10 Best Bars in Honolulu for Drinks, Dancing and Live Music
By Jade Eckardt
Certain elements must come together perfectly to make a great bar. Great drinks, a generous happy hour, good food, and live music and entertainment are the ingredients that make a fun bar, and lucky for late nighters Honolulu has a bunch of them. From off beat Chinatown in Honolulu bars to ocean side hotel bars on the North Shore, fun bars with delicious drinks can be found island wide.
Looking to sip cocktails while watching the sunset? How about a bar with a fire knife show and some hula? If so, then The Point at Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore will surely satisfy. This newly renovated bar is nestled between the pool and ocean, and is a wonderful place to take in entertainment while sipping drinks.
Then in Waikiki there's long-lived mainstays like Duke's Canoe Club. This beach front bar is known for both their dinner and bar scene, and is hugely popular with locals and visitors alike. Bring in a big group or enjoy music on date night, either way Duke's is a bar that shouldn't be missed.
Out on the North Shore Surfer, the Bar serves up a diverse menu of entertainment in an ambiance that's fueled by all things surfing. From karaoke on Sunday nights to late night DJ weekends and live bands, Surfer, the Bar always has something to offer.
So whatever you're looking for bar wise, just remember that 10 Best has you covered for all your watering hole needs!
10 Mai Tai's
If you're longing for authentic Hawaiian ambiance, there's no better way to satisfy the craving than at this charming bar. Its beach locale, terrific panorama of Diamond Head, and relaxed clientele all contribute to an ideal experience, and the fantastic tropical drinks -- especially the lush mai tai's -- ensure that your mood remains upbeat. A host of other beverages can also be found, along with food offerings and local entertainment in the evenings. Mai Tai's is located inside of Ala Moana Shopping Center, but draws a loyal local following from outside, it's not just there for a mall break. (808-923-7311)
Hugely popular thanks to great music and incredible views of Waikiki Beach, this hotel nightclub is a sure bet any night of the year. Yet it's more than just a night club, you can also stop in for a few great cocktails before moving down the road. RumFire serves terrific European-Pacific cuisine, from fresh island fish and a grilled filet mignon to a wealth of flavor-packed tapas. Terrific cocktails and vintage rums add to the appeal, as does the daily happy hour, which often features DJ mixes and live bands. The atmosphere is upscale but friendly, and people often come with a group of friends for the most fun. (808-922-4422, 866-952-3473)
8 Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant
Always bustling, this fabulous microbrewery is one of the area's top destinations for flavorful beers and incredible, pub-inspired fare. Views of the harbor greet patrons, who love the sociability of the place. Able to hold legions of folks, Gordon Biersch offers a couple of bars if you want to mix with friendly singles. Plus, the bartenders will let you sample the beers so that you can be sure of which one you want! Happy hour is popular with young professionals, but the party is pretty constant. On occasion, you'll find live music, but you're always guaranteed a good time here! (808-599-4877)
Luibueno's Mexican and Latin Cuisine serves delicious food and drinks on the North Shore of Oahu. Located in historic Haleiwa town, Luibueno's is the go-to spot for great Mexican food in a fun, modern Mexican inspired atmosphere. Lunch and dinner is served, and while it's usually easy to grab a table earlier in the day, the restaurant really starts to get busy in the evening. Reservations are a good idea. The menu utilizes fresh local fish, for dishes like the beer battered burrito, blackened ahi tapas, and ceviche. Vegetarians will find options at Luibuenos too, with the mashed potato taco being the stand out meat free option. The drink menu is quite extensive and so is the on tap beer selection, featuring several locally brews beers. Luibueno's consistently offers a lively bar scene later in the night. (808/637-7717)
6 Kona Brewing Co.
The second location of this popular bar and restaurant (the other is on the Big Island) makes its home on Oahu. Over a dozen ales and lagers are hand-crafted on the premises, including popular Wailua Wheat, Big Wave Golden Ale, and Longboard Island Lager. Many of the beers make their way into the food as well, including delicious pizzas and entrees like Garden Isle Grilled Chicken with a red ale glaze and beer-braised ribs in a Black Sand Porter sauce. The open-air dining room allows for pleasant breezes and mild temps -- in short, the perfect setting in which to knock back a few brews. (808-394-5662)
5 The Point
Located right on the edge of both the ocean and pool at Turtle Bay Resort, The Point is the place you'll want to hang at to get your night started. With amazingly strong mai tais with a special Turtle Bay mix, an array of local beers on tap, and a huge selection of signature tropical drinks, The Point is the best place on the North Shore for a sunset drink. You can hang out of a couple hours after dark enjoying the big screen TV with sports and chatting with the friendly bartenders. Entertainment at dark varies on different nights of the week, including live music, fire knife dancing, hula dancing and other shows. You can watch surfers catch waves right there and go for a stroll along the waters edge. (808/293-6000)
4 Bar 35
Beer connoisseurs can find haven in Honolulu when they visit Bar 35. Situated in downtown Chinatown, this casual, upscale bar presents over 150 brews from over 20 different countries. Belgian to American, lager to porter, there is something that will suit every taste. Also, sake and a creative list of classic and house specialty cocktails are available. If you are daring, try their signature Cherry Bloom Princess or Red Lantern. Local DJs and live music keep the atmosphere upbeat and animated while catering to a mixed crowd. Happy is awesome here with exotic cocktails for just a few dollars, and the happy hour is actually hours. (808-537-3535)
3 Amuse Wine Bar
Following a clever do-it-yourself pattern, Amuse Wine Bar allows young 20 to 30 somethings to test their taste buds on 80 different wines in a very modern, trendy atmosphere. You take the role of server, pouring your desired portion from a number of bottle dispensers. In addition, you can nibble on cheese platters, while enjoying live music. It's a wine bar, and naturally there's a lot more drinks then just wine. Check out the cocktail menu for truly unique and tasty house designed drinks that will light your senses and make you feel pretty darn good. Definitely don't forget to taste their cocktail menu. (808-237-5428)
2 Duke's Canoe Club
In tribute to Duke Kahanamoku, Hawaii's renowned swimmer, surfer, and Olympic athlete, this casual bar and restaurant in the Outrigger Waikiki offers patrons a wealth of island culture. Memorabilia, live Hawaiian music, fruity cocktails, and fresh local seafood are among the attractions that have folks returning again and again. Food is served all day, and the bar scene is constantly hopping, populated by lively barkeeps and folks from all walks of life. Celebrities occasionally make an appearance too, and the ocean side setting just seems to make mingling that much easier. This is a great place to feel the Hawaiian vibes and dance, eat and drink. (808-922-2268)
1 Surfer, the Bar
Always a good bet for nightlife, Surfer, the Bar is Turtle Bay Resorts new endeavor into nighttime entertainment. Opening at 6 p.m. daily, Surfer is part bar, part restaurant and part night club. Great happy hour cocktails are offers along with the full bar and classic Hawaiian cocktails such as the lava flow and the mai tai - their strongest drink. Live music is offered on a regular basis and karaoke happens every Sunday night. Other forms of entertainment like "Talk Story" on Wednesdays offer guests an inside look at the life of people in the surf industry via live interview. Call ahead of time or check the website for nightly happenings. (8082936000)
About Jade Eckardt
Raised on the Big Island of Hawaii, Jade has traveled the world and doesn't intend to stop, yet the Hawaiian Islands are still her favorite place. She spent seven years living on Oahu and exploring the island. A regular visitor to Kauai, Jade recently authored a full-length Kauai guide book. She is a writer and photographer, whose work has been published in numerous regional and national magazines. When she's not writing, Jade enjoys a good beer, a good surf, and time in her garden with her son.
Read more about Jade Eckardt here.
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