Turtle Bay Resort vs Hilton Hawaiian Village

Two of the best known resorts on Oahu are on polar opposite sides of the island. It’s their respective renown that constantly pits them against one another, even though they couldn’t be further apart. This leaves visitors from around the world confused about which they should choose for their next vacation. Thankfully, you’ve come to the one homegrown resource that will give you an honest answer. After all, neither one of them has given us a free weekend stay to sway readers one way or the other. Who is the victor in the battle of Turtle Bay Resort vs Hilton Hawaiian Village? Let’s find out!

Side-by-Side Comparison Between Turtle Bay Resort and Hilton Hawaiian Village on Oahu

I. Convenient Location

Turtle Bay Resort vs Hilton Hawaiian Village

As alluded to above, the two resorts are on opposing sides of Oahu; the South Shore and the North Shore. The Hilton Hawaiian Village (HHV) is located at 2005 Kalia Road in Waikiki, and Turtle Bay Resort is at 57-091 Kamehameha Highway in Kahuku. Drop those two addresses into Google Maps (Turtle Bay vs Hilton), zoom out, and you‘ll see how far apart they are. 

It’s not just geography that makes these two opposites, as the North Shore’s laid-back “country” personality stands in stark contrast to the glitz, glam, hustle, and bustle of its southern counterpart. It’s important to understand this because it does impact what one considers to be convenient. Do you plan to spend most of your time discovering secluded beaches while immersed in nature? Or do you prefer to see and be seen by fellow vacationers while bumping elbows at the Apple Store? The North Shore is most convenient for the former, while South Shore applies to the latter.

Ultimately, we must judge the matchup based upon the traditional sense of convenience. HHV is a short shuttle from Honolulu airport and is within walking distance to off-site shopping (Ala Moana Center, etc.), restaurants, amenities, and ticketed events and attractions. View more on these criteria below.

Winner: Hilton Hawaiian Village

II. Food & Drink

Turtle Bay Resort vs Hilton Hawaiian Village

As the same infers, the Hilton Hawaiian Village is exactly that – a village. As a result, the property has a greater number of places to eat and drink than its competitor. Tropics Bar & Grill is the Hilton’s headliner, but the rest of their fare feels more like a foodcourt, with mainland eateries such as CJ’s New York Delicatessen, Fresco Italian, and Roundtable Pizza. Not exactly what you came to Hawaii for, right?

Turtle Bay Resort, on the other hand, is free of franchises that you would find in LA, Vegas, or NYC. Instead, hungry guests are treated to a number of culinary offerings that reflect geography and lifestyle. Their respective designs and menus respect the culture of the North Shore and the Hawaiian Islands. Restaurants, cafes, and watering holes include Alaia, Sunset, Off The Lip, The Club, Ho’olana Cafe, Lei Lei’s Bar & Grill, Luau, and the beachfront Beachhouse by Roy Yamaguchi.

Winner: Turtle Bay Resort

III. Crowd Factor

Based on what you’ve read above, you probably know the answer already. The Hilton Hawaiian Village is without a doubt the busiest resort property on the island. This quote from a recent article about the Best Kid Friendly Hotel in Waikiki (that parents can handle) sums it up:

“Theoretically any large resort with waterslides, three-wheeled aqua-cycles, pedal boats, and onsite children’s wear is tailor-made for parents with tots in tow. But as any vacationing parent knows, those amenities come at an expense. We’re not referring to nightly rates, but the trade-off of peace, quiet, and aloha spirit. The cost of keeping your kindergarteners to early adolescents entertained is the insufferable screeching and tantrum throwing of other peoples’ offspring. Spend an Sunday afternoon at Hilton Hawaiian Village to discover what we mean.”

We cannot be more clear on this point. If you don’t like crowds and being surrounding by hundreds of other vacationers’ kids, you will find the scene at HHV insufferable. Turtle Bay Resort’s swimming pool and main beach (Kuilima Cove) may get busy on a bright sunny day, but it doesn’t come close to the madness of HHV. Guests at Turtle Bay Resort are quieter and more respectful of personal space. 

When it comes to crowds, Turtle Bay Resort is a calm breeze while Hilton Hawaiian Village is a hurricane.

Winner: Turtle Bay Resort

IV. Shopping

The Hilton Hawaiian Village has a number of shops that sell island lifestyle goods, including Martin & MacArthurHonolua Surf CoHonolulu Cookie CompanyVolcom, and SoHa Living to name highlights. Souvenir clothing hunters will also find Crazy Shirts and Honolulu Harley-Davidson Boutique along with other silly fashions. Ultimately, non-guests would never venture into the resort to get their fix, but it’s so close to Hawaii’s largest shopping center that HHV can be forgiven for its lack of retail creativity.

On the other side of the island, Turtle Bay has Surf House, which is one of the coolest surf-themed clothing and accessories destinations around. The North Shore resort is also home to an independent boutique store for women named Breeze, along with the Golf Shop and sprinkles of other retailers. Despite the charming options that do exist, shopping is very limited within and around the resort.

Winner: Hilton Hawaiian Village

V. Activities

Turtle Bay Resort vs Hilton Hawaiian Village

The Turtle Bay Resort vs Hilton Hawaiian Village debate is a heated one when it comes to activities.

HHV guests enjoy on-site access to Atlantis Adventures which includes whale watching, cocktail cruises at sunset, and its highly-rated submarine tour. The beach rental inventory is equally deep, with surfboards and paddleboards (plus lessons) in addition to big-wheeled water bikes and kayaks. Small children and ocean-averse visitors also have lots to look forward to in the shallows of Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon.

Turtle Bay is teeming with things to do as well. For one, the property is a golf resort that features the world famous Arnold Palmer Course and other less intense links for casual putters. Further, there’s the recently added Jamie O’Brien Surf Experience which offers surfboard rental and lessons. Guests can also snorkel at Kuilima Cove which is a part of the property, or head over to the stables on the other side to go horseback riding to Kawela Bay.

Hilton Hawaiian Village may have a greater number of on-site activities, but these all feel a little too “packaged”. Turtle Bay’s are better connected to the āina and sea.

Winner: Turtle Bay Resort

VI. Special Events

Turtle Bay Resort vs Hilton Hawaiian Village

Hilton Hawaiian Village has the best luau in Waikiki and they put on a fireworks show every Friday night. The property also hosts art exhibits and movie nights on the village green. The resort is also very festive during the Holiday season and other annual celebrations. Furthermore, with dozens of on-site ballrooms there always seems to be some sort of shindig happening at HHV. Turtle Bay Resort on the other hand, is much more low key in this capacity. During the North Shore surf competition season it comes to life with one-off events, but those are more catered to specific tastes.

Winner: Hilton Hawaiian Village

VII. Authentic Hawaiian Experience

Turtle Bay Resort vs Hilton Hawaiian Village

Our mission is to connect visitors to the real Hawai’i. With a few small exceptions, resorts aren’t included in our Accommodations section unless they honor Hawaiian culture in the most authentic manner possible.

The Hilton Hawaiian Village does a fair job of this, offering hula, ukulele, and lei making classes. They also decorate their walls, halls, and suites with Polynesian flare. However, the aloha spirit struggles to shine through the swath of screaming children, bickering couples, traveling band camps, and lineups that make these scene look more like Disneyland than an island in the North Pacific.

On the opposing side of Oahu, the newly renovated Turtle Bay Resort has received a facelift that stares into the soul of Hawaii. Within the annals of the property is a passageway that escorts visitors on an odyssey through mauka (mountain), kula (valley/plains), and makai (ocean) to honor the interconnected relationship between all of Hawaii’s natural elements. The spirit of Aloha ‘āina is felt throughout the permanent exhibit which is named after the sustainable land management system known as Ahupua’a. This is in addition to Turtle Bay’s upgrades that pledge appreciation to a culture of surfing that was born and bred in the Hawaiian islands before being released to the world. The authentic Hawaiian experience alone has made Turtle Bay Resort worth the price of admission, although you can check it out for free.

Winner: Turtle Bay Resort

OVERALL WINNER: Turtle Bay Resort

It was a close call, but Turtle Bay basks in the glory of its win over the Hilton Hawaiian Village by a score of 4-2.

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