Hawaii in the ’70s: Look back at Honolulu & Waikiki

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Hilton Hawaiian Village vintage postcard

Hawaii in the ’70s: And you thought Waikiki was just a beautiful beach

It’s all you thought it would be, plus much more than you imagined. Waikiki is an exciting international experience — a foreign adventure with all the comforts of home.

Hawaii time Vacation in Waikiki 1973

The many faces of Waikiki mirror the world

Waikiki Beach is just the way you pictured it — golden sand, balmy trade winds, rolling surf, plenty of beach boys and barely-there bikinis.

But Waikiki is so much more than the beach. It’s a vibrant, exciting, cosmopolitan resort “city” — only a few miles from bustling downtown Honolulu. It’s the action-center of Oahu, and nearly everything about it is unique. It’s people that don’t all look alike.

In most every other part of the world, citizens conform to certain regional characteristics. Not here. The people of Waikiki are a beautiful blend of many races, cultures and religions.

Vintage Hawaii hotels in 1970s - 1977 (1)

At what other oceanside resorts can you walk down the main street and frequently see prominent residents in Japanese kimonos, Indian saris, Samoan lavalavas (wrap-around skirts for men), Hawaiian muumuus and aloha shirts, Korean ari-rangs (high-waisted dresses) and Malaysian sarongs?

In Waikiki, it’s as natural as bare feet. These unique heritages flavor everything in Waikiki from the food to the festivals. And the fascination doesn’t stop there.

Beyond Waikiki’s two-mile sweep, other international attractions wait for you around the island of Oahu — all within an easy five to sixty-minute drive from Sheraton’s five Waikiki hotels. Get a car from Avis and you’re on your way.

MORE: A 1950s tour guide to Hawaii: See what the islands looked like before becoming the 50th state

Hawaii time Vacation in Waikiki in 1973 (5)

“If this is Hawaii, how come everyone’s eating his soup with chopsticks?”

Waikiki brims with international restaurants — as well as great seafood and steak houses, featuring everything from hamburger to prime rib. But half the fun is learning how to eat what you’ve ordered when the dining room doesn’t provide knives and forks.

Chopsticks are always a challenge on the first try, and it’s a bit of a shock to find them in saimin (a favorite Japanese soup that tastes like Mom’s chicken noodle). But you learn they’re for fishing out the noodles before you drink the broth. And by the second bowl, it’s easy.

Surfing Waikiki 1973

Vintage 70s postcard of surfing at Waikiki - Diamond Head - Hawaii

Vintage Waikiki Hawaii beach hotels 1970s

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Hawaii in the ’70s: An international atmosphere

The atmosphere is international, so you can enjoy each night in the country of your choice — the Philippines, Japan, China, New Zealand, Australia, Tahiti, you name it.

Or if you’re on your honeymoon, you can escape it all on a quiet catamaran dinner cruise out past Diamond Head, Waikiki’s most celebrated landmark. Be sure to mail in the coupon near the back of this section to receive more information on the nightlife in Waikiki.

Old Hawaii - Hyatt Regency Waikiki

Beyond Waikiki is another fascinating world full of international adventures. Stop by Sea Life Park and take some Boobie Birds to lunch. If you hold the herring, they’ll eat right out of your hand.

Then descend three fathoms beneath the surface of a living Hawaiian reef and come nose-to-nose with sharks, rays, eels and brightly-colored tropical fish. In Whaler’s Cove, you can watch spinning porpoises and false killer whales put on a spectacular show.

It’s an awesome experience in under-sea Hawaii. A twenty-minute drive over the Koolau mountains from Waikiki, puts you in a world that looks more like central Japan than anything Polynesian.

MORE: How to have a retro Hawaiian luau party

Hawaii time Vacation in Waikiki in '73

In a breathtakingly beautiful valley, completely secluded from view until you are only a quarter-mile away, is the lavish Byodo-In Temple — a replica of the 900-year-old temple in Uji, Japan. You must slip off your shoes or cover them with the cloth “booties” provided before entering the temple to view the imposing statue of Buddha.

The entire setting is one of idyllic splendor and quiet repose. “It’s like going abroad without the bother.” A tour of Waikiki gives you a taste of the world. For mainlanders, it’s marvelous — a foreign experience without the bustle of getting passports, visas and inoculations.

You don’t have to worry about drinking the water. Hawaii’s water is among the purest in the world. There are no problems with foreign languages and currency changes. And you won’t have to pay duty on the worldwide bargains you bring home.

Vintage Hawaii hotels in 1970s - 1977 (3)

Hawaii’s not as far as you think

If you’re thinking that Waikiki seems awfully far away… it really isn’t. It’s only 4 hours and 45 minutes from Los Angeles, 9 hours from Chicago, 10 hours from New York, when you fly United’s Friend Ship. And you’re in a sparkling Polynesian atmosphere all the way.

Hilton Hawaiian Village vintage postcard

ALSO SEE  See Hawaii in the '60s: How the tropical islands used to be, and how they changed

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