Hawaii honeymoon – then and now

In August 1967, my parents stopped over in Hawaii on their honeymoon, en route from Scotland to a new life in Australia. Armed with a few of my Dad’s photographic slides from that visit, I retraced some of their footsteps to see what has changed in almost 50 years. 

Retracing Hawaii honeymoon steps - 1967 to 2015: www.feetonforeignlands.com

In 1967, after a short honeymoon stay in the Highlands of Scotland, my parents set off for Western Australia the long way round: via London – New York – San Francisco – Honolulu – Sydney – Adelaide and finally, Perth. When my Dad heard that Queenie and I were planning a trip to Hawaii to celebrate the end of her final school exams, he dug out the slides from their stay in Honolulu.

Armed with print-outs of scanned versions of the 1967 slides, Queenie and I ventured out in an attempt to find the locations and take the 2015 version of those shots.

Retracing Hawaii honeymoon steps - 1967 to 2015: www.feetonforeignlands.com
The entrance to the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort in 2015.

The hotel photos were relatively easy to recreate, as the hotel they stayed in still exists. Back then it was called The Reef Hotel and now it is the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort – one of the Outrigger chain of hotels and resorts. An email explaining my plan to the Outrigger PR department, and we were soon set to revisit the ‘room with a view’ of my parents’ honeymoon.

Retracing Hawaii honeymoon steps - 1967 to 2015: www.feetonforeignlands.com
Looking towards Diamond Head in a room of the Reef Hotel in 1967 (left), view from a Diamond Head Ocean View Room at the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort in 2015 (right)

Despite it being an incredibly busy and full-capacity week for the hotel, Robin Estrada, the resort’s lovely Sales and Marketing Director took time out to show us to a momentarily vacant Diamond Head Ocean View Room which had a very similar outlook to the one my parents would have stayed in.

The room we saw had a spectacular view of Diamond Head. Next door to this building, there is now another hotel tower block, which means less rooms at the Outrigger Reef still have this unobstructed vista, but there are certainly a number of the resorts’ 669 rooms that are ‘Diamond Head view’ rooms.

Retracing Hawaii honeymoon steps - 1967 to 2015: www.feetonforeignlands.com
View from what was then the Reef Hotel in 1967 (top), view from a Diamond Head Ocean View Room at the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort in 2015 (bottom)

While my parents’ room looked straight down over the pool, the current Diamond Head view rooms are more towards the beach, and my 2015 view was back to the pool rather than over it. You can clearly see that the pool is still the same kidney shape, but now has an added jacuzzi.

Retracing Hawaii honeymoon steps - 1967 to 2015: www.feetonforeignlands.com
Looking down to the pool of the Reef Hotel in 1967 (top), and looking to the pool of the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort in 2015

Although I didn’t have any interior shots of the 1967 room, I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the 2015 room interior with the pineapples carved into the bed posts. The room has a distinctly Hawaiian feel to it. Retracing Hawaii honeymoon steps - 1967 to 2015: www.feetonforeignlands.com

The 1967 beach photo my Dad gave me was taken on Waikiki Beach right in front of the Reef Hotel, so Queenie and I headed out there to scope out the location. Before we went, Robin told us that catamarans like we could see in our 1967 shot are no longer allowed right into the beach at that location to protect the reef and beach.

Retracing Hawaii honeymoon steps - 1967 to 2015: www.feetonforeignlands.com
Waikiki Beach in front of the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort 1967 (top) and 2015 (bottom)

First up, I was struck by how much less crowded the beach was than I was expecting. Granted, we were there in November, while my parents had been there in the hotter, summer month of August, but it was certainly not the wall-to-wall beach crowd I was anticipating. It is easy to find a spare patch of sand on Waikiki Beach where you can spread out your towel and take in the beauty of the azure waters.

Second, the beach seemed narrower than it appears in the 1967 photo, so I did a bit of research to find out if that was actually a fact.

What I discovered is that Waikiki is essentially a man-made beach, and requires on-going maintenance to keep the sand in place. Natural weather occurrences and tidal changes can result in erosion in certain locations, and it is an on-going program of works to combat that erosion. Earlier this year the Hawaiian Government’s Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) unveiled a 10-year maintenance plan to fix the erosion problems which includes regular sand replenishment and investigating which man-made structures are helping and/or hindering the process. The DLNR has a great video which explains what is happening.

This next 1967 photo was a mystery pic, until I sought the assistance of Robin, and Nancy Daniels, Outrigger’s Director of Public Relations. My Dad recalled that he took it on a street corner relatively close to the Reef Hotel, and they identified that it was taken on Kalakaua Ave, outside what is now Waikiki Shopping Plaza, looking towards Diamond Head.

Retracing Hawaii honeymoon steps - 1967 to 2015: www.feetonforeignlands.com
Kalakaua Ave, outside what is now Waikiki Shopping Plaza looking towards Diamond Head. Top photo (1967) shows the McInerny Store, the bottom photo (2015) The Royal Hawaiian Center.

The low-rise stone building in the foreground of the 1967 photo is a McInerny store. The tall building in the background is the Outrigger Waikiki and you can see a little bit of the pink domed roof of The Royal Hawaiian Hotel behind the store.

McInerny’s was a huge name in Hawaiian retailing. The chain of stores was founded in Honolulu in 1857 by Patrick Michael McInerny, a ship’s carpenter who saw a shortage of household items and ship supplies and filled that gap. From one initial shop, McInerny’s grew to be a high-end retailer with a number of shops serving the needs of wealthy Hawaiians, resident foreigners and the royal court. After World War II, a second string of shops offering swimwear, souvenirs and Hawaiian clothing opened to capture the tourist market. However, by 2002, faced with increasing competition from lower cost competitors, the last of the McInerny stores closed its doors.

On the site of the 1967 McInerny’s store now stands one of the three buildings of the Royal Hawaiian Center – a shopping mall with over 110 shops and restaurants. Inside the center you can find luxury boutiques, sporting-good stores,  surf shops, jewellery stores, craft shops etc. All just a stone’s throw from Waikiki Beach!

And now to the nitty-gritty – how much has the bill changed since 1967?

Retracing Hawaii honeymoon steps - 1967 to 2015: www.feetonforeignlands.com

In August 1967, my parents paid USD $18.72 (including taxes) for one night at The Reef Hotel. I used the calculator at www.usinflationcalculator.com to work out that between 1967 and 2015 there has been 612.1% cumulative inflation in the United States, which makes that $18.72 worth about $133.30 in today’s money.

To book a Diamond Head Ocean View Room today on an Advance Purchase (non-refundable) room rate for the night of August 11 2016 would cost $319.09 including taxes, plus an additional $30 per night for Waikiki Connection Fee*, while a Standard (no view) Room is $218.81 plus $30 Waikiki Connection Fee. (*The Waikiki Connection Fee is a resort fee which includes trolley rides, wi-fi, phone calls, bottled water, newspaper, activities etc. etc.)

However, there’s now lots of inclusions and attractions that didn’t exist in 1967, including (appropriately!) the opportunity to take part in a complimentary wedding vow renewal ceremony:

Complimentary vow renewal ceremonies are offered weekly to registered guests of Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort and Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort.
We invite you to renew your vows in a unique Hawaiian ceremony, with the rising sun, the ocean and the beach as your witnesses.

The details

Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort
Address: 2169 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815
Ph: 808-923-3111
Fax: 808-924-4957
Website: www.outrigger.com
The Royal Hawaiian Center
Address: 2201 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96815
Website: www.royalhawaiiancenter.com
Open daily from 10am to 10pm

Have you ever revisited somewhere many years later?

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Retracing Hawaii honeymoon steps - 1967 to 2015: www.feetonforeignlands.com

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