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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Outrigger Canoe Paddling in Pearl Harbor

Canoeing has been a part of Hawaii’s history and culture since ancient times; and in my opinion, there is truly no better way to experience Hawaii than from the seat of an outrigger canoe.  I had the privilege of getting my oars wet for the first time when I, along with a team of my coworkers, recently met at Rainbow Bay Marina in Honolulu. The Rainbow Bay Marina is a Morale, Wefare, and Recreation (MWR) facility for military members and their familes stationed on the island of Oahu. The marina, located just outside the Arizona Memorial on Pearl Harbor, offers a variety of boats and other activities for fun times on the water.

These canoes weigh roughly 900 pounds each!

I think one of the most challenging things about outrigger canoes is just getting them launched into the water. We were lucky that we had a pretty large paddling crew to all lend a hand. These canoes weigh roughly 900 pounds each!

Our paddling instructor, who was also our Na Ho’okele (steerer) kept our team operating like a well-oiled machine… Well she tried her best, considering what it was that she had to work with!

The key to outrigger canoe paddling is that every stroke be made in perfect unison. Yeah, that wasn’t always the situation inside of our canoe.

 A beautiful sunrise over Pearl Harbor

We won the race easily… seeing how there was nobody else in the water.

We probably would have paddled a whole lot better but that guy in the black shirt actually forgot to grab an oar.

…not to mention the guy in the lead seat on the port side was snapping selfies the entire time.

All in all we did pretty well and most would say I rowed the best… regardless if I paid them to say that.

There’s that guy in the black shirt again. We are all finished rowing now and he’s still looking for an oar.

I think we’re all about ready for the big leagues now!

Outrigger canoe paddling is not only fun, it is a fantastic way to get some quality exercise with family and friends. If you like water sports and enjoy working as part of a team, than this is definitely a sport that I would highly recommend!

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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