Oahu

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. J.J. Dolan's

    Chinatown | Bars/Pubs

    This place bills itself as an “Irish pub with New York pizza from two guys in Chinatown.” Those two guys are J.J. and Dolan, respectively, the...Read More

  • 2. Downbeat Lounge

    Chinatown | Bars/Pubs

    This dimly lit but welcoming lounge is the soulful little sister of the trendy all-night Downbeat Diner next door, and owned by the same people...Read More

  • 3. Encore Saloon

    Chinatown | Bars/Pubs

    Hawaii isn’t a hotbed for quality Mexican cuisine, so when Encore opened in 2016, it was a welcome addition to Chinatown’s already buzzing bar...Read More

  • 4. Manifest

    Chinatown | Bars/Pubs

    With exposed red brick, big skylights, and rotating exhibitions every three months from local photographers and painters, Manifest Hawaii has...Read More

  • 5. The Dragon Upstairs

    Chinatown | Music Clubs

    In the heart of Chinatown, this cool club—formerly a tattoo parlor, hence the dragon mural—serves up classic cocktails along with loungy jazz...Read More

  • 6. The Tchin Tchin! Bar

    Chinatown | Bars/Pubs

    This chill Chinatown bar gets its name from the Chinese expression “qing, qing” (which means “please please”), often used as a toast; soldiers...Read More

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