High Tea at the Beach ~Tanya Hanson

I’m blessed not only to have a wonderful sister in law, but I also often get to party with her in OAHU where she and MarryingMinda Crop to Useher hubs moved last year!  In fact, it was her guest room I was staying in a year ago April that inspired my 2014 Western historical romance The Christmas Room.

Last week, we tea-partied at the Moana Surfrider Hotel in Waikiki.

First lady today

This gorgeous hotel is called “the First Lady of Oahu.”  Waikiki’s first hotel, then simply The Moana, opened for guests in 1901. Architect Oliver Traphagen designed a luxury hotel in the “Hawaiian Gothic” style that included amenities in its 75 rooms that were not usually seen–private baths, telephones, billiard parlor, and the first electric elevator in the islands. (In 1898, when Theodore Roosevelt annexed Hawaii as an American territory, the reality of a tourist economy was already burgeoning.)

Daily rate in 1901 was a heady $1.50!


Over the years, guests have included visitors such as the Prince of Wales (later the abdicated Edward 8), Agatha Christie, Amelia Earhart, Frank Sinatra, and Jane Stanford, co-founder of the famed university. In fact, her death inside the hotel in 1905 is a suspected homicide.

Almost immediately upon the hotel’s opening, afternoon tea became a tradition on “The Veranda”.

Banyan tree

Although King David Kalakaua (1836-1891) had actively promoted a return to many island cultural ways quashed by American missionaries early in the 19th century, most turn-of-the-century Honolulu citizens (including King David) valued Victorian fashion and practices.

Tea tray

These days, high tea on The Veranda is a special event I highly recommend. Guests are attended almost constantly by classy waitstaff and served a marvelous meal of sweets and savories. Tiny fingers sandwiches to start, scones with Devonshire cream and lemon curd, and pastries displayed on elegant 3-tired English bone china trays… Teapots are continually refreshed; I indulged in The Veranda’s signature tea, Moana Sunset, a black tea highlighted by mango and ohelo berry.


Berries and cream…and a cleansing finish of green tea sorbet.

Strawberries and cream

Sorbet with gift fan

An additional highlight, each of us received a souvenir fan!

And what could beat the tableside view?

IMG_0528 (1)

Also widely renowned is The Veranda’s Banyan tree, planted in 1904 as a toddler of 7 feet and 7 years of age.

Nowadays the tree is 75 feet high with its branches spreading 150 feet. In 1979, the banyan was placed on the Exceptional Tree List, a registry created to protect rare and historic trees.


The interior of The Moana Surfrider is a gorgeous mix of traditional and tropical.

Grand staircase

IMG_0525 (1)


The front porch is inviting as well, filled as it is with dozens of old-style rocking chairs.

Front porch

We took a load off with tradewinds rustling across our fans, er, faces.

Us with our fans in the rocking chairs

It was an afternoon to remember!

How about you? Who of you enjoys afternoon tea, whether elaborate like this or a simple cuppa in your home?



Blurb: (click on cover to purchase)

Running from her past in Lake Tahoe and healing from unspeakable grief, Martita Akala has built a new life on the island of Oahu…until a handsome cowboy from the mainland disrupts her well-ordered peace. 

American cowboy Rooney Lind travels the ocean to fulfill a death-bed promise to find his late cousin’s  lost love. But spending time in Martita’s “Christmas Room” makes him realize he’s found what he’s been looking for his whole life long. 


+ posts

44 thoughts on “High Tea at the Beach ~Tanya Hanson”

  1. Oh, Tanya, looks and sounds lovely! What gorgeous pictures to treasure your special time with your sister-in-law.

    I’ve only been to afternoon tea once and thoroughly enjoyed it, although I can’t imagine indulging like that often. lol. I much prefer a tall glass of iced tea over hot, especially on a summer afternoon. But who could pass up something as special as that? Thanks for sharing!!

    • Hi Dora, thanks so much for stopping by! We did have the choice of iced tea, I must admit, but we couldn’t resist those beautiful china cups. It sure was a day to remember. And I miss her already, sob. Love you…

  2. I have never been to a tea before. I would love to go to this one. It sounds really great and the location doesn’t hurt one bit. I wish I could be there right now.

    • Same here, Janine. We got home to a water leak in the front yard and it’s been chaos for almost a week now. The only good thing (specially since we are dealing with a very obnoxious city inspector right now) is no damage inside the house. But grrrrr….it’s fun to go back to The Moana these days inside my head LOL. I so appreciate your comment today.

      • I’m glad there was no damage in your house. We’ve had the water line break in the yard too. That was an expensive repair. The month after that, the a/c unit went out. That was even more expensive. I’m sure my mother-in-law loved us for asking to borrow a total of almost $10,000 in one month. I often relive my vacations in my head now that we can’t afford to go on vacations.

        • Grumbling along with you, Janine. At least I’m not alone out there with the sticker shock. Sheesh. No vacationing for a long, long time now. Thanks so much for stopping by again and wishing us well! xo

          • I guess it’s because those repairs are very necessary. They can charge what they want. 🙁

            • Yup, you’re so right there. Waiting on another proposal right now, grrrrrr. Thanks for the dialogue today. Glad to know I’m not alone here LOL. xo

    • It is a lovely place, Kim. Something about historic hotels…I love to imagine the stories that could have happened inside. For one thing, I can’t imagine wearing all the trappings of proper Victorian society–corset, multuple petticoats, long skirts, long sleeves et al…in the tropics. Boiling just at the thought. Thaks for the comment.

  3. I love going to Afternoon Tea. I took my cousin for her birthday to High Tea at a very famous hotel in Toronto, called The Royal York and they are known for their “Afternoon Tea”.. Her birthday is at Christmas and they have a very special Tea at this time of the year.. We both loving drinking tea and it was a very special time for us to celebrate…

  4. Hi Kathleen, I’ll bet that was a lovely event with all the Christmas decorations. I can just imagine the memory you have of that special day. Thanks so much for leaving a comment.

  5. Well, I’d stay there for $1.50. Ha! What a wonderful experience! I love high tea! We used to go to the Beverly Hills Hotel until they changed that area into a bar…Ugh. No more tea or piano playing or movie stars jaunting by and I haven’t found a place as nice since, except yours looks amazing!! Wonderful pics!

    • Boo about the bar, Charlene. I think high tea is so elegant …hard to believe folks used to do it every day. Maybe not at a fancy hotel, but at home. The Moana’s was so filling and so expensive LOL. But great luxury. Thanks so much for stopping by. There’s a little restaurant here in town that does high tea on Saturdays by reservation only, it’s pretty good. Hugs to you and congrats on the new grandbabies!

    • Hi Colleen, thanks so much for posting today. Our hubbies refused to go along, too, not liking tea. Although the luncheon special that day was meatloaf sandwiches. They could have made do LOL.

    • Hi Susabelle, we are so lucky to have relatives who live there now. So we get family time in as well as R and R. I now you will enjoy the islands when you get there! Thanks so much for posting today, I so appreciate it.

  6. Tanya – can you see how JEALOUS I am?? What a fabulous looking place rich in history. I adore the thought of afternoon high tea in such a lovely beach spot. I am ridiculously jealous – but in a good way. I’ve been to Maui but never Oahu – and right now high tea on the island sounds like the #1 thing to put on my bucket list. Cheers and thanks for sharing all this waterfront beach beauty. From the girl who still had snow in her front yard last week!
    Peg Jaeger

  7. Hi Peg, so good to see you here. Thanks for making the time. Yowzers, still snow? Since we are experiencing a terrible drought, I just wish y’all could send some white stuff over to California. Well, when you get to Oahu, don’t forget to visit The Moana. Even if you don’t stay for tea, all visitors are welcome to walk around and visit the little museum. (Not just paying guests.) It’s really a neat mix of old and new, past and present, tradition and tropics.

  8. that just looks so elegant and fun place to visit,im all into vintage ,,love old things,,and that book sounds so good,Christmas books are my favorite read them all year long just to keep the warm an fuzzy feeling

    • hi Vicki, old vintage and history are favorite interests of mine for sure. I wondered if I should post the Christmas book info again since it’s late spring, but I reckoned readers can read Christmas books any time of year…I so appreciate your affirmation there LOL. Thanks so much for posting today.

  9. I am completely jealous, Tanya. I want some tea, little cakes, and a souvenir fan, too. And, oh, like Hawaii isn’t bad either. You lucky thing.

    • Hi Sarah, it was awesome. I always wish I could get a corral of writer friends along with me when I do something cool. Especially those of us who write historicals and love to go back in time. Thanks so much, my friend, for stopping in today. xoxoxo

  10. Tanya– spending time with family or a good friend is priceless. Easy to see how the hotel in Waikiki is the perfect place to have tea. When I went to Hawaii, I drank coconut milk. Yuck. I’d much rather have had the tea.
    I love to visit hotels with history. Once a year on Friday the 13th my best friend and I pick an old hotel, either in Kentucky or Indiana, and do a little ghost hunting with a EMF meter. At our last hotel the meter went crazy in the elevator shaft. Spooky, but a lot of fun memories. I’ll make sure at the next hotel–we have tea. Best of luck with the Christmas Room, sounds great.

    • Oh, CA, how cool is that! I had lunch at the Menger in San Antonio which is haunted, and stayed on board the Queen Mary, also haunted, and our daughter got married in a haunted Mansion in San Juan Capistrano, but I’ve never gotten to “feel” or see it. While I was in San Antonio, I so wanted to take one of the meter ghost tours (the Alamo is very haunted of course) but I was there alone and too weenie to head out at night… I’ll probably always regret it. Hmmm. I’m thinking ow some haunted hotels might make a good blog here. Happy hnunting, er haunting!

      Thanks so much for stopping by today. I do like coconut bark but the milk is way too thin. Give me tea any way!

  11. I have never been to an afternoon tea and the only tea we have here is ice tea and I keep that in the fridge all the time here. Son and hubby drink it all the time and I drink ice green tea.

    • hi Quilt Lady, green tea is very good for you! Way to go. Right now I have a huge crush on “Arnold Palmers”, a combo of lemonade and iced tea. Very refreshing. So I keep a lot of it on hand. Thanks so much for posting today. It is always great to see you here! xo

  12. enjoyed your High Tea blog at the Surfrider???? it was a great day on the Veranda?????????????????? Thanks for the Memories xoxo

  13. Hi Roberta, it was such a special day, I keep reliving it. Can’t wait to get back to see you but with all our money and then some going into this plumbing project, it’ll be a while. Sheesh. Love you…thanks for stopping by!

  14. Any time is a good time for tea. I often enjoy a cup on the porch in the early morning. When our oldest daughter is over, we share a cup in the afternoon. She is a big tea fan and goes to high tea with her best friend whenever they can. My husband and I did go to high tea once, but it was years ago.

    • It’s been unusually cold here…I even made a cuppa hot instead of iced yesterday LOL. I don’t think I could ever convince Hubs to go a high tea…when we were in Brighton, England during our daughter’s study abroad, I had high tea at the hotel, and he ordered a manly sandwich and ate it right next to me. Patricia, it’s always great to see you here at Wildflower Junction. Thanks for the post.

  15. I love my tea in the afternoon. But, really at other times too. Thanks for the post. Nice that you got to spend this special time with your sister. Some beautiful pictures of a beautiful place. Maxie

    • Hi Maxie, always so good to see you here. Yes, I miss her so much. We get along so well. Thank God for texting, Skype, email etc. We keep in touch every day several times.
      It’s been a stressful week with the plumbing and a very obnoxious inspector, so remembering this wonderful afternoon with her really helps.

  16. Sounds delightful! I’ve been to one high tea and would love to attend others. Unfortunately, not many offering of such in my area.

    • HI Barbara, thanks so much for the comment. It’s hard to believe Victorians did this most every day. Then had supper later. Those little sandwiches do fill you up LOL. It sure was a day to remember. It’s been unusually cold here since we got back a week ago; I kinda wish I had a warm tradewind blowing at me right now.

  17. Why did I never know about this? I love the Surfrider. The inside is marvelous. I’ve been to high tea many times, though never in Hawaii. Next time I go home, I want to do it.
    Thank you so much for the articles and pictures.

    • Hi Susan, we found about it randomly walking through the hotel one time. It was such a special day. I keep reliving it. The weather was perfect, too. (Not that Hawaiian weather isn’t always perfect but I’m not a humidity girl and it was perfect that day). I hope you get to enjoy it yourself someday soon! Thanks for posting today.

  18. I love tea. There’s a few places over here in Pasadena for the lovely tradition of afternoon tea, but my favorite, hands down, is the tea served at the Huntington Library and Gardens. One of my favorite spots on earth, the tea is wonderful and best of all, you can then walk off the scones and clotted cream by walking in the Rose Garden and through the Chinese and Japanese gardens and down into the bamboo forests. Sigh. Happy memories.

    • Hi Maria, oh, I have heard about the Huntington tea…iit’s just a little far afield from home. But definitely something I want to work on going to someday. I have seen the gardens years ago; how lovely!

      I think the term clotted cream is SO gnarly. It just takes away from the deliciousness of it LOL.
      Thanks so much for posting! xox

  19. It looks amazing. I can see why it inspired you to write. If I ever get to Hawaii – it on my bucket list – I’ll be sure to stop by.

    • Hi Marlow, yeah, Hawaii has a real ranching presence. Years ago the longhorns brought over by a sea captain got to roam free! Just maybe there’s a story coming about Rooney’s Hawaiian ranching buddy Barn Owl…we’ll have to see. wink wink. Thanks so much for posting today.

  20. I still in awe when I hear about the $1.50 per day rate. And at that time too it was considered a lot to some. I love this history and especially jealous lol. Looks and feels like you had the most wonderful time there! ”
    I’m thrilled for you. I miss those tea times with my sisters. My daughter and I must plan more of them. She’s super busy with her job and planning her wedding so those tea times will be extra special. I don’t know of any places around here but so will check. It would be fun and special. Thanks for sharing Tanya. Cathie
    Cathiecaffey@ gmail.com

  21. HI Caffey, oh, a wedding! How fun. Maybe you can have a bridal tea for a shower or the bridesmaids! I got very lucky in that regard…cleaning out my mother’s old house a few years ago, I came across her silver tea service. So I have had tea party showers for all my nieces, and they had one for my daughter. A good way to use those articafts that are now kinda obsolete. But my mother was SO excited to get a silver tea service from my dad for their 25th silver wedding anniversary. How times change. I have it now but it’s wrapped up in saran in a cupboard…thanks so much for stopping by. Enjoy the wedding!

Comments are closed.