Waimea is known for its rich heritage. Historical sites abound, and there is even a statue of Captain Cook, who set foot on Waimea in 1770, located in the middle of town. It should be no surprise that Waimea is the home to another treasure: the Historic Waimea Theater.
Built in 1938, visitors to the “picture palace” will marvel at the art deco architecture. The grand marquee is still present and glows at night. Atop the marquee is the tower of glass and lights, that’s reminiscent of the Empire State Building. With your first glance, you’ll feel transported back in time. One can picture men in double-breasted suits and fedoras escorting women adorning colorful dresses and wearing hats.
The electric lights on the facade of the theater were the first of their kind on Kauai. Unfortunately, Hurricane Iniki destroyed them in 1992. In 1993, the owner considered tearing down the iconic theater until West Kauai Main Street offered to lease the building and undertake renovations. Several years later, the County of Kauai purchased the landmark picture palace and re-opened it to the public in 1999. Today, it is a non-profit managed by Kauai Business & Professional Association and is the community’s gathering place.
The theater seats 250 people and has one stage and screen. If you get there early, grab a seat in one of the two rows of rattan chairs. Visitors agree that the wicker chairs were comfortable, gave them plenty of legroom, and felt more like being in a living room than a theater. Before the movie, Hawaiian music is piped through the theater to give patrons an authentic Polynesian experience. The theater’s sound system was upgraded in the late 90s, and although it may not be that of a high-end theater in Los Angeles, patrons agreed that for the venue, it sounded fine. A concession stand is near the back and is ready to serve you hot dogs, popcorn, candy, and soft drinks.
Showtimes at the Historic Waimea Theater are in the evening, but it’s also the venue of choice for special events. Live entertainment ranging from musicians to cultural celebrations frequent the theater, and the cinema is also home to the Hawaiian International Film Festival.
We save the best for last: the price! Tickets are dirt cheap compared to theaters that play the latest Hollywood hits. Children under four are free when accompanied by mom or dad, and there is also special pricing for students, military, and seniors. If you have a destination wedding or corporate event in Kauai, consider renting the theater. You’ll need to call to get pricing and check availability.
The Historic Waimea Theater is a local treasure that we’re confident you will enjoy. Step back in time, relax, and let the friendly staff entertain you in their renovated art deco picture palace.
Purchasing tickets online is cheaper. Also, their 2-Person Movie Pass is a great deal! Two tickets, one popcorn, two drinks, and two concession items. You’ll have to ask for this at the window!