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Where to See and Be Seen On Oahu



Where are the "happening spots" in Hawaii?  By day, opportunities abound on each of the major islands that cater to almost every inclination and taste.  Come evenings, the nightlife in Hawaii tends to be confined to the major cities (unless your inclination is to lie on the beach under the stars and watch for meteor showers - breathtaking in itself!).

True night owls gravitate toward Oahu's Honolulu and Waikiki, where they'll find lively bars, clubs, concerts, lounges, and gallery openings.

Here are some of the options on Oahu, which is where most flights first arrive and where most visitors spend at least a day or two before traveling to other islands. As always, you will find even more information on


Once a gathering place for Hawaiian royalty, Waikiki Beach in Honolulu is now a gathering place for the world.  Visit Duke's Canoe Club or RumFire in the Sheraton Waikiki for live music and great drinks.  For dinner, take the Sheraton Waikiki elevator up to The Twist at Hanahano for the best view in Waikiki. The Hanohano Room is set 30 floors up and surrounded by glass walls and breathtaking views. It hasn't changed much since the '70s. The nightly live entertainment which starts between 7 and 9 features the same smooth jazz, Hawaiian classics and lounge standards your parents probably danced to.

Waikiki is the new South Beach, so it's fitting that Kevin Aoki (son of Benihana's Rocky Aoki) chose to open his Doraku Sushi here. Located on the top floor of the refurbished Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, this hip spot is often the first stop on a nightlife crawl. Just order up a flight of sake (there are 20 options) or a classic cocktail, and see where the night leads. DJs spin on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays starting around 9.

Zanzabar Nightclub, in the Waikiki Trade Center, is anything but mellow. The $6 million nightspot, with room for nearly 1,000 people, is all dance floor and amped up music. It is cutting edge, open every night, definitely the place to go for mingling, mixing and dancing with the rich and famous.

Squeeze in some shopping at the Waikiki Beach Walk.  Shops like Mana Hawaii and Aloha Army offer unique products you can only find in Hawaii. Or enjoy a late night breakfast at Mac 24/7 in the Hilton Waikiki Prince Kuhio, serving the biggest pancakes in Hawaii.


One of the big names in Honolulu is the Pipeline Cafe, a coveted spot for big names in music - both local and national acts. Pipeline has hosted the likes of the Black Eyed Peas, Evanescence, Pennywise and Ziggy Marley. If there isn't a concert, there's always something else going on. The main bar is usually the most laid-back spot in the building, even during a concert. It's located at 905 Pohukaina St. and evening hours run from 10 to early morning, however the Sports Bar is open during the day.

If you want to be really trendy, then follow the Supper Club parties thrown by a company called F&M.  Every first and third Saturday of the month they are throwing a party at Aria, a new swanky restaurant on the third floor of Century Center (1750 Kalakaua Ave). This is how they describe it: "A very high end lounge for a very exclusive, sophisticated crowd that appreciates an intimate setting for good times without the craziness of a nightclub and the nightclub crowd (not that there's anything wrong with that!)." Occasionally they throw parties at other venues, including the Hanohano Room.

Other choices include the Green Room at Indigo, Anna Bannana's, Brew Moon, Kelley O'Neil's, the Mai Tai Bar, Venus Nightclub, Chai's Island Bistro, the Visions Bar & Nighclub, the Lotus Soundbar and the Level 4 Night Club & Ultralounge. Many of these are located on busy Kalakaua and Kuhio avenues.

Kapahulu Avenue is where the locals eat, with eateries featuring an eclectic menu of foods from Hawaiian plate lunches to gourmet burgers.

To see Hawaii's finest collection of art, visit the Honolulu Academy of Arts.  Every last Friday of the month, mix a little art with your nightlife at the Academy's ArtafterDark. 


Honolulu's Chinatown (which extends east-west from River Street to Richard Street and north-south between Beretania and King Streets) can be enjoyed either by day or by night.  The urban lofts and historic buildings of Chinatown feature fine art galleries, unique restaurants and Hawaii's hippest bars.

By day, Chinatown is a loud, bustling, pungent open market - by night, it's populated by young hipsters who seem more Tokyo or New York than Honolulu. The center of the scene is the Thirtyninehotel club/arts center co-founded by world-famous DJ Harvey, where fashionistas dance in the gallery and mingle outside on the open-air deck. Entry fees vary, but are usually under $20; the cheapest nights are Tuesdays, when a live jazz quartet plays.

On the first Friday of each month from 5 to 10. Chinatown turns into an arty street party. Participating stores, galleries, performance spaces, restaurants, and bars leave their doors wide open for throngs of people who come to schmooze, socialize, see and be seen - and, of course, shop. Crowds spill out onto the streets and make the rounds, sipping free wine and scouting for designer home decor at Sourcing Asia and INTO, "recycled art by unknown talents" at Daspace on Smith Street, and "outsider art" at the "Got Art?" gallery on Nuuanu Avenue.

Those wanting to buy contemporary but still-affordable Hawaiian artworks should stop by the Louis Pohl Gallery, and wine collectors shouldn't miss the HASR Wine Co., a funky little shop run by enthusiastic wine nerds with some surprising selections (perfect for BYOB meals in the 'hood). For more on Chinatown, Click Here.

For the latest scoop on shows, clubs, and music, ask your favorite bartender or the concierge at your hotel. Whatever your choice, you are guaranteed not to leave Hawaii disappointed and you will surely enjoy some fun that will forever remain in your memories.  For more information, Click Here.

Remember, information on these topics and many, many more is available on, your source for everything Hawaii!

*** is the Internet's all-inclusive website for travel to, from and around the islands of Hawaii. It offers visitors unmatched ease in booking the perfect dream vacation: from airline tickets to lodging, car rentals to tee times, dining to snorkeling, leis to aloha shirts, anything to everything.  If it's in Hawaii, it's on! is owned by Gannett Co., publishers of USA Today, and Stephens Interactive, is a registered seller of travel in the State of Hawaii (No. 5832), and is an accredited International Air Transport Association accredited travel agency. ***

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