You can find a little bit of everything in Hawaii, from local dive bars to swanky Oceanside resort bars. Some are revered for their beautiful ambience and sunset views, while others are lively dance spots for a hip crowd. There’s vibrant nightlife across the islands, and here are the 11 best bars in experience it.
Bar 35 in Honolulu’s Chinatown offers over 200 types of beer, classic cocktails, happy hour specials Monday-Friday and gourmet pizzas. In addition, there are frequently local bands and DJs playing anything from old school 90s-00s music to more current releases, depending on the night and whether you are enjoying the patio or the dance floor. Be prepared for crowds beginning around 10:30- 11 p.m, especially on Friday nights, even more so during First Friday.
A café, bar and art galleryin Chinatown in Honolulu, Manifest has frequent events and music—trivia on Tuesdays and DJs or live music every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, with a tendency to focus on hip hop and R&B. You’ll find inventive cocktails at the bar, along with a nice selection of whiskeys, as well as coffees, teas and small bites (including a sweet and savory toast menu) for around $5-$6
“Tchin-Tchin” originates from the Chinese expression “Qing-Qing,” inviting guests to raise a glass and drink, and a big focus here is the wine list, with two-ounce tasters, six-ounce glasses and bottles all for available for purchase. This is considered by some to be a bit of a hidden gem, due to its unassuming entrance (it’s through a door and up the stairs situated in a loft space near Bar 35), and although most reviews rave more about the drinks than the food, there are definitely some satisfying options for those who are craving a bite.
Who isn’t a fan of the classic dive? Populated by locals, Arnold’s has long been touted as just the spot in otherwise touristy Waikiki. This Tiki bar offers delicious Mai Tai’s, as well as a good selection of beers, all for much less than you will pay at the nearby resorts and popular restaurants. It can be hard to find, but this only heightens the appeal. The staff is casual but friendly, as are the patrons, and the vibe is relaxed and fun. Check their schedule for live music and enjoy a hot dog and some popcorn while you sip a simple, but delicious cocktail.
My Bar is a gay-friendly bar in Kailua-Kona, that while unassuming and in a warehouse heavy location away from the ocean, hosts incredible musicians and stand-up comedy acts, which is rare find in Hawaii, particularly on the Big Island. My Bar has a good mix of standard cocktails and beers, nothing fancy but all of the staples that you would expect. The real draw here is the eclectic clientele and very entertaining live performances that pull in large, upbeat crowds.
You can’t write up a list of best bars without touching on tequila, and Milagros is known to offer the best selection on the island. With a very reasonable happy hour (1-5 p.m. everyday) and more than 10 varieties of margaritas to choose from, this place will definitely leave you buzzed and happy. Tecate and Modelo Especial are only $3 during happy hour!
So technically, this is not a bar, but the First Friday art walks in Honolulu are truly a must-do if you find yourself in town during a first Friday of the month. All the bars and restaurants, centered mainly in the Chinatown area, open their doors with live music, art exhibits, live art performances and dance tunes, along with delicious food and drink specials. It is a very lively atmosphere, and folks tend to dress up, which isn’t always the norm for Hawaii. The energy is vibrant and we can’t recommend this event enough for those looking to bar hop and experience local artistic flavor while popping into some amazing bars.
Monkeypod Kitchen has locations on both Maui and Oahu and is committed to “mastering the craft of food, drink, and merrymaking…with Aloha!” The staff is dedicated to using local, seasonal Hawaiian ingredients in their food menu, as well as their cocktails. However, the big draws for Monkeypod are their ice-cold draft craft beers (famously served at 29 degrees), their affordable happy hour specials and the talented musicians that frequently play. Try the No Ka Oi with vodka, Thai basil, lime, honey and egg whites!
Most of the resort bars that are included on this list are listed most pointedly due to their service and beach and poolside views and the Bumbye Beach Bar at the Maui Andaz Hyatt is no exception. If you want to experience a taste of resort life without paying the price tag to stay overnight, this is a great spot to enjoy the infinity pools and ocean views while sipping a cocktail.
Owned by British musician and actor Mick Fleetwood, this bar has aMoroccan influence and a rooftop with amazing views, as well as a finely-curated cocktail menu and wine list. There is a happy hour and $1 oyster hour from 2p.m.- 5p.m. and a sunset ceremony on the rooftop everyday at 5:45p.m.
Stevenson’s Library is certainly a lush atmosphere, with beautiful views and a 27-foot Koa wood bar for patrons to enjoy their creative martinis and tropical drinks. Located inside the Kauai Grand Hyatt resort, the fresh sushi and craft cocktails will certainly cost you—be prepared to spend some money for these views! However, for those looking for a resort atmosphere to treat themselves, Stevenson’s is a lovely spot to take in the evening and listen to live music.