Feel like singing? Pick a song, grab the mic and… showtime!
Just like the sand and surf, music is a constant presence in Waikiki. From hotel restaurants and lounges to shopping center courtyards and even restrooms, there is always music around to provide a soundtrack for your time in paradise.
Musical entertainment doesn’t have to be left to the professionals, however. A number of options in Waikiki exist for those brave enough to pick up a microphone and try their luck at singing karaoke.
THE KARAOKE BOX
The term karaoke, or empty orchestra, was coined by the Japanese in the 1970s. While it’s since become popular in other Asian countries, the Japanese are considered to have paved the way for karaoke’s rise to worldwide fame.
Located in the Waikiki Joy Hotel, GS Studio is the neighborhood “karaoke box,” where customers are able to rent one of 16 rooms of varying size. Parties of up to 30 people are welcome, with rates ranging from $10-$35 per hour during the week and $15-$45 per hour on Fridays and Saturdays.
An intercom system allows for full bar service without having to put down the microphone, as well as prompt attention from employees if there are any issues with the karaoke machines.
With a high concentration of Japanese tourists, it’s no surprise GS Studio’s strength lies in Japanese song titles. Still, the private rooms and full bar service until 4 a.m. make it a popular late night destination.
Aqua Waikiki Joy Hotel
320 Lewers St. [B:7 Waikiki Map]
KARAOKE MEETS ‘CHEERS’
Wang Chung’s is one of the smallest bars—of any type—in Waikiki. But what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for with its friendly, welcoming atmosphere and positive attitudes of its employees. If you don’t like making new friends, it might be best to pick another watering hole to sing karaoke at.
The limited real estate here means you’ll often be competing with regulars for a seat, but those same folks will often go out of their way to make you feel welcome, even if it means one of their friends will have to stand around. Got a smartphone? You can pull up the Wang Chung’s songbook online and skip flipping through page after page of track listings. And while you wait for your turn on the microphone, be sure to try the house-made ginger beer ($4) or one of the bar’s amazing specialty cocktails served until 2 a.m.
At just $1 per song after 8 p.m. (free from 5 to 8 p.m. daily), singing at Wang Chung’s is like singing karaoke at a house party—and if you don’t know everyone else in the room when you arrive, you will by the end of your visit!
2410 Koa Ave. [C:9 Waikiki Map]
SHINE ON STAGE
Some karaoke singers need an audience to witness their performance. In Waikiki, two options exist for those who want to belt out their favorite tunes on stage.
At the Shorebird Restaurant and Beach Bar in the Outrigger Reef on the Beach, karaoke is featured nightly from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. with more than 10,000 songs for customers to choose from—or bring your own! While a waiting list system is used, there is no charge to sing here. A special late night food and drink menu is served from 10 p.m. to closing, offering items like a Chicago-style hot dog and hamburger, mahi mahi and kalua pig sliders. The Shorebird even offers a live web feed of performances (http://shorebirdwaikiki.com/events/karaoke).
On the other end of Waikiki, Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar in the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa has offered a late-night happy hour for years. Every Friday from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., the restaurant offers half-off sushi, drink specials and free self-parking with no cover charge—and free karaoke!
The lines here on Fridays are legendary, so be sure to show up early for your best chance at scoring a seat.
Outrigger Reef on the Beach
2169 Kalia Road [D:7 Waikiki Map]
Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar
Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa
2552 Kalakaua Ave. [C:11 Waikiki Map]
THE LOCALS’ CHOICE
Most people will pass the Wailana Coffee House and never realize the long-time local-style 24-hour coffee shop is also home to a small lounge. But five nights a week, once the dinner crowd fades, karaoke takes over.
From 9 p.m. to midnight (1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays) every day except Tuesday and Thursday, a mix of local residents and part-timers who reside in nearby condos will stop by to sing a few songs. Weekends are the most popular, with plenty of regulars in the house on Fridays and Saturdays, including a few who bring their own instruments to provide live accompaniment for singers. Looking for a quieter night to practice? Try visiting on Sundays or Mondays.
Wailana Coffee House Lounge
1860 Ala Moana Blvd. [C:3 Waikiki Map]