Hawaii's Moana Surfrider

dusk at the Moana Surfrider in Honolulu

At dusk, guests meet for drinks beneath the banyan.

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Amelia Earhart slept here before her flight from Honolulu to Oakland. The Prince of Wales waltzed across the ballroom. Johnny Noble sang Hula Blues on the outdoor terrace.

When the Moana Surfrider opened in 1901 as Waikiki’s first hotel, everyone who was anyone wanted to stay in this colonial inn right on the beach. Visitors arrived by boat and paid $1.50 for a room with private bath, an unheard-of amenity at the time.

Today, old-world splendor still graces the Moana. Guests pass through the original porte cochere to the lobby, where staff in muumuus greet them with flower leis and guava juice. Last year, Westin Resorts took control of the property and refreshed the rooms, revamped the Beach house restaurant, and laid plans for a spa, now set to open in August.

Even if you’re not a guest, it’s worth dropping in to sip a mai tai under the banyan or to browse the second floor museum hung with photos of guests from the 1930s and ’40s wearing gray wool Moana bathing suits. Free tours are offered on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. From $280; AAA members receive a discount. (808) 922-3111, www.moana-surfrider.com.

Photography by Robin Peck

This article was first published in May 2008. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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