What Became Of America’s Hawaii Love Affair After 60-Years

America’s Love Affair With Hawaii | 60-Years Strong

Hawaii tourism took off, turbocharged with the amazingly synchronous introduction of jet aircraft, soon after Hawaii statehood. In fact, Pan Am began the Age of Hawaii Jet Travel with Boeing 707 aircraft, just one month later.

Air travel and cheaper flights aligned perfectly with our love of Hawaii.

Jets immediately reduced travel time to Hawaii by about half. It also drove airfares down precipitously and let more people than ever before think of a Hawaii vacation as a reality.

Hawaii: “painted in every hue of the rainbow, flavored to every taste, guaranteed to relax. All you need to do is choose your island. The aloha spirit will do the rest.”

United Airlines

Cost of Hawaii airfare in perspective.

Before jet travel started, a one-way ticket was more than $2,000 in today’s dollars after Pan Am commenced flights to Hawaii in the 1930s. But by 1970, you could fly to Hawaii for about $125 each way, which is about $1,000 in today’s dollars. Today, airfares are cheaper than ever before, in spite of inflation and sometimes sticker shock. It is common now to find airfares from the west coast starting at about $100, and from the east coast, off-season, from about $400. Sure you can pay thousands, but it is never as much as it was back then.

What glamorized Hawaii in the eyes of the world?

From hula dancers, aloha wear, tiki torches, ukulele, slack-key guitars, to Hawaii-themed movies and TV shows, it all became the rage and that’s continued. It’s been a great run for Hawaii visitors Hawaii’s economy.

What was Hawaii like before tourism’s before?

Until the 1960s, sugar and pineapple plantations were responsible for most of the income in Hawaii. Then, with jet travel, a massive increase in Hawaii visitors. In the 1960s, visitor arrivals went from less than 300k annually to nearly 2 million. And it just kept going from there.

Prior to jet travel, Hawaii visitors were sailors, whalers, scientists and adventure seekers. They included Mark Twain, who extolled about Hawaii, “The loveliest fleet of islands,” and “The Grand Canyon of The Pacific.”

Elvis Presley and Hawaii: A love affair beyond compare.

Elvis had had a larger than life role in Hawaii’s travel boom and much of that centered around the film Blue Hawaii. Elvis and Hawaii were a love affair like no other. The “King of Rock and Roll” icon remains one of the most important cultural icons in Hawaii and of the 20th century moreover.

Elvis was said to be at home in Hawaii, unlike anywhere else in the world other than his beloved Memphis. Elvis’ three Hawaii-flmed movies include “Blue Hawaii,” filmed at Kauai’s Coco Palms Resort, “Girls! Girls! Girls!,” and “Paradise, Hawaiian Style.”

Television brought Hawaii into everyone’s home.

Continuing the fame and attraction of the islands, Hawaii was featured in epic TV series Hawaii Five-O, which in turn cement the young state as perhaps the most highly desired vacation destination ever.

The CBS series, Hawaii Five-O on CBS, was seen from 1968-1980, but you can still catch reruns to this day. Another version that lasted ten seasons began in 2010. The series is to this day the most famous and longest-running police drama. It featured Jack Lord, who played Detective Captain Steve McGarrett. The show had as its basis, an actual police unit. And the show’s theme song became as renowned as the TV show.

Aloha wear became Hawaii’s global fashion statement.

With the lure of Hawaii everywhere, it wasn’t long until Hawaii’s aloha wear became a global fashion statement. Aloha shirts, in particular, evolved into the ultimate souvenir from Hawaii. They became popular on the mainland as early as the 1930s, and following Elvis, Tom Selleck and others, their popularity exploded. It represented one’s ability to be part of the glamour and care-free nature of Hawaii. Aloha shirts were worn and sponsored by surf legend Duke Kahanamoku.

Pearl Harbor/Arizona Memorial

Two decades following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Arizona Memorial was built, helped by a benefit concert by Elvis Presley. It opened in 1962 in honor of the 2,500 who died during those attacks. The memorial is, to this day, the most popular visitor attraction in Hawaii.

Modern surf culture erupted with the Beach Boys.

The 1960’s saw the blooming of Hawaii’s surf culture beyond the islands. The Beach Boys helped with their “Let’s go surfing now, everybody’s learning how.” The culture easiliy reverberated in nearby Southern California, and with it came not only surfing, but skateboarding, and Hawaii themed beach attire. Surf movies were all the rage too, such as Endless Summer.

Music from Hawaii became all the rage.

Hawaiian music gained popularity starting in WWI, when more Hawaiian music was sold on the mainland than any other genre. Diverse Hawaii music from modern, folk, native, traditional, and popular including Ukulele and slack-key guitar are known renowned. Hawaiian music a regular part of Hollywood soundtracks.

Ancient Hawaiian music is heard to this day. It is both simple, reverent, and haunting.

Fascinating: United Airlines Hawaii Flights Began With DC-6 Glamor; $4,000 Tickets

Tell us about your love affair with Hawaii.

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14 thoughts on “America’s Love Affair With Hawaii | 60-Years Strong”

  1. Aloha Jeff & Rob ✈️🌎🌸🌈🍍In the past I’ve left some comments, but it has been awhile. It has been my lifelong dream ✨️ 😍 💖 to go to Oahu for my vacation!!!! My Grandfather was in the Navy & in Pearl Harbor. He survived by God’s protection. I’ve always wanted to pay my respects 🇺🇸 since I have very close ties!!! Well I’m happy & super super excited to tell you that I’m making my dreams come true & I will be coming in March 2024 for my birthday!!! 🎂♥️ I can’t wait !!! God bless you….read Pslams 91:11 ✝️🙏

  2. My wife and I have loved Hawaii even before our 1st trip. We have been to the Islands 5 times and are planning our 6th with our sons. It is such a magical place; the ocean, the scenery, music, people and culture what is there Not to fall in love with? And I might add I’m from the great state of Montana and I love Hawaii so much I always say, “I’m a Montanian who should have been born in Hawaii! The Best place ever!!!

    1. I ♥️ Hawaii too!!! It is finally my turn to come next year & I’m super super excited & happy!!! ✈️🌎🌸🌈🍍I can’t wait

  3. Hawaii is the most wonderful place in the usa. I have been there 6x. I stay at ilikai I love it. I am going to return again. It’s my favorite place. Aloha.

  4. The year was 1969…during Vietnam Nam war. My love affair started with a visit with friends that were in the Air Force and lived on Hickham AFB. During my visit with my friends, there was at least 2 air craft carriers in port….everywhere we went were servicemen . At one of the disco’s I met my future husband… we kept in touch and we’re married the next year… during our married years we visited the islands often because it held a special place in our hearts . We loved the islands beauty and its people. We were married for 35 years before his passing…. But I have lots of memories that Hawaii had given me…..This why I love the Hawaiian Islands💕

  5. Wow guys. That old video was great to watch. Thanks. Looking forward to returning at the end of next month for my birthday. Love those bathing suits styles of yesteryear.

    1. I will be going for my birthday in 2024!!!! Super super excited & blessed by God for this opportunity!! ♥️✝️✈️🌎🌸🌈🍍😍

  6. Been in love with Hawaii, especially, Kauai. First visit was in 1994. Went to Oahu for three days, Kauai for three and the Big Island for four. Purchase a time share on Kauai and visited often almost every other year from the East coast. When we retired, we were able to spend a month on two occasions. The trip now is not as easy. We gave the time share to our daughter and son-in-law and they can now enjoy it the way we have since 1994.

  7. Two years ago I spread my late husband’s ashes into the Pacific ocean off Waikiki beach because he always wanted to visit Pearl harbor Next Spring I will get married again on Wai’alae Beach and move to Paris I have come along way down the Ward St where I lived as a travel RN in my twenties Hawaii is paradise and my refuge , my home away from home I captured the Aloha spirit and will carry it with me wherever I wander next Mahalo One Texan

    1. I’m coming to Oahu in 2024 & going to Pearl Harbor. My Grandfather was in the Navy & in Pearl Harbor. He survived PH & I’ve always wanted to pay my respects 🇺🇸♥️ since I have very close ties!!! I will think of your husband when I go 😊

  8. My grandmother loved Hawaiian music. She always wanted to visit the islands. She didn’t make it. I felt that I needed to visit for her. And I wanted to see Hawaii for myself. My family had listened to Hawaii Calls. My uncle joined the navy after Pearl Harbor was bombed. He was sent there. His ship was also bombed. He received an honorable/medical discharge from the service. I finally made it to Hawaii . I wasn’t disappointed. I have visited every island. I like each one for what they are and for what they are not.

    1. My Grandfather was in the Navy & in Pearl Harbor. He survived by God’s protection. I’ve always wanted to pay my respects @ PH 🇺🇸♥️ since I have very close ties!!! It has been my lifelong dream to go to Oahu for my vacation & I’m making my dreams come true. I will be going next year.

  9. You didn’t mention the earliest “mass passenger transit” way of getting to the islands — passenger ships. The Matson Lines Lurline and Matsonia carried about 500 passengers from the West Coast to Honolulu and back, leaving from San Francisco or Los Angeles. If you planned on using only the boats, you had about a three week stay since a liner from Los Angeles (or SF) took five days to reach Honolulu, then five days to San Francisco, back to Hawaii and then back to LA. The trip was better going over since the Trade Winds were with you and returning, you went against them. Thanks for the history lesson, I have great memories of two summers working on the Lurline during college and that was my introduction to Honolulu and Hawaii.

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