In 1953, Coco Palms Resort would open its doors to the masses. Nestled in a coastal Wailuā coconut grove, the lavish locale originally stirred controversy for being built atop a land locals considered historically significant. Hawaiians knew the coconut grove as site of ancient royalty.
Perhaps this is what led the biggest names in Hollywood – like Elvis Presley – to flock to the resort. Or perhaps it’s what led to the karmatic decimation of Coco Palms in 1992 courtesy of Category 4 Hurricane Iniki.
The storm would ravage nearly all 20 acres of the resort. While some historic coconut palms remain, the buildings themselves have seen no repair in the 30 years since.
Everything from fires and floods wreaked havoc on Coco Palms during and after the storm. Seen below, the resort is but a shadow of its former glory.
The Coco Palms Resort Today
It is still possible, however, to visit Coco Palms Resort and see glimpses of its artistry. Mosaics remain, while several of the 24 rooms once stayed in by Elvis & Priscilla Presley, Frank Sinatra, and so many more offer a taste of its unique design.
Yet there was once hope for the resort. According to The New York Post, “Honolulu developers GreeneWaters LLC formed a partnership with Coco Palms Hui LLC to restore the resort, with the intent to reopen Coco Palms as part of the Hyatt franchise” in 2016.
By 2019, however, the project would collapse due to “financial reasons.” Today, the land’s future is in limbo. If anything, fate seems to be willing this historic coconut grove back to nature.
Elvis Presley’s Blue Hawaii was Filmed at Coco Palms Resort
If even the glimpse above looks familiar, that’s because Elvis and Priscilla Presley took many highly-photographed trips to the resort (see first photo of article). One of his most famous movies, Blue Hawaii, also filmed considerably at Coco Palms.
Many others would follow. In 1953, the Oscar-nominated 3D musical spectacular Miss Sadie Thompson (starring Rita Hayworth) would also film at the resort.
But no film would show off the splendor of Coco Palms Resort like Blue Hawaii. Within, Elvis stars as Chad Gates, a soldier who’s just finished up his tour (something Elvis could relate to personally). While an enjoyable musical romp from The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Blue Hawaii would be dwarfed by the success of one particular song from the soundtrack: “Can’t Help Falling In Love” – an all-time-great from Presley.
Relive his iconic performance of the song below, and wish the Coco Palms Resort a final goodbye:
Elvis sings: Can’t Help Falling In Love in this 1961 classic movie Blue Hawaii. With Elvis Presley & Joan Blackman.Blue Hawaii