15 Best Performing Arts Venues in Honolulu and Pearl Harbor, Oahu

Blue Note Hawaii

Waikiki Fodor's choice

Music lovers adore this intimate venue, which draws local and national acts throughout the year. Acoustics are fantastic, and seating is at tables, all with excellent views. The atmosphere is sophisticated, and the food here is excellent, too, with small and large plates offered. It's worthwhile to find out who's performing while you’re in town so you can purchase tickets in advance, since the more popular acts sell out quickly. This 300-seat room is centrally located (at the Outrigger resort), so you can grab a drink at Duke’s before or after the show.

Honolulu Theatre for Youth

Downtown Fodor's choice

This group stages delightful productions, with creative props and engaging stories, August through May. Founded in 1955, it's one of the oldest children's theaters in the country (it's the only professional troupe in Hawaii), offering drama-education programs as well as school and family performances.

Atlantis Cruises

Downtown

The sleekly high-tech Majestic, designed to sail smoothly in rough waters, powers farther along Waikiki's coastline than its competitors. Enjoy seasonal whale-watching trips between January and March during the day or year-round sunset cocktail and dinner cruises aboard the 400-passenger boat. (Atlantis is also known for its submarine tours off Waikiki.) The boat's dining room is elegantly laid out, and the standard Hawaiian buffet fare perfectly accompanies the tropical cocktails, Champagne, beer, or guava juice. Most passengers are honeymooners and those celebrating anniversaries and birthdays—or even the occasional proposal—and this, plus the Hawaiian music, makes the atmosphere festive. For the best view of Waikiki and the sunset, head to the top deck.

1 Aloha Tower Rd., Honolulu, HI, 96813, USA
800-381–0237
Performing Art Details
Rate Includes: From $65

Recommended Fodor's Video

Ballet Hawaii

Kakaako

Established in 1976, Ballet Hawaii is a local company that's active throughout the year. Its annual, Hawaii-theme The Nutcracker, usually held at the nearby Blaisdell Concert Hall ( 777 Ward Ave.), is a local holiday tradition. Other shows take place at the Hawaii Theatre ( 1130 Bethel St.) in Chinatown and elsewhere.

Chamber Music Hawaii

Downtown

This group, consisting of four ensembles, has been around for decades and performs at the Honolulu Museum of Art's Doris Duke Theatre ( 901 S. Beretania St., Honolulu), the Paliku Theatre at Windward Community College ( 45-720 Keaahala Rd., Kaneohe), the University of Hawaii's West Oahu Library ( 1001 Farrington Hwy., Kapolei), and other locations around the island. The season runs from fall through spring.

Diamond Head Theatre

Diamond Head

As Hawaii's oldest performing arts center (and the third-oldest community theater in the United States), this venue offers a little of everything: musicals, dramas, and experimental productions.

Hawaii Opera Theatre

Locals refer to it as "HOT," probably because the Hawaii Opera Theatre has been turning the opera-challenged into opera lovers since 1961. All operas are sung in their original language, with a projected English translation.

Hawaii Symphony Orchestra

The Hawaii Symphony Orchestra is the latest incarnation of the now-defunct, century-old Honolulu Symphony, with a mission to bring international talent to Hawaiian audiences of all ages. The orchestra performs at the Neal Blaisdell Concert Hall and the Waikiki Shell. Ticket prices vary.

Honolulu Zoo Concerts

Waikiki

Since the early 1980s, the Honolulu Zoo Society has sponsored hour-long evening concerts branded the "Wildest Show in Town." They're held at 6 pm on Wednesday, June–August. Listen to local legends play everything from Hawaiian to jazz to Latin music. Take a brisk walk through the zoo, or join in the family activities. This is an alcohol-free event, and there's food for those who haven't brought their own picnic supplies. Gates open at 4:35.  This is one of the best deals in town.

Kennedy Theatre

Manoa

Eclectic programs—everything from Hawaiian language to musical theater to Bollywood—are offered at this space on the Manoa campus of the University of Hawaii. The theater, which opened in 1963, was designed by internationally renowned architect I. M. Pei.

Kumu Kahua Theatre

Downtown

Focusing on plays written by local playwrights about Island life and Hawaiian experiences, this troupe stages five or six productions a year in an intimate, 100-seat auditorium.

Manoa Valley Theatre

Manoa

Wonderful performances grace this intimate community theater in lush Manoa Valley.

Royal Hawaiian Luau: Aha’aina

Waikiki

With a beachfront location in the middle of Waikiki, the Royal Hawaiian’s Aha’aina luau is an exceptional, upscale event with hula, fire dancing, live music, Hawaiian-inspired and luau-favorite dishes, and more. Options range from "standard dinner and show" to "premium dinner and show." The three-hour event is held two nights a week (Monday and Thursday); be sure to reserve in advance during the high season.

Star of Honolulu Cruises

Downtown

The celebrated 1,500-passenger Star of Honolulu offers four sunset dinner-cruise packages, from a roast beef buffet and Polynesian show to a romantic, seven-course, fine-dining excursion with live jazz. The company also runs whale-watching and special holiday cruises.

1 Aloha Tower Dr., Honolulu, HI, 96813, USA
808-983–7730
Performing Art Details
Rate Includes: From $99

Waikiki Starlight Luau

Waikiki

This Waikiki luau is done spectacularly on the rooftop of Hilton Hawaiian Village. There isn't an imu ceremony, but the live entertainment is top-notch, and the views are unparalleled. Prices vary depending on your age and where you want to sit. The event also includes dinner with traditional specialties, games, and cultural activities, such as hula lessons and conch blowing. It's held Sunday–Thursday at 5 pm.