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


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. 

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.

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 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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