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History Floats In, Out, and All About

King Kamehameha Hotel stands tall in the face of the tsunami


By Cheyanna Donaldson


Here on Oahu we missed a large part of the damage caused by the recent tsunami, but on our other islands, things were a lot different. Waves washed up far enough to push water down the halls and into the winding lobby of the King Kamehameha Hotel, practically destroying and moving everything in it’s path.

Fish in your hotel, it sounds cool right? Kalei Villacorte, security at King Kam Hotel, exclaims that “…at first it was cool, but then I started to think about what else could be swimming in the hotel, like sharks, and I got out quick!” With the waves rushing down the hallways and into the south foyer, anything that was in the bay was, by now, in the hotel. What was left in the hotel was a different story.

The very sturdy and very heavy Mahoe canoe- champion Kona racing canoe normally displayed in the hallway facing the ocean, was found floating in the front lobby. Along with the famous canoe were a few more canoes from the Balboa Angling Club, as well as a lot of hotel furniture.


King Kam houses the largest marlin to date weighing in at 1,166 pounds. It is a heavy structure to move, not for the kai, but definitely for hotel staff who found it floating on the opposite side of its origin. The water rose just under three feet high, extremely close to Herb Kane’s art collection. Holding his largest collection of prints, Kane’s art and history is a large part of Hawaii’s cultural preservation. King Kamehameha Hotel wants to be sure it is protected for future generations to view.


We all know the kai is powerful, but we are scarcely able to imagine its damaging capabilities unless seen first hand. Although no one was injured during this tsunami, King Kam took every precaution to get guests to safety. The tsunami issued a lot of damage covering the beach, the pier, through the hotel and then out to the parking lot. After suffering a fire in the housekeeping department in 2010, and water damage of the tsunami shortly following, King Kam has been in need of high spirits and by the looks of the new reconstruction; they’re sure to get it.


To be completed in early September, King Kamehameha Hotel will feature a new lobby with all new décor focused on the landscape of Hawaii: carpet that coincides with our erupting volcano, and floras and faunas endemic to our islands. A new fitness room and spa have been added and after a relaxing day there, you can head over to their restaurant to enjoy ono grindz by the beach. If you’re coming to King Kam for work, they have all you need with enlightening meeting rooms. Sticking with their desire to support the preservation of Hawaiian culture, a self-guided cultural center with Kane’s books and paintings is on display to keep history and entertainment as available as their new sandy white beaches.

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