It’s somewhat fascinating to look at the history of some of the Hawaiian islands, and find that their time as a major tourist destination is relatively short. Waikiki is the perfect example of this, having come into its own rather recently, and one of the last islands to actively develop a tourist culture. It’s also been developing a sense of identity in conjunction with the tourist trade. It’s not as though the people don’t have a sense of what it is to be Hawaiian, but it sometimes takes a very close look in order to see how it’s possible to be represented as such.
The immense popularity of Waikiki beach hotels almost makes it seem as though they’ve been around forever. It would be hard to imagine Hawaii without mentioning these islands, and music history would be diminished, such are the level of references in popular songs. However, it’s due to the efforts of experts like George Kanahele , who was able to trace the importance of historical threads to help the other locals conceive of a narrative with which to create a Waikiki that others could read. And also visit. There may or may not be a Hawaiian renaissance, then, and that’s certainly something for the people here to decide for themselves. But there is a Hawaiian-ness that can be read globally, but it takes reflection and intention to produce it.