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!