10 Best Places in Honolulu for After-Dark Fun
By Jade Eckardt
Big Island, Honolulu, and Kauai Local Expert
From small local bars to classy lounges and wild dance clubs, the island of Oahu has it all when it comes to nightlife. Honolulu and it's surrounding areas stake a claim to having the best and broadest array of nightlife of all the islands, so visitors in search of a party need look no further. The busy streets of Waikiki are lined with late night clubs, while rural areas like the North Shore harbor smaller, local style bars. What's important is that each side of the island offers something fun to do when the sun goes down.
Out of all the clubs and bars on the island, 10Best narrows the options to those places with the most appeal and the best reputations, and that's thanks to having an on island local expert. Visitors can choose from a carefully vetted selection to find the best of Honolulu nightlife. Any night of the week the island has plenty of action, so a dull night is never an option.
From locals jamming at open mic at Surfer, the Bar on the North Shore, to Addiction in Waikiki requiring a dress code to enter, the options are broad and endless. A laid back option for nightlife is Haleiwa's Banzai Sushi Bar, offering live music on weekends. To really get wild, Waikiki's Zanzabar is a true testament to club life.
Enjoy the best nightlife Honolulu has to offer, and get to know nightlife local style.
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)
9 Banzai Sushi Bar
Sushi, sushi, and more sushi - all made from locally caught fresh fish and seafood can be found at the North Shore's Banzai Sushi Bar. And yes, there's definitely a full bar boasting a varies amount of beers, wine and specialty cocktails. Live music happens throughout the week and it's best to check beforehand what's going on that night. In addition to the delicious menu and casual Hawaiian ambiance, Banzai Sushi is also a hot spot for nightlife. From a mellow bar scene to wild dance parties boasting unique and fun themes, Banzai Sushi is an all around fun place. ((808) 637-4404)
8 Hula's Bar and Lei Stand
A longtime favorite with Hawaii's gay community, this relaxed bar has welcomed folks for more than a generation. Granting views of Kapiolani Park and the ocean beyond, the comfortable club also offers a terrific bar scene, and patrons frequently hang out, just enjoying the ambiance and the company. Other attractions include drink specials, a pool table, dancing, volleyball competitions, go-go dancers, and regularly scheduled special events. It's a fun place to go for live entertainment, and there's usually a fair blend of locals and visitors alike. Hula's is unique from any other venue in Honolulu, and is a very welcoming place. (808-923-0669)
7 Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant
Always bustling, this fabulous, ocean front 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! (808-599-4877)
6 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)
5 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. Weekends nights often feature live bands, and any sports events are broadcasted on several flat screen televisions to a busy crowd of sports lovers. Any night of the week draws a solid and friendly crowd to this popular Waikiki bar. (808-923-7311)
This glittering club, adorned with Egyptian accents and jewel-tone colors, spared no expense with decor and technology. As a result, it pulls in an upscale crowd, who come to be immersed in light, color, and energy. Music runs the gamut from hip-hop and trance to house, techno, and top 40, so it's certain that all tastes will be met. The club also offers comedy shows, salsa dance lessons, and other special events. A VIP room is available, and with an 800-person capacity, you may want to book it as a private getaway! Located in the heart of Waikiki, it's nestled amidst all the action and crowds of the city. (808-924-3939)
3 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 Jlife. 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)
2 Fusion Waikiki
For a wild, exciting night in Hawaii, head to Fusion Waikiki, the only gay bar in Waikiki. Open seven days a week, the party never stops with karaoke on the week nights and live DJs and shows on the weekends. This club attracts many of the island's hottest young people, plus there are drink specials every single night as well as plenty of pool tables to get your game on. Food is served here late in the night and the drinks are strong. Fusion isn't only for dancing. Really great drag shows happen a few nights a week, as well as other male reviews and singing. (808-924-2422)
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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