Breaking: Coco Palms Plans Explode In Emotional Hearing

Infamous Coco Palms Kauai | Why It Just Won’t End

One thing you can definitely say about Coco Palms is that it forever remains at the forefront of Kauai news and people’s minds. With nearly 400 comments about the resort, your feelings are clear.

When we wrote about it nearly a year ago, the saga continued with an odd foreclosure sale. Since then, your editors have frequently drive by the once luxury resort (see video below), and it never ceases to amaze us. It sits there, an ugly old decaying concrete shell. Truly an eyesore.

There are no signs of demolition and to our understanding there are no demolition permits. Instead, building permits from years ago are still pending and those are found below.

Coco Palms was sold again last year.

A scheduled foreclosure auction took place at the Fifth Circuit Courthouse near Lihue Airport in July 2021. Alas, there was only one bid, and there’s a new owner, sort of, at least for now. The property was sold in “as-is” condition.

One commenter on Facebook said what many of us were thinking, “I was dreaming that one notorious billionaire from the north shore would buy it, tear down all the man-made structures and donate it for a cultural park and parking for Wailua beach.” (Margaret Goode).

Neal McManus added, “It seems that a team of multimillionaires and certain billionaires that enjoy the island could “pitch-in” and have the parcel restored, made into a multi-use Hawaiian cultural space/center for the Kauai community. The resultant development could be endowed in the same manner and intent that Duncan McBryde did with Kukuiolono with the county of Kauai.”

In the end, however, the company Private Capital Group, paid $22 million for the land. The bid was actually a credit for the original principal value of a loan obtained by the prior developer. The new buyer was the lender for the previous owners who defaulted on their debt during the last of a string of failed efforts to rebuild the hotel. That plan, which would have turned Coco Palms into a 350-room resort, began in 2015 and then changed hands again in 2019 through a massive mortgage default.

Being the new owner in title, Private Capital Group can now move forward to try to sell it yet again. No one knows exactly what their next move will be.

Read more about Coco Palms:

Breaking: Coco Palms Plans Explode In Bizarre, Emotional Hearing

60 Years Ago Elvis’ Blue Hawaii + Jets Transformed Hawaii Travel

There’s no place for a new Coco Palms Resort. So what about a park?

The county was moving in the direction of wanting the former resort to become a park. But even that seems to have gone quiet.

Coco Palms wouldn’t be viable any longer as a hotel, for a myriad of reasons, as you’ll read below. Among them, the property is located on what’s become a very noisy stretch of Kuhio Highway, with no beach access. In recent years, many hotels have been built that, while not Coco Palms, offer beachfront locations at prices that undermine any potential for profitability.

The idea of a park has been floated for many years. BOH editors’ friend and Kauai Council Member Felicia Cowden asked that Coco Palms be “set aside for a future community wilderness or cultural park. Those prime, historically significant lands should not be attached to the problematic private pieces to help move a distressed asset.”

When we last reached out to Felicia about this, she replied that she doesn’t believe that the County has the financial resources to acquire the property. “Hopefully, the county will consider it; however, I don’t think we can afford it. A best-case would be a friendly buyer, and that is where I will focus my efforts.”

Ultra-popular Coco Palms of the past. Still Kauai’s most iconic and most infamous resort ever.

Kauai Coco Palms Resort’s enduring popularity is unending. The unexpectedly awful eyesore and safety hazard on the island after being largely destroyed nearly three decades ago during Hurricane Iniki, continues.

This was where the rich and famous once stayed, and Elvis Presley’s Blue Hawaii was filmed. The property consists of 20 acres fronting the highway at Wailua Beach, combined with 15 acres of state-leased land.

This post-series has now been read more than a quarter-million times, which is a good indication of your love of and fascination with Coco Palms. We, too, enjoy reading your hundreds of fascinating comments depicting fond memories of Coco Palms and ongoing dreams for its future.

Demolition rumors.

We continue to anticipate, as we reported last year, that Coco Palms will eventually be demolished. However, we were never able able to verify rumors that it was inevitable last year. When we checked, the county wasn’t aware of demolition permits being issued.

All essential concrete structures failed.

The original building core was to be an integral part of future development. That, however, became impossible when steel rebar within the buildings’ concrete corroded and failed because of exposure to ocean salt and moisture. The corroding steel cracked the concrete and spall due to the swelling and increased tensile load on the steel. That issue began on the upper floors, then expanded to affect the entire infrastructure.

More reasons Coco Palms can never be a hotel again.

Kauai’s prior mayor JoAnn Yukimura, said development permits “should have never been issued.” She bemoaned that Kauai has too many hotels as it already stands. “Removing the cloud of resort development from the property will enable the community to come together around a new vision for that site — a vision that could include a park and culture center that interprets the history of the place.”

Another BOH editors’ friend Allan Parachini, jokingly wrote on his Facebook page during Covid about Coco Palms Resort: “I am so happy to hear today that Kauai County has officially designated a Quarantine Hotel for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic…As you can see, all of the accommodations have plenty of fresh air.” As we said, “Elvis has left the building.”

Coco Palms current condition.

The last round of attempts disintegrated with multiple developers unable to make it work—all to the chagrin of visitors, locals, and the Kauai County government.

When driving by, you see enormous amounts of ugly, original concrete and steel, as in the image below. The developers had planned to use these preexisting steel, and concrete structures as the base of the new resort before those plans were terminated by nature and finances. The iconic lagoon was also set to be restored, as is shown in the image depiction above.

Beat of Hawaii: Coco Palms sits largely unchanged, destroyed through hurricanes, fraud, neglect, and to this day, ongoing controversy for over a quarter-century.

coco palms resort

In 2016, a multi-million dollar selective-demolition project was completed. This included drywall and asbestos removal, electrical and mechanical repairs, renovations at the Lotus Restaurant, and bungalow building. It pretty much was stripped clean. And it has sat virtually untouched since then.

Status of building permits.

There are fourteen pages of building permits in various stages for Coco Palms Resort that can be found here. Search by name and enter Coco Palms.

Could Zuckerberg still play a role?

Turned into a historic park or something similar via a gift to the county or otherwise, this could be a way for the island’s wealthiest to make a very favorable impact. Kauai is Zuckerberg’s island home. Who else might help out?

Another commentor about the sale offered this, “Sounds good. Too risky to do anything, lender playing money games, price is low enough for the state to buy it. Great work!” (Robert Gluckson)

Did you know these Coco Palms’ details?

1. A once planned connection to the Koa Kea Resort was dropped. The last developer was rumored to have been in discussions with the Meritage Collection about running the Coco Palms in addition to Koa Kea.

2. Reopening as a Hyatt property was also aborted. In 2014, the plan was for Coco Palms to reopen in 2020 with 273 rooms, 77 suites, 3 restaurants, a cultural center, 12k square feet of retail, and more. It was then to be part of the Hyatt Unbound Collection.

3. In 2017, a dispute arose when a group of Native Hawaiians claiming to be descendants of Kauai’s King Kaumuali’i began living on the property. A judge refused to remove them from Coco Palms while determining their rightful owners. Developers said, “The county recognizes us as the owner of the property.” The court affirmed that in 2018.

4. The land is considered ancient Hawaiian royal property, and disputes have been ongoing since the 1800s.

See our recent drive-by video.

We welcome your comments.

Updated 4/21/22

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487 thoughts on “Infamous Coco Palms Kauai | Why It Just Won’t End”

  1. The Coco Palms was a magical place, especially to a very young girl whose halau performed there in the early 1960s. I can still picture the torch-lighting ceremony and sounds of the conch shell announcing the runner’s approach. It was so beautiful. Hurts my heart to think of how it was affected by Hurricane Iniki and then allowed to further disintegrate.

    A Hawaiian cultural center would be amazing there, where anyone could learn about the history, language, and dance of Hawaii. Also where some of the land could be designated for the cultivation of taro, both dry and wet; or some type of collaboration with the botanical gardens.

    1. Sure. That’s just what Hawaii needs… another “cultural center”. 🙂

      Which, to non-Hawaiians just means “visitor center” or “tourist attraction”.

      But, yeah, sure, the locals would certainly love another beach park of some kind here… because that would just be another multi-million dollar project that they wouldn’t have to pay for… since virtually everything on the islands is paid for by the tourists and the tax and sales revenue they bring.

      And that’s the big question: If they county and the state will NOT allow this private property to be repaired, restored, or re-developed… who then PAYS to buy the land from the private owners… and who then PAYS to remove the existing / rotting improvements–and then pays to design and build whatever PUBLIC improvements replaces them?

      Because the state has no money–only debts. Massive debts. So this would either have to be a private / for profit project… or it will rot as a derelict ruin for decades–which no one will be able to use or enjoy… or the county / state will have to borrow MORE millions to complete the project.

      Which one do you think is more likely to happen?

  2. Thank you for the update. It makes me sad, but I understand. My parents stayed there in 1978. My hubby & I stopped there in 1998 while on the Movie Tour, and dreamed of returning to stay at the Coco Palms when the restoration was complete. Sadly, that will never happen, but I can still look through my parents’ amazing photos taken during their stay at this icon,is resort, Aloha! ❤

  3. So sad. Had my honeymoon there in the early 70’s. Ate in the three eating areas. Watched a local teach how to shuck a coconut. Listened to Larry Rivera sing at night in the lounge, where “the drinks are on you!!” (still have the record Larry was selling then) Viewed where Elvis filmed the wedding scene for “Blue Hawaii”. So sad, but memories are wonderful.

  4. Please remember, It was Elvis Presley who made the Hawaiian Islands what they are today,Vacationing and having fun,Please remember that , thanks for listening,Tim….

  5. We stayed right across the street from this iconic run down dilapidated mess years ago and it was sad to see it then. It must be so much worse. I was hoping it could become somewhat what it was years ago even if it doesn’t have beach access. Until Hawaii addresses the homeless and drug issues that are out of control, why build another park? It’s shocking to see it still standing and that they care so little about the diseases, pests, asbestos, homeless & drugs and they still haven’t torn it down? This was in the end a very sad read.

    1. I am a frequent visitor to Kauai. Perhaps the descendents who you say are recognized as the owners, have some responsibiliy for developing the area for the homeless, or at least as affordable housing. Thank you for clarifying the current situation.

  6. This is so sad. My husband and I spent 2 wonderful weeks at coco palms in the late 70s. It remains my most favorite trip to Hawaii!

  7. It is very saddening to witness the make (death) of Coco Palms. I stayed in an oceanfront room the year before Elvis and troop arrived to film Blue Hawaii. I enjoyed walking around the royal palms every sunset before the lighting of the waterside torches and the blowing of the conch. I’ll miss walking through the massive carved doors.

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