This Surf-Inspired Hotel Celebrates Waikiki’s Creative Spirit and its Midcentury Roots
Just a short 10-minute stroll from the shockingly clear waters and sandy shores of Oahu’s Waikiki Beach will lead you to the Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club, where you’ll take a step back in time to Waikiki’s midcentury heyday. Along with its retro, quirky character, a laid-back surf vibe radiates throughout the open-air property. Ever since it opened in March 2016, it’s become a cool destination where both locals and visitors can come together to celebrate the culture of the bustling beach neighborhood. To foster this community, they regularly host poolside film screenings, workshops led by local businesses, talks, pilates classes, live music, and farm-to-table dining.
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Though the hotel opened just about a year ago, the building itself has roots that are deeply connected to the midcentury era. Originally designed by architect Roy Kelley, it was created as the Hokele Suites in 1961. Kelley’s friend and fellow architect Edwin Bauer convinced him to build a courtyard pool, which was actually a wild idea at the time. Kelley ended up becoming the first hotelier in Waikiki to build swimming pools on his properties. Today, the pool sits at the center of the Surfjack and features a "Wish You Were Here" message that was hand-painted by artist Matthew Tapia. The cheeky pool—that’s surrounded by old-school lounge chairs that are each equipped with small blue detachable sun canopies—creates a charismatic and nostalgic atmosphere that can be spotted from the rooms above.
Along with the pool club that sits at the heart of the property, the hotel also houses Olive & Oliver—a curated boutique and artisanal coffee shop—and Mahina & Sun’s—a hyper-local restaurant and bar that’s led by chef Ed Kenney. Mahina & Sun’s and the rest of the public spaces throughout the hotel were designed by Honolulu-based studio The Vanguard Theory, while the North Shore bungalow-inspired guest rooms were designed by Studio Collective. In addition to the space being filled with furnishings, lighting, and artwork by a range of local designers, every little detail was thoroughly thought out and branded to fit seamlessly with the Surfjack ethos. The Honolulu-based agency Wall-to-Wall was responsible for these elements—everything from the retro logos and postcards to the beach totes and towels that can be used throughout your stay.