The dramatic skyline of Waikiki today, right, is a far cry from the Hawaii that existed fewer than 50 years ago. Yet the serenity of old Hawaii can still be found on all the islands. Passengers flock to the pier at Lahaina, below, for excursions around Maui or picnics on Lanai. Youngsters and visitors alike delight in the man-made pool surrounded by lava rocks at Kapaa, bottom right, within walking distance of Coco Palms on Kauai.
With each passing year, the face of Hawaii changes a bit more dramatically as the 50th State prepares to enter the 21st Century. But for those with aloha in their hearts, these islands remain special, many-splendored places. In an earlier era, vacationers sailed from the mainland on the Lurline and the Matsonia. Westward bound, excitement grew as, on the morning of the fifth day, Diamond Head would appear on the horizon, the beachboys would swim out to meet the ships, and the passengers would toss them coins. Afterward, at Aloha Tower, the Royal Hawaiian band played haunting melodies of old Hawaii. The hour of departure, when the ships made ready to return to the mainland, was a sad-happy time. While the band played strains of “Aloha Oe,” passengers would toss their leis overboard. There was a legend that if one’s lei drifted to shore, one would return. But it all has changed, a change that began with statehood in 1959 and with the arrival of the jet airplane that transformed Hawaii into a major tourist destination. The old Royal Hawaiian, and the Moana, with its huge banyan tree, remain. New hotels have appeared. Many. Waikiki remains the center of the action. But one has only to drive towards the north shore of Oahu to find solace on a deserted beach. Or fly to sleepy Molokai. Or take the peaceful, winding road to heavenly Hana on the island of Maui. Or fly to Kauai and take the drive to Hanalei which remains “old Hawaii.” Or travel in the opposite direction toward the beaches of Waimea, scenes from another time that doze in the warm Hawaiian sun while trucks filled with cane from Hawaii’s green hills and valleys still rumble by. Hawaii’s changing, different faces: the fast pace of Waikiki and Kaanapali and the somnolent surroundings of remote villages.