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Should We Visit Oahu or Maui?

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I hope you know I am talking about the Hawaiian islands of Oahu and Maui. Both are beautiful places to visit and are a part of the eight major Hawaiian Islands. A friend recently asked me where I recommended she go on her upcoming vacation to Hawaii. Here is what I told her as well as the advice from another frequent Hawaii traveler.

Fortunately for my travel enjoyment, my sister lives in Honolulu on the island of Oahu. She has been there for 6 years and I have had the opportunity to visit three times. Going to a vacation spot multiple times gives you a certain level of comfort and familiarity. While I am, by no means, an expert on the island, I certainly did develop a fondness for certain beaches, restaurants and locales.


My sister tells me the best (and cheapest) parking along Waikiki beach is at the zoo. It is on Kapahulu Avenue where it meets Kalakaua – on the Diamond Head end of Waikiki next to Kapiolani Park. A trip to the zoo is reasonable and worth the time. It is beautifully landscaped and filled with interesting animals. After the zoo, you can walk across the street and grab a Starbucks or head up the stairs above the Starbucks to dine at the open air restaurant Lu Lu’s. It offers good food and drink specials all while viewing Diamond Head Crater and Waikiki beach.

Another of my favorite restaurants is Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant in the Aloha Tower Marketplace. It offers great food with Honolulu Harbor views. We took in the Sunday brunch on one visit and an early dinner on another. It was great for all the ages in our party. A little shopping on the way out at some of the boutiquey shops and it was a good stop.

We like to visit a different beach each day, although we spent several at Waikiki. Sandy Beach is really nice and is said to be one of President Obama’s favorites growing up. This beach has big waves and a strong undertow, so we were told by the lifeguards not to go in the water with our 8 year old. We enjoyed watching others boarding and surfing while we sunned on the sand.

The North Shore of Oahu is known for its big waves and surfing. We decided to take our first surfing lesson with North Shore Surf Girls. We were tucked in a little bay on the North Shore where some of the television show “Lost” was filmed. We saw giant sea turtles swimming beneath us and felt comfortable in our protected area. We all made it up the first time and numerous times thereafter. The joke was that my hair didn’t get wet. . . until I took a spill at the end which got applause from other novice surfers!

A few more foods to eat - remember to try Malasadas. They are a portugese doughnut without a hole coated in sugar. Leonard’s Bakery is known for them, and they are worth a taste. Try a coconut through a straw and try a side of the road shrimp truck. Then you will feel like you’ve done the Hawaiian activities.

My neighbor fell in love with Maui and they continue to visit that island – numbering at least 3 visits as well. Her advice favored Maui because of her familiarity and love of that island. The pace on Maui is different from Oahu as Oahu is a major population center of the Hawaiian Islands – numbering over 1 million people compared to Maui’s nearly 150,000 people. Maui is more remote and offers wonderful tours of waterfalls and scenery.

The combination of mountains, rainforest, and ocean make for a very lush landscape. The old whaling town of Lahaina is a favorite spot to shop or to eat dinner on a patio that juts over the ocean as the sun sets.  Whale watching on a Trilogy catamaran that left from Lahaina was a great excursion.  One one trip, friends came across a female humpback whale that had four males competing for her attention. This took place right by the boat and was truly amazing to see these large mammals in the wild. The whales could also be seen easily and often from the beach, spouting and breaching.  

On Maui, the Grand Wailea is a fantastic resort and highly recommended. Another good option is the Westin Ocean and Villa Resort in Ka'anapali. This is a great place that offers condos with a full kitchen and washer/dryer. Yet a third good place to stay is Honua Kai. It offers a condo with a kitchen and washer/dryer and has a huge balcony the length of the condo.

Some good restaurants are Duke's which is right on the Honua Kai property and on the beach. In Lahaina, try a burger joint called Cool Cats. Finally, the Lahaina Grill is a favorite place to eat as well because it has a great view of the ocean and a laid back atmosphere.

All in all, whether you choose Oahu or Maui for your Hawaiian vacation, you will have a wonderful time as you enjoy the beauty of Hawaii.


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Guest Tuesday, 23 January 2018