When it comes to Oahu, Honolulu is definitely the place to be for nightlife — especially by Hawaii’s standards. Most of the smaller islands in the chain have been known to shut down well before 10 p.m. While even in bustling Honolulu most late-night bars don’t stay open past 2 a.m., there are a select few with special licenses that extend their allowance to 4 a.m.
The Waikiki and Downtown/Chinatown areas are certainly the last spots to fall asleep in the city, with Waikiki being more popular with tourists and Downtown with residents. Downtown is full of small, local bars and hidden clubs that appeal to all types of people (especially on the weekends), and Waikiki contains plenty of street performers and larger crowds every day of the week. Whether you’re into dancing, karaoke, live music, whiskey bars or anything in between, you’ll have a good time exploring the nightlife in Honolulu.
Tip: Though laws have recently changed, some establishments will still not serve you more than one drink at a time. Also, contrary to popular belief, alcohol is not allowed in open containers in public places in Hawaii (this includes the beach and parks).
With a stunning ocean view and just a few steps from the sand, the “Barefoot Bar” at Duke’s Waikiki is the perfect place to begin your night (while catching an awesome sunset). The cocktails here are legendary, and starting with one of their signature mai tai’s almost always leads to a good time. Grab a late bite to eat off their bar menu with full meals like burgers and fish tacos, or snack on some coconut shrimp or seafood chowder to fuel up before a night on the town. The bar is only open until midnight, but it is right in the middle of Waikiki and accessible to plenty of other bars that are open later.
A popular and cozy spot to enjoy a lively atmosphere with friends, Tchin Tchin is a wine bar located in Chinatown. Up a long flight of stairs off N. Hotel Street, it provides a fresh dose of cool ambiance in an otherwise busy area. No worries if you’re not into wine. They also have an extensive craft cocktail and beer list. Chose to sit either inside at the bar or on the outdoor patio, complete with twinkle lights and a trendy wall of plants. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 5 p.m.-12 a.m.
This is the place to be if you’re looking for that classic club feel — with a unique twist. SKY is located on the 19th floor of a Waikiki high rise with views of the neighborhood’s glittering skyline. One of the (very) few places in Honolulu with an actual dress code, it’s an excellent place to get that mainland club feel, and they’re open until 2 a.m. on Saturdays. They have a VIP section, bottle service and even a 15-person semi-private karaoke room. For the ladies, SKY waives your cover charge every Saturday from 10 p.m.-11 p.m.
You might not expect to find a proper Irish pub in the heart of Waikiki (actually, Honolulu has four!) but Kelley O’Neil’s can indeed hold its own when it comes to perfectly poured Guinness. Even better, Kelleys is one of the few bars that hold the elusive 4 a.m. liquor license. There is live music from 5 p.m.-3:30 a.m. every night so you can dance until the last call. They’re open every day from 11 a.m.-4 a.m.
Grab a cup of coffee or espresso at this Downtown spot during the day — it serves as a cafe in the early daylight hours before switching gears to a nightclub in the evenings. Whiskey-lovers will go nuts over the vast list of different whiskeys on the wall. Manifest is into supporting artists in the community, so local bands love to play here, but on the weekends you’ll often find a live DJ. It may seem small inside, but it’s a great place to dance the night away.
There aren’t many places where you can enjoy clubbing with a live DJ with the ocean steps away. At RumFire inside the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel, the bar turns into a nightclub on Fridays and Saturdays complete with a packed dance floor and a live DJ. Just be prepared: last call is at 1 a.m.
For a more laid-back feel, head to the Blue Note Hawaii, a local jazz club at the Outrigger Waikiki Hotel. They are open every day of the year with two nightly shows at 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. Don’t fret if you’re not into jazz music; Blue Note has a pretty diverse roster of performers from local reggae to famous comedians. The drinks and food can get a little pricey, and there is a $10 food and beverage minimum per guest, but the venue is unique and the vibe is nothing but fun.
Located on the top floor lanai of the famous Ala Moana Center, Mai Tai Bar is one of the best Honolulu spots for live music and happy hour in town. Enjoy local music every day twice a day at their indoor/outdoor bar, from 4 p.m.-7 p.m. and again from 9:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. What’s more, they offer a late night happy hour each evening from 8 p.m.-11 p.m. with signature cocktails, wine and beer. From 4 p.m.-7 p.m. they have a $6 pupu special with five different items to choose from including pulled pork sliders and ceviche.
Bar 35 has been tucked away in the streets of Chinatowns since 2005. They have daily drink specials, live music and DJ’s, and areas to dance or hang out both inside and outside until 2 a.m. (except for Sundays when they’re closed). Even though it has several different areas to sit and lounge when events like First Friday roll around this place gets packed (in a good way). Order one of their flatbread pizzas to pair with your drink — they’re delicious.
NextDoor is an underground-style artsy music venue and bar in the Downtown area. Red brick walls and an old-school feel make this spot unique. It’s on the smaller side as far as live music venues go, but that only adds to the charm. For bigger shows, they even bust out a 40-foot theater screen so everyone can enjoy. Upstairs you’ll find a separate VIP area and loft that can be rented out for private parties or events. They’re open Wednesday-Saturday from 8 p.m.-2 a.m.
Chinatown’s premier gay bar for great DJ’s and drag shows, Scarlet is a favorite for locals when it comes to dancing! It’s separated into two different parts, a more laid-back portion with a smaller stage and dance floor in the front, and a bigger dance area in the back. There’s a fun atmosphere no matter which part of the venue you end up in. The club is only open on Fridays and Saturdays until 2 a.m.
On the other side of the spectrum, Bar Leather Apron is perfect for a trendy date night with a comfortable atmosphere. This space is all about the cocktails, and they have one of the best (if not the best) whiskey selections on the island. If you’re curious about Japanese whiskey, Bar Leather Apron is the perfect place to try it — they have several versions of highballs on the menu. It is located close to the Honolulu financial district, and open Tuesdays-Saturdays from 5 p.m.-12 a.m.