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Hawaii in the ’60s: See how the islands used to be, and how they changed

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1960 Hawaiian beach scene

Be an island hopper: Visit all the islands of Hawaii

The San Francisco Examiner (California) September 17, 1967

Each island in Hawaii is a little different from the others. On all of them you can find beautiful beaches, stunning scenery and tropical breezes. But to find your favorite, you must visit them all.

Oahu is sophisticated and has the most action, especially at night. But the Neighbor Islands — Kauai, Molokai, Maui and Hawaii — have a special charm. The pace is slower and the mood shifts deeper into Polynesia.

Hawaii travel by coach - United 1960

Jet travel between the islands is low in cost. From Honolulu, you can fly to Kauai for $12.57, to Molokai for $9.05, to Maui for $12.57, to Hilo, Hawaii for $19.14, to Kona, Hawaii for $16.95. Family plan fares and earlybird discounts make inter-island travel even cheaper.

New airline common fares from the West Coast enable visitors to fly direct via Honolulu to any of the islands. There is no stop-over in Honolulu.

So see all the islands of Hawaii you can. Each has its own special, wonderful sights. Each enjoys a slightly different climate. Each has its own unique legends and lore. All are truly Polynesian and all quite distinct.

Hawaii tourism in the sixties - 1967 (2)

KAUAI

The Garden Isle is the oldest island in the Hawaiian chain, and is covered with lush greenery. Sweeping crescents of sand dot the shoreline. There’s spectacular colorings of Waimea Canyon, and the fierce, half-mile high cliffs of the Na Pali coast.

Captain Cook made his first Hawaii landfall on Kauai. A Russian Czar once had a fort on the southern shore. The rain forest atop Mount Waialeale is one of the wettest spots on earth.

There are stone ruins left by the legendary race of Menehunes, Hawaii’s “little people.” Natives speak of a “lost tribe” in a hidden valley high in the mountains.

OAHU

The Aloha Isle is Hawaii’s main island, with Honolulu the state capital, principal port, major airport and center of business, finance an education. America’s military forces in the Pacific are headquartered on the lands around Pearl Harbor.

Dramatic cultural mixes occur at the East-West Center. Symphonies and combos play in the Waikiki Shell. Bishop Museum, founded by Hawaiian royalty, holds the world’s largest collection of Polynesia. At Iolani Palace, Robert Louis Stevenson chatted with King Kalakaua.

The North Shore and Makaha offer the world’s finest surfing. Hula girls perform in the center of Waikiki.

Vintage Hawaii - Diamondhead in a tourist photo from the 60s

MOLOKAI

The Friendly Isle has rolling pineapple plantations at one end, dashing cliffs and rugged coasts at the other. In the deep forests is adventurous hunting for wild boar and deer. The island offers marvelous scenery.

Unbothered by the 20th Century, Molokai remains a place of quiet, gentile, old-style living.

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Flying over Molokai 1968
Flying over Molokai 1968 – From ClickAmericana’s collection of family photos

MAUI

The Valley Isle is marked by the broad stretch of pineapple and sugar plantations that lies between its two mountain ranges. On the East rises mighty Mount Haleakala, the world’s largest dormant volcano whose vast crater could swallow New York’s Manhattan Island. Hawaii’s royalty once gamboled at Kaanapali Beach.

Charming Lahaina Town’s peaceful mood belies its boisterous days as a whaling port and royal capital. Herman Melville, author of “Moby Dick,” sojourned here, and Humpback Whales can be seen offshore in winter months.

The island is named for a great demigod who once snared the sun. Hawaiian cowboys entertain in rustic Hana on the idyllic eastern coast. Leilani Rum is distilled near Wailuku.

Hawaii tourism in the sixties - 1967 (1)

HAWAII

The Orchid Isle is well named for the lands around Hilo teem with orchids, anthuriums and other tropical flowers. Hawaii is the largest island in the chain, larger than some states. Visitors walk across live volcanoes on Mauna Loa.

World’s greatest marlin fishing is off Kona Coast, where Captain Cook met death. Great Britain maintains a monument there Kamehameha the Great, founder of the monarchy, grew up in Kohala. Vast Parker Ranch has excellent hunting grounds for goat, boar.

Ancient spears and battle-axes can be found along the trails to the old City of Refuge. Natives say Madame Pele can be seen walking across the lava flows at night. Missionaries landed on the Orchid Isle in 1820. In winter, there is skiing on the lofty slopes of Mauna Kea.

Drawing of Honolulu as of 1963

Hawaii vacation tips

COSTS — Jet fares are as low as $200 roundtrip from Pacific Coast; luxury ocean liner economy class from $280, first-class from $414 roundtrip from California. Modern hotel accommodations on all islands start at just $5 a day per person, double occupancy. And most of Hawaii’s best attractions are free.

WHAT TO BRING — Average 74° weather means you only need clothes for one climate. Supplement your wardrobe with some of our colorful Hawaiian leisure fashions. Don’t forget your camera! Naturally, you won’t need passports, visas, inoculations.

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Visit Hawaii - Matson cruise lines 1963

THINGS TO DO — Lie on a beach, ride a wave, learn the hula, eat sushi, hit a hole-in-one, watch a sunset, go to a luau, sail a catamaran, sip a mai-tai, spear a fish, inspect a palace, give a lei, visit a Buddhist temple, study a volcano, wear a muu-muu, smile.

WINTER EXCITEMENT — This Winter is a fun-packed time in Hawaii. December: Christmas Festivals and International Surfing Championships. January: Hula Bowl, Chinese New Year, Narcissus Festival. February: Cherry Blossom Festival.

Hawaii tourism vintage info from 1965 (2)

Hawaii’s tourist boom brings growing pains (1960)

The Paris News (Paris, Texas) August 26, 1960

Hawaii is experiencing its greatest tourist boom in history. But there are fears that the Islands’ friendly “Aloha spirit” will be sacrificed in the rush to keep pace with the influx.

The growing pains are most evident in the famous sun-bathed Waikiki Beach community. The skyline is changing. Giant hotels are rising higher and higher above the palm trees.

An estimated 243,000 tourists visited Hawaii in 1959, and spent about 101 million dollars, according to the Hawaii Visitors Bureau. This year’s tourist crop should be even larger. In 1930, there were only 18,651 visitors. The tourist industry is fourth in Hawaii’s economy ladder behind the military, sugar industry and pineapple.

The sands where Hawaiian royalty once played is taking on a Coney Island look — crowded, with people as well as neon signs. Today, an estimated 20,000 persons are permanent residents of Waikiki.

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1960s Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Vintage Postcard Hawaii HI

The reasons behind the rush

What caused the sudden rush of mainlanders and foreigners to see the Pacific paradise? Surf, sand and sea, to be sure. But, there were many other contributing factors.

The Hawaiian Visitors Bureau has kept up a mammoth campaign to put Waikiki vacations within reach of persons of moderate means. Real effort was made to promote the islands as an easily-accessible paradise. Scheduled air and sea service was increased and improved. Seven multi-deck hotels rose in rapid succession.

Then, the standard of American living rose. The jet age put Hawaii within five hours of California.

Vintage vacation travel to Hawaii in the sixties (2)

Vintage vacation travel to Hawaii in the sixties (1)

 

The sudden influx of tourists was most noticeable immediately following statehood last year. Hotels were not ready for the boom.

Airlines and tour agencies complained they had to turn travelers away because of hotel room shortages. There were cries that advance reservations were canceled. Crowded, hotels shuffled some occupants into small rooms without baths. The hotels do not want this to happen again.

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Hawaii Diamondhead Honolulu 1960

Waikiki adding more hotels

More than 2,000 additional hotel rooms in Waikiki will be completed this year — a 45 percent increase over the present number. Also, there will be 352 new rooms on nearby islands.

With all the good things have come some bad. Too many people — tourists and residents — are crammed into too small an area. A few Waikiki businessmen are overly concerned with extracting that last buck from the visitor.

Waikiki’s charm must not be lost. Old timers say they do not want it to become another Miami.

Waikiki has grown too fast for its surroundings. It is a little shabby around the edges. Outlying areas are referred to as “high class slums.”

Howard L. Cook, an architect, says, “There is nothing authentically Hawaiian in Waikiki. Examine the true Hawaiian grass shack culture — that is not what the tourist wants.

“Waikiki is different, certainly, but it is not the tropical paradise people come 2,000 miles to see. That is what they picture — a tropical paradise. But then they insist on all the features of a good hotel.”

Cook adds, “Waikiki is a residential area we are trying to make into a resort.”

Vintage Hawaii in the '60s - Sheraton Hotels Waikiki Beach

Not enough land for everything

Tropical foliage is disappearing under hotels and parking lots. Architects demand more land for landscaping. Hotels need the land for more rooms.

To keep the semi-tropical atmosphere, gardens, palms and ferns are planted everywhere. Giant palm trees can be found in hotel lobbies.

Harland Bartholomew of Washington, DC, head of a national planning firm which has a Honolulu office, has summed up the fears of local city planners. “You must not overcrowd the land to the point where you lose the things which bring the tourists here.”

Bartholomew describes recently-constructed apartment buildings at the foot of famous Diamond Head as “warts on the face of a beautiful woman.”

Vintage vacation travel to Hawaii in the sixties (3)

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Newspaper ads from 1960 showing the new developments

New construction in Hawaii: Hotel Beachwalk Terrace (1960)

Your opportunity to share in Hawaii’s booming tourist business! Now you can be part owner of a deluxe 9-story 100-room hotel with a choice, advantageous heart-of-Waikiki location!

New construction in Hawaii: Hotel Beachwalk Terrace (1960)


New construction: The Ilikai apartment complex in Honolulu (1960)

Fabulous new landmark on the Waikiki horizon!

23 story – 1060 unit co-operative apartment – 88,000 square feet – on the water – fee simple

New construction: The Ilikai apartment complex in Honolulu (1960)

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