The Moana Surfrider is not just another one of the fancy hotels in Oahu. She is known as the “First Lady”, and was the first grand resort built on Oahu in the 1900’s. Now part of the Westin Resort family, the presence of the stunning old colonial architecture stands out amongst the surrounding hotels that have popped up a century later. It’s centrally located on Waikiki Beach, across from the International Market Place, and continues to provide a wonderful stay since it first opened its doors.
Luxury Oahu Resort
Built in 1901
793 Rooms with 46 Suites
6 Restaurants & Bars
Grand Pool & Open Air Spa
Centrally Located on Waikiki Beach
Diamond Head & Oceans Views
You cannot miss the Moana Surfrider Hotel when walking down bustling Kalakaua Avenue. She is referred to as the "First Lady", and sits at the center of Waikiki Beach.
The classic Surfrider is nothing like you have ever seen or ever will see along this strip of hotels. She is unique in her beauty and elegance. Only the First Lady can take you back to that age of paradise lost when only a few privileged travelers could reach Oahu, and enjoy the pristine beauty of this most beloved Waikiki Beach.
Today you can still enjoy these same tall and elegant Ionic columns, the elaborate woodwork and stucco decorations that surprised those ladies and gentlemen. They sighed with delight, just as you will, at the sight of the turquoise waters of the ocean beckoning from outside the French windows, thrown wide open to let the cooling breezes in. They had a delightful dinner and dance party with a live orchestra at the Beach House Restaurant.
More than a century later, when you enter the bright white lounge of the Moana Surfrider hotel will make you feel like you're in another dimension of space and time.
Nothing else in Waikiki has survived more than twelve decades of tumultuous development. The surrounding land itself and the beach have been changed by the human hand. Most historical homes and clubs have been demolished and replaced by modern buildings.
What you see today would have cost more than 50 million dollars back in 1989. The lofty investment by the newest owners of the property supported a famous renovation project to repair the damages of time and questionable "modernization" choices from the 1930s and 1950s.
"Moana Surfrider, a Westin Resort," is what you will read above the grand entrance. The contemporary resort is actually the bold fusion of 3 different hotels, built in different historical periods and with different styles that complement each other.
The Moana Surfrider Resort offers a nice variety of room choices within three uniquely different wings. You can choose your style, dimensions, view, and position of your room or suite according to your preferences and budget. And then enjoy the common social areas and amenities.
Open your eyes in the morning to the spectacular view from a suite on the twentieth story of a modern tower. Then have breakfast on the Victorian Veranda by the beach, which is a special treat.
Pamper yourself with massages and jacuzzi in the only beachfront spa in Waikiki, and get a good workout in the well-equipped fitness gym. Then end your day sipping a Mai Tai at the Beach Bar and watching the sunset from under the canopy of the venerable, more-than-a-century-old Banyan tree in the inner courtyard of the historic hotel.
The beauty of staying at the Moana is enjoying the historic surroundings of this iconic hotel and then stepping into the modern scene and you'll find on Kalakaua Blvd.
After many renovations and additions, the present hotel requires a little orientation to understand that the "wings" are in fact the three hotels. The historic Moana Hotel was modified by adding two wings already in 1918, thus morphing into an H-shape. The update also created an inner court around the Banyan tree planted in 1904, facing the Ocean. This is why the whole H-shaped historic building today bears the title "Banyan Wing."
The Moana Hotel started off wingless in 1901.
In 1952 and 1969, respectively, two modern hotels were built next to the Moana to its west and east. Both were initially launched with the name "Surfrider Hotel." The older one is an elongated eight-story building stretching parallel to the beach in the direction of Diamond Head. Hence its relabeling as "Diamond Wing". Half of its 140 rooms face the Ocean.
On the opposite side of the Moana, perpendicular to the shoreline, rises the newer Surfrider, a 21-story tower that offers the most spectacular panoramic views of the whole resort. Today it is known as the "Tower Wing", and it accommodates the most luxurious suites and penthouses in its top stories.
The three wings are connected by a remodeled lobby level with ample passageways that host the common registration area and several high-quality shops.
When you book a room or a suite at the Westin Moana Surfrider, check all the details to better understand which building you would like to stay in, and all the type of accommodation that suits you best. In total, the property includes 793 rooms (among them 46 suites), but they are very diverse, depending on the wing they are in and their specific position, facing the Pacific Ocean, Waikiki, or Diamond Head.
Room "upgrades" are usually possible for a fee. Marriot Bonvoy members can get them as part of their benefits, and from the Platinum level up, they also get free access to the Beach Club: this large private lounge is located at the lobby level of the Tower Wing, by the beach, and offers complimentary breakfast, appetizers and drinks in the evening. Other hotel guests can gain access to it by paying a fee.
The rooms in the historic "Banyan Wings" are relatively small. Still, several guests put up with it because they love the experience of staying in an ancient mansion.
A detail worth noting is the main building, built in 1901, was framed with wood. Take a closer look at the façade, the lanais (verandas), the lounge, and the majestic staircase very popular for wedding photographs. Notice the clapboard walls, the decorative wainscoting... All shining white and all wood. None of the other big hotels in Waikiki would take the pains and costs of maintaining this type of architecture.
It's up to you to decide if you are satisfied with admiring these details while you frequent the social areas of the Moana, but then prefer to stay in the larger modern rooms in the Ocean Wing, or the largest ones in the Tower Wing. Or if the emotion of sleeping in a living museum like the Banyan Wing appeals to you more.
The wooden pier where concerts were held are long gone, as well as the legendary radio show "Hawaii calls" that broadcast live from 1935 to 1975 from the Banyan Court, and the show was retransmitted in more than 60 countries. But you still get live music and Polynesia dance performances under the venerable branches of the giant landmark tree in the central courtyard.
There will not be a Beach Boy to massage your back and rub sun lotion on it. But you can get an even better full body treatment at the Lani spa and even a romantic massage therapy session with your partner since a program for couples is included in the offer.
The historical Beach House is no longer there, as it had to make room for the swimming pool that sits in its place today. The Moana Surfrider pool is a medium resort-size pool that is highly desired by guests as it boarders the beach with comfortable lounge chairs.
If you desire a spot by the pool, make sure to arrive early with your beach towel or make a reservation for a lounge chair.
But the present fine dining restaurant has taken up the name and moved to the other side of the court: you can still enjoy your dinner in a stylish hall, relishing the view of the Ocean from the open windows, or directly outside on the Veranda.
And you can get a full English Tea experience on the Veranda, served with a wealth of cakes and savory appetizers, to spend an original afternoon feeling you are back in Victorian times.
Guests and outsiders alike can enjoy drinks and music at the Beach Bar, get a light lunch there, or grab some snacks on the go at the Surfrider Cafe by the swimming pool. Or experience a wine-tasting session at the Vintage 1901 piano bar on the other side of the lanai in the Banyan Court.
The Moana Surfrider features close to a dozen shops on it property. You're in luck, as you'll be able to grab a delicious local brew and fresh pastries from Honolulu Coffee in the morning, and make multiple stops at Lawson Station for Hawaiian shave ice and a Pineapple Dole Whip.
They also have some nice gift shops featuring locally crafted goods including handbags, hats and bathing suits. There's even a Waikiki Christmas Store that's open all year long, featuring Hawaiian ordainments.
If you can't find what you're looking for or need something of convenience, walk across the street to the ABC Store, where you're bound to find it all plus more!
The enormous wooden surfboards used by Duke Kahanamoku and his friends a century ago will not be available to ride, but you can still admire some of them in the Moana Surfrider lobby.
Walking from the reception towards the Tower Wing, you will find an exhibition of vintage surfing photos and a collection of boards of different models and materials, illustrating the evolution of the beloved water sport down the years.
More Waikiki memorabilia are available in the Banyan Wing. Start by climbing the wooden staircase near the ancient elevator (in 1901, it was the first such electric wonder in Waikiki and is still an elegant feature today). A series of black and white prints of vintage photos on the walls document the history of the Moana Hotel and its neighborhood.
On the second floor, you will find a "history room" where presentations are offered to the public thrice a week. The history tour is supported by videos and the artifacts displayed in elegant cabinets with all sorts of objects in use in the long life of the hotel.
Non-guests can also join the tours and relax in the popular wooden rocking chairs on the lanai by the entrance.
What is reserved for the hotel guests is a series of activities designed to teach them several aspects of Hawaiian culture, including hula dancing, flower leis-making, traditional leaf weaving, or simply listening to the storytelling of respected "aunties" of the local community.
Make sure to inquire about ongoing Moana activities that you can participate in during your stay.
The most beloved surf "breaks" of Waikiki Beach are just in front of the Moana Surfrider Hotel. Legends bearing names like "Canoes" (from the historic "Outrigger" canoe club that was originally located next to the Moana) and "Queen's": located just a little further along the shore, and named after the last queen of Hawaii, Lili'uokolani. She had her beloved beach cottage and her own pier.
The waves in front of the Moana are gentler and longer than in wilder waters around the island, like those you'll sometimes find on the North Shore. If you are a beginner, this is the place for you.
It is easy to find a surf tent on the beach near the hotel, where you can sign up for a private or group surfing lesson, or rent surfboards by the hour. They are run by the Beach Boys.
These are second and third generation Beach Boys that are still running the concessions of beach services created by the old-timers. Their lifestyle has changed considerably, adapting to the fast-paced new way of dealing with tourists. But the passion is still there.
Living the ways of the beach runs in their blood. They will gladly share it and teach you. Once you are out on the water learning to steer a surfing board or an outrigger canoe, you will forget about the world outside.
Learning how to surf in Waikiki is like learning how to ride a bike. With a little guidance and persistence you will be standing up surfing in no time. Lessons start from shore, reviewing some of the mechanics and safety. Now the fun begins as you paddle out on a longboard with you guide beside you in search of waves and riding them back to shore.
The Moana Surfrider Hotel has witnessed a good century plus of changes to it and all that surrounds it in Waikiki. But she still provides the magic it was originally intended.
Drinks at the piano bar, dinning at the Veranda, enjoying live entertainment in the grand courtyard with a 100 year old banyan tree to marvel at, classic colonial rooms with a windowing view of paradise, and sturdy rocking chairs set on the front porch to watch all the action pass by.
Waikiki has changed dramatically and will continue to, but the First Lady will still be there to keep the spirit alive.
Step outside the Moana, and see what Waikiki
has to offer, including an additional 150 Oahu hotels in the area, and
hundreds of restaurants and shops. There
are over 70,000 tourist that
visit this city daily, and explore all its fun, including
beaches, famous spots, endless shopping, and explosive nightlife!