For nearly 40 years, the Coco Palm Resort in Kauai was once of the hottest destinations on the Pacific Coast. The hotel was an icon of popular 1950s culture, and was even featured in several films like Elvis Presley’s “Blue Hawaii.”
The Coco Palms Resort was the result of hard work by the Guslanders, a couple who offered an enjoyable Hawaiian experience on beautiful grounds featuring a coconut grove and lagoon.
History of Abandoned Resort in Hawaii
The Coco Palms Hotel resides in the midst of a coconut grove that was planted in 1896. The resort began in 1953 with 24 rooms with the help of Lyle Guslander. On the opening night the resort and its 4 staff members received only 2 guests, a small beginning for one of the most famous hotels of Kauai.
Gus soon hired Grace Buscher to manage the hotel, and she helped grow it to over 400 rooms and transform it into the ‘authentic’ hideaway that became such one of the most popular resorts in the state of Hawaii. It gained exposure when it was featured in the 1953 film Miss Sadie Thompson but gained massive exposure in the 1961 Elvis Presley movie.
The scene at Coco Palms in Blue Hawaii is considered by some critics to be one of the great moments in classic American cinema, and it was a scene that would be re-enacted thousands of times by couples hoping to re-create their own Blue Hawaii. Prior to the resort’s close, the Coco Palms hosted over 500 weddings annually.
Sadly, Gus Guslander passed away in 1984 and soon after, Grace retired, at which point the resort was sold to Wailua Associates. The new owners were a locally-based real estate development company and had plans to continue Lyle and Grace’s vision for the famed Kauaʻi resort.
In 1992, Hurrican Iniki struck Kauai and severely damaged the hotel with its 145 mile per hour winds. The storm caused an estimated $1.8 billion dollars in damage and left residents without power for up to three months. Over 1,400 homes were completely destroyed while another 7,200 were seriously damaged.
The resort was sadly forced to close, and has sat abandoned for decades. In 2015, developers got permits to redevelop the resort, but the deal fell into default and an ongoing court battle, which lead to a foreclosure case a several of years ago.
Photos of Abandoned Resort in Hawaii
Why do people visit abandoned resort in Hawaii?
Many come just to absorb the atmosphere of a bygone era – remnants of retro interiors from a groovier time are evident in peeling wallpaper and terrazzo tiles, giant clamshell sinks and rattan light fixtures. Its long standing history from being one of the first and largest coconut groves in the state, to the living stories that now reside in the grove after the coconut planting ceremonies, Coco Palms truly is a experience you can feel.