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Make you smile or make you snicker, these ads take you on a tour of Hawaii's early tourist efforts

Make you smile or make you snicker, these ads take you on a tour of Hawaii's early tourist efforts
"The Silver Surf of Waikiki," a photo created for a 1935 promotional brochure, urged travelers to consider a beachside holiday in Honolulu. (Matson Navigation Co.)

A blond beauty with a bathing cap to match her yellow swimsuit. A pretty, welcoming islander in a grass skirt holding a floral lei. Such images beckoned visitors to Hawaii in the 1930s. Now, a collection of the inviting ads takes on you a trip back in time in Waikiki. 

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Photographer Edward Steichen shot this photo on the steps of the Royal Hawaiian for a 1938 ad that urged visitors to "Smile back at the world in Hawaii." (Matson Navigation Co.)

Clearly, styles and sensibilities have changed, but the glories of Hawaii remain constant.

The Royal Hawaiian, one of only a handful of Honolulu hotels at the time, is hosting the "Travel to Hawaii" exhibit, which continues through April 2016.

The 25 colorful magazine ads, enlarged to poster size, were designed to encourage travelers to choose the Matson Lines for their journeys.

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Photographer Anton Bruehl captured this image of Pualani Mossman Avon, Matson's "poster girl," for a 1935 ad that read, "Hawaii lets the songs of her heart roll out through smiling lips." (Matson Navigation Co.)

It may seem unbelievable nowadays, when you can leave L.A. in the morning and be on the beach by early afternoon, Hawaii time, but Matson offered passenger ship service to the islands, noting that the vacation began the moment a visitor stepped aboard for the five-day voyage.

The Royal Hawaiian Hotel, still known as "the pink palace of the Pacific," was featured in this 1930s travel brochure which forms part of the new exhibit at the hotel. (Matson Navigation Co.)

The ads appeared in National Geographic, Time and Vogue and other national magazines from 1935 to 1941. Anton Bruehl and Edward Steichen, two of the best-known photographers of the era, were hired for the color shoots.

In 1937, the ads began suggesting that once on Oahu, travelers would surely want to stay in one of the three hotels owned by Matson. The Royal Hawaiian, built by Matson in 1927, was one of them.

The unique exterior color of Royal continues to make the hotel a Waikiki landmark. The display includes a 1930s-era brochure about the hotel, created by Matson marketing.

The exhibit can be viewed in the hotel’s Coronet Lounge at any time. There’s no admission charge.

Info: (808) 923-7311.

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