How to Stay in a Historic Hawaii Home

How to Stay in a Historic Hawaii Home

Beautifully renovated as inns, classic Hawaiian homes let guests savor the past By: Marty Wentzel
<p>Yoshi's House, built in the 1940s, is one of four renovated guest cottages at Puakea Ranch. // © 2016 Karen Louden</p><p>Feature image (above):...

Yoshi's House, built in the 1940s, is one of four renovated guest cottages at Puakea Ranch. // © 2016 Karen Louden

Feature image (above): Master Suite Manoa Valley Inn.png: Manoa Valley Inn features vintage furnishings and decor reflecting its 1912 origins. // © 2016 Manoa Valley Inn

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From plays to concerts and movies, these historic Hawaii theaters offer a step into the past.

Traditionally, Hawaii visitors want to book hotels near the beach. Some, however, prefer intimate, off-the-beaten-path lodgings with a sense of place. For clients in the second category, Hawaii features a number of historic homes that have been transformed into distinctive inns. Not only are these properties set away from mainstream tourist hubs, but their room rates are often lower than those at oceanfront resorts.

Clients who stay at a historic Hawaii home can experience what it was like to live in the islands in days gone by, sometimes more than a century ago. As travelers check in, they step back in time, surrounded by nostalgic furnishings such as antique nightstands and clawfoot bathtubs. 

The following historic homes offer unique guest accommodations with a window into Hawaii’s past. 

Hale Hookipa Inn, Maui
Built by Portuguese immigrant Frank Gomes in 1924, this bed-and-breakfast with four guestrooms is listed on the National Historic Register. The decor exudes a plantation-era vibe with touches such as a bed headboard made from old shutters. Vintage photos trace the history of Gomes, his wife and 13 children. The grounds, presided over by a 100-foot-high Norfolk pine, are teeming with exotic fruit trees. Set in the upcountry town of Makawao, the inn offers easy access to Haleakala National Park and other Maui highlights.

Manoa Valley Inn, Oahu
Once a country vacation home, this three-story 1912 Victorian bungalow keeps a low profile in a quiet valley near — but removed from — the action of Waikiki. Another National Register property, it has seven guestrooms designed with history in mind, from four-poster beds to rocking chairs and period lamps. In its secluded garden, clients can swim in a heated, saltwater pool fed by a waterfall. Free parking is a plus, considering the hefty nightly parking fees at Waikiki hotels. Rates also include a buffet breakfast.

Shipman House Bed & Breakfast, Hawaii Island
Decades ago, notables including author Jack London and artist Georgia O’Keeffe stayed in this 1899 Victorian mansion. Today, the immaculately restored State and National Register landmark evokes a past era with its high ceilings, polished floors, original light fixtures and a 1912 Steinway piano once played by Hawaii’s last queen, Liliuokalani. Clients can choose from five guestrooms, which come with a breakfast buffet. Set in Hilo, it’s an ideal home base for visitors eager to explore Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Puakea Ranch, Hawaii Island
Upcountry Puakea has been a center of paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) culture since 1870. These days, Puakea Ranch recalls that history by offering lodging in four renovated cowboy cottages. Each is designed with touches of the past; for instance, one unit has an old copper bathtub for two. Modern perks include kitchens, outdoor showers and private pools. Guests can pick tropical fruit off the trees and collect fresh eggs from the ranch’s chicken coop. Pasture and ocean views enhance the timeless allure.

Waimea Plantation Cottages, Kauai
Dating back to the early 1900s, this 27-acre hideaway is situated on Kauai’s west coast. Set in a vast coconut grove, its dwellings were originally built to house sugar plantation workers and their families. Today, each renovated cottage is unique, but all feature front porches, full kitchens and mahogany, rattan or wicker furnishings. Clients can select from one-, two- or three-bedroom cottages. Groups looking for an old Hawaii ambiance can reserve the oceanfront five-bedroom Managers House for reunions, weddings and retreats.

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