You didn't have to be an astrologer to see the stars aligning in favor of tourism in Hawaii's future. The influences of postwar prosperity, interest in overseas travel, widespread marketing, and affordable air travel were growing stronger. Year after year, ever-increasing numbers of visitors arrived in Honolulu, most of them by air.
Hawaiians met the first postwar arrival of the luxury ocean liner Lurline in 1948 with long-awaited Boat Day fanfare. Before the war, over 99 percent of visitors arrived by sea. But by 1955, over three-fourths were arriving by air.
Tourists flocked to Waikiki Beach again after the war. Matson built two more hotels there in the 1950s and increased its cruise ship operations. But the heyday of ocean liner travel was fading. In 1970 Matson sold its hotels and luxury liners and ended its cruise ship service.
This Matson ad appeared in Paradise of the Pacific magazine in 1959.
The Royal Hawaiian remains one of Waikiki's most luxurious hotels. Built in the Spanish-Moorish style, the "Pink Palace" opened in 1927 and quickly attracted the rich and famous. It hosted American submariners needing rest and recreation while it was closed to the public during World War II.
When the China Clipper opened Pan Am's transpacific route in 1935, it became one of the most famous airplanes in the world. The three Martin M-130s — China Clipper, Philippine Clipper, and Hawaii Clipper — were the largest air transports yet built. For their first year they carried only mail and cargo. But in 1936 they began carrying passengers as well and launched a new era of transoceanic travel.
Among the planes that flew to Hawaii in the 1950s and '60s, the Stratocruiser stood out. Blunt-nosed and bigger than any other airliner, it was well suited for the long mainland-Hawaii flights. It was roomy and luxurious, and its seats converted into cozy sleeping berths for overnight flights. It featured another popular perk: a lower-deck cocktail lounge you reached by a spiral staircase. Stratocruisers appear on many of the posters nearby.
The Pan Am Boeing 707 introduced America to jet travel. The whistling jetliners began flying to Hawaii shortly after statehood in 1959. They cut the travel time to Hawaii in half, carried more people than ever before, and helped cut fares — all of which accelerated the travel boom to the new state. They also heralded the end of the propeller aircraft era and the start of the new "jet age."
The Northwest Douglas DC-8 was Douglas Aircraft's answer to the Boeing 707. Similar in appearance and performance, it proved just as reliable and popular. Pan Am, United, and Northwest, the only U.S. airlines that flew to Hawaii before 1969, all flew them. As with 707s, newer "stretched" versions could carry even more passengers and had greater range.
The airline that brought interisland air travel to Hawaii in 1929 (as Inter-Island Airways) introduced jet service between the islands in 1966. Hawaiian Airlines DC-9s made interisland travel astonishingly fast. You could now reach nearby islands in 20 minutes and fly from Oahu to the Big Island of Hawaii in less than an hour.
Hawaiian Airlines became an all-jet airline in 1973. To celebrate this milestone, it unveiled new colors and introduced its "Pualani" (flower of the sky) logo — the profile of a Hawaiian woman against a red hibiscus, the state flower. The airline has since updated its colors, along with the Pualani logo that still graces its aircraft.
Following Hawaiian Airlines in 1966, Aloha introduced its own jets: three British-made BAC One-Elevens. This model displays Aloha's original blue-and-white color scheme. In 1969 Aloha replaced the BACs with larger Boeing 737s and revamped its image with a bright and cheerful "flower power" color scheme.
Pan American Airways, 1920s
Pan American Airways, 1930s-1940s
Pan American Airways, 1950s
Pan American Airways, 1960s
Cap Badge, United Airlines, 1950s
Captain, United Airlines, 1950s
Pilot, Northwest Airlines, 1926-2008