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. Bar Leather Apron

    Downtown | Bars/Pubs

    The bar at this intimate cocktail spot on the mezzanine of a downtown Honolulu office building seats only six, so you'll want to make reservations...Read More

  • 2. Bevy

    Kakaako | Bars/Pubs

    Tucked at the end of a row of new boutiques in Kakaako, Bevy is urban, modern, and furnished with up-cycled materials; its benches are upholstered...Read More

  • 3. 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

  • 4. Lewers Lounge

    Waikiki | Bars/Pubs

    A great spot for predinner drinks or post-sunset cocktails, Lewers Lounge offers a relaxed but chic atmosphere in the middle of Waikiki. There...Read More

  • 5. Mai Tai Bar at the Royal Hawaiian

    Waikiki | Bars/Pubs

    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...Read More

  • 6. Pint + Jigger

    Moiliili | Bars/Pubs

    This spot has cultivated a regular following with nearby college students and thirtysomethings since its opening by doing two simple, but essential...Read More

  • 7. Anna O'Brien's

    Moiliili | Bars/Pubs

    Generations of college students have spent more than an evening or two at this legendary two-story, smoky dive near the University of Hawaii...Read More

  • 8. Boardrider's Bar & Grill

    Bars/Pubs

    Tucked away in Kailua Town, Boardrider's has long been the place for local bands to strut their stuff. Look for live music—reggae to rock and...Read More

  • 9. 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

  • 10. Duke's Waikiki

    Waikiki | Bars/Pubs

    Making the most of its spot on Waikiki Beach, Duke's presents live music everyday. Contemporary Hawaiian musicians like Henry Kapono and Maunalua...Read More

  • 11. 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

  • 12. Genius Lounge Sake Bar & Grill

    Waikiki | Bars/Pubs

    Removed from the tourist traps along Kalakaua Avenue, the Genius Lounge is tucked away on the third floor of a former apartment building on...Read More

  • 13. Gordon Biersch

    Downtown | Bars/Pubs

    This outdoor bar flanks Honolulu Harbor. Live bands serenade patrons with everything from funk to jazz to rock and roll. Those who feel inspired...Read More

  • 14. Hideout

    Waikiki | Bars/Pubs

    The Hideout is a mini-oasis on the outdoor lobby level of the Laylow Hotel, one of Waikiki’s newer hotels. Technically, it’s not a rooftop bar...Read More

  • 15. Kona Brewing Co.

    Bars/Pubs

    This massive restaurant and bar on the docks of Koko Marina has long been a hot spot in east Honolulu. In addition to serving the company's...Read More

  • 16. Lulu's Waikiki

    Waikiki | Bars/Pubs

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

  • 17. Mai Tai Bar

    Ala Moana | Bars/Pubs

    After a long day of shopping at Ala Moana Center, the fourth-floor Mai Tai Bar is a perfect spot to relax. There's live entertainment and happy...Read More

  • 18. 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

  • 19. Moana Terrace

    Waikiki | Bars/Pubs

    Three floors up from Waikiki Beach, this is a casual, open-air terrace where some of Hawaii's finest musicians play every evening. Order a drink...Read More

  • 20. Murphy's Bar & Grill

    Downtown | Bars/Pubs

    On the edge of Chinatown, this bar has served drinks to such locals and visitors as King Kalakaua and Robert Louis Stevenson since the late...Read More

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