Short History Of Waikiki

It's hard to imagine, but at one time there were no hotels in Waikiki. The area was mostly marshland, at times a place where royalty hung out. But over the years there have been movies made about it, with stories of romance unfolding on its beaches. Waikiki...the feature of this weeks Lucky You Live Hawaii.

It's the engine that drives Hawaii's economy but before there were hotels and visitors lining the beaches, Waikiki was a vast marshland. The early Hawaiians turned it into taro fields and fishponds.

Take the daily walking tour of Waikiki and you'll learn about Kamehameha the Great who loved to spend time here. You'll also hear some strange tales.

"This was actually like a heeiau in this area. Dedicated to a chicken god."

The first hotels in Waikiki were bathhouses. In the 1880's they offered rooms for overnight stays. The Moana is Waikiki's first resort. It opened in 1901 and at the time was the tallest building in the state.

It's hard to imagine, but by 1900 surfing had nearly died out in Waikiki. The missionaries thought it was a waste of time.

"It was almost banned. And at one time only royalty could surf. Or at least when the commoners surfed with the royalty they couldn't be on the same wave at the same time," says Cha Thompson of the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association

That's when a group of Honolulu residents formed the Outrigger Canoe Club to preserve the sport of board riding and canoe paddling. Most of us know about the accomplishments of surfer and olympic swimming champion, Duke Kahanamoku.

"He started swimming here in Waikiki as just a little boy growing up," says Thompson.

But did you know that from 1934 to 1960 the Duke was Honolulu's sheriff.

"Deliver summons, mostly make peace though. He went in especially during domestic times between a husband and wife, he made peace. He had that gentle spirit about him," says Thompson.

And while it disappeared years ago, Queens Surf was one of Honolulu's most popular nightclubs in the 50's and 60's. (

"That was the favorite watering hole of the locals and the visitors alike. It just had the atmosphere of a real real Polynesian paradise," says Thompson.

Today Waikiki offers something for everyone. Visitors and locals hit the water to surf. The names of Kamehameha and Kahanamoku have been joined by Ferragamo, Cartier, and Louis Vuitton. A coexistence that gives Waikiki a special spirit and romance and just one more reason you are so Lucky You Live Hawaii.

If you'd like more information on the Waikiki walking tours you can call the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association at 737-6442.

And if you know of a person, place, or thing that makes us lucky we live Hawaii, we'd like to share them with our viewers. E-mail your suggestions to Lyle Galdeira (lgaldeira@khnl.com)