When the inter-island steamship “Hualalai” steamed past the Nawiliwili breakwater shortly after 6 a.m. on July 22, 1930, Nawiliwili Harbor was officially opened to seagoing traffic.
“Hualalai” was escorted by a score of sampans and welcomed by sirens from two Navy tenders and a submarine in the harbor, and as she rounded the seawall, fireworks were shot aloft.
About 4,000 people watched while “Hualalai” tied up alongside Pier 1 near the port’s terminal, and it was estimated that 1,300 cars were parked beside the pier.
First off the gangway was Grove Farm founder George Norton Wilcox (1839-1933), who was practically covered with lei while he walked to his car. Thereafter, every passenger was presented with a lei by flower girls standing at the foot of the gangway.
Although the first plans for a harbor at Nawiliwili were made by the Hawaiian government in 1881, it was Wilcox who was primarily responsible for establishing a well-protected, deep water port at Nawiliwili.
The breakwater, which was largely financed by Wilcox, was finished in 1921, and in 1927, when he was 88, Wilcox directed building of the seawall that was completed in 1928. Dredging of the harbor and construction of the pier and port terminal followed.
At 8:40 a.m., a flight of eleven Navy seaplanes flying out of Pearl Harbor began landing in Nawiliwili Harbor. Aboard were Territorial Gov. Lawrence M. Judd and 75 other persons arriving for the harbor’s opening. Soon after 10:00 a.m. all the planes had landed and their pilots, crews and passengers had been taken ashore in small boats.
Featured on the pier that morning was a concert presented by the Salvation Army Band and a specially composed song sung by a group of Hawaiian girls directed by Henry Waiau.