Posts Tagged ‘Coco Palms Resort’

Kauai 2022 – P.S. – Did I mention how dangerous rip currents are?

March 13, 2022

I was done with the 2022 Kauai blogs, right? Took you on the whole 10-day ride through seven blogs from our doorstep in Idaho Falls on January 19 to home again January 30, safe and sound, and hunkered in till spring (which always seems to be just around the ‘next’ corner).

Except over this past week I received some terrible news from Kauai. Two swimmers were reported missing and assumed drowned at two of the very same beaches we visited in January (and I blogged about). I made such a big deal about the surfers on Hanalei Bay (including the ‘Surfin’ USA’ YouTube video) in Part-3, even teasing that I was shopping for a suitable bathing suit and surf board because surfing was just too much fun! Then in Part-4, sunbathing on Kahili beach with Megan, watching the surfers, capturing photos and video, while David and Eric hiked to Hissing Dragon. Then my last blog, Part-7, the photos and videos of the teenagers at Lumaha’i beach, jumping into the waves in the high surf, their heads bobbing on the surface. Although I did also mention that Lumaha’i was one of the most dangerous beaches on Kauai.

Well, last weekend, a swimmer disappeared at Lumaha’i beach. There is no lifeguard there and if you read up about Lumaha’i you will be advised only to walk the beach, sunbathe, maybe dip your toe in the surf, especially a high surf, and most especially during winter months. I don’t want you to read my blog, and then decide to race to Lumaha’i and hop in the surf! Oh no!

The danger lies in the rip currents, channeled currents of water flowing away from the shore. They generally begin from the shoreline (yikes!) and head through the surf zone – past the line of breaking waves. Here’s an informative link giving you answers to such questions as, What is a rip current? How do they form? How to spot a rip current? And most importantly, what to do if you find yourself in a rip current? http://www.kauaiexplorer.com/guides/beach/rip_currents.php

Here is a diagram of a rip current

From this link: https://www.kauai.com/images/2013/09/rip-current-diagram-1.png

As far as how to spot a rip current, here’s an interesting YouTube link:

(Planning to visit Australia?)

This YouTube presentation comes to you from Australia, but I don’t think rip currents discriminate! According to this surfer, 70 % of people can’t spot a rip current, good luck with that! If you find yourself caught in a rip current what do you do? (You probably want to know this BEFORE this happens).

Per the kauaiexplorer.com link above:

The best thing to do is learn to spot rip currents and avoid them. (Yeah, right) However, if you do find yourself in a rip current, remember the following. It could save your life!

  • Don’t Fight The Rip Current – Conserve energy, keep calm, float, breathe, don’t panic, and wave for help
  • Go With The Flow – You can easily float in the current, there is no undertow. Allow the current to take you away from the beach. In weaker rips, swim parallel to the shore until the current has completely relaxed. Otherwise, the current will eventually release you offshore. Once this happens swim perpendicular and towards the beach 
  • Wait For Help – If there is large surf or shoreline hazards, wave your hands for help and wait for assistance

I’m making such a big deal about this now in contrast to how casual I was about the surfers with not a worry in the world. I posted a video of surfers on Kahili beach (also known as Rock Quarry Beach). But a few days ago we received even more terrible news from Victor and Stephanie, who live in Princeville (we stayed with them on our visit). Another surfer went missing on Kahili Beach just this past Monday.

https://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/2022/03/09/multiple-agencies-search-surfer-who-went-missing-waters-off-kauai/

This hit Stephanie and Victor really hard, as they know this man and his family. They purchase their coconut water from them. Huy Nguyen and his wife have a big farm and three children. He had been surfing before handing his board off to his son, saying he was going to swim to shore. Multiple agencies searched for him until they finally suspended the search this past Friday (two days ago).

So, yeah. Just want to get the word out there about the danger of rip currents on the beaches of Kauai. Here’s an interesting link:

https://www.civilbeat.org/2017/09/brittany-lyte-the-deadliest-beach-on-kauai-might-surprise-you/

A researcher, Chuck Blay, analyzed drownings in Kauai from 1970-2012. All told, 316 people drowned in the island’s waters during this 42-year period.

75 per cent of the Garden Isle’s drowning victims were tourists. Drowning is the leading cause of death among visitors to Hawaii.

One more interesting tidbit in the “deadliest-beach’ link above … In May 1964, Frank Sinatra nearly drowned in Wailua Bay while filming the WWII flick, “None But the Brave.” He was staying at the iconic Coco Palms Resort (boy that’s another story) and unknowingly swam himself straight into a riptide. By the time firefighters reached him, the Hollywood icon had been carried 200 yards out to sea. “Sinatra’s face had reportedly turned the same color of his famed set of eyes.”

Yeah, so, the most dangerous thing you can do when you go to Hawaii on vacation is go to the beach and jump in the water.

Although you can still drive past the old iconic Coco Palms Resort on Wailua Bay near Kapa’a, built in 1953, where Elvis Presley filmed “Blue Hawaii” and where Frank Sinatra stayed often (and swam in the bay). Here’s a wiki-link to the resort: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coco_Palms_Resort

“Coco Palms Resort was a resort hotel in Wailua, Kauai that was noted for its Hollywood connections, Hawaiian-themed weddings, torch lightings, destruction by a hurricane, and long-standing land disputes…”

Destruction by a hurricane? Yep. Hurricane Iniki, a devastating category 4 hurricane, with 145 mph winds, struck the Island on September 11, 1992 – 30 years ago. The immense damage done by Iniki closed the Coco Palms for good. Up until 2015 there were several attempts to redevelop the resort, but it’s way too far gone. Here’s an update on the resort from July 28, 2021: https://beatofhawaii.com/coco-palms-kauai-update/ The Plan was for Coco Palms to reopen in 2020 with 273 rooms, 77 suites, 3 restaurants, a cultural center, 12k feet of retail, and more. The last round of attempts disintegrated with multiple developers unable to make it work. I also blogged about it after our Kauai trip in 2019. Here’s the link: https://decompressionofaboomer.com/tag/coco-palms-resort/

And photos of what it looks like today.

Boy, nature can be cruel!

Hurricane Iniki, Coco Palms Resort, and Feral Chickens

February 17, 2019

Kauai trip, Jan. 2019 – Part 3 …

Woke up this morning to find that, sure enough, it’s still winter.

Idaho Falls, 10 am Sunday, Feb 17, 2019 –

Whereas in Kauai I would be listening to the sounds of ocean surf and Albatross mating calls, here in Idaho it’s the whirr-whirr-whirring of snowblowers:

Next door neighbor at 10 am this morning.

Not that Kauai doesn’t have its fair share of storms. On February 10, 2019 – just a week ago, a potent storm slammed Hawaii with 191-mph winds and 60-foot waves, and even dropped snow on Maui. Here check out this Washington post link on the storm!

The most famous storm to hit Kauai was hurricane Iniki. It struck the Island on September 11, 1992 at peak intensity with 145mph winds and gusts up to 225mph. There is still evidence of the hurricane today, with feral chickens running everywhere

Which begs the question: “Why did the chicken cross the road?”

You’d think in Kauai, free-range chicken would be offered ‘cheep-ly’ and abundantly in the grocery stores.

But just try to catch a feral chicken! Then if you do, try to cook it for proper tenderness, which reminds me of a joke Victor likes to tell:

“How long do you boil a Kauai feral chicken?”

“Boil a rock, and when you get it tender enough to eat – that’s how long you boil a Kauai feral chicken.”

Kauai had been home to underground cock-fighting and thus, when hurricane Iniki hit 26 years ago, many chicken coops were blown apart, freeing the chickens and roosters on the island. Except there are no mongooses or other natural predators to hunt them or eat their eggs and so their population has exploded since the hurricane.

Feral pigs and goats proliferate as well, and provide great incentive for hunting. Here we passed some hunters with their kill – a wild pig. Laying on top of the caged hunting dogs – good job, dogs! (At least four dogs? – with proud expressions.)

Jan 27, 2019

We ran into a guy on one hike who was off hunting with his rifle for feral goats.

In my previous blog I talked about the 48-inch rain that hit the north shore of Kauai last April, and how a section of Kuhio Road is still closed today, nine months later, from the damage. Well, you might have heard of the Coco Palms resort in Kauai. It was built in 1953, on 32 acres, including a 17-acre coconut grove of over 2000 trees that had been planted in 1896 by a German named William Lindeman.

The Coco Palms Resort became a popular hotspot among royalty and stars. Scenes from the 1958 movie South Pacific were shot at Coco Palms. Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby were regular visitors, as were the Von Trapp Family Singers. It was a favorite hang-out for Elvis Presley. They filmed the wedding scene in Elvis’s movie Blue Hawaii at this resort. By the early 1970’s the hotel had grown to over 400 rooms, and hosted over 500 weddings a year. It had been a Hawaii landmark for 40 years … until Iniki hit…

A blog (link here) written by Daniel Thorne – contains some very interesting information – he toured the resort in 2008 and provided photos and this map of the original resort in his blogpost (thank you Daniel):

On January 27, 2019, David, Eric and I drove right past the Coco Palms resort. I had seen this blocks-long abandoned concrete structure on previous trips and didn’t know what it was. Well, my friend, it’s the Coco Palms Resort – what’s left of it – still standing untouched today, 26 years after it was destroyed by hurricane Iniki.

Coco Palms resort – Wailua, Kauai

The Coco Palms resort sits on the mouth of the Wailua River on the eastern side of Kauai, about seven miles north of Lihue, which also happens to be an ancient site of Hawaiian royal property that has been in dispute since 1866. Roadblock after roadblock has deterred progress on repairing or re-developing the property. Ownership groups battled insurance companies (already bankrupted by Iniki) and struggled to get the money to rebuild. Local cultural activists continued to lobby against redevelopment to protect the sacred Hawaiian ground. Anyway, there have been several attempts at redevelopment. Here is a fascinating article about Coco Palms entitled “Abandoned Kaua’i Jewel – the Coco Palms” and a book has been written about it, ‘The Story of Coco Palms Hotel,’ by David Penhallow, who was a good friend of Grace Guslander, the creative force and engine behind the hotel’s original growth and success.

Hurricane Iniki caused an estimated $1.8 billion damage (in 1982 money value) and left residents without power for up to 3 months. Over 1400 homes were completely destroyed and another 7200 were severely damaged. Iniki hit Kauai shortly after Hurricane Andrew leveled south Florida, so Americans were a little hurricane-weary at this point where sympathy and aid were concerned …

Another interesting tid-bit from the article above, “Abandoned Kauai Jewel: The Coco Palms” – Stephen Spielberg and 130 members of his cast and crew were in Kauai filming Jurassic Park when Hurricane Iniki struck. Luckily they were able to find safe refuge in a hotel.

Oh, and by the way, you can still tour the Coco Palms today through Coco Palms Tours and Tees (link here) run by Bob Jasper. And you can also get married (or renew your vows) at the Coco Palms through Blue Hawaii Weddings. (Send resident caretaker Larry Riviera an email: LarryRiviera@hawaiian.net ) The massive coconut grove must still be there.

According to the same article above, by the late 2000’s the resort rapidly disintegrated, despite efforts of various interested investors to try and save it. Meanwhile, copper thieves, ornament hunters and vandals have nearly completely stripped the buildings. In February 2013, thieves broke down hotel walls and made off with four of the resort’s original 8-foot-tall doors, weighing 200-300 pounds each, hand carved from solid Koa wood, valued at $50,000 each, but to the collectors and fans of the Coco Palms they are priceless.

As late as August 2013 a group of Hawaiian investors developed plans to purchase the property. Reconstruction was announced to take between 12-18 months, beginning in 2014, restoring the resort to look very similar to what it was pre-Iniki. But now in 2019, it is clear no progress has been made.

So I dunno – there may be a 32-acre Real estate property available on the Kuhio Highway that sits on the mouth of the Wailua River on the eastern side of Kauai, about seven miles north of Lihue. A 17-acre coconut grove with over 2000 trees is included.

Of course, did I mention that it also sits below the flood plain?