The Historic Royal Hawaiian Hotel

In all of Oahu, there is perhaps nothing more iconic than the luxurious Royal Hawaiian Hotel on Waikiki Beach. Opening its doors on February 1, 1927, the “Pink Palace of the Pacific” has been receiving guests for close to a century now. Patrons of the hotel have included everybody from military personnel on R&R during the Second World War, to glamourous Hollywood stars looking for some Hawaiian fun under the sun. In my eyes, there have been no visitors more noteworthy than my very own daughter, Selah Mattie. She had a ball exploring the hotel’s grand halls and corridors while creating a small bit of mischief along the way. Luckily, that rambunctious two-year-old had her daddy close by to help navigate her path.

The iconic Royal Hawaiian Hotel is one of the most recognizable man-made features on Oahu.

A glimpse of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in 1928.

A present-day photo of the pink hotel reveals just how much the landscape in Honolulu has changed over the years.

A vintage postcard shows Royal Hawaiian guests hitting the water on an outrigger canoe.

It comes at no surprise that the Royal Hawaiian Hotel made the list for “Historical Hotels of America”.

During WWII, the U.S. Navy’s Recreation and Morale Office leased the entire hotel and used it for navy personnel to unwind and relax in between deadly combat operations in the Pacific.

Selah found the lush lawn perfect for running her sprints.

The yard surrounding the hotel is a literal tropical oasis.

Palms trees, flowers, and beautiful arches adorn every entrance.

Sometimes a girl wants nothing but to simply hang around.

Valet parking during the roaring twenties.

The open breezeways invite cooling trade winds throughout the entire first floor.

Mommy and Selah take a moment to rest their tired feet on the hotel’s luxurious front porch.

Selah closed her eyes to prevent me from stealing a picture.

An antique phone is placed at the ends of the hall on every floor.

The hotel offers historic garden view or ocean view rooms of various sizes.

This sculpture of a U.S. sailor and his attractive female companion is made entirely of sand!

Storied pictures of the past adorn the walls of this beautiful hotel.

Many of these photos were taken aboard the SS Lurline, a luxurious Matson ocean liner that once transported guests to Hawaii and the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.

Even Shirley Temple was once a passenger aboard this “Good Ship Lollypop”!

There is much fun to be had simply admiring the hotel’s many diverse window dressings.

The remnants of a 20’s “hula ho’olauna” event

The average price for a wedding ceremony at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel ranges from $3,500-9,500.

Knowledgeable and talented concierges are stationed in the lobby to assist guests in planning their island excursions.

Selah decided to explore the renowned Monarch Room. This 20’s-styled ballroom offers a magnificent view of Diamond Head crater and seats up to 500 guests.

The Monarch Room has been the site for many fashion shows throughout the years.

Of course, Selah has impeccable fashion sense and she always stays up-to-date on the current trends.

This is a photo of the legendary Duke Kahanamoko. He was an Olympic athlete, an actor, and the man who made the Hawaiian sport of surfing popular around the globe.

The Hawaiian people, descendants of the Polynesians, are believed to have first reached the islands in vessels like the ones pictured above.

This plate, dated 1977, was made in honor of the hotel’s fiftieth anniversary.

The Mai Tai is the official adult-beverage of the Hawaiian Islands. This famous cocktail, often garnished with pineapple, consists of rum, orange curacao, lime juice, orgeat syrup, and fresh mint.

Selah wants to go “right there… right there!”

She is like a real-life version of Dora the Explorer.

Please Selah, no running in the halls!

If you don’t own a good fedora than you don’t own a hat.

The Royal Hawaiian Hotel is built on 15 acres of beautiful beachfront property.

At the rear of the “Pink Palace on the Pacific” with the beach and Diamond Head in the background.

Selah inspects the lights along the pathway to ensure they are all up to code.

I need to watch that girl very carefully! She’s trying to slip off into the obscurity of the jungle.

It’s time to go, so naturally she’s trying to stay on the other side of the rope where I can’t reach her.

After a brief chase and capture, she’s been confined to her stroller and she’s no longer a happy camper.

From majestic palms to Rainbow Eucalyptus, the Hawaiian islands contain some of the most beautiful and diverse trees to be found anywhere in the world. Guests of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel can admire many of the island trees while walking through its magnificent gardens.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures I posted of this beautiful, iconic hotel. Thank you for visiting my site and please come back to Big John’s Adventures in Travel soon.

Aloha and happy travels,

Big John

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Selah Lou Who goes to Helen for Christmas

For Selah’s very first Christmas in the continental United States, we decided to leave the continent and fly to Bavaria, Germany… well no, not really, but she’s not even two-years-old so we took her to Georgia instead. She didn’t know the difference.

Bavaria, Germany or Alpine Helen, GA?

Alpine HelenGeorgia only has a population of around 430 residents, yet it is the state’s third most visited city. If you visit this charming little town, you will see why it so good at packing a crowd. Helen is a recreated Bavarian Alpine village with the Chattahoochee River flowing gently through its center. Helen first began as a home to the Cherokee Indians before European settlers eventually arrived for the gold and the timber. When Selah Lou Who came to town, she was simply there to see Christmas.

Selah Lou Who likes to carry her own bags!
Selah Lou Who is ready to see Christmas in Helen
I’m pretty sure she knew Santa wasn’t real!
Downtown in Helen, GA
Go to Muller’s Fried Cheese Café for authentic German Cuisine!
Selah Lou Who waiting patiently with Mommy for our food to be served.
Daddy ordered the Pork Loin Cordon Bleu Schnitzel, potato salad, red cabbage, and kraut. It was köstlich …yum!!!
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Alpine Helen is one of the best places to see Christmas lights in the Southeastern U.S.A.
Selah Lou Who just loved the Christmas tree!
Mommy makes all my blog posts look better!
Visitors to Helen can take home that special souvenir from one of their many German-themed shops.
Gingerbread men proudly on display
One of many finely dressed yuletide displays
Unforunately this candy kitchen was closed for the night, but we would be sure to visit the very next day.
The Gourmet Shoppe in Helen offered free samples of the local wines.
At the Heidelberg you will find the most authentic sausage plates in town. The grub is great, the service is fantastic, and the beers are large and frosty!
The window all dressed up at Windmill Dutch Imports
Even mommies like Santa Claus!
After the Grinch made Selah Lou Who go to sleep, he enjoyed an adult beverage… or two!
Alpine Helen offers a phenomenal selection of imported German beers and is known for their annual Oktoberfest in September and October.
The Paulaner Salvator Double-Bock is a German-beer lover’s dream!
Selah Lou Who greets the sunshine behind the Hampton Inn in Helen.
This beautiful mountain stream ran right behind our hotel.
Jolly’s Toys in Helen, GA
Come stay in an authentic windmill suite at the Heidi Motel!
Inside of Charlemagne’s Kingdom you will find a massive Germany-themed model railroad exhibit complete with miniature villages, Alpine scenery & traditional music.
While strolling past this charming row of cottages, Selah Lou Who found herself a friend.
She was very disappointed when we didn’t take him home!
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After Selah Lou Who said goodbye to her four-legged friend, our trail led us into the beautiful Unicoi Park.
Selah Lou Who is still looking for that dog.
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The Alana Falls didn’t so much fall as it did trickle.
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She was very fond of the tulip girl with the wooden klompen (clogs).
Located along the river and right in the heart of downtown Helen, the Castle Inn is a romantic English-style inn with lots of character.
These Padlocks on the bridge reminded Rebecca and I of a wonderful trip we took to the real Germany.
Enjoying a frosty mug with this busty, headless fräulein!
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Shortly after that last picture was snapped, Rebecca abandoned me for this headless dude in lederhosen… what a jealous act of revenge!
…and now she’s flirting with the soldier while I am standing right there!
The only snowmen we found in Helen were all indoors.
Poor Frosty was melting!
You know we weren’t leaving town without first setting foot inside Hansel & Gretel Candy Kitchen!
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She said she has four teeth, plenty enough for a bite out of one of those delicious caramel apples!
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There was so much to choose from I didn’t know what to get. I ended up leaving with chocolate covered pretzels.
The owner of Tim’s Wooden Toys really knew how to make Selah crack a smile. He’s the closest thing to a real-life Geppetto in all of Georgia!
This nutcracker was taller than me…. as were the third-graders on the other side of the room.
We found wall to wall Santas in Betty’s Country Store
Father Christmas standing guard just outside the door
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Before leaving, we stopped at the Cafe International for the best reuben in town!
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Now she’s eyeing my sandwich like she wants to make a trade. I tried to tell her!
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Selah Lou Who, being not yet two, stuck with her trusty peanut butter sandwich squares.
It was tempting but daddy was driving home.
The heaters and plastic afforded us warm outdoor seating with a view of the river below.

After lunch, Selah Lou Who got buckled in all nice and cozy and napped most of the ride home. While she probably won’t remember much of our two-day bavarian getaway, her daddy and mommy sure will. Memories like these are what makes life precious, especially when they’re still full of so much innocence and wonder. Thank you for visiting my site and I hope your holidays are spent joyfully with family and friends.

Merry Christmas from Big John, Rebecca, and Selah Lou Who!

Happy travels,

Big John

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The Hike Up Koko Head Crater

Out of all the amazing hikes I have done during my stay on Oahu, Koko Head is my absolute favorite. Koko Head is located on the southeastern side of the island in an area known as Manalua Bay. Although it is a relatively short hike, the 1,048 railway stairs to the top can definitely test one’s endurance! One of the most fascinating things about Koko Head, aside from the breathtaking views, is its military history.

During World War II, the U.S. Army erected several bunkers at the summit of the crater with a railway tram that carried up troops and supplies. After the Air Force was formed in 1947, the installation at Koko Head Crater became the Koko Crater Air Force Station.

Koko Crater Air Force Station atop Koko Head

For years, Koko Head Crater was a fully functional radar station. Eventually the Air Force turned the property over to the Hawaii Air National Guard. I sure hope those weekend flyboys didn’t mind the occasional hike!

Her tracks can be perilous in places.

The tracks that remain are now referred to as “railway stairs”. A climb to the summit on the Koko Head Railway stairs will take you up 990 feet in just over .7 miles. It is a grueling hike, but the view from atop is definitely worth every bit of the struggle along the way!

Koko Crater Air Force Station Mess Hall

The building was long gone by the time I began making my way up the summit; but the morning of my hike, I could almost still smell the bacon and eggs! I skipped breakfast that morning, so I was probably just hungry.

Start your hike early enough to catch one of these gorgeous sunrises on the summit!

Parking is free at the Koko Head District Park and the gates open at 6:00 am sharp. I highly recommend that if it is your first time going, start early so you can still catch a sunrise at the top. Just be mindful, it will likely still be dark when you arrive so bring a headlamp.


The trail can get muddy just after a thorough soaking.


U.S. Air Force Radar Station – July, 28, 1949

Koko Crater Radar Station during her prime.


Hanauma Bay in the background

In 1966, the radar station became obsolete and the property was passed on to the City of Honolulu.


For many, the way down can actually prove more difficult than climbing to the top.


American Airman hard at work manning his station.

I know what he is probably thinking. “Those slackers have been gone for hours. They better have brought me back a sandwich!”

It is still quite a trek before reaching the bottom.

This is the part of the trail where I like to sit on the rails and just contemplate life… life is difficult… walking is difficult… sitting is difficult… lying down on tracks is really difficult…. getting back up is even more difficult than that…. people are altogether way too difficult… why won’t they just go around?


With the aid of a gas-powered winch, a military tram slowly makes its way back down up the tracks.

I sure hope the guy photographing this has another ride coming soon. It’s a long walk getting back to the hooch!


It’s a pretty common occurrence to get stuck on the tracks during rush-hour traffic.

Koko Head is a very popular hiking destination for both tourists and the locals. It is estimated that over 500 people visit Koko Head trail on any given day.

Rebecca and Jonah throw up a “shaka” on the trail.


You can’t see Hawaii without seeing at least one of her spectacular rainbows!

I hope you enjoyed my post. If you are ever in Oahu, this is one hike that you really must do. Please feel free to explore more of my site, Big John’s Adventures in Travel, post a comment, and maybe even show me some love on social media.


Happy travels,

Big John

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