first trip to HI

May 28th, 2006, 12:13 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 5
first trip to HI

I want to take my 15 yr. old daughter to HI for a 3-4 vacation. She loves the beach, and I think would like to live in Hawaii some day. Any suggestions for a beach get-away with some local flair, but not too rustic? She isn't a nature freak. (Although I am!)
Budget is considered "economical", but nice. We usually stay at 2/3 star hotels.
RLBKMB is offline  
May 28th, 2006, 12:14 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 5
Correction: That is 3-4 DAY vacation.
RLBKMB is offline  
May 28th, 2006, 03:41 PM
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Posts: 34,104
Frankly with as little time as you have and your first trip, I would stay on Oahu. Tons of stuff to do, see, and shopping. I've been to Hawaii about 20 times over the years. I'm not bragging but just trying to say the the things I want to see and do have changed, and my focus has changed as the years have passed and after so many trips. My first trip was when I was 18 and we stayed at the Royal Hawaiian for six weeks. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. It was everything I had ever imagined Hawaii to be. Tropical plants, Hawaiian music playing, lighted torches on the beach, AND of course the beach. Waikiki with the view of Diamond Head, just like I had seen in all the post cards that my grandpa would send me. There are beautiful quiet places on Oahu as well as the "buzz" of Honolulu and Waikiki. As the years have passed and I have been to all the major islands, I now look for quieter places. Also, since you mentioned that you thought your daughter might like to live there one day, even though she is only 15, why not take a look at the University of Hawaii. Might be a way for her to get a feel of the islands while going to school.
crefloors is offline  
May 28th, 2006, 11:18 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
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List of things to do on Oahu

These are some hints/suggestions for things to do and see on Oahu. Many of the websites listed are good for all islands.

Arizona Memorial: (free) get there early, preferably by 8am. Opens at 7:30am. If you get there after 10am the lines can get long and you may spend 1-2 hours in line. Battleship USS Missouri and Submarine USS Bowfin are in the same area. These are about $15 each so you can go or skip them. Look for coupons in brochures for two for one. You can take pictures of them from Arizona Visitors Center and the Arizona tour ferry. Go on the lawn behind the Visitor's Center (Circle of Remembrance) for great pictures. You can also walk around the Bowfin Memorial area for free without taking the tour. Its worth the time. The Swap Meet is only a couple blocks from here at Aloha Stadium.

Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC): General Admission about $50 or the luau buffet package ($80). They also have an optional buffet (no entertainment) for $15. The evening 'Horizons' show is the best Polynesian show in all of Hawaii. It comes with all ticket price options. The higher priced ticket packages get the better seating for 'Horizons'. Also the earlier you get there, the better the seating is for 'Horizons'. The Ali'i Luau Show that is part of the luau package is also a good Polynesian show. IMAX, Canoe Pageant, Samoa and Tonga villages and Canoe ride are the best other attractions (these are included with any type ticket). Plan on this as an all day event. Get there by 1pm (earlier if possible), leave around 9:30pm. When I take visitors, I try to keep on this schedule: IMAX 1:30, Canoe Pageant 2:30, Samoa 3:00, Tonga 4:00, Canoe Ride around 4:30, regular buffet or Ali'i luau buffet 5pm and 'Horizons' at 7:30. The other villages are nice also, but there is not enough time for all of them. You will have time to do some shopping or looking around between the buffet or luau and 'Horizons'. Closed on Sundays. You can go back for free for two days. Check with PCC employees for instructions before leaving the Center if you want the extra days.
Coupon in Entertainment Book to save $36.

Diamond Head Summit: Drive right into the crater and hike to the top. ($5 per carload or $1 each if you walk into the crater). I prefer to drive in. Awesome 360 degree view from the summit. Best time is around 8am or around 4pm. In between it can get hot walking to the top. Takes about 1 - 1 1/2 hours roundtrip.

Punchbowl (National Cemetery of the Pacific): (free) While you are there, drive to the overlook area. Short walk to the summit that overlooks the entire city. If you have time, take the Mt. Tantalus/Round Top drive through a rain forest. Stop at the Puu Ualakaa State Wayside about 2/3 of the way to the top of the mountain. It has an awesome view of the city from Waikiki to Pearl Harbor. Punchbowl is near the bottom of Mt. Tantalus.

Hanauma Bay: Snorkel. Its for any age. You can rent snorkeling equipment there or some places in Waikiki or bring your own. Closed on Tuesdays. Try to get there as early as possible. If you drive, the parking lot gets filled up by 9:00 or 10:00. ($1 for parking, $5 for each person). You can reserve snorkel tours with several companies. They provide equipment, transportation, etc. They seem to have better equipment than the park does. You can also take the city bus. But the first city bus doesn't leave Waikiki until 8:30 am. Website:

Byodo-In-Temple (Valley of the Temples): $2 each. Just past Kaneohe. Haiku Gardens in Kaneohe is close by.

Chinaman's Hat: (free) Kualoa Regional Park is just past Byodo-In-Temple. Nice for pictures, picnic, swimming. Also nearby is Macadamia Nut Farm Outlet just before Kualoa Regional Park. Kualoa Ranch is across the street.

Swap Meet: You can buy almost any souvenirs here much cheaper than anywhere else. All items are new. Vendors wrap around the stadium twice. Located at Aloha Stadium near Arizona Memorial. Open Wed, Sat, Sun.

Hilo Hattie's: Nice place to shop. Higher prices than swap meet, but not too much more on many items. Has good selection of clothing, candies and souvenirs. Check brochures for coupons. Can take free Hilo Hattie's shuttle from Waikiki.

Ala Moana Beach Park: (free) Nice beach. Great sunset location in the winter. Walk all the way out to the end of Magic Island. Great view of Waikiki, Diamond Head, Ala Wai Boat Harbor (shown in opening scene of Gilligan's Island).

Hike to Manoa Falls: $5 for parking at Treetops. One mile one way. Short hike through a rain forest. Also small bamboo forest there. Treetops restaurant there (at the previous Paradise Park site) has a good Chinese buffet. Lyon Arboretum is nearby. It is a nice botanical garden. You can park there and walk a short distance to Manoa Falls trail.

Hike to Makapuu Point Lighthouse: (free) Great view from here. Easy one mile hike. In winter months (mid-November to mid-April) it's great for whale watching.

Other Hiking on Oahu: (good for all islands)

North Shore Beaches: Haleiwa, Banzai Pipeline (Ehukai Beach), Waimea Beach, Sunset Beach, Shark's Cove (Pupukea) and Laniakea Beach. Laniakea Beach has sea turtles. Other nice stops for pictures in the area. Can be huge waves in winter. Good snorkeling at Shark's Cove in the summer. Laniakea Beach is located about 1/2 way between Waimea Bay and Haleiwa.

Other beaches: There are close to 100 beaches on Oahu. Besides North Shore and Waikiki beaches these are some of the better ones: Makaha Beach (west shore), Waimanalo Beach, Waimanalo Bay Recreation Area, Lanikai Beach, Sandy Beach, Hanauma Bay and Kailua Beach (east/Windward side), Ala Moana Beach Park (south shore). All public beaches are free except Haunama Bay.

Dole Pineapple Plantation: On H-2 just past Wahiawa. Can visit on the way to or back from the North Shore. Nice gift shop to browse, but expensive. Go behind the center for pineapple exhibits, gardens and carp feeding pond.

Kualoa Ranch: Several movies have been set here: (Jurassic Park, Mighty Joe Young and others), ATV rides, horseback riding, tours. Located across from Kualoa Regional Park. Several tours available.

Waikiki: Beaches, shopping, dining, nightclubs, shows, some museums. Wide range in dining prices. $3-4 breakfasts, $6-10 lunch buffets, $20-$25 fine dining and anywhere in between. Best Waikiki shows: Creation: A Polynesian Journey, John Hirokawa's Magic of Polynesia, Society of Seven, Blue Hawaii (Elvis impersonator), many more to chose from. Many Waikiki shows offer cocktail show along with the dinner show. They seat you after everyone else has eaten. Regular price of shows around $40-$60. Cocktail show about $25-$35. There are several other short free hula shows and other demonstrations in Waikiki daily. Check the brochures for location, days and times. Check brochures and Entertainment Book for coupons for shows/dining/shopping, etc.

Downtown Area: Aloha Tower (take elevator to the top, nice view), Chinatown, Hawaii Maritime Center, Iolani Palace, Bishop Museum, other museums.

Botanical Gardens: Oahu has many botanical gardens. Most are free, the others charge a few bucks. Haiku Garden in Kaneohe is nice and is a nice stop if you are taking an island driving tour. Located near Byodo-In-Temple (Valley of the Temples).
Here is a nice site for gardens in the state: (all islands)

Check brochures or get info on-line for others. Search: oahu botanical gardens

Other: Sea Life Park, Honolulu Zoo, Waikiki Aquarium, Children's Discovery Center, dinner cruises, whale watching cruise, submarine tours, parasailing, helicopter tours, horseback riding, Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park, scuba, surfing lessons, other luau shows (Germaine's, Paradise Cove, Royal Hawaiian). Many other attractions, things to do. Check the brochures.

Brochures: (free) Can be found in the airport baggage claim area or at hundreds of news stands throughout Waikiki, in hotels, in stores, and at some attractions. These are excellent "things to do and see" guide books (maps, attractions, beaches, dining, night clubs, etc.). There are a lot of coupons in these for dining, shopping, etc. The best brochures are: 'This Week on Oahu', 'Oahu Gold', '101 Things Oahu', 'The BEST of Oahu'. Some of these brochures can also be found for other islands (Maui, Kauai, Big Island) unique to that island. Most of these brochures also have on-line versions.

Websites: 'This Week On Oahu' They will send up-to-date brochures for a few bucks. Also This Week Maui, Kauai, Big Island. 'Oahu Gold' They will send up-to-date brochures for a few bucks. Also Maui Gold, Big Island Gold, Kauai Gold. This is the official site for Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau. They will send a free brochure. '101 Things to do on Oahu'. Also Maui, Big Island, Kauai. Oahu Visitors Bureau, for free brochure 1-877-525-6248 (toll free) Good site for comparing hotel locations, prices, etc. (all islands) (all islands) Good narrative drive guide w/photos (driving and walking tours) Good island maps including many detailed maps. Also good restaurant guide. Good for all islands Free (pdf) circle island tour map. Also free (pdf) download Oahu movie location map. Compare hotels Compare hotels one of two main Honolulu newspapers, has dining and entertainment guides, TGIF calendar one of two main Honolulu newspapers, also has dining and entertainment guides

Automobiles: Oahu is the only island that you can get around by bus. Oahu has a good bus system, but a rental vehicle gets around a lot better. Parking in Waikiki can be a problem at times. If you plan on renting a car, make sure your hotel allows parking at the hotel or in a nearby lot or garage. Get the parking pass at the hotel registration area. Probably $10-$15/day to park at the hotel. You can get city bus passes at any ABC store in Waikiki for $20 for 4 days ($40/month). Or you can pay $2.00 per trip. There are also many shuttles, tour buses and vans and trolleys that go to many places (some are free). Also 1 or 4 day Waikiki Trolley passes available.

Internet Search Engines: Use Yahoo, Google, Dogpile or any other search engine to find information on any thing else on Oahu (or other island) that may interest you. Type in: hiking hawaii, hiking oahu, bed and breakfast oahu, condominiums oahu, botanical gardens oahu, oahu hotels or any other terms that will get you information.

Hotels: Most hotels (or hotel chains) have their own 800 numbers and/or websites:

, etc. Or you can use a search engine to find the website or use the search engine's yellow pages for the phone number.
For more lodging options:

Entertainment Book
Entertainment books for Hawaii and many other locations can be purchased online at:

They cost around $35-$40 plus shipping or if you wait until mid-March, the price is reduced to about $25 (or less) with free shipping, $15 after mid-May. Expires November 1.

Coupons include half price tickets for John Hirokawa's Magic Show. Hundreds of other coupons for reduce price luaus, shopping, dining, movies, attractions, etc. The Hawaii book also has many mainland coupons for hotels, car rentals, Universal Studios, Sea World, etc.

Lots of budget ideas including some hotels & condos:
dusty56438 is offline  
May 29th, 2006, 08:44 AM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,703
I agree with Crefloors & Dusty, due to the time limitation and the fact that your DD isn't a nature freak...although there is plenty of that there too, if desired.

Be sure to see Lanikai & the Turtle Beach and snorkel Hanauma. We really enjoyed the hike to Manoa Falls!
OldSouthernBelle is offline  
May 29th, 2006, 08:45 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 91,606
With only 3-4 days I would suggest Oahu and staying in Waikiki/Honolulu. That will make the most of your time as it is easy to get flights and you won't lose precious time continuing on to another island. I think checking out the University is an excellent idea iwth your daughter's age and interest. I'll suggest The Hawaiiana Hotel on Beach Walk as fitting economical but nice with true aloha local spirit.
suze is offline  
May 29th, 2006, 12:20 PM
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Kudos to dusty56438 for one of the most exhaustive "what to do" lists I've ever seen on Fodor!
2travelers is offline  
Aug 18th, 2006, 06:08 PM
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bookmarking for my upcoming visit-thanks!
massagediva is offline  
Aug 25th, 2006, 01:35 PM
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Here are two driving tours on Oahu.

You can combine the two if you want, but it is better to split them especially if you make frequent stops and want some beach/dining/shopping time.

1. Mini-circle island tour.

Start in Waikiki:

Diamond Head Lookout and Lighthouse on Diamond Head Road.

Continue on Diamond Head Road. When Diamond Head Road turns to go around Diamond Head, go straight on Kahala Ave. This will go through a residential area with nice houses. (Note): You can also take Diamond Head around to the entrance to Diamond Head. Even if you cannot do the hike, you can go through the tunnel into the crater to see what it looks like. Turn around just before the pay booth. Also Kapiolani Community College (KCC) has a nice cactus display. KCC is almost straight across from the entrance to Diamond Head.

After about 2 miles on Kahala Ave, turn left onto Keala'olu Ave (just before Kahala Hotel and Resort, formerly Kahala Mandarin Hotel).

Take Keala'olu Ave to Kalaniana'ole Hwy (72).

Continue around island to Hanauma Bay (don't need to go to the visitors center). You can get some excellent views and pictures from the steps and lookouts that go up and to the left of the visitors center. $1 for parking.

Continue to Halona Blowhole and Halona Cove (From Here to Eternity Beach) next to it. Halona Blowhole lookout also overlooks Sandy Beach.

Sandy Beach - Nice beach.

Makapuu Lighthouse Trail - Just past Sandy Beach and just after the road turns inland, look for a gate and a paved trail on the right. Trail is about 1 mile one way. You can often see whales from near the lighthouse.

Continue to Makapuu Pt. Lookout. Overlooks Manana (Rabbit) Island and Makapuu Beach and Sea Life Park.

Continue to Waimanalo Bay Recreation Area (just past Waimanalo Beach). Scenic isolated beach (just before Bellows AFB). Bellows Beach is also nice. Open to the public on weekends.

Continue to Highway 61 (Pali Highway). Make a left onto Pali Highway. Take it back to Honolulu, stopping at Pali Lookout.

Note: If you were to make a right onto Pali Hwy (63), you could go to Kailua and Lanikai Beaches. You can stop there with either tour.

2. Circle island tour.

Start in Waikiki:

Take McCully or Kapahulu to H-1 West

Take Pali Highway (61) across to Kaneohe. Stop at Pali Lookout.

Continue to Kaneohe. Make a left onto Highway (83) to Kaneohe (or go straight if you want to go to Kailua and Lanikai Beaches).

At the far side of Windward Mall in Kaneohe, make a left onto Haiku Road. Take Haiku Rd. across Kahekili Highway to Haiku Gardens. The botanical garden is just below Haleiwa Joe's Restaurant. Nice small Botanical garden with a Koi pond. It's free.

Go back to Kahekili Hwy. Turn left. Go about two miles. Turn left into Valley of the Temples (Byodo-In Temple). Very Scenic.

Back to Kahekili Hwy. Continue around the island. In a mile or so Kahekili Hwy will end and intersect with Kamehameha Hwy (83). Continue around the island to Haleiwa.

Stops on Kamehameha Hwy:

Kualoa Regional Park/Chinaman's Hat (nice for pictures). There is a Macadamia Nut Farm Outlet on the right just before Kualoa Park. Nice stop for free samples, coffee trees, macadamia trees. They have an inexpensive tour if you want. Kualoa Ranch is across from Kualoa Park.

In Laie, make a right at the stoplight. Go to Laie Pt. Scenic, good for pictures. Polynesian Cultural Center is in Laie. Also Mormon Temple is in Laie.

Just past Laie, is Makaekahana State Recreation Area. Scenic with an isolated beach and several islands.

Kahuku - Several shrimp trucks including Giovanni's. Romy's is just on the other side of Kahuku. Those are the two most popular shrimp trucks.

North Shore Beaches:

Sunset Beach Park

Ehukai Beach Park (Banzai Pipeline)

Pupukea Beach Park (Shark's Cove) Scenic with lots of small lava islands. Nice for snorkeling in the summer. If you make a left on Pupukea Road (at the stoplight), go up the hill and park off to the side where the road to the Heiau starts. Walk back on Pupukea Road about 1/2 block for great view of some of the beaches. Then drive to the end of the road to the Heiau about 1 mile) and park in the Heiau parking area. Take the short (about 1 block) red dirt trail straight ahead for a nice view of Waimea Bay.

Waimea Bay Beach Park - Best scenic beach on the north shore.

Laniakea Beach - About 1/2 way between Waimea Bay and Haleiwa. Look for parking on the opposite side of the road. Several sea turtles are here. This is also called Lani's Beach or Turtle Beach.

Just before Haleiwa, make a left onto the bypass to Honolulu. (Go through Haleiwa if you have more time). Take Highway 99 to Honolulu. Follow signs to Honolulu. You will pass Dole Pineapple Center. Stop there if you have time.

Continue to Honolulu.

Here are three sites/links with driving tour info: Free (pdf) download Circle Island Driving tour map. Also free (pdf) download Oahu movie location map. Good driving and walking tours. Good narrative drive guide w/photos. Good maps including some detailed maps.
dusty56438 is offline  
Aug 26th, 2006, 07:09 PM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 7,391
if all she wants is the beach, skip oahu and go to maui. if she wants other activities, go to oahu. there are direct flights to maui and the big island, but not enough time to do the big island justice. find a reasonable hotel in Lahaina or Kaanapali, it's a teenagers paradise with all the shopping, hard rock cafe etc. and nice (but crowded) beaches
matnikstym is offline  
Aug 27th, 2006, 08:14 AM
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I agree. For a short vacation like that, if you can get a direct flight to Kahului (OGG) and now waste time connecting in Honolulu, take her to Maui. The Kanapaali area is perfect for teenagers. There are some less expensive hotels. However, please define what your accomodation and food budget is to get more helpful recommendations. "Economical" might mean $250 a day in some hotels. I don't care what your budget is, but I might be able to help you more if I knew what you really could or couldn't afford.
Aug 27th, 2006, 08:16 AM
Posts: n/a
Also- 4 days is really only 3 nights. That is quite a short time. You really only have time for one or two activities. The beaches and snorkeling are so wonderful that you should use it to relax and have fun, not trying to cram in too much. An evening in Lahaina, an evening at one of the hula shows should be enough. For a daytrip, she might want to go to Paia, where the windsurfers and surfers hang out.
Aug 27th, 2006, 08:27 AM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,224
If you can get a direct flight to Maui, I'd definitely do that over Oahu. Unfortunately, some of Maui's most amazing sites (Hana's black sand beaches) require some driving which is difficult to do on a such a short vacation. On the other hand, if you're the types to get bored lying on a beach for more than three hours, then a day devoted to Hana might be well worth it. If at all possible, I'd try to make this a 5 day vacation so that it's worth the flight.
fishee is offline  
Aug 28th, 2006, 07:31 AM
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Excellent ideas! Thanks for the links as well.
Ronda is offline  
Sep 29th, 2006, 09:29 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 108!!!!!!! That is all I can say. I am sitting in HNL...13th visit bec. we have a timeshare. I was searching for "something new" to do and jumped on here.

If you get this soon..I have a couple of questions...
1. Do you think the meals at the shows are worth the price difference?? We are thinking of doing Blue Hawaii. I wonder if we should just do the cocktail and have a nice dinner somewhere else...or is the meal worth the difference.

2. We were actually looking for a good excursion to another island. We have visited all of them, so we were wanting something different. I am afraid all of the day trips are things we did while we were on those islands. Do you know of any exercision that flies you to the Big Island and does a helicopter tour and then flies you back....all included????

I know those are really specific questions...but, wow, you seem like an expert.

Thanks for all your info. I can't wait to get home, print it and put it into my Hawaii file.

jal716 is offline  
Sep 30th, 2006, 11:28 AM
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 16
Regardless of whether you stay in Oahu or Maui, get an entertainment club book. Use it to book your hotels. (The entertainment club book does not have to be the Hawaii version ($40) to do this. I have used the New Orleans book many times to book Hawaii hotels & cars.)

Call the 800 number for the ResortQuest chain, the Outrigger chain, and the Ohana chain and tell them you "want to use the Entertainment Club Card to book a room" at whatever hotel you choose in their chain (regardless of whether it is specifically listed in the Entertainment Book). You will get 50% off the rack rate and about 30% better than their internet specials.

Use Travelocity to determine which rental car company has the best prices on the island you choose, the use your Entertainment Club to book it as per the instructions in that book.

If you use the Hawaii version of the Entertainment Book, then you will get other discounts for meals, luau's, etc
MLMCVM is offline  
Sep 30th, 2006, 12:02 PM
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jal716- Dusty will likely check in again to help you out. But since your questions are so different from the Original Post, you might want to start your own, with your own title to get even more replies. Some people might not be checking in on this one since it's back from May. aloha, suze
suze is offline  
Sep 30th, 2006, 02:17 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 3,025
As I mentioned in the long list, there are many Waikiki shows that you can get cocktail seating for 50-60% of the dinner show.

Blue Hawaii is one of them.

You can get a good meal at a nice restaurant for the $$ you save. But the seating for show will be a little worse. So that is really up to you.

It's too bad you weren't aware of the Entertainment Book, because Blue Hawaii has a buy one get one free dinner show in the book. So it would have been about the same price as the cocktail seating.

There are tour companies that fly you to the Big Island for helo trips. They will include hotel pick up & drop off.

Try these:

Or you can try to get one of the cheap airfare tickets for as low as $19 + taxes one way & make your own trip. Much cheaper. Plus if you rent a car, you can see something after a helo tour.

Island Hoppers has a 25% off coupon in entertainment Book for Big Island helo tours.
dusty56438 is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2006, 11:33 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 39
The price your paying to travel to Hawaii for only 3 nights may be too much UNLESS you are on the West coast. You really need MORE TIME. When you add up your flight and Hotel. There are packages that give 4th night free. Or 5 night specials all over the internet from reputable vendors. I would really search before I would settle on only 3 days. ITs just costing you more money then its worth. And you will be exhausted trying to do too much in a very short time. I personally travel to Hawaii quite often with family living on Big Island. But in my experiance, you will actually SAVE money and have more fun with a 5 day trip costing the same as a 3 day trip through Ohana packages or Pleasant Holidays or Hawaiian Airlines and a good company :
PS : I am not a vendor just a regular Hawaii traveler...
ramfan7 is offline  
Oct 17th, 2006, 07:43 AM
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anaheimwoman is offline  

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