Oahu is the best of all the Islands for nightlife. The locals call it pau hana, but you might call it happy hour (the literal translation of the Hawaiian phrase is "done with work"). On weeknights, it's likely that you'll find the working crowd, still in their business-casual attire, downing chilled beers even before the sun goes down. Those who don't have to wake up in the early morning should change into a fresh outfit and start the evening closer to 10 pm.

On the weekends, it's typical to have dinner at a restaurant before hitting the clubs around 9:30. Some bar-hoppers start as early as 7, but partygoers typically don't patronize more than two establishments a night. That's because getting from one Oahu nightspot to the next usually requires transportation. Happily, cab services are plentiful, and rideshares like Uber and Lyft give Honolulu a San Francisco feel.

You can find a bar in just about any area on Oahu. Most of the clubs, however, are in Waikiki, near Ala Moana, and in Chinatown, near downtown Honolulu. The drinking age is 21 on Oahu and throughout Hawaii. Many bars will admit younger people but will not serve them alcohol. By law, all establishments that serve alcoholic beverages must close by 2 am, although you might get lucky and stumble into a secret all-night party. The only exceptions are those with a cabaret license, which can stay open until 4 am. Some places have a cover charge of $5–$10, but with many establishments, getting there early means you don't have to pay.

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  • 1. Bar Leather Apron


    This intimate, James Beard Award–nominated cocktail spot, oddly situated in the mezzanine of an office building, seats only six at the bar along with a few other tables. So you'll want to make reservations to enjoy bespoke cocktails that utilize only the finest liquors and ingredients. Owners Tom Park and Justin Park (no relation) have cultivated a reputation for their E Hoo Pau Mai Tai made with a five-year-old, raisin-infused El Dorado rum and another 12-year-old El Dorado rum, as well as coconut water syrup, spiced orgeat, ohia blossom honey, lime, vanilla, and absinthe—all served with a kiawe wood–smoke presentation.

    745 Fort St., Honolulu, Hawaii, 96813, USA

    Nightlife Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Sun. and Mon.
  • 2. Bevy Bar


    Tucked at the end of a row of new boutiques, Bevy is urban, modern, and furnished with upcycled materials (its benches are upholstered in denim jeans, and its tabletops feature flattened wine boxes). Locals in the know come for artisan cocktails created by owner and master mixologist Christian Self, who deftly concocts libations with obscure ingredients and complex flavors. Look for live music on some nights.

    675 Auahi St., Honolulu, Hawaii, 96813, USA

    Nightlife Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Mon.
  • 3. Duke's Waikiki


    Making the most of its spot on Waikiki Beach, Duke's is a bustling destination featuring live music everyday. This laid-back bar-and-grill's surf theme pays homage to Duke Kahanamoku, who popularized the sport in the early 1900s. Contemporary Hawaiian musicians like Henry Kapono and the Maunalua group have performed here, as have nationally known musicians like Jimmy Buffett. It's not unusual for surfers to leave their boards outside to step in for a casual drink after a long day on the waves. The cocktail menu is filled with Island-style drinks: try a sunset sour or coconut mojito while watching the Waikiki waves.

    2335 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu, Hawaii, 96815, USA
  • 4. Honolulu Beerworks


    Oahu's brewing scene has erupted in Kakaako’s industrial neighborhood, and one brewpub in particular has led the charge: Honolulu Beerworks. In a converted warehouse, owners Geoff and Charmayne Seideman and their crew brew nine beers—in addition to limited releases—such as the Pia Mahiai Saison (made with local oranges, other citrus, and Big Island honey) or the rich South Shore Stout. When you need some ono grinds (delicious food) to go along with your local brew, order the bar’s ahi dip. It’s a regular spot for many locals, particularly on the weekends. You might just make new friends sitting at one of the bar's long picnic tables, made from reclaimed wood.

    328 Cooke St., Honolulu, Hawaii, 96813, USA

    Nightlife Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Mon.
  • 5. Lewers Lounge


    Set back from the main entrance of the Halekulani hotel and decked out with dramatic drapes and cozy banquettes, Lewers Lounge is a great place for cocktails, both classic and contemporary. Standouts include Chocolate Dreams (made with Van Gogh Dutch Chocolate Vodka) and the Lost Passion (tequila, Cointreau, and fresh juices topped with champagne). Enjoy your libation with great nightly live jazz and tempting desserts, such as the hotel's famous coconut cake.

    2199 Kalia Rd., Honolulu, Hawaii, 96815, USA
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  • 6. Mai Tai Bar at the Royal Hawaiian


    The bartenders here sure know how to mix up a killer mai tai. This is, after all, the establishment that first made the famous drink in the Islands. The pink umbrella–shaded tables at the outdoor bar are front-row seating for sunsets and also have an unobstructed view of Diamond Head. It's an ideal spot to soak in the island vibes just steps from the sand. Contemporary Hawaiian musicians hold jam sessions on stage nightly, and small bites are also available.

    2259 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu, Hawaii, 96815, USA
  • 7. Maui Brewing Co.


    The craft beers produced by this Lahaina-based company are Island favorites, and a visit to this brewpub adjacent to the Beachcomber hotel's lobby means you don't have to island hop to sample its offerings at the source. Ask about limited-release drafts to imbibe the brand’s hidden gems, or order a flight of freshly brewed beers. Maui Brewing strives to source local ingredients for its beer and its food, and the menu here includes a poke bowl made with locally caught tuna, a kale salad that incorporates Waianae-based Naked Cow Dairy feta, and a Brewmaster pizza featuring Honolulu-based Kukui sausage.

    2300 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu, Hawaii, 96815, USA
  • 8. Off the Lip

    West-oriented views (particularly stellar at sunset), creative cocktails incorporating fresh fruit and herbs from neighboring farms, house-made syrups and spirits, and live entertainment most nights draw locals and visitors alike to this classy, surf-themed lobby bar at Turtle Bay Resort. It’s also the only nightlife choice on the North Shore east of Haleiwa, and night crawlers should know that the bar usually stops serving by 10 pm.

    57-091 Kamehameha Hwy., Kahuku, Hawaii, 96731, USA
  • 9. Polynesian Cultural Center Alii Luau

    Although this elaborate luau has the sharpest production values, there is no booze allowed (it's a Mormon-owned facility in the heart of Laie—Mormon country). It's held amid the seven re-created villages at the Polynesian Cultural Center in the North Shore town of Laie, about a 1½-hour drive from Honolulu. The luau—considered one of the most authentic on the island—includes the Ha: Breath of Life show that has long been popular with both residents and visitors. Rates vary depending on activities and amenities that are included (personalized tours, reserved seats, or table service, for example). Waikiki transport is available. It's held Monday–Saturday at 5.

    55-370 Kamehameha Hwy., Laie, Hawaii, 96762, USA

    Nightlife Details

    Rate Includes: From $119.95
  • 10. Waikiki Brewing Company


    This company not only brews its own quality craft beer but also serves delicious food. This is its second location—the original is in Waikiki at 1945 Kalakaua Avenue—and it always offers nine beers on tap, including the Skinny Jeans IPA and the Hana Hou Hefe, to which orange peel and strawberry puree are added before fermentation. You can also buy six-packs at the bar to go. Here, the chef smokes meat in house using local kiawe wood, resulting in tender and flavorful beef brisket, pulled pork, chicken, and bratwurst. Accompanying barbecue sauces are made with Waikiki Brewing beer.

    831 Queen St., Honolulu, Hawaii, 96813, USA
  • 11. Aloha Beer


    At this cool brewpub, you order everything at the counter and then grab a seat in either the industrial indoor taproom or the casual outdoor area. The HI Brau Room upstairs, which has its own speakeasy-style entrance, is definitely worth checking out for unique cocktails, too. With 12 beers on draft, including the Hop Lei IPA, Waimanalo Farmhouse, Froot Loops, and Portlock Porter, you can find something to your taste. If you’re hungry, there's also pretty good food—snacking boards, hearty sandwiches, small plates, and steak frites.

    700 Queen St., Honolulu, Hawaii, 96813, USA
  • 12. BREW'd Craft Pub


    The Kaimuki night scene got a bit livelier in 2014 with the arrival of this pub, which, after all, stays open until 2 am. It's a small place—you have to squeeze between nearby patrons to get to and from your table—but the wait staff is friendly and knowledgeable about the 150-plus beer menu. BREW'd also offers better versions of standard pub fare than you'll find at some places in town, including a good braised beef poutine.

    3441 Waialae Ave., Honolulu, Hawaii, 96815, USA
  • 13. Encore Saloon


    Although this bar serves good Mexican-inspired food (try the pork carnitas burrito), it's best known for its impressive drinks menu featuring more than 50 varieties of tequila and mezcal. You can also get wine and canned beer.

    10 N. Hotel St., Honolulu, Hawaii, 96817, USA

    Nightlife Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Sun.
  • 14. Fia Fia Luau

    Just after sunset at the Marriott Ko Olina Beach Club, the charismatic Chief Sielu Avea leads the Samoan-based Fia Fia, an entertaining show that takes guests on the journey through the South Pacific. Every show is different and unscripted, but always a good look at Polynesian culture. It's the only recurring show with eight fire-knife dancers in a blazing finale. It's held on Tuesday at 4:30. Admission includes a buffet dinner.

    92-161 Waipahe Pl., Ko Olina, Hawaii, 96707, USA

    Nightlife Details

    Rate Includes: From $105
  • 15. Genius Lounge Sake Bar & Grill


    Removed from the tourist traps along Kalakaua Avenue, the Genius Lounge is tucked away on the third floor of a former apartment building on Lewers Street. The extensive drink menu offers beer and wine, cocktails, homemade sangria, and, of course, sake. Locally inspired dishes are also available. Though small, the space is open to the outdoors and furnished with dark woods and lit by candles, making for an intimate setting for small gatherings and Friday-night dates. The crowd is mostly Asian visitors and transplants, but a daily happy hour (6–8 pm) lures office workers and pre-club prowlers.

    346 Lewers St., Honolulu, Hawaii, 96815, USA
  • 16. Germaine's Luau

    More than 3 million visitors have come to this luau, held about 45 minutes west of Waikiki in light traffic. Widely considered one of the most folksy and laid-back, Germaine's offers a tasty, multicourse, all-you-can-eat buffet. Admission includes the buffet and one drink to three drinks (depending on the package). It's held Tuesday to Sunday at 6.

    91-119 Olai St., Kapolei, Hawaii, 96707, USA

    Nightlife Details

    Rate Includes: From $85, transportation from $16
  • 17. Hideout


    Located at the Laylow Hotel, one of Waikiki’s newer properties, this mini-oasis has a firepit, tiki torches, comfy couches, and palm trees swaying overhead. Although there's a full food menu, it’s best to come here for expertly mixed cocktails or mocktails and some pupu—perhaps the poke tacos or the pork belly Brussels sprouts. A daily happy hour from 4:30 to 6:30 pm makes things easier on the wallet.

    2299 Kuhio Ave., Honolulu, Hawaii, 96815, USA
  • 18. Hula's Bar and Lei Stand


    Hawaii's oldest and best-known gay-friendly nightspot offers panoramic views of Diamond Head by day and high-energy club music by night. Check out the all-day happy hour, which starts at 10 am. There's an abundance of drink specials on weekends and discounted pitchers of beer and cocktails on Sunday.  Food options include nachos, tacos, pork sliders, and more. Celebrity patrons have included Elton John, Adam Lambert, and Dolly Parton.

    134 Kapahulu Ave., Honolulu, Hawaii, 96815, USA
  • 19. J. Dolan's


    The drinks and rotating beers on tap at this Irish, Cheers-like bar are reasonably priced by Honolulu standards, and its menu of New York–style pizzas, both classic and inventive, is a crowd-pleaser, too.

    1147 Bethel St., Honolulu, Hawaii, 96813, USA
  • 20. Kona Brewing Pub

    This massive Kona Brewing Co. restaurant and bar on the docks of Koko Marina has long been a hot spot. In addition to serving the company's signature brews, this authentic pub offers live music Thursday to Sunday nights. It's a lively spot, especially on the weekends when it's standing-room-only at the bar.

    7192 Kalanianaole Hwy., Honolulu, Hawaii, 96825, USA

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