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. Aloha everyone😊, and Aloha to Coco Palms😥it’s indeed a sad area of topic to discuss isn’t it?
    The Mana that still remains in the soil and roots of life on this beautiful sacred property, (and by sacred I mean the heart of it – even before a shovel ever plunged into it by undeserving civilized hands,Gods green earth as it were)this Mana is strong with it still, as it broke the Ocean surface strong, that is why all the turmoil is happening and will continue to do so, she wants a rest now, a well deserved rest

  2. Having stayed at the Coco Palms during it’s hey day, what had happened to this amazing property just makes me very sad. However, if it no longer is viable to be restored, they should come to an agreement to complete demolition and restore the acreage to it’s natural state until a successful plan is formulated for the future.

  3. CoCo Palms will live on forever as a metaphor for Hawaiian / Kauaiian planning and governance–and not in a good way.

    It is a prime example of how hopelessly conflicted, confused, divided, and short sighted Hawaii is today–and will likely be in the future.

    The COVID-19 situation in Hawaii is also a direct reflection of these confliction, confusion, division, and complete and utter government disfunction. Hawaiian officials love to talk about things… but they just aren’t very good at DOING them. (One simply has to look at the Honolulu Rail Project–that has single handledly bankrupted the state–and cost each and every Hawaiian–not just the ones on Oahu–approximately $7000/each to verify this complete government incompetence.)

    Sure, it would be great if 100% of the Hawaiian islands could be pristine, natural, undeveloped land. What a paradise that would be, right? Unfortunately, Hawaii has not developed any other major sources of income or tax revenue–other than TOURISM. And tourists aren’t all going to sleep in tents in the wilderness or on towels on the beach. Tourism funds Hawaii’s generous welfare system–so, no tourism–no EBT cards for everyone!–no free healthcare for the unemployed and indigent / homeless!–no decent schools–no nothing. And to support tourism, one needs hotels, resorts–Vacation Rentals, etc. And the revenue and jobs generated by each and ever resort in Hawaii is massive. The revenue from the TAT (hotel) tax alone was $630,000,000 in 2019 alone–and that’s just the tip of the “tourist tax” iceberg. A $1000 rental car bill in Hawaii is around 50% misc junk taxes added on… and just think how many cars are rented in Hawaii by tourists every year.

    So, yeah, the elimination of even one resort like Coco Palms from any of the islands results in a massive long term cost to the state and the locals–who both rely completely on the revenues these resorts generate–both for their jobs–and for their free government handouts.

    1. Wow. Many questionable items here. Let’s just look at a couple of them.
      The state of HI is not bankrupt, and if it were the cause would be the economic effects of C19, not the rail project.
      The failures of the rail project are in large part due to obstruction by various private-sector groups, each determined to have things their way. Can’t blame the government for that.
      The economy of HI is foundering due to over-reliance on tourism. As is well known, a tourism-based economy is a dead-end street, filled with poverty-wage jobs and highly unstable. The idea that more tourist-reliant business is a solution is reminiscent of the medieval practice of curing all manner of disease by draining the patient’s blood. If the patient passes out from lack of blood, just drain off some more.

      1. #1 – Wrong. The state of Hawaii was $9,000,000,000 (that’s BILLION) in debt even BEFORE the virus. And at least 1/2 of that debt can be attributed to the rail project. Not sure what YOU think “bankrupt” means–but personally, I consider $9,000,000,000 in debts–with no way to pay that money back–and a budget deficit adding to the debt ever year–“bankrupt”.

        #2 – Wrong. The government started the rail project. The government (mis)managed the rail project. The government is responsible for the failure and cost over-runs of the rail project. How could you possibly believe that the some other / third party should somehow be blamed for the failure of the largest single construction project in the history of the state? That’s just silly.

        #3 – Wrong (again). Hawaii generates BILLIONS annually from tourist dollars. Just because they choose to waste it on social programs and huge public sector employment instead of re-investing it to develop a more diverse economy cannot be blamed on the tourism (or the tourists). Unfortunately the state and county governments have chosen to create hurdles, road blocks and outright dead end streets to many other types of economic development–that might in some way harm or diminish tourism or the islands’ environment or ecology. So, that state–collectively has “chosen” tourism. That’s just a fact. And, sure, many of those jobs are low-wage and low-education and low-skill–but that’s where the hand outs from the state come in. “Tax the tourist and re-distribute that money to the poor locals” has been the states core philosophy since the sugar industry collapsed. And until they can come up with a better strategy–every resort counts.

    1. Aloha David, yes I tend to agree with you, all efforts to build it up fail miserably, the Mana of the land is not permitting that re-build to happen, she wants to take care of that herself…they should step away and let her do that, as respect and love,

      1. Sure. Blame it on the supernatural instead of the humans. That makes sense. So… I guess the Mana of the land changed its mind from the original permission it granted to allow this resort to be built originally? And the Mana of the land doesn’t have a problem with the dozens of other resorts on the island… just this one. 🙂

        It’s this kind of kooky animism that results in these types of outcomes. Trust me, the Mana of the land doesn’t care what we do. The planet has been here 4.5 billion years… and will be here billions and billions of years after humans are long gone. (We’ve been around, what a couple of hundred thousand years at most–only a few thousand of those as complex / advanced societies.) We could pollute all the air and water, cut down every forest, and kill every living thing on the planet–and it wouldn’t make a difference. A million or two years later–an eye blink in the history of the planet–there wouldn’t even be trace left of our existence here–and the planet would be as pristine and beautiful as it was before humans ever existed.

  4. Why can’t it be rebuilt? It’s sad that the original structure can’t be saved but you could still build it as it once was. My husband and I toured there. Unless you built something like the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu, will it bring in enough revenue? Is this what they’re envisioning? I know people would like just a park but that doesn’t bring in money. Hopefully something wonderful will come out of it in the end. Mahalo for the update!

    1. Hi Melissa.

      Thanks. It is beyond repair and that is just of the problems. The rest is laid out in the post. Not sure that a big money-making type of park is what is envisioned, but time will tell. It will be slow as everything is here. And yes, hopefully, it will be wonderful for every reason.


    2. Aloha Melissa, the Mana (Spirit) is still strong in this land, and is not permitting any type of process to do just let her do it on her own and forever leave the land in her state of life, would mean true respect for her, and her Ohana – nature’s life, she doesn’t want what (we) want, the land is strong and spirits also, they protect it and they protect her also, so that true life will continue, the life that first started well below the surface of the water till it broke free and took a Breath (Ha) and if she can feel that once more..she will at all costs

  5. Coco Palms is a perfect metaphor for the State of Hawaii.

    It encapsulates dysfunctional State and County governments in clear stark terms.

  6. Thank you Beat of Hawaii for your updates for many years. My travel dates are annually during the ANZAC celebration, third week of April.
    I cancelled this year’s travel but scheduled my return April 2021. I booked my flight June 3 cost of $667.00 and later reduced to $658.00. I check every morning for a better rate and much to my surprise the rate for my same travels increased in 24 hours to $922.00. Help me analyze this. If the airlines are struggling are they trying to make huge profits on the few tickets they are selling? I know for a fact when I secured/upgraded seats last week not many seats were spoken for at that time. I have always booked flights in June for April and normally pay $700-750.00. $667.00 was a great deal from Memphis Tennessee to Oahu flying American with the shorten hours in airports and in the sky.

    1. Hi Pamela.

      Thank you. Airline pricing often makes no sense and doesn’t relate to supply/demand. And that after we’ve followed prices to and from Hawaii for decades.
      There was one time not that many years ago when we were able to fly to Alberta Canada for $229 RT and that was on United via the Lihue to Denver nonstop. Crazy huh.


  7. The Coco Palms resort has been in a state of limbo for, what, about 30 years now. The property is an ugly mess. The property bears little resemblance to what it once was. As I understand it there are so many contingencies on the property that it is impossible to do anything with it. Surely wish that the owners of the property would write off the property as a loss and donate it to the county of Kauai. In that way, perhaps, something good could come out of this unfortunate situation. Thanks for the update guys.

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