Coco Palms Resort – Kapaa, Hawaii - Atlas Obscura

Coco Palms Resort

Kaua'i's very first resort is now an abandoned relic. 


Hawai’i is known for its lush resorts and the booming tourist economy that keeps them afloat. However, not every resort thrived in the island sun. 

The Coco Palms Resort was the very first resort on Kaua’i, built in 1953, and in its heyday, it was the hottest place around. Frank Sinatra was known to have stayed there, and it was also one of Elvis Presley’s favorite spots. Elvis actually shot the wedding scene from his film Blue Hawaii at the resort. However, this luxury didn’t come cheap with even the most modest rooms going for over $400 a night. 

That all changed when Hurricane Iniki hit in 1992. Iniki was a Category 4 hurricane and its eye passed directly over the island. Because of the massive devastation across the whole island, the insurance companies went bankrupt and as a result, the Coco Palms Resort was never repaired. Even after the Kaua’i economy got back on its feet, the Coco Palms Resort was simply sold and resold as its condition deteriorated.

In October 2017, a group of Native Hawaiians who live on the grounds of the former resort were taken to court. The group stated they were descendants of Kauai’s King Kaumualii and claimed ancestral domain. A judge refused to remove them, stating there wasn’t enough information to determine rightful ownership. 

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