18. Hawaii became a tourist destination in the 1920s
For most of the 19th century, visitors to Hawaii consisted of merchant seamen, fishing vessels, and occasional notables interested in the islands and their people. Among the latter was Mark Twain, who arrived at the islands in 1866 while working as a reporter. Twain’s visit, intended to be about four weeks in length, lasted for over four months. For the rest of his life he spoke and wrote of the islands in glowing terms. Yet tourism to the islands lagged. Accommodations were scarce, and that available expensive. A trip by steamship from San Francisco took about a week. Only the wealthy could afford the time and expense of a journey to the islands.
In 1921, just under 9,000 tourists arrived at the islands. For the remainder of the decade the number increased every year, as it did up to the months before the Second World War. Tourism in Hawaii didn’t really become a major industry until the advent of the jet age in the 1950s. But for those who could afford it, the islands were a popular destination in the 1920s, where they vacationed in luxury and in far less crowded conditions than most resorts in the United States. By 1927 the number of vacationers visiting Hawaii each year justified the opening of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki, an icon which earned the nickname, The Pink Palace of the Pacific. It contained over 400 rooms, each with private baths and balconies, and swathed its guests in luxury.