Kalakaua Avenue, Waikiki’s main street, offers all kinds of music to enjoy, from street performers to local bands. Make a night of it by stopping into several places where you can sample the bartender’s specials along with live tunes. Or check out the Mai Tai Bar, located in Hawaii’s largest open-air shopping mall, the Ala Moana Center, a hopping joint that features popular island music. Honolulu’s Blaisdell Arena and Concert Hall as well as the Republik, are the place to see world-renowned touring bands.
When most people think of Hawaiian music, they probably conjure the strains of a ukulele playing Aloha Oe, but there’s much more the music scene here. There are streets in Honolulu and Hilo where jazz and rock venues give New Orleans a run for its money as a live music destination.
Large concert venues on each island play host to world-renowned touring performers. And anywhere you find a crowd, you’re sure to run into several buskers—musicians who make their living playing music on the street. For those who want to experience traditional island musical traditions you can’t beat a luau.
If you’re in Maui, head south to Lahaina, where Front Street offers a variety of live music stops, at friendly places like The Dirty Monkey, Kimo’s and Cheeseburger in Paradise.
On the Big Island, check out the Historic Kailua Village for a variety of hot spots, as well as the restaurants on Alii Drive like Huggo’s and Humpy’s, where you’ll find all kinds of great local bands. Waimea’s Kahilu Theatre and downtown Hilo’s Palace Theater feature headliners from around the globe.
Kauai’s Hanalei Family Community Center in Hanalei Town is a one-of- a-kind experience where you can attend slack key guitar and ukulele events. There’s no better place to experience Hawaii’s traditional hula music—and dancing—than a luau. Every island offers several options for luaus; pick the one that fits your schedule and budget best.
If you’re planning on attending any of the larger concert venues, plan and buy tickets in advance. These shows typically sell out weeks ahead of time.
If you want to experience a luau, do your research. Not all luaus are created equal so you want to make sure you find one that gets great reviews. Yelp anyone?
When in doubt about which live venue to explore, ask our local Hotel staff. They know the islands better than anyone.
“Live music in Hawaii is much more than the ukulele. You can hear genres like jazz and classic rock every night of the week.”