Sun is shining, the weather is sweet, makes you want to move your dancing feet.
By Jade Eckardt
Big Island, Honolulu, and Kauai Local Expert
Kaua`i is perhaps the most mellow of the main Hawaiian Islands, especially after the sun sets below the horizon. Although it's mostly known for it's perfect sandy beaches and clear blue water, you'll find a fair share of places to twist and move, socialize and meet new people, and people watch and let loose. Although wild dance clubs with bright laser lights and loud bass are pretty much absent from the island, there is a generous amount of places to dance and socialize to local bands and music.
At Stevenson's Library, those in search of a classy night out on the south side can dress up in formal resort wear and enjoy live jazz and cocktails after catching the sunset on the south shore. On the other end of the spectrum, in Hanalei locals and visitors mingle together enjoying conversation, drinks, and live music at the local staple Tahiti Nui. For more North Shore nightlife, there's Bouchon's Hanalei and Hanalei Gourmet, both offering good food and nighttime live local music and dancing. Out on the east side overlooking Kalapaki Beach is Duke's Barefoot Bar, which provides tasty and strong cocktails and beers right on the crescent shaped beach and surf break. Nearby is the Nawiliwile Tavern, and Rob's Good Time Grill, both providing a venue for sports on the big screen, full bars, and live local music on the east side in Lihue.
You're days will be filled with sun, sand, surf, hiking and sigh seeing, but 10 Best guides you to the best after sundown action for that perfect tropical night cap.
10 Rob's Good Times Grill
Having trouble deciding what to do with your night? Rob's is always a good choice, and you'll find plenty to occupy your time. Naturally, the bar can set you up with your favorite poison, and the bartenders will probably introduce you to a few island drinks you haven't experienced before. There's also food to munch, TVs to watch, karaoke to partake of, live performers to enjoy, and dancing to be done. Reasonable prices and sociable patrons add to the fun as well. Open late to satisfy the night owls. (808-246-0311)
9 Nawiliwili Tavern
This relaxed neighborhood hangout is open late and offers plenty of late-night fun. Dancing, pool, darts, video games, TVs, and a rousing night or two of karaoke can all be found. Of course, sitting back with a cold one or a cocktail and taking it all in is permitted too. Friendly and laid-back, regulars make you feel right at home. Centrally located near the beach in Lihu`e, the tavern is located near many hotels, providing and easily accessible place to unwind. Kauai's gay community has made the first Saturday of each month their own with plenty of karaoke and drink specials. (808-245-1781)
8 Keoki's Paradise
Illuminated by tiki torches and surrounded by trickling streams and tropical vegetation, this lively, open-air establishment proves irresistible to patrons. The welcoming ambience complements the menu, which boasts a wealth of fresh fish and steaks. Plus, Keoki's bar is a fantastic hangout for those who want to drink, socialize, and munch on appetizers and light fare. On weekends (usually Thursday to Sunday evenings), you'll catch live bands playing terrific Hawaiian tunes and folks dancing to the catchy rhythms. Fun and beautiful. (808-742-7534)
7 Hanapepe Art Night
Hanapepe is a true art town. The small historic town, which surprisingly once served as the most bustling town on the Garden Island, is filled mostly with art galleries selling locally made art and locally crafted jewelry and housewares. Each and every Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. the west side town opens its doors to invite the public - both visitors and locals alike - to enjoy a night of socializing and entertainment in the name of art and creativity. Music can usually be found somewhere along the strip of art shops, as well as appetizers, chatting with new friends, and buying and window shopping of art. Dress up or go casual, either way art night is not to be missed while visiting Kaua`i. ((808) 338-1332)
6 Duke's Barefoot Bar
The bar, like the restaurant at Duke's Canoe Club, takes advantage of the place's beachside locale and open-air ambience. It's a great place to hang out with friends on its own or either before or after dinner upstairs. On weekends, local performers entertain guests with terrific Hawaiian music, and the place comes alive with folks grooving, dancing, and chatting. If you're enamored of the tropical experience but don't do alcohol, they also offer a menu of virgin drinks, full of island fruits and goodness. (808-246-9599)
5 Bouchon's Hanalei
Spacious and relaxed, this hip spot boasts an industrial feel, thanks to aged brick, exposed ductwork, and copper accents. It also features expansive windows, which fill the place with light and island views. Sushi and sashimi capitalize on fresh seafood, and entrees include pastas, fish, steaks, ribs, and chicken. In addition, live bands play several nights a week, everything from blues to reggae, rock to island-flavored tunes. Shows begin around 8:30pm or 9pm, although you're welcome to come and hang out at the bar with friends or have a bite to eat before the action gets going. A great North Shore gathering spot. (808-826-9701)
4 Stevenson's Library
Harking back to the days of its namesake, author Robert Louis Stevenson' this refined bar has the feel of a Victorian gentleman's club, thanks to dark woods, upholstered sofas, books, and parlor games. Other diversions include billiards tables, televisions, and a player piano. Single-malt scotches are a specialty, along with cognacs and ports. Best of all, live jazz performers play nightly, regaling patrons with soothing, satisfying strains. Great ambiance. (808-742-1234)
3 The Point
One of the island's more popular clubs, this South Shore venue is located on the water and knows how to take care of its patrons. Folks especially like to hang out when the sun is setting and take in the gorgeous views. Depending on what night you're around, you'll find live music (often contemporary Hawaiian tunes) and catchy pop sounds spun by a DJ. Enjoy the melodies, or hop up and dance with abandon. You're certain to find a few folks ready to join in too. (808-742-1661)
2 Tahiti Nui
This colorful, relaxed place provides a healthy dose of local style and an authentic taste of traditional Kauai. The comfortable hangout welcomes folks craving homestyle sustenance, as well as those who come to enjoy a tropical drink and great entertainment. Every night, there's some sort of activity, be it karaoke performances, bands playing local tunes, or impromptu dancing. Fun-loving patrons and a casual ambiance guarantee its appeal in the eyes of North Shore natives and visitors alike. (808-826-6277)
1 Hanalei Gourmet
Although this casual restaurant serves food all day, it's also known for its nightlife scene. The venue holds court in a former schoolhouse, and it almost seems like sacrilege to enjoy loud music in the space. Still, patrons kick back at the bar and rock to live music, which is played several nights a week. The repertoire varies, so you may encounter jazz, island folk, or even rock when you come. Enjoy what's available, and if the munchies hit, take advantage of burgers, appetizers, fresh fish, and other light fare. (808-826-2524)
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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