A Blue Hawaii on Kauai

Elvis Presley’s film Blue Hawaii was filmed at the Coco Palms Resort on the island of Kauaʻi.  The resort, built in 1953 on the site of an 1896 coconut plantation, was managed by Grace Buscher.

The Coco Palms Resort

Buscher made the resort a destination for Hawaiian-style weddings and established an evening torch-lighting ceremony [copied by many other hotels] and tree-plantings in honor of famous people from the islands and around the world.

The Chapel on the property was built by a movie production company in 1953 for the film Miss Sadie Thompson, starring Rita Hayworth.  Elvis’ character was married there at the climax of his film.

A Blue-Hawaii wedding.

Although very popular with its Blue Hawaii-themed weddings, by the time we visited in 1990, the resort was beginning to show wear.  But we made it in time.

The property was destroyed by Hurricane Iniki in 1992.  The property has no direct beach access and is unlikely to ever become a hotel again.

Alie and I enjoyed several blissful days on Kauai before we were joined by old friends Neville and Linda.  Unfortunately, Neville had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, had to eat on a very strict schedule, and was seriously depressed.  We were sympathetic, but it was depressing for us all.

But as they checked in, Neville noticed The Kingston Trio was booked to play that week.  He immediately purchased four tickets in the first row.

The “theater” was simply a conference room which quickly filled up.  Alie said her friend Stef at home would love to have the trio’s autographs.  None of us had paper or a pen, so I volunteered to go back to the room to get them.  When I returned, I noticed the trio was alone in a bar.  I went in and apologized to Bob Shane, one of the original trio: “Tonight you are a quartet; my wife knows every one of your songs and will sing along.”

In the middle of their performance, Shane leaned over, pointed at Alie and said “You’re right.  She knows them better than we do!”

Being at the front, we were last to file out after the show.  There the trio was again alone in the bar.  We went in.  Alie got to sing again with the Kingston Trio [Bob Shane, George Grove and Roger Gambill at the time].  I recall Grove grumbling he had been with the group many years longer than original member Nick Reynolds but never got the credit. Grove, who knew nothing of Neville’s problems, told Neville he could play Grove’s banjo while they sang.  We had no idea Neville was an accomplished banjo player.  He then began playing the most expensive banjo he had ever held.

The depression was gone.  For the rest of the week, Neville was a happy – yea even, ecstatic – man, and we all enjoyed a fabulous time.

Click on photos to enlarge.

Dates of our visit: 1 Nov 90 to 13 Nov 90

PS: I got two autographs for Stef and her husband Steve before the show and the third in the bar after it.

About ralietravels

Ray and Alie (Ralie) are a retired couple who love to travel. Even during our working years, we squeezed a trip in whenever we could, often when we had to stretch the budget to do so. We have been fortunate to vacation in all 50 states, all the provinces of Canada and one territory and a little more than 50 countries. We like to drive, but we particularly love to travel back roads to find unusual sights, people, and experiences.
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16 Responses to A Blue Hawaii on Kauai

  1. Lovely story Ray. Such a thrill to share some quality time with one’s musical heroes and to actually play with them, on one of their instruments! Cool, indeed! I can’t claim to have achieved that, and neither in such an exotic location, but I did once share a very similar experience with a certain Robert Plant, which as a Led Zeppelin fanatic was beyond exciting, and now you’ve given me an idea for a post of my own…

    Liked by 2 people

  2. We would love to see the Kingston Trio. Would bring back fond memories, for sure.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Sue Slaght says:

    What an absolutely heart-warming story Ray. To bring joy to someone in their final chapter like that must have been extraordinary. I can visualize him playing the banjo with a smile on his face and his spirits lifted.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. JohnRH says:

    Wow! What a great experience! The Kingston Trio was one of my first folk group loves and is still an all time favorite. We had a guy play at our senior club who was a member’ for awhile, late 90s or later I think, but not one of the three you mentioned.

    Liked by 2 people

    • ralietravels says:

      I believe Shane was always part of it and may have even bought the name from the other original two. But the others came and went although as mentioned, George Grove was with them for a long time. Alie brought a couple of their original albums to our marriage fifty years ago and they were favorites of ours as well. We also saw them perform in a much less intimate setting in D.C. before the Kauai trip.

      Liked by 1 person

      • JohnRH says:

        I was thinking of David Peel. From his website: The Shane Gang (Bob Shane, myself and Michael Hurd)
        The Kingston Trio (2004 Christmas Tour: George Grove, Bob Haworth and Myself)

        Liked by 2 people

  5. The Log Cabin Sage says:

    A moving tribute to an old friend and a great blast BACK to the past! My wife and I loved it all. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. neelstoria says:

    So many beautiful memories. The show made your friend a happy man and that’s the best part. Travel situations can be made or marred by the companions. If someone is gloomy, it does affect the rest.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Garfield Hug says:

    A good throw back! I never knew about this place and no, I have not watched Elvis’ Blue Hawaii. Thanks for sharing and showing me.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What a great story, Ray. Thanks for telling it. Sad but happy. The type of story we can use right about now. I still remember falling in love with the Trio in the 60s. As for Kauai, always my favorite island. I first went there in the early 70s and have returned many times. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: A Blue Hawaii on Kauai — RalieTravels – Sarah's Attic Of Treasures

  10. LORAINE Beckman BECKMAN says:

    One place I would like to see which is on my bucket list. Maybe one day if this mess we are having ever let’s up. Hugs to you both.

    Liked by 1 person

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