Local nightlife is more suited to moonlight strolls than late-night partying, but if you’re simply searching for live Hawaiian music, you’re in luck. Most nights virtually every hotel lounge presents a slack key guitarist singing Hawaiian mele, while many off-resort restaurants offer live Hawaiian music and other genres Thursday to Saturday.
Of the resort nightspots, Duke’s Barefoot Bar (www.dukeskauai.com; 808/246-9599), inside the Kauai Marriott Resort, has long drawn a crowd of visitors and locals, especially at pau hana (end of work) on Friday. The downstairs bar has live Hawaiian music Thursday through Monday 4 to 6pm, and Friday and Saturday 8:30 to 10:30pm.
The appetizers are tastier and the music more varied at the lounge of Hukilau Lanai (www.hukilaukauai.com; 808/822-0600) inside the Kauai Coast Resort at the Beachboy, 520 Aleka Loop, Kapaa; top musicians playing Hawaiian, jazz, country, and blues perform Tuesday through Sunday from 6 to 9pm. The Grand Hyatt (www.grandhyattkauai.com; 808/741-1234) presents contemporary island music from 8:30 to 11pm nightly at Stevenson’s Library, a book-lined lounge and sushi bar; the Hyatt’s Seaview Terrace offers live Hawaiian music from 5 to 8pm nightly, along with sunset views.
You’ll meet more locals—and pay a good deal less for your drinks—by leaving the resorts. Here are highlights from around the island:
East Side—A combination sports bar, family restaurant, and nightclub, Rob’s Good Times Grill, in the Rice Shopping Center, 4303 Rice St., Lihue (www.kauaisportsbarandgrill.com; 808/246-0311), bustles with live music Tuesday through Friday and DJs for club dancing Friday and Saturday 10pm to 2am. Mahiko Lounge, the vintage living room of the Kilohana Plantation mansion, mauka side of Kaumualii Hwy. in Lihue (www.kilohanakauai.com; 808/245-5608), makes artisan cocktails, served with live jazz 7–10pm Friday and $5 happy-hour specials (Mon–Sat 4–5:30pm). In Kapaa, Trees Lounge, 440 Aleka Place (www.treesloungekauai.com; 808/823-0600) showcases island music from 6pm nightly Mon–Sat. The first Saturday of the month, Old Kapaa Town’s party-like Art Walk includes live music from 5 to 9pm.
North Shore—Tiki Iniki (www.tikiiniki.com; 808/431-4242), tucked behind Ace Hardware in Princeville Center, is a cheeky tiki bar/restaurant owned by Michele Rundgren and her rock-musician husband, Todd. Opened in 1963, Tahiti Nui, 5-5134 Kuhio Hwy., Hanalei (www.thenui.com; 808/826-6277), morphs from a kid-friendly restaurant into a locals’ lounge with nightly live music at 6:30pm. In the Old Hanalei Schoolhouse, Hanalei Gourmet, 5–5161 Kuhio Hwy. (www.hanaleigourmet.com; 808/826-2524), cranks up live music at 6pm Sun and 8pm Wed. The Kilauea Night Market, from 4 to 8pm the last Saturday of the month at Anaina Hou Community Park, percolates with live music, food, and art vendors.
South Shore—Keoki’s Paradise, a popular restaurant in Poipu Shopping Village (www.keokisparadise.com; 808/742-7534), offers nightly live music in its dining room and on Fridays in its Bamboo Bar. The Shops at Kukuiula (http://theshopsatkukuiula.com) hosts a kani kapila (jam) from 6:30 to 8:30pm Friday, plus live music and vendors at the Kukuiula Art Walk, 6 to 9pm the second Saturday of the month. Don’t miss island icon Larry Rivera Sundays at Koloa’s Garden Island Grille, which features music nightly from 6 to 8pm.
West Side—The tutu (granddaddy) of local art events, the Hanapepe Friday Night Festival and Art Walk (www.hanapepe.org) features food trucks and live music every Friday from 6 to 9pm along Hanapepe Road.
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.