Formerly my office at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel
Wth my daughter Leila at a Luau in the 70s
HAWAII TODAY MORE THAN WAIKIKI
Oahu is the third largest of the main four islands, but it is called "the gathering place" because of its large population, almost 1.0 million people, or about 75% of the entire population of Hawaii. Additionally, 7.3 million visitors came to Hawaii in 2011, with more staying on Oahu than the other three islands combined. The State Capitol is located on Oahu in the large downtown area, as are military bases including Pearl Harbor, Honolulu International Airport, and the thriving Waikiki Beach area.
Oahu has many neighborhoods, each with its own flavor and possibility of home ownership. Nothing is far away from anything on this island. There is a well-designed highway system to bring people from one part of the island to another. However, some areas are more remote and that needs to be taken into consideration when purchasing a home.
Prices vary greatly from neighborhood to neighborhood, especially if you want to purchase a single family home.
Mililani Town , for example, is a planned community of middle class homes, and, with its parks, community centers, schools and open space, excellent for raising children. It’s in the center wiith several playgrounds, and shopping areas. The Mililani Community Center has a large pool and tennis courts.
Kailua , on the Windward side of the island and across the Pali, is well known for its beautiful beach and, more recently, as the area that President Obama and his family go to on their vacation. Windsurfing, bodysurfing, and boating activities can be found here.
Haleiwa, on the north shore, is a small community for those who want to get away from city life. Artists and artisans sell their wares in small galleries, and restaurants offer local-style foods including “shave Ice” that President Obama and his family loves. This area is known for its high waves and surfers are attracted to them from all over the world. Mokuleia is out here as well, known for its polo. You can still find well-priced oceanfront or near ocean properties.
Several resort areas dot several other Oahu ocean communities such as Kapolei, Makaha, and Turtle Bay, each with single family homes and condominiums, plus golf courses, ocean activities, and hotels with restaurants and shops.
“Maui No Ka Oi”, this slogan was developed by a good friend of mine many years ago, Vonnie Lyons, wife of cartoonist Harry Lyons. It has been adopted by the visitor industry and its origins are probably forgotten by most. "No ka oi" means "the best", and two million plus travellers agree that Maui is truly "the best". Its miles of beaches at Kapalua and Kaanapali, at Kihei and Wailea, and, least accessible, at Hana have won numerous travel awards. Haleakala, at 10,023' in elevation, is called the "House of the Sun" for many reasons. Sunrises and sunsets are awesome. For hikers there are trails through the crater, and bikers love that steep descent with 29 switch backs of vistas.
Kauai , the island where the nightly torch lighting ceremony was born. Grace Guslander, owner and manager of Coco Palms (which is now closed), started this Hawaiian tradition in her coconut grove by the lagoon. She also revived the tradition of the blowing of the conch shell, a haunting sound used by early Hawaiians to announce themselves. Elvis Presley's movie, Blue Lagoon, was filmed partly at Coco Palms. Kauai is also known for its stunning vistas from the rugged Napali Coastline to Mt. Waialeale, the wettest spot on earth with its incredible waterfalls and lush terrain. No wonder Kauai is called "The Garden Island".
THE BIG ISLAND OF HAWAII
This is the island of legends inspired by Kilauea, considered the most active volcano in the world. "Madame Pele" has been spewing forth her glowing lava since 1823 and, in most recent years, continuously. It is also the island of the annual Billfish Tournament in its deep ocean close to shore, and its much heralded Kona Coffee on its mountain slopes. It is also the island of black, green and white beaches, and multiple resorts with 5-star hotels, golf courses, shops and restaurants.
MATSON LINER MENU A KEEPSAKE
Hawaii’s history through Hella’s eyes
Rounding Diamond Head on a P&O Orient liner before the halcyon days of building on Waikiki, I only saw 4 high rise structures along the ocean: the Moana Hotel, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel (where my first tourism office was going to be), the Halekulani and the then Kaiser Hawaiian Village Hotel (now the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach & Spa with 3,386 rooms).
My first apartment with 3 other roommates was on Kuhio Avenue on the site that is now being developed as the 2121 Kuhio Tower by Ritz Carlton. Then, our 2-story building bordered Canlis Restaurant at the back, and was adjacent to Hula's Bar & Lei Stand (then a dry cleaner). Now the site will become a $275 Million condo-hotel.
The coconut wireless was alive and well in Waikiki in those early days. It was not unusual to have entertainers like Don Ho and his musicians come knocking on our window in the early morning hours on Kuhio Avenue; groups of friends would gather for these after-hour impromptu Hawaiian and Tahitian jam and dancing sessions that were like no other. Everyone was so very young and enthusiastic and filled with talent. They would later highlight top visitor shows at nightclubs all over the islands.
Several years later, my father-in-law, Guy Rothwell, used to tell stories of Waikiki's even earlier days when there were pig farms there. As a teen he surfed with Duke Kahanamoku, planted the 2nd banyan tree at the Moana Hotel (the first one died, so they sneaked the second one in at night). As a talented architect, he was involved in building some of the earliest large complexes including the original Aloha Stadium. My mother-in-law, Mary Louise McCarthy was a descendant of Captain Robert Brown (1809-1899). In fact, all the Rothwells were intrepid weekend sailors and had plenty of "yarns" to tell. For example, click here http://www.captainbrown.net/stories_03.shtml which describes "the buoy turns pink" episode played against Henry Kaiser. Mrs. Rothwell's father, Charles James McCarthy (1861-1929) was appointed the 5th Territorial Governor of Hawaii in 1918, and she remembered living at the Iolani Palace.
My early years in Hawaii were spent as a tourism executive. First as a publicist for Sheraton with an office in the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, then public relations and advertising director for Island Holidays. I was there to ride the kai mimiki , or tidalwave of growth in the early 1970s. The inpouring of visitors brought about the greatest sustained growth in tourism experienced by any resort in the world at that time. My boss, Lyle Guslander who co-owned the Island Holidays chain of hotels with Grace Guslander of Coco Palms fame, rode that growth wave with several other builders including Roy Kelley, Chinn Ho, Chris Hemmeter, and Bill Maus. Each became early millionaires in a very short time.
When you now round Diamond Head, you see a whole new vista. Waikiki has become not only a world-renowned bacation spot for visitors, but home to those of us who decided we wanted to live here.