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...Read More

  • 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...Read More

  • 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...Read More

  • 4. 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...Read More

  • 5. 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...Read More

  • 6. 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...Read More

  • 7. 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...Read More

  • 8. 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...Read More

  • 9. 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...Read More

  • 10. 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,...Read More

  • 11. Lulu's Waikiki


    Even if you're not a surfer, you'll love this place's retro vibe and unobstructed second-floor view of Waikiki Beach. The open-air setting, casual dining menu,...Read More

  • 12. Mai Tai’s

    Ala Moana

    After a long day of shopping at the Ala Moana Center, the fourth-floor Mai Tai's is the perfect spot to relax. What you will find...Read More

  • 13. RumFire


    Locals and visitors head here for the convivial atmosphere, the trendy decor, and the million-dollar view of Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head. Come early to...Read More

  • 14. The Manifest


    With exposed red brick, big skylights, and rotating exhibitions of work by local photographers and painters, The Manifest has an artist’s loft feel to it....Read More

  • 15. The Tchin Tchin! Bar


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

  • 16. Tiki's Grill & Bar


    Tiki torches light the way to this fun restaurant and bar overlooking Kuhio Beach. A mix of locals and visitors heads here for happy hour...Read More

  • 17. Waiolu Ocean Cuisine


    Hawaiian bars should have two things: stellar views of the sunset over the ocean and equally stellar mai tais. This lounge has both, as well...Read More

  • 18. Wang Chung's Karaoke Bar


    Dubbed the "Friendliest Bar in Waikiki," a visit to this charming karaoke joint is a must on any trip to the island. The positive vibe...Read More

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