Some time soon after he arrives in Hawaii, a sweet lassitude creeps over the malihini (newcomer). It may come when he sweeps back the curtain in his air-conditioned hotel room, to survey a velvety emerald view of rice fields, crew-cut golfing greens, jagged peaks with their heads in the clouds, or the azure ocean. It may come as he sits sipping a mai tai (assorted rums, lime, sugar and pineapple), served by a statuesque dark-haired wahine in a billowing muu muu with a blood-red anthurium in her hair. It may come even later, as he wanders along a ginger-golden beach. Somehow, everything in Hawaii seems to be soft and warmthe air, the ocean, the sand, the music and the people.
Let the spell take the visitor too firmly and his ambition wavers, his memory clouds. That, in Hawaii, is a pleasant affliction known as "Polynesian paralysis." But one thing that is most emphatically not suffering from paralysis in Hawaii is the tourist business. Since statehood and the jets arrived, tourism has taken off like a surfer riding one of the 25-ft. "Castle Break" curls at Makaha Beach. In 1960, there were 296,517 mainland visitors to the state. In 1966, there will be 700,000. The most conservative estimate predicts 1,000,000 visitors by 1970, the most optimistic, 2,000,000 by 1972.
Bikinis Ho. The jet rush is on, and no letup is in sight. The number of passengers through Honolulu airport has more than doubled in six years, and airline executives foresee an even greater escalation after the 490-passenger "Jumbo" Boeing jets start to fly in 1969. Some visitors flying tourist class pay only $100 for the five-hour flight from
Los Angeles or San Francisco. No fewer than 18 airlines are begging the CAB to let them put new flights on the Honolulu route. Already, tourists spend $300 million a year, making tourism Hawaii's largest civilian source of income, larger than the pineapple and sugar businesses combined. To accommodate them, some $350 million worth of hotel construction has gone up in the past five years. The boom has also created new jobs to absorb the unemployment created by automation on the plantations. Tourism's latest and most exciting surge is now to outer Oahu and what the Hawaiians like to call the Neighbor Islands (see color pages).
To be sure, no place shows signs of the current expansion more obstreperously than Honolulu's Waikiki Beach. The vast majority of Oahu's 109 resort hotels lies along the graceful crescent that stretches west from Diamond Head. Henry Kaiser's 900-room Hilton Hawaiian Village on Waikiki boasts the best bikini watching in the islands; just beyond it, the ebullient Chinese-Hawaiian multimillionaire Chinn Ho has erected the slender, glassy new $27 million Ilikai, with condominium apartments, shops, offices and a rooftop lounge that draws even the kamaainas (oldtimers) from Honolulu.