Sorry, I disagree... Honolulu is a city, hence I refrained from going there too much. It's densely populated with tall buildings and most of the businesses (corporate) in Oahu reside there.
Is it a mainland type city? No, but it is a city nonetheless.
And I do see your point about Hawaiins in Cali. That makes sense. It's not that drastic of a change because they still have their beaches and surf there.
And stop harping on Vegas lol. Now you want to talk about a place that you should only keep as a vacay destination? Let's talk Vegas.
I actually like Diego. I go there a lot to visit bro-in-law. Daygo is our other target next to Hawaii.
I was in Hawaii for a month and loved every minute of it. I can't imagine getting island fever. But again, my wife and I hate the city life. I'm absolutely sick of city life having lived in Vegas all those years. I like having the beach to relax and picnic on whenever I want. I like walking into a Costco to buy Kalbi that actually tastes great! I like having Kona coffee and macadamia nut chocolates. I loooove having ripe starfruit.
I was born in Guam though so I guess island life is in my blood. By the way, I don't count it if the Hawaiins you know were in the mainland since high school.
Born and raised in hawaii came here 11th grade never went back. I mean, 17 years in hawaii, pretty hawaiian bro! I love Vegas btw. Go there all the time, spend days/weeks. But could never live there. Owned two properties out there, but strictly for rental.
Been several times to Oahu have stayed all over the island. Condo in Ko Olina, with my buddy in his apartment in Chinatown, house on the northshore right by turtle bay. and that highrise you see. My wife travels a ton for work, so she has hotel points up the yin yang. That highrise you see was "FREE" i.e. pay $250 to fly to Hawaii and stay for free. Trust me, I'm a Lonely Planet guy like yourself. I like to find the roads less traveled. We spent all of one day in Waikiki (the first day, it was her first time ever to Hawaii). After that first day we're in a car, and we're all over the rest of the island. Spent a lot of time over in Waimanalo, cruising the whole island, north shore. Didn't make it out leeward side, but don't really care for Waianae and the crazy stories out there. But that's why the highrise. FREE. I spent a week in Hawaii for a ridiculously low amount of cash outlay. And I dont' care that view was beautiful.
My second time out there I went with some dudes that brought Cali pot over there (pre 9/11 so you could basically smuggle a midget in your pockets and they wouldn't even know). Locals were fighting hand over fist for that shit. One dude tried to sell us an 8th for $80 we showed him our stuff they asked if they could buy it. Apparently it's hard as hell to grow over there due to the small island (people talk) so back then, all of their shit came from California. But on that trip we went pretty fucking deep into the local scene. I've asian so I blended right in, apparently. never got a dirty look at all. Talked to me in pidgin until my Cali accent came out.
And to answer your question, yes a huge foodie bro. Whenever I go to somewhere new I scour the chowhound forums to get a sense of what the locals recommend. I travel a lot due to my wife (if southwest flies there, I go meet her for a weekend). My last trip to Oahu I did mad research, had places mapped out all over the island. Sweet Home Waimanalo if you haven't been, you better go the next time (it's right on the road that goes around the island so you've probably seen it). Great Hawaiian BBQ and the best kahlua pork that I have tasted. Ono Hawaiian Foods in Kapahulu for great indiginous Hawaiian food. Ono Seafoods also in Kapahulu for Tuna Poke that I can't even begin to describe. Fried Pork chops,kimchi fried rice, and the best salad I've ever had (it really was that good) at Side Street on Da Inn or Side Street on da Strip. Leonards for malasada's (not a huge fan to be honest). Boots and Kimo's for breakfast. Shaved ice of course. Shrimp on the north shore.
I never got to try any of the "hawaiian" places that serve loco moco, spam musubi etc. Just didn't have the time and it wasn't high on my list that trip. The next time I go I'll look for those places. Oh, and if food network goes somehwere, I stay away. Tony Bourdain, I'll take a look.
I LOVE hawaii. My dream, own a house in Hawaii Kai,or even under Diamond Head. I said dream cuz those houses are fucking expensive. But I wouldn't live there 100%. San Diego is and always will be my home. Hawaii wouldn't be a terrible 2nd home. Flight deals can always be had. So I will never long for hawaii. If I miss it, I'll just go, from SD or LAX.