Two of Waikiki’s famous landmarks are hotels—the Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa and the Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort, opened in 1901 and 1927, respectively.
Dubbed “The First Lady of Waikiki,” the Moana, whose name means “broad expanse of the ocean,” was Waikiki’s first hotel. It boasted ice machines on each of its four floors, Hawaii’s first electric-powered elevator and a telephone and private bath in its 75 rooms—all exciting innovations for its time. Items on display in its second-floor Historical Room include vintage postcards, brochures, room keys and sheet music.
Constructed in Spanish-Moorish style and flaunting a distinctive pink color, the Royal Hawaiian occupies 15 acres nearby where homes of Hawaiian royalty once stood. Among the treasures showcased at the “Pink Palace of the Pacific” are china and silver used at its opening night banquet and photos of celebrity guests, including Shirley Temple, Elizabeth Taylor, Bing Crosby, Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney. One rare shot shows multiple Olympic medalist Duke Kahanamoku teaching Amelia Earhart how to cut a pineapple.
Both hotels offer historical tours that are open to the public; ask the concierge for details.