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What Happened to Kauai’s Famous Coco Palms Hotel?

Waiting for a Phoenix to rise out of the ashes of the former Coco Palms.

In 1992, Hurricane Iniki devastated the beautiful island of Kauai, Hawaii. In the aftermath of the destruction lies the remains of one of Kauai’s most beloved attractions, the Coco Palms Hotel.

In ancient days, this site was the home of the royal families of Kauai’s Ali’i, and was the residence of Kauais last reigning Queen, Deborah Kapule. The now famous coconut grove was planted around 1896 using over 2,000 Samoan coconuts.

Somewhere in the early 1950’s, a young energetic woman had a vision of something unique and grand for this site. In 1953, Grace Guslander opened the resort she named “Coco Palms” with 24 guest rooms and four employees.

Over the years, Grace would continue developing this property both in rooms, activities, and international attention. She is credited with bringing “Hawaiian Hospitality” to the travel industry. Grace was the first hotel operator to initiate a nightly torch lighting ceremony and the tropical Hawaiian setting soon caught the eye of Hollywood producers.

Elvis Presley at Coco Palms during Blue Hawaii filming

Perhaps one of the most familiar movies to use Coco Palms as their setting was Blue Hawaii, starring none other than Elvis Presley. Coco Palms had a quaint wedding chapel that performed hundreds of weddings annually, the result of MGM’s donation following the movie Miss Sadie Thompson.

Larry Rivera, a young musician in the 1950’s, performed many years at Coco Palms, and visitors to Kauai are often lucky to find him still performing here.

Since 1992, this beautiful site has sat vacant, with the buildings becoming skeletons of history past. Yet, with fondness we remember those days when the site was filled with laughter, friendships, activity, and Aloha—and we still dream that a new Phoenix can arise out of these ashes!

Enjoy this video of the famous nightly torch lighting ceremony at Coco Palms!

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xenira

December 18, 2010

The Coco Palms could bring such life back to Kaua’i if it were to reopen. I would love to see that happen!

xenira

December 18, 2010

The Coco Palms could bring such life back to Kaua’i if it were to reopen. I would love to see that happen!

Ilona

December 19, 2010

Oh what an amazing part of history this was, thank you for reminding us what
a remarkable time and place this was. It seems fitting that this was such a part
of Kauais history

Ilona

December 19, 2010

Oh what an amazing part of history this was, thank you for reminding us what
a remarkable time and place this was. It seems fitting that this was such a part
of Kauais history

Martha Tumbleson

December 20, 2010

I was fortunate to see the torch lighting ceremony at the Coco Palms on my very first visit to the islands with my parents in 1981. What a treasure it was. Would love to see it restored… let’s not give up on that thought!

Martha Tumbleson

December 20, 2010

I was fortunate to see the torch lighting ceremony at the Coco Palms on my very first visit to the islands with my parents in 1981. What a treasure it was. Would love to see it restored… let’s not give up on that thought!

Lucy

January 17, 2011

Xenira, you are so right. What a wonderful piece of history would result if Coco Palms is ever brought back to life. We all hope that this will happen. Thanks for commenting on the blog!

Lucy

January 17, 2011

Xenira, you are so right. What a wonderful piece of history would result if Coco Palms is ever brought back to life. We all hope that this will happen. Thanks for commenting on the blog!

Jack Siart

October 24, 2011

I love that the guests at the Pineapple House (www.vrbo.com/174696) across the street from the resort can tour Coco Palms every afternoon.

Jack Siart

October 24, 2011

I love that the guests at the Pineapple House (www.vrbo.com/174696) across the street from the resort can tour Coco Palms every afternoon.

Lis Berling van der Kroon

February 5, 2012

My first trip to the Hawaiian Islands was in 1988 with my father and we stayed 12 days at Coco Palms. It was a wonderful time and I have splendid memories. I would love to go back, but unfortunately it’s no longer there. This year I’ll be back in Hawaii with my husband, but we’ll not go to Kauai this time. If Coco Palms ever reopen, we’ll certainly come back, the whole way from The Netherlands. Hope it will happen in my lifetime.

Lis Berling van der Kroon

February 5, 2012

My first trip to the Hawaiian Islands was in 1988 with my father and we stayed 12 days at Coco Palms. It was a wonderful time and I have splendid memories. I would love to go back, but unfortunately it’s no longer there. This year I’ll be back in Hawaii with my husband, but we’ll not go to Kauai this time. If Coco Palms ever reopen, we’ll certainly come back, the whole way from The Netherlands. Hope it will happen in my lifetime.

Lucy Adams, RS

February 5, 2012

Well Lis, the current owner of the Coco Palms resort has a building permit to rebuild the property that will expire at the end of this year if the project isn’t started….so who knows, maybe we will see the beginnings of the reconstruction of Coco Palms in the next few months. One can only hope! Thanks for your comments.

Lucy Adams, RS

February 5, 2012

Well Lis, the current owner of the Coco Palms resort has a building permit to rebuild the property that will expire at the end of this year if the project isn’t started….so who knows, maybe we will see the beginnings of the reconstruction of Coco Palms in the next few months. One can only hope! Thanks for your comments.

Eric Hodges

March 5, 2013

Can you please tell me the latest news on the Coco Palms as I believe this is the month (March 2013) the current owner building permit expires. Thank you.
Eric

Lucy Adams

March 5, 2013

Hi Eric,

Yes 2013 is the drop dead date for the developer. The permits all expired in Febuary with no request for extension by the developer. The cancellation of permits went into effect, however, after they expired, the developer came back with a request for extension. The County set a hearing for March 28, 2013 when the developer needs to show why their request for extension shoudl be granted. It appears that unless the developer has someone who is READY to proceed immediately, that it will be difficult to convince the County to consider any extension. That’s where we are today. Sorry it isn’t better news–so no Coco Palms on the horizon. Lucy Adams

Eric Hodges

March 5, 2013

Can you please tell me the latest news on the Coco Palms as I believe this is the month (March 2013) the current owner building permit expires. Thank you.
Eric

Lucy Adams

March 5, 2013

Hi Eric,

Yes 2013 is the drop dead date for the developer. The permits all expired in Febuary with no request for extension by the developer. The cancellation of permits went into effect, however, after they expired, the developer came back with a request for extension. The County set a hearing for March 28, 2013 when the developer needs to show why their request for extension shoudl be granted. It appears that unless the developer has someone who is READY to proceed immediately, that it will be difficult to convince the County to consider any extension. That’s where we are today. Sorry it isn’t better news–so no Coco Palms on the horizon. Lucy Adams

Larry Rodarte

August 3, 2014

Could someone guide me to the current owner , let’s all work together and try to re-open
The Coco-Palms Resirt , I have a plan !

Larry Rodarte

August 3, 2014

Could someone guide me to the current owner , let’s all work together and try to re-open
The Coco-Palms Resirt , I have a plan !

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