By Mari Taketa
Photos: Marco Garcia
From poolside partying to upscale lounging to dancing till dawn, Waikiki is home to some of the best nightspots in Hawai‘i. Here’s a shortlist of some of our favorites:
2424 Kalakaua Ave.
The vibe: This new pool bar on the third floor of the Hyatt Regency Waikiki has a clean, fun, contemporary ocean theme, complete with starfish on the bars. Live music by local bands is featured Wednesdays through Sundays and on holidays. Nightly happy hour is from 4 to 6 p.m., and small plates of succulent pupu are highlighted by fresh seafood.
Good to know: Don’t forget to get your parking ticket stamped: It’s good for free self and valet parking at the Hyatt.
1775 Ala Moana Blvd.
The vibe: The former Crazybox at the Modern Honolulu can fill up fast, but it’s best known as a place to party until very late. The most unique feature: A ceiling studded with glass bulbs that catch the club lights and sparkle like a sea of glass. Drinks are on the pricey side; music is house, dance and upbeat pop tracks.
Good to know: Addiction is not as exclusive as Crazybox, but do contact the club’s website to get on the guest list (hotel guests are automatically on the list) or you could be waiting outside all night.
2211 Kuhio Ave.
The vibe: This casual sports bar and lounge has flat-screen TVs everywhere and autographed sports memorabilia hanging on the walls. Naturally, it’s sports-oriented—and can get packed during sporting events— but also features live music regularly. A small courtyard outside allows smoking and is outfitted with its own TV.
Good to know: Where to begin? First, happy hour is all night Wednesday. Second, people rave about the size of the New York-style pizza slices. Third, parking is easy and cheap—for $2, you can park for up to 6 hours.
2255 Kuhio Ave.
The vibe: One of the oldest and best-known mainstays of the Waikiki nightclub scene, Zanzabar’s exotic gold and Egyptian-themed decor, separate VIP room, late-night hours and multiple dance floors make it a great place for private parties or groups. Most of the time the crowd is a mingled mix of locals, tourists and military, especially on Fridays and Saturdays when you can dance to club hits, Top 40 and hip-hop, but there’s also Salsa Tuesdays and Thirsty Thursdays. Expect a classy dress code.
Good to know: Lines get long on the weekends, and you may have to wait up to an hour to get in.
HULA’S BAR & LEI STAND
134 Kapahulu Ave.
The vibe: The granddaddy of all gay bars in Waikiki, Hula’s has been serving locals and tourists alike for over 20 years and is the gay bar to visit when you’re in Hawai‘i. It’s everything you’d expect from Waikiki’s most flamboyant bar, and more—the place plays host to everything from yoga classes to fundraising parties to drag queen shows and live music. Located on the second floor, Hula’s overlooks the Honolulu Zoo and Waikiki Beach, giving the place an uber-tropical vacation vibe.
Good to know: Definitely try the mai tais.
2199 Kalia Road
The vibe: A sultry, elegant establishment set in dark, earthy tones and soft lighting, Lewers is the quintessential upscale jazz lounge. Live music, a luscious dessert selection highlighted by the Halekulani’s famed coconut cake, some of the best (and most potent) cocktails on the island, and a setting between the ocean and the hotel courtyards make this an ideal date spot.
Good to know: Lewers Lounge is one of the few places in town with an Absinthe drip. And while it’s not required, you’ll want to dress up—at least a little.