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PK

Name:Coco Palms Resort Hotel
Type:Hotel
Street:4-241 Kuhio Highway
City:Kapaa
State:HI
Zip:96746
country:USA
Phone:
Status:defunct

Description:
I am surprised that no one has posted this wonderful relic in Locating Tiki. Although there was nary a tiki to be found, throughout it's history, the Coco Palms was the epitome of the tiki spirit. Largely credited to one woman, Mrs. Grace Guslander, the Hotel and grounds captured the fantasy of Hawaii and Hawaiian culture that mid-century mainlanders expected; lots of color, vegetation, native materials (and natives for that matter) and fire and food and Elvis. The resort has been closed since being hit by Hurricane Iniki in 1992.


Rum and Coke the right way.

[ Edited by: Primo Kimo 2008-08-04 09:44 ]

J

Wow! Awesome pictures. When were they taken!

PK

These were taken July 2008 while on my honeymoon. I made my Bridget go there twice (I had to go buy another SD card for my camera). I took more than 500 pics of Coco Plams and adjoining (abandoned) Seashell Restaurant pictured below.


[ Edited by: Primo Kimo 2008-08-06 12:46 ]

On 2008-08-03 16:15, Primo Kimo wrote:
... I took more than 500 pics of Coco Plams
and adjoining (abandoned) Seashell Restaurant pictured below.
...

amazing pictures !
this place looks still beautiful.

please post all of them :))

ps:
http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=15606

CJ

I concur...pictures are great. I'll be staying across the highway from this place come September and will take some updated pics. I heard it's going to be a new time share place

Wow, what a great photo safari. James, somehow I missed this thread when you initially posted it. What an urban archeologist's wet dream! Naomi was ooohing and aaahing, too.

I was there in the late 90s, but the place was locked airtight, glad you got in somehow. Everybody, read up on this Poly pop temple in Jeff Berry's Sippin' Safari pages 78 to 81, you can see a Tridacna clam shell sink in use.

Here is THE most classic "Before" image of the lobby:

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2009-01-04 21:31 ]

T

I scored a brochure/menu from The Coco palms Today. The Lunch Buffet is listed at $2.25, so I'm guessing it's a pretty old piece.

I was pretty stoked to find this today.

UPDATE :

Found on this link, it appears that is indeed from 1960...

http://www.coco-palms.com/photos/menu/thumbnails.htm


Do you have your TIKIYAKI ORCHESTRA CD YET ?
http://www.myspace.com/tikiyaki
http://www.tikiyakiorchestra.com

[ Edited by: tikiyaki 2009-01-04 23:00 ]

Great find, and nice link, too! I cannot help but point out again the utter lack of Tiki iconography, proving that the Tiki was mainly a mainland icon. Nevertheless, this was Hawaii as it should be!


PK

Check out the entire set of Coco Palms pics at http://photo.jameskathary.com/main.php?g2_itemId=511

T

On 2009-01-05 16:07, bigbrotiki wrote:
Great find, and nice link, too! I cannot help but point out again the utter lack of Tiki iconography, proving that the Tiki was mainly a mainland icon. Nevertheless, this was Hawaii as it should be!

Which leads me to this question. Were there alot of tikis on the grounds of the Coco Palms ? I would imagine so, back in it's heyday, but there don't seem to be any in the pix.

Either way, when you look at the building and it;'s decor it sure says "tiki".

These are the only tiki images i could find on the grounds. Not the most snuggly tikis, but I think they count.

**---> See my post below for the reasoning behind the lack of tikis at Coco Palms.

Here is a note i received from the great Bob and LeRoy when I initially posted these pics. It answers the questions of why no tikis...

Aloha James:
Thanks for the wonderful photos of the Coco Palms. Grace Guslander visited our old Whittier shop and then she bought from us for many years. We supplied a lot of thatching, lighting, artifacts and the Rattan furniture. Vince Buono who was our partner in Oceanic Arts Hawaii for about 10 years still lives in Kapaa. The photos are great but sad for us and we remember it during it's best days and still have most of the brochures from the Coco Palms and letters from Grace.
Grace did not like Tiki's as the Coco Palms was built on much of the old sacred grounds. We note 3 tiki like items on a wall. These were images of the old Kauai House Posts which were dug up in an old dump in Kauai.
It was nice to "see" you again James of the Kahiki Moon.
Your friends,
Bob & LeRoy

I love these guys!

T

Wow, Primo, thanx for that explanation. That pretty much sums it up, I think.

G

I had seen these pictures before when they were first posted. And I'm glad you got to photograph this beautiful temple. I don't know about anyone else though, but Sven putting the "before" and "after" pictures right next to each other practically brought a tear to my eye. Like seeing a formerly beautiful Hollywood starlet in a nursing home. A sad ending.

On 2009-01-07 10:03, tikiyaki wrote:

On 2009-01-05 16:07, bigbrotiki wrote:
Great find, and nice link, too! I cannot help but point out again the utter lack of Tiki iconography, proving that the Tiki was mainly a mainland icon. Nevertheless, this was Hawaii as it should be!

Which leads me to this question. Were there alot of tikis on the grounds of the Coco Palms ? I would imagine so, back in it's heyday, but there don't seem to be any in the pix.

Geez, Jim, what is it with you, you just can't take my theory of Tiki NOT being an island phenomenon as proven, you always have to play the doubting Thomas. :D Sorry, it's ironclad, and any exceptions merely prove the rule.

T

On 2009-01-07 16:48, bigbrotiki wrote:

On 2009-01-07 10:03, tikiyaki wrote:

On 2009-01-05 16:07, bigbrotiki wrote:
Great find, and nice link, too! I cannot help but point out again the utter lack of Tiki iconography, proving that the Tiki was mainly a mainland icon. Nevertheless, this was Hawaii as it should be!

Which leads me to this question. Were there alot of tikis on the grounds of the Coco Palms ? I would imagine so, back in it's heyday, but there don't seem to be any in the pix.

Geez, Jim, what is it with you, you just can't take my theory of Tiki NOT being an island phenomenon as proven, you always have to play the doubting Thomas. :D Sorry, it's ironclad, and any exceptions merely prove the rule.

Don't call me thomas :)

for the past two days Ive been pouting over all that i could find on the Coco palms. OOooOO I'm fascinated by the dilapidation. the pics are great.
I did read somewhere in either this thread or the other one in general tiki that there were originally no tikis on the grounds. explanation given by Bob and Leroy of oceanic arts.

sooo onto my question.. don't rip my head off I DID USE THE SEARCH FUNCTION. and after coming up with no matches I was wondering if there are any more pics of the seashell restaurant??? either before or after the hurricane

[ Edited by: Sophista-tiki 2009-04-02 09:50 ]

D

What amazing photos. Its amazing how much of it is still there!! There is a kind of beauty in the decay though. Its a real shame the nobody has taken it and restored it back into a world-class Hawaiian resort destination.

Thanks for the photos!!!!!!!!

On 2009-01-05 16:07, bigbrotiki wrote:
Great find, and nice link, too! I cannot help but point out again the utter lack of Tiki iconography, proving that the Tiki was mainly a mainland icon. Nevertheless, this was Hawaii as it should be!

What?

Hi Mrs Bamboo. Welcome to TC. This is a subject discussed extensively on many threads here on TC. There are many discussion about the differences between classic Tiki and mainland and Hawaiian interpretations. Sven's "Book of Tiki" is a great source in this area and a must read. I am no expert in this area so I'll leave it at that. Welcome aboard and enjoy.

T

Anyone know whether this is destined to be a fixer-upper or a faller-downer? I can see it likely being not cost-effective to restore, but I can also see it being not too far gone - restoration would be possible. Not like the arsonists and copper pirates have taken over.

I second the motion for interiors of what's under that awesome dome at the restaurant. As for those ceiling fans in the lobby - they're Hunter Originals. Older ones. New blades, some oil, and there's a fair chance they'll start right up. Solid cast iron, those things are tanks.

CJ

some recent photo's of our visit last week. Amazing yet very dangerous..they main lobby roof is almost completely caved in.

Amazing! A lost ruin city in the jungle. This and the Hotel Tahaara near Papeete would be my favorite sunken Hotel sites I still would like to explore. Oh, and the Rainmaker in Samoa...

T
TikiG posted on Wed, Sep 30, 2009 9:00 AM

CocoJoe -

Thanks for posting your pics, man!

Like a dream where you find yourself in paradise but your immediate surroundings are empty, deserted, forgotten. At that point you begin to question your own flesh and blood...maybe you're spirit wandering among the ghosts.

P

I can't even begin to say how wonder full is it to see all of these great pic's!
Thank you sooo much, Primo Kimo!
When I was 9 years old,back in 1963, my family and I stayed at the coco palms.
this was in it's real heyday, just after Elvis did "blue Hawaii" there.
even to this day, It's my most fond memory of Hawaii.or anything else.
I fished in the lagoon..(there were fishing poles in each room)..wandered the grounds in a happy daze, looking at the animals the kept in a impromptu zoo, paddled around in the water, listened to and made friends with the local band that played in the restaurant, watched them spit rotisserie roast huge pigs over a flaming pit.
ate great food, and was literally in a constant state of joy...

I'm allways looking for memorabilia from there. If anyone knows good places to look, other than Ebay, please let me know!

I've been to Kauai many times since then, and allways make a pilgrimage to the Coco palms..I've tried to get in, but there were fences and guards in the way. how did you get in to get these great photos?
also, I wonder if I could contact the owner, and see if they would be willing to sell any of the old bits and fixtures...It would be worth going there to just get the opportunity!

[ Edited by: palapala 2009-10-02 08:21 ]

[ Edited by: palapala 2009-10-02 09:34 ]

D

I just got done watching Blue Hawaii, Wikipedia'd the Coco Palms, found out it was destroyed in the 90s and then came here and saw these very sad but amazing photos. I'm astounded that most of the place is still standing with many decorative fixtures. Wow. Freakin hurricanes! When I was watching the movie I was thinking how cool it would be to visit the place that Elvis gets married at in the movie. Oh well!

For some interesting reading on the Coco Palms see David Penhallow's book "The Story of the Coco Palms Hotel: The Grace Buscher Guslander Years 1953-1985". He worked there for many years and was a very good friend of Grace Guslander. If you are in Kaua'i, take the Kaua'i Movie Tour, they are the only tour that is allowed on the property.

From a Mike Roberts postcard I just picked up:

The Lagoon Dining Room and Cocktail Terrace along the lagoon at Romantic Coco Palms.

Bongofury,

Thanks for the post on the book, I had not heard about that one before. Will have to keep an eye out for it.

Here is beautiful postcard rendering I have showing the main compound of the Coco Palms from the waterside view.

The back of the card states that the buildings include the Queens Audience Hall, the Coconut Palace Dining Room and Suite, and in the background the Chapel, Library, Museum and Prince of Hawaii Cottages.

Here is a postcard of the main building.

Bigbro, great photo in front of the sign, wished I had taken that one when I was there in the 90's.

Now picture yourself in this photo when it was open!

What a gem.

DC

Olive Pick

Ash Tray

I

Aloha, all. My wahine and I are headed to Kauai for the first time next month, and watched Blue Hawaii (again) in preparation. How did those of you who have been on the Coco Palms grounds get in? Were you worried about getting prosecuted for trespassing? Does anyone know if Coco Palms' status (or access to it) has changed dramatically since these shots were posted?

Mahalo!

Hi Inkville. My wife and I were on Kauai last February and someone was at the gate with a sign for tours, 20 bucks I think. Have fun.

aloha, tikicoma

I

Mahalo!

I've been going to Kauai since 1996, when my wife and I bought a timeshare condo in Poipu Point. 21 trips there so far. The Coco Palms was hit in 1992 by Iniki and was in litigation for 10 years with the insurance company, and was finally paid off. The insurance won't re-insure unless the Coco Palms raises the elevation 15 feet.

The reason is that the ROAD and beach in front of the Coco Palms is the barrier between it and the ocean. It sits at SEA level.
If another BIG storm comes, waves wash over the road and flood the Coco Palms. It would have to be torn down and rebuilt on top of 15 added elevation to be insurable. Makes sense to me, but it's going to be EXPENSIVE.

I hope this answers some questions asked earlier here. I too would like to see this place reopened, but not as it is. If ever I could buy some of the things there, I would grab those big doors with the palm trees on them.

Craig the Keg.

Coco Palms on the Travel Channel's Off Limits, check it out.

T

Hey Mr Boris I saw that too.
Your link does not work now.
This may work.
I have lamp shades from the Kahiki here in Columbus
that are from the first lamps made by Mrs. Sapp 1961
and they are the same shades as the ones on the table in this clip.
Kinda odd to see that.
Now I would guess that Mrs. Sapp did not make the shades but still
from here to the Coco Palms.Cool!
http://www.travelchannel.com/Video/buried-past-of-coco-palms-16433

I finally managed to find one of the postcards showing the interior of the Lagoon Lanai rooms that were built over the lagoon at the Coco Palms resort.

Also picked up a nice napkin with the conch blower logo.

DC

Aloha,

1968, this slide is notated as the "Coco Palm Wedding Church." Anyone get married there?

labled 6K but should actually be Outtake 67Zed


Waikiki Tiki; Art, History, and Photographs.
Available now from Bess Press Hawaii.

[ Edited by: Phillip Roberts 2011-12-02 23:59 ]

On 2011-08-27 22:11, tikicoma wrote:
Hi Inkville. My wife and I were on Kauai last February and someone was at the gate with a sign for tours, 20 bucks I think. Have fun.

aloha, tikicoma

Everyday at 2:00 p.m.
$20.00 seems steep.

4

One of the local weekly papers did a cover story on "Mr. Coco Palms" Larry Rivera last week.
http://www.midweekkauai.com/2011/12/mr-coco-palms-larry-rivera/
It mentions that he still does performances at the hotel's lagoon, but didn't mention details, so I emailed him. He got right back to me(!) saying

"I meet the Roberts Buses that come to Coco Palms just by the bridge area. I sing a song or two and tell them a short story about my life there. It is only for the people on the bus that come from the cruise lines for the day.
I also do a luncheon Luau show at Smith Gardens from time to time for 400 people from the ship.
The other thing I do at Coco Palms is weddings by the lagoon. I do the Blue Hawaii Wedding and renewals.
There is no actual show.

My shows are at the Café Portofino every Wednesdays from7-9 PM
First Fridays of the month. This Friday Jan 6 I do one at Kukui Grove Shopping Center at 7 PM.

Thanks for reading the article.

Larry Rivera"

Hope this info fits in with this thread.

A

We got a chance to visit the Coco Palms in June, so I have a ton of photos to post. There'll be some unavoidable repeats from the great pictures posted earlier, but hopefully some new views. Also, some things have clearly changed since Primo Kimo's visit in 2008.

Our visit started thanks to this thread, in fact the preceding post from 4WDtiki with the info about Larry Rivera. My parents went to Kauai for their 10th anniversary in 1972, and stayed at the Coco Palms. So this year the family gathered in Kauai for my parents' 50th anniversary, 40 years later. I wanted to see if it'd be possible to arrange an official visit. After contacting Larry Rivera (a living legend who's definitely worth another story), I learned that a guy named Bob Jasper conducts tours of the Coco Palms for a decent fee. We decided to take the whole family to that, and I have to say it was really outstanding. Naturally we couldn't explore on our own, but it was 2+ hours of pretty thorough walking around and tons of great stories about the land, the Guslanders, and a wealth of movie trivia.

Here's a first batch of pics...

The view just inside the gates, looking toward the lagoon. That's one of the King's Cottages (thatching long gone), and in fact it is THEE cottage where they filmed scenes with Elvis' character Chad Gates in Blue Hawaii. :down:
![](http://www.goofspot.com/images/tc/cocopalms-2012 (1).jpg)

Same little maintenance shack in the foreground :down:
![](http://www.goofspot.com/images/tc/cocopalms-2012 (2).jpg)

Looking back from the cottage :down:
![](http://www.goofspot.com/images/tc/cocopalms-2012 (3).jpg)

A little more of the lagoon :down:
![](http://www.goofspot.com/images/tc/cocopalms-2012 (4).jpg)

![](http://www.goofspot.com/images/tc/cocopalms-2012 (5).jpg)

Looking down along the lagoon, and the first glimpse of the great A-frame with the giant conch shell over the dining room and cocktail terrace :down:
![](http://www.goofspot.com/images/tc/cocopalms-2012 (6).jpg)

Now we're inside the cottage that had scenes in Blue Hawaii. This is the door that Elvis sends the girls out to hide. (Stay tuned for a later post with some movie screenshots for comparison) :down:
![](http://www.goofspot.com/images/tc/cocopalms-2012 (7).jpg)

Funny kind of lava rock bath / basin thing in the back of the cottage :down:
![](http://www.goofspot.com/images/tc/cocopalms-2012 (8).jpg)

Inside the cottage again, looking toward the front door :down:
![](http://www.goofspot.com/images/tc/cocopalms-2012 (9).jpg)

Inside another cottage :down:
![](http://www.goofspot.com/images/tc/cocopalms-2012 (10).jpg)

Inside Elvis' favorite cottage. This is the one that he always stayed in when he visited the Coco Palms. By an unbelievable coincidence, Elvis happened to be there when we visited. :down:
![](http://www.goofspot.com/images/tc/cocopalms-2012 (11).jpg)

The (former) bathroom sink in the Elvis cottage. The giant shell sink has been poached, along with many of the little gold tiles. :down:
![](http://www.goofspot.com/images/tc/cocopalms-2012 (12).jpg)

The sink area in another cottage - more gold tiles. :down:
![](http://www.goofspot.com/images/tc/cocopalms-2012 (13).jpg)

That's Bob the tour guide, and his gaze is roughly directed at two famous coconut palms. As Bob told us, there's considerable history in the coconut grove, both old and very recent. These two palms (the curved trunk next to the straight trunk) starred in the Pirates of the Caribbean Stranger Tides flick, in a scene where Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush are tied at their bases. :down:
![](http://www.goofspot.com/images/tc/cocopalms-2012 (14).jpg)

Telling the story of Kamalani (more on that later) :down:
![](http://www.goofspot.com/images/tc/cocopalms-2012 (15).jpg)

Storage shed :down:
![](http://www.goofspot.com/images/tc/cocopalms-2012 (16).jpg)

Inside the storage shed, this had been a poolside piano :down:
![](http://www.goofspot.com/images/tc/cocopalms-2012 (17).jpg)

Inside the chapel, which also starred in many movies, notably Miss Sadie Thompson :down:
![](http://www.goofspot.com/images/tc/cocopalms-2012 (18).jpg)

Another glimpse of the dining area A-frame :down:
![](http://www.goofspot.com/images/tc/cocopalms-2012 (19).jpg)

Looking through the overgrown area, across the lagoon, toward the dining area. Also you can see the toppling lobby roofline in the background. :down:
![](http://www.goofspot.com/images/tc/cocopalms-2012 (20).jpg)

Looking back after crossing the first small bridge on the path to the dining area :down:
![](http://www.goofspot.com/images/tc/cocopalms-2012 (21).jpg)

A couple views up the lagoon :down:
![](http://www.goofspot.com/images/tc/cocopalms-2012 (22).jpg)

![](http://www.goofspot.com/images/tc/cocopalms-2012 (23).jpg)

And the other way :down:
![](http://www.goofspot.com/images/tc/cocopalms-2012 (24).jpg)

Now straight ahead, toward that fantastic A-frame! :down:
![](http://www.goofspot.com/images/tc/cocopalms-2012 (25).jpg)

![](http://www.goofspot.com/images/tc/cocopalms-2012 (26).jpg)

Again looking along the lagoon. And supposedly that is THEE outrigger that appeared in many movies, like the Blue Hawaii wedding scene. Here's a story about the restoration of the outrigger. :down:
![](http://www.goofspot.com/images/tc/cocopalms-2012 (27).jpg)

Kamalani. This is the name of the boat, and the name of a song created by Larry Rivera for Grace Guslander, telling the legend of a frog (read about it here). :down:
![](http://www.goofspot.com/images/tc/cocopalms-2012 (28).jpg)

Lots more coming up.

-Randy

Wow, you lucky buck! One of my dream sites to explore! :)

I agree...thanks for posting those pictures. I stayed there prior to the destructions...it was indeed an amazing place. So wish someone with $$$$$ would snap it up and restore it.

A
aquarj posted on Thu, Sep 6, 2012 9:08 AM

Yes bigbro, although there is almost zero tiki there, the Coco Palms and its architecture are iconic. Lots of good mana, vibes, chi, juju, uh... fahrvergnugen (?) there. I highly recommend Bob's Coco Palms tour to anyone visiting Kauai. Bob used to run a Kauai movie tour of several sites on the island, including the Coco Palms. But now it's just the Coco Palms, and together with his wife he is also acting as caretaker. When you see some of the shots by the lagoon with the close cropped grass, that is thanks to them. Otherwise that stuff grows like gangbusters in Kauai. They've also tried to combat some of the poaching, which has even included their own maintenance tools.

And Vamp now that you bring it up, as a matter of fact, there IS news in the works with some new owners. I have more to post on that later, but Bob told us about a Korean group that is proposing to redevelop the site. The good news is that their plans attempt to preserve the character and even some of the structures, where possible. We got to see 3 development renderings, which I'll share here, coming up.

But as much as that may be good news for the site, it still means that there could be limited time to see it as it is. Not that ANYTHING moves fast in Kauai, EVER, and especially not development. Anyway, just a word to the wise for the yearning explorer.

-Randy

4

On 2012-09-06 00:42, aquarj wrote:

Our visit started thanks to this thread, in fact the preceding post from 4WDtiki with the info about Larry Rivera. My parents went to Kauai for their 10th anniversary in 1972, and stayed at the Coco Palms. So this year the family gathered in Kauai for my parents' 50th anniversary, 40 years later. I wanted to see if it'd be possible to arrange an official visit. After contacting Larry Rivera (a living legend who's definitely worth another story), I learned that a guy named Bob Jasper conducts tours of the Coco Palms for a decent fee. We decided to take the whole family to that, and I have to say it was really outstanding. Naturally we couldn't explore on our own, but it was 2+ hours of pretty thorough walking around and tons of great stories about the land, the Guslanders, and a wealth of movie trivia.

aquarj, thanks for returning the favor! From your above link to the newspaper article, I learned that locals can take the tour for free on Fridays! I've been dying to go, and drive by there every day on the way to work, always eyeballing the place as I go by.

Randy, thanks for posting those great photos. What a fun family excursion.

Here are a few old slides photos I clipped from the web from the Coco Palms to give a look when it was thriving.

Look forward to some more of your photos.

DC

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