Two historic Hale‘iwa
destinations were the Hale‘iwa Hotel and the Hale‘iwa
The properties were built about 40 years apart, yet each had
elements of a unique style that can only be described as rural
elegance and grandeur. They helped make Hale‘iwa a sought-after
The Hale‘iwa Hotel opened in 1889 as a stopover or retreat
for passengers riding on the O‘ahu Railroad, owned and
operated by the O‘ahu Railway and Land Company, Benjamin
According to a 1999 Honolulu Star Bulletin article, a roundtrip
fare on the O‘ahu Railroad train was $10. This fare included
a one-night stay at the Hale‘iwa Hotel, a tour of the
Waialua Sugar Mill, and a carriage ride into the central O‘ahu
town of Wahiawa, the home of vast pineapple plantations.
The 56-mile trip from Honolulu to Hale‘iwa circled around
the west side of O‘ahu, passing through Wai‘anae
and rounding Ka‘ena Point. To complete the 19-degree
turn at Ka‘ena, the train had to stop and be rotated
on a giant turntable. This allowed passengers to take photographs
of the Wai‘anae Range before the last leg of the trip
through Waialua to Hale‘iwa Town.
An 18-room property designed by O.G. Traphagen, the Hale‘iwa
Hotel was resplendent with lavish amenities and gorgeous interiors.
Built with koa, mahogany, and other rich hard woods, it boasted
a two-story lanai, a 30-by-40 foot parlor, a luxurious dining
room, a check-in desk and lobby, and other perquisites such
as a billiard room, a separate hunting lodge, and private cottages
on the beach.
The hotel did quite well in the beginning, but when the O‘ahu
Railroad’s passengers began purchasing their own private
vehicles, traffic to the hotel died down tremendously. Since
most of the passengers no longer rode the train to take tours
of the North Shore or to stay at the hotel, the railroad, to
stay in business, had to become a commercial commodity carrier
transporting goods and produce to and from the sugar and pineapple
When efforts to revive the business were unsuccessful, the
Hale‘iwa Hotel was converted to a club for U.S. Army
officers in January of 1943.
After World War II, the hotel was in desperate need of renovation
and repairs due to lack of maintenance, but no one wanted to
spend the money needed to restore it to its original glory.
Sadly, the Hale‘iwa Hotel was demolished in 1952. In
its place, a restaurant called the Sea View Inn was built.
This was renovated in the mid 1980s and is currently Hale‘iwa
According to the North Shore Surf Museum, Hego Fuchino designed
the Hale’iwa Theatre in 1931. It was built for live stage
performances, with seating for 900 people. Upper balcony seats
were cushioned, and the lower-level solid seats were situated
on the main floor of the theatre. According to the North Shore
Surf Museum’s Web site, there was an orchestra pit in
front of the stage, and the theatre’s acoustics were
Once the cost of live performances made them too expensive,
Theatre began showing movies that locals would go to watch on a weekly basis.
Alan Segawa, a former Waialua resident, remembered that the
Theatre would show samurai films several nights of the week, and Filipino movies
on Thursday nights during the 1980s.
Unfortunately, most Hale‘iwa residents’ memories of the theatre’s
last days overshadow their happier memories of watching movies there.
In September 1983, the theatre was torn down after the land
it occupied was sold to Southland Corporation, the parent company
of 7-11. According to the
Surf Museum Web site, residents tried to halt the demolition by seeking a
restraining order, but failed because 7-11 owned the land.
So on Nov. 10, 1983, Hale‘iwa
residents awoke to see the Hale‘iwa Theatre completely destroyed. A tall
pile of rubble was leftover, and the theatre’s stage was all that remained
A 7-11 store was built on that spot, and McDonald’s opened next door
a short time later. The 7-11 has since moved to a new location, but a surf
shop called Wave Riding Vehicles occupies the old building.
Although the Hale‘iwa Hotel and Theatre are gone, you can still find
photos of them and learn about each structure’s history. The Hale‘iwa
Family Health Center, in the Hale‘iwa Shopping Center, has a large photo
in its waiting room of Hale‘iwa Town when the Hale‘iwa Hotel was
actually open. And the North Shore Surf Museum, in the North Shore Marketplace,
has photos of the Hale‘iwa Theatre.
Next issue: Hale‘iwa today.