Oahu, often referred to as "The Gathering Place," is not just a melting pot of cultures, but also a fusion of the vibrant energy of city life and the laid-back vibes of island living. When it comes to the gay and lgbtq+ scene, Oahu is a shimmering gem in the Pacific. Honolulu, the island's capital, is the epicenter of all the action. Waikiki, in particular, is home to Hula's Bar & Lei Stand, a legendary gay bar known for its beach views and pulsating nightlife. Just a stone's throw away, Wang Chung's offers a more intimate setting with its karaoke nights, drawing both locals and tourists alike.
But it's not just about the bars. Oahu's lgbtq+ community is tight-knit, supportive, and active. Throughout the year, various events, such as the Honolulu Pride Parade and Festival, bring together people from all walks of life to celebrate love, diversity, and acceptance. The Rainbow Film Festival, held annually, showcases lgbtq+-themed films, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of queer stories.
Beyond the events, the spirit of aloha is deeply ingrained in the local culture. This means that whether you're at a secluded beach in the North Shore or a bustling market in downtown Honolulu, the warmth and acceptance of the Hawaiian people make every lgbtq+ traveler feel right at home.
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Here are some O'ahu's gay events and hotspots:
- Hawai’i Island lgbtq+Q Pride: Hawai’i Island lgbtq+Q Pride is a significant event that celebrates the lgbtq+Q community on the Big Island. The organization hosts various events throughout the year, with their main focus being an annual gathering that brings together the diverse Big Island community in a fun and casual setting. The Pride Parade and Festival are notable highlights, with the most recent one held on June 25th.
- Kona Pride Inc: Kona Pride Inc. is another significant event in the Hawaiian lgbtq+Q community. The event was held from September 16th to 18th in 2022 and was described as "epic." They also hosted a special event featuring Lady Bunny at Ola Brew.
- Brunch and a Show! at Proof Social Club: Proof Social Club, 1154 Fort Street Mall #10, Honolulu, HI 96813: This unique event combined the world of puppetry with drag performances. Attendees were encouraged to get in touch with their inner creative side and enjoy a drag brunch like no other. The event promised humor, creativity, and of course, drag performances with a twist.
- Hula's Beach Club: For those seeking a gay-friendly beach experience, Hula's Beach Club is the place to go. Situated in Waikiki, this beachfront bar offers a unique blend of bar and beach vibes. Visitors can relax on the sandy shores, sip tropical drinks, and enjoy the breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. It's an ideal spot to soak up the sun and socialize.
- Drag Shows and Entertainment: O'ahu features a thriving drag scene with regular performances and events. Various venues across the island host drag shows, offering an entertaining and glamorous experience for audiences. These shows often showcase local talent and occasionally welcome renowned drag performers from around the world.
Here are some popular gay hotspots on the island:
Here is a list of gay-friendly hotels in O'ahu:
- Waikiki: Waikiki is the main tourist district in Honolulu, the capital of O'ahu. It offers a range of gay-friendly bars, clubs, and venues. Hula's Bar and Lei Stand is a renowned gay bar and nightclub located in the heart of Waikiki, offering a lively atmosphere, delicious cocktails, and breathtaking views of Diamond Head.
- Bacchus Waikiki: Another popular gay bar in Waikiki, Bacchus Waikiki is known for its friendly and welcoming atmosphere. It features a full-service bar, regular live entertainment, and a spacious outdoor lanai, perfect for socializing with friends and meeting new people.
- Scarlet Honolulu: Located in downtown Honolulu, Scarlet Honolulu is a chic nightclub catering to the lgbtq+Q+ community. It offers a trendy ambiance, state-of-the-art sound systems, and hosts regular drag shows and themed events. The club attracts a diverse crowd and guarantees an enjoyable night out.
- Hula's Bar and Lei Stand: As mentioned earlier, Hula's Bar and Lei Stand is a popular gay bar located in the Waikiki district. Besides being a lively bar, it also offers delicious food options, making it a great spot for happy hour or a casual dining experience.
- In-Between Waikiki: Situated near Waikiki, In-Between Waikiki is a popular karaoke bar that attracts both locals and tourists. It provides a fun and welcoming atmosphere where you can enjoy singing your favorite tunes and socializing with a diverse crowd.
- Fusion Waikiki: Fusion Waikiki is a nightclub and bar that hosts regular drag shows, live performances, and themed events. It offers a dynamic and inclusive environment for the lgbtq+Q+ community, showcasing local talent and creating an unforgettable nightlife experience.
- Hula's Bar and Lei Stand Sunset Catamaran Cruise: For a unique gay experience on O'ahu, you can join the Hula's Bar and Lei Stand Sunset Catamaran Cruise. This cruise takes you on a picturesque journey along the coast, providing stunning views of the sunset while enjoying cocktails and mingling with fellow lgbtq+Q+ travelers.
- The Laylow, Autograph Collection (Gay-Friendly): Located in Waikiki, The Laylow offers stylish accommodations with a retro-chic vibe. Enjoy the tropical outdoor pool, vibrant lobby bar, and easy access to the beach. Check Availability and Prices: Booking.com link
- 'Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach (Gay-Friendly): A luxurious resort located directly across from Waikiki Beach. Indulge in the infinity pool, world-class dining, and the rejuvenating spa. The modern rooms offer stunning ocean or city views. Check Availability and Prices: Booking.com link
- Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa (Gay-Friendly): This beachfront hotel features spacious rooms, multiple dining options, and a full-service spa. Relax by the pool, take part in cultural activities, and enjoy direct access to Waikiki Beach. Check Availability and Prices: Booking.com link
- Wyndham Vacation Resorts Royal Garden at Waikiki - Situated in Honolulu, this resort provides a serene environment with modern amenities. Booking.com link
- Sheraton Waikiki - A beachfront property in Honolulu, this hotel offers a blend of luxury and comfort. Booking.com link
What to do?
- Waikiki Beach: Located in Honolulu, Waikiki Beach is one of the most famous and iconic beaches in the world. Its golden sand, crystal-clear waters, and breathtaking views of Diamond Head make it a must-visit destination. The beach is lined with luxurious resorts, high-end shops, and world-class restaurants, offering a perfect blend of relaxation and entertainment.
- Pearl Harbor: A historically significant site, Pearl Harbor is home to the USS Arizona Memorial and the Battleship Missouri Memorial. Visitors can explore the exhibits and museums, paying tribute to the events of December 7, 1941, when the United States entered World War II. It provides a somber yet educational experience, highlighting the sacrifices made during the war.
- Diamond Head State Monument: Situated on the southeastern coast of O'ahu, Diamond Head is an extinct volcanic crater offering stunning panoramic views of Honolulu and the Pacific Ocean. Visitors can hike up to the summit through a well-maintained trail, enjoying breathtaking vistas along the way. The trail is moderately challenging but suitable for most fitness levels
- Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve: Hanauma Bay is a protected marine sanctuary renowned for its snorkeling and underwater beauty. The bay is teeming with vibrant coral reefs and a wide variety of marine life, including tropical fish, sea turtles, and even dolphins. Snorkelers can rent equipment on-site and explore the crystal-clear waters to witness the incredible biodiversity of the area.
- North Shore: O'ahu's North Shore is a legendary destination for surfers around the globe. During the winter months, massive waves roll in, attracting professional surfers who take on the famous breaks such as Pipeline and Sunset Beach. Even if you're not a surfer, watching the surf competitions and soaking in the laid-back atmosphere is an unforgettable experience.
- Polynesian Cultural Center: Located in Laie, the Polynesian Cultural Center offers visitors an immersive journey into the diverse cultures of Polynesia. With interactive exhibits, traditional performances, and hands-on activities, guests can learn about the rich heritage of the region. The center also hosts an authentic luau feast and an evening show that showcases the vibrant dances and music of the Pacific.
- Kualoa Ranch: This 4,000-acre private nature reserve on the eastern side of O'ahu is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. The ranch offers a variety of activities, including horseback riding, ATV tours, and movie site tours. Many Hollywood films and TV shows have been filmed here, and visitors can explore iconic locations such as Jurassic Valley and the beach from "Lost."
- Makapu'u Point Lighthouse Trail: Located on the southeastern tip of the island, this scenic hiking trail provides breathtaking views of the coastline and the offshore islets. The trail is paved and relatively easy, making it accessible to most visitors. At the end of the trail, you'll find the historic Makapu'u Lighthouse, which has been guiding ships since 1909.