The former plantation community and now county seat, Lihue is a place where local residents live and work. For action after sunset, music, dancing, and bars, the hotels and resorts are the primary players. There are a few local places, but generally all is quiet in Lihue after dark.
The Kauai Marriott Resort & Beach Club, 3610 Rice St., Nawiliwili (tel. 808/245-5050), has a host of nightlife activities. Kukui's Restaurant has a sunset torch-lighting ceremony on Thursdays. Duke's Barefoot Bar (tel. 808/246-9599) has live traditional and contemporary Hawaiian music on Wednesday through Saturday nights, when tropical drinks go for $6 from 4 to 6pm and Friday from 9 to 11pm, when live music stirs up the joint.
On the other side of Lihue, the Kauai Beach Resort, 4331 Kauai Beach Dr. (tel. 808/245-1955; www.aquaresorts.com), has a dinner theater, which currently is showing Rogers and Hammerstein's South Pacific every Wednesday night. The 3-hour dinner show includes a dinner buffet and the show for $89 for adults and $31 for children ages 6 to 12 (premium seating is $105 for all). Check with the concierge for other musical events at the resort.
If you are looking for a neighborhood bar, Rob's Good Time Grill, in the Rice Shopping Center (tel. 808/246-0311), is a terrific place to have a beer, shoot some pool, watch the big-screen TV, and display your talent at karaoke. This down-home bar is not fancy, with its Formica tables, but the crowd is friendly, and it's a great place to meet local folks.
If you are up for a movie, the Kukui Grove Cinemas, in the Kukui Grove Shopping Center, 4368 Kukui Grove St. (tel. 808/245-5055), features the latest films at prices a lot cheaper than those in a big city.
For arts and culture, local residents flock to the plays put on by the nonprofessional group the Kauai Community Players. Call tel. 808/245-7700 to find out what the latest production is and where it will be performed. It's not Broadway (or off-Broadway), but it is energetic community theater at its best.
Poipu Resort Area
The south shore, with its sunset view and miles of white-sand beaches, is a great place for nightlife. At the far end of Poipu, Stevenson's Library at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa, 1571 Poipu Rd., Koloa (tel. 808/742-1234; www.kauai-hyatt.com), is the place for an elegant after-dinner drink with live jazz Monday to Saturday nights and Hawaiian on Sunday nights, all from 8 to 11pm. Dress in casual resortwear (no tank tops or flip-flops) for this wood-lined bar with comfy, overstuffed chairs. You can be mesmerized by the fish in the big saltwater aquarium, or engage in activities like pool, billiards, or chess. For those so inclined, tickle the ivories on the grand piano. The Hyatt's Seaview Terrace has a torch lighting ceremony followed by Hawaiian entertainment most nights.
Also in Poipu, Keoki's Paradise, in the Poipu Shopping Village, 2360 Kiahuna Plantation Dr. (tel. 808/742-7534), offers live music every night (call for times). The cafe menu is available from 11am to 10:30pm. Hawaiian, reggae, and contemporary music draws the 21-and-over dancing crowd.
The Poipu Shopping Village offers free Tahitian dance performances every Tuesday and Thursday at 5pm in the outdoor courtyard.
Down the street at Sheraton Kauai Resort, 2440 Hoonani Rd. (tel. 808/742-1661), the Point, on the water, is the Poipu hot spot, featuring live music and dancing Friday to Sunday. Musical styles range from contemporary Hawaiian to good ol' rock 'n' roll.
For a romantic evening that will linger in your memory as the highlight of your trip, Capt. Andy's Sailing Adventure (tel. 800/535-0830 or 808/335-6833; www.napali.com) has a Na Pali Sunset Dinner, a 4-hour cruise along the Na Pali Coast, $105 for adults and $80 for kids age 2 to 12 (see website for a discount). Your evening will include commentary on the history and legends of this coast, great views of the island from out at sea (turtles are frequently spotted), live music, and a sumptuous buffet dinner, catered by Mark's Place and 22 North, offering Kauai garden salad served with sunrise papaya-seed dressing, Teriyaki chicken topped with diced pineapple, Pulehu beef with sautéed mushrooms and onions in garlic sauce, kaffir lime and lemon rice pilaf, and pineapple bars for dessert. It's best enjoyed during the calm summer months, May to September, but they do have cruises during the winter as well.
In the old plantation community of Hanapepe, every Friday is Hanapepe Art Night from 6 to 9pm. Each art night is unique. Participating galleries take turns being the weekly "host gallery" offering original performances or demonstrations, which set the theme for that art night. All the galleries are lit up and decked out, giving the town a special atmosphere. Enjoy a stroll down the streets of quaint, historic Hanapepe town and meet the local artists. Also in Hanapepe on Friday night, the Hanapepe Café, 3830 Hanapepe Rd. (tel. 808/335-5011), is open for dinner from 5 to 9pm and has live music.
The Coconut Coast towns of Wailua, Waipouli, and Kapaa offer sunset torch-lighting ceremonies, music, and other evening entertainment, but the real action is in the Coconut Marketplace after dark. Every Wednesday, starting at 5pm, and every Saturday at 1pm, the Coconut Marketplace, 4-484 Kuhio Hwy. (www.coconutmarketplace.com), features a free hula show performed by local residents ranging from the hula troop of tiny dancers who still don't have their permanent teeth, to lithe young women and men gracefully performing this ancient Hawaiian art, to grandmothers who have been dancing for decades.
The Hukilau Lanai Restaurant, in the Kauai Coast Resort, located makai (ocean side) of the Coconut Marketplace (tel. 808/822-0600; www.hukilaukauai.com), features live music every night 6 to 9pm.
If you are just looking for a place to have a drink and wind down, try Pau Hana Bar and Grill, Kauai Village Shopping Center (tel. 808/821-2900).
The North Shore
Kilauea generally rolls up the sidewalks at night, with the exception of the Lighthouse Bistro (tel. 808/828-0480) in the Kong Lung Center, which has live music (from classical guitar to Hawaiian music to African) during dinner nightly.
Hanalei has some action, primarily at Bouchons Hanalei (formerly Sushi & Blues), in Ching Young Village (tel. 808/826-9701; www.bouchonshanalei.com). Reggae, rhythm and blues, rock, and good music by local groups draw dancers and revelers Thursday through Sunday from 7:30pm on. The format changes often here, so call ahead or check the website to see who's playing.
Across the street, Hanalei Gourmet, in the Old Hanalei Schoolhouse, 5-5161 Kuhio Hwy. (tel. 808/826-2524), has live music Wednesday through Sunday nights. Down the road, Tahiti Nui (tel. 808/826-6277) is a great place to "experience" Old Hawaii. Stop by for an exotic drink, and "talk story" with the family of Louise Marston. Louise, who was from Tahiti, has passed away, but she started the talk story tradition. The restaurant/bar is family-friendly, and someone always seems to drop in to sing and play music, just like they used to do in the "old days."
Every week, Ki Hoalu, Slack Key Guitar Music of Hawaii (tel. 808/826-1469; www.alohaplentyhawaii.com) performs at the Hanalei Community Center, usually Fridays at 4pm and Sundays at 3pm. In addition to old-style slack-key guitar, they also feature stories and legends of Hawaii. Cost is $20 for adults and $15 for seniors and children.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.