the real Oahu has lots to offer....once you leave the four-lane, roll down the windows and can hear the island talking to you....and not just the noise of the city.

    IMHO. Hope you have a great vacation.
     
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  16. DaveNW

    DaveNW TUG Review Crew: Expert TUG Member

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    People who are Hawaii snobs, or who think they have all the answers, tend to sell Oahu short, as if Honolulu, and more specifically Waikiki, is the entire island. That is absolutely NOT TRUE. There is a tremendous part of the island that is NOT in Town, and certainly not in Waikiki. But it takes effort to see it. If it's a timeshare vacation, the options are limited.

    If visitors want to see those iconic and historic Hawaiian landmarks, they will have to deal with the congestion, traffic, and crowds on Oahu that go along with it. But if they also want to see some of the most beautiful, and empty beaches anywhere, venture ten miles away to the Windward side of the island. I challenge anyone to spend a day on Kailua Beach and tell me they feel it wasn't worth it. With a decent map and a rental car, anyone can be completely away from the crowds and enjoying a piece of paradise within about 30 minutes. They just have to make the effort. (Try doing that on Maui!)

    Each of the main Hawaiian islands has its own appeal - and each should be visited to experience the charm and magic of that island. But if anyone expects to have only one visit to make, then a decision needs to be made about where to spend that time. There is no reason at all that Oahu can't be a part of that equation.

    Dave
     
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  17. Firepath

    Firepath TUG Member

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    Thank you everyone for the great info! I guess I've kind of always leaned towards Kauai, maybe for what I've perceived as its more quiet, relaxing side. There will likely be 4 of us, 50/60 couple and our 2 college age "kids" so I'd prefer a 2 BR. None of us are really interested in the night life or big city. We'd probably all do a zip line, tubing, some hiking, paddle boarding ("kids"), enjoying the beaches, any historical sites and state parks, farmers markets, etc. DH would likely want to golf at least once. Pearl Harbor has always been on my bucket list but I don't want to plan our entire trip around seeing it. I'm leaning towards maybe flying into Honolulu for 2-3 days to see a few highlights (maybe Aulani if it's not horribly far away) and then moving on to Kauai for a week. I can see where an RCI exchange might be a better way to go over Club Pass. Which resorts would I have a reasonable chance of getting on Kauai (2 BR for May 2019) if I were to set up an OGS now?
     
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  18. ljmiii

    ljmiii TUG Member

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    This is actually how my wife and I have enjoyed Oahu at least every other year for almost 30 years now....staying somewhere on the beach in Waikiki and exploring. Usually we go one day west/north, one day east/north, a day or two in greater Honolulu (Bishop/Queen Emma/Pearl/Punchbowl/Manoa Valley/Downtown/etc.), a day or two on the beach, and something 'different' every trip.

    Or to put it another way, Honolulu is a city with a beach...IMHO the best of all possible worlds. Because its a real city with strong Asian, European, and Polynesian influences it is possible to eat or shop extraordinarily well for almost no money...or do so even better for rather a lot of money. And there are a world of things to see and do a short drive away. My wife went to grad school at UH Manoa and it has always been our first love (in terms of Hawaiian Islands at least).

    "Everyone finds their own island" is something I heard a long time ago and agree with completely. Kauai is the other end of the spectrum from Oahu (leaving aside Lanai and Molokai for the moment) and is a lush, laid back Hawaiian Paradise. Maui (or at least Kaanapali and Wailea) is suburbia with a beach and a mountain. And the Big Island is it's own continent with beaches, rain forests, verdant farmland, arid deserts, grassy plains, and snow capped mountains...all surrounded by a beautiful ocean.
     
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  19. DeniseM

    DeniseM Moderator

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    Do you have plenty of points for an exchange?

    The only thing with an exchange is that you are not likely to get an ocean front/view unit. How important is that to you?

    Also, be aware that the resorts in Princeville are up on a cliff - not on the beach, and some are inland and don't have ocean views from any part of the property.

    Some Kauai resorts don't have air conditioning, so with an exchange, I would only request timeshares with AC, because if you get a unit far from the ocean (and ocean breezes), you may be too warm.

    Do you want a big resort with lots of activities, restaurants, bars, etc?
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2018
  20. Egret1986

    Egret1986 TUG Review Crew: Expert TUG Member

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    Thank you, Rob and Dave, for your responses about Oahu.

    After my previous post, I got to thinking, "why not just go to Maui for the two weeks." It would be easier and less expensive to do one island and currently I wouldn't be trying to line up a coordinating exchange. No need to even fly through HNL.

    Then I read your post (along with Rob and Dave's). I think Oahu is still on the table.
     
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  21. slip

    slip TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    Pono Kai, 20 wks: Maui Schooner, 1.5 wks
    From your description, I think your plan is perfect. Oahu for a few days then to Kauai. Denise is correct on the room view, although sometimes people get lucky and mid May shouldn’t be too busy. I would want A/C too but that is a personal preference.
     
  22. DaveNW

    DaveNW TUG Review Crew: Expert TUG Member

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    If you decide to stay on Oahu, let me know. I can show you how to find some of the best places the crowds rarely go to. And the drive to get there is amazing. :)

    This is a picture of Kailua Beach I just grabbed from the 'net. The beach is about five miles long, in a residential area. It continues to the end of those hills in the far distance. Lots of privacy. And it's a half hour from Waikiki.

    Kailua.jpg

    Dave
     
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  23. taterhed

    taterhed TUG Member

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    If we end up in KoOlina next Jan/Feb, I'll take you up on that Dave!

    I'd love to....fall in love with Oahu again.
     
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  24. slip

    slip TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    Oahu was our first Hawaii trip years ago. We loved it and have been going back to Hawaii every year since. I haven’t been back to Oahu since that first trip. The other islands have just caught our hearts more but we will return!

    Like many others, we thought our trip to Oahu would be our once in a lifetime trip and we would never return. Pearl Harbor was a must see for me so we chose Oahu. We still think of that first trip often. Great memories.
     
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  25. controller1

    controller1 TUG Member

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    I can't tell you how many times I've described Honolulu and the Waikiki area as Houston with a beach!
     
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