Gorgeous beaches, stunning weather, luxurious resorts, and gay nightlife that makes all the boys go wild – It’s no wonder Gay Honolulu is a hugely popular travel destination for queers wanting to relax in style and escape it all.
Waikiki Beach in Honolulu is one of the world’s most famous playgrounds – by day or by night – and for good reason. Honolulu is found on Oahu, the most populated island in the Hawaiian chain, and while gay life here is more ‘muted’ than the mainland – you are highly unlikely to experience any discrimination especially in Waikiki.
One of the most famous and recognizable beaches in the world – Waikiki Beach is the epicenter of gay culture, nightlife, and hedonism in Hawaii and where the majority of gay travelers to Hawaii opt to stay. Adding to the appeal of a trip to Oahu is the incredible food, friendliness of the Hawaiian people, stunning beach, relaxed nightlife, beautiful people, and yes – that all-round stunning weather. Gay Honolulu has some of the most luxurious properties in the world, although you can expect to pay much more for them than other tropical gay-popular destinations like Gay Phuket and Bali.
Gay Honolulu offers something for everyone: fun nightlife, white sand beaches, beautiful hikes as well as plenty of luxurious hotels and spas – often all within walking distance of Waikiki Beach.
You will be tempted by a plethora of cocktail bars, destination dining, world-class spas, resort pools and luxury shopping malls, but be sure to taste the local cuisine (spam musubi and poke— yum!) explore the quiet side of island life in Oahu by hiring a car and try out the quirky nightlife – or at least one of the popular drag brunches!
Add to this plenty of gay events peppered throughout the year and a tolerant society who embody the ideals of island life and Gay Honolulu has everything you could possibly want, and probably a few things you never ever knew you wanted too!
Are you relocating? This guide will help travelers discover the queerer side of the city. However, if you are lucky enough to be considering a move here, we recommend getting in touch with a local gay realtor. They can happily give you no-obligation advice and all the information you'll ever need to know about your new city. And if you then want their help to find your dream home, you are guaranteed fair, equal, and honest representation. No surprises or awkward conversations necessary!
Gay Honolulu Guide: The Essential Guide To LGBT Travel In Honolulu Hawaii
In this article we will cover...
Gay-friendly Attractions in Honolulu Hawaii
Obviously being gay does not define which attractions most of us will want to see in each destination and most queer travellers will simply want to check out the top things to see in Honolulu during the day! There is so much to do here – but we found our favourite memories were hiring a car and exploring Oahu, dancing til dawn, enjoying cocktails at by luxurious swimming pools or laying on any of Oahu’s gorgeous beaches.
For the record our pick for the best beaches in Oahu were Haleiwa for spring and sea turtles, Waimanalo for it’s serenity and Kailua Beach Park for its clear water (it’s often named America’s Best Beach and Obama loves it too!) – though Queen’s Surf Beach (a sub-section of Waikiki Beach) is the best gay beach in Honolulu.
No matter what your plans in Oahu – it helps to have some kind of idea what is going on, so here are our must-see attractions in Honolulu and Oahu you should not miss (if you can drag yourself away from the Waikiki beach for one day…)
- Hike Diamond Head – One pf the island’s national landmarks. Head here for a day of hiking, sunbathing and exploring including stopping off at the Diamond Head Beach, an “unofficial” gay nude beach.
- Royal Hawaiian Center – Whats a holiday without maxing out the credit card on a shopping spree? This upmarket mall is the place to head if you a big spender with cash-to-splash and a soft spot for international brands. We prefer the beach tho.
- USS Arizona Memorial – Pay your respects at the site commemorating the 1941 Pearl Harbour attack. A moving experience visiting the USS Arizona Memorial, museum & galleries – be sure to book tickets far in advance to avoid missing out.
- Honolulu Museum of Art – One of the most important cultural institution in Hawaii. If you’re flying in from LA you can skip it but honestly we were incredibly impressed with the expansive collection of over 50,000 works and beautiful premise.
- ʻIolani Palace – Marvel at the opulent 19th-century home of Hawaii’s last monarchs which is now open as a museum with tours & exhibits.
- Polynesian Cultural Center – One of the most popular attractions in Hawaii, learn all about Polynesian culture and history including a multisensory film experience showcasing Hawaii’s culture & natural wonders.
- Shangri La – Who knew Hawaii had some of the best Islamic Art in the world but you should head here to view Heiress Doris Duke’s dramatic estate and critically acclaimed Islamic art collection.
- Hanauma Bay – A famous snorkelling spot just out of Honolulu. Its beautiful, but crowded and we recommend instead opting to rent a car and head to any of the quieter snorkelling spots on the North Shore (often complete with turtles).
- Manoa Falls Trail – Escape the beach and head inland on a hike to this 150-foot monster waterfall that is the perfect backdrop for sexy Instagram photos. Feel free to send us your best!
- Go Oahu Card – Admission to 30+ Oahu attractions for one low price. Save up to 55% on top attractions, sightseeing tours & more. If you’re on a budget of plan to see more than 2 main attractions this will save you plenty of cash!
Gay-friendly and Gay Hotels in Honolulu Hawaii
As a world-leader in LGBT tourism, pretty much every hotel and hostel in Honolulu can be considered gay-friendly. After all being gay-friendly is not all about upscale luxury, but about friendly and open service and welcoming everyone with open arms.
Having said that, it completely normal to want to be surrounding by like-minded people, and as such a few hotels in Hawaii have gathered a solid reputation as spots for gay travellers to stay – yes, it seems gays don’t just make trends, we follow them too!
Most hotels in Honolulu are clustered around the Waikiki Beach tourist hub so you can easily walk to all the main sights, but for exploring further afield and all the attractions of Oahu you are going to want to hire a car in Honolulu or figure out its erratic public transport system.
Of course, the following gay-friendly hotels in Honolulu are only the most recommended but there are hundreds of other hotels in Honolulu if you don’t find quite find what you are looking for. Whether you want a fun and social hostel, a cheap but private place to crash after a night of partying or a chic luxury option with a pool to spend the day lying by, Gay Honolulu as something for everyone!
No matter where you choose to stay however it pays to book as far ahead as you can because occupancy rates in Honolulu are extremely high year-round with demand routinely exceeding supply. This trend goes into over-drive during winter and school holidays when good Honolulu hotels are known to sell out months in advance.
- The Royal Hawaiian ☆☆☆☆☆ – Do we even need to say anything more? This historic and luxurious property offers a prime position on Waikiki beach with panoramic views and world-class service. Multiple heated outdoor pools – including one adults only, cabanas, a saltwater plunge pool, and private beach area – plus a spa and sauna. LGBT-friendly and approved (the whole building is even painted pink!) expect to bump into many gay couples here.
- Moana Surfrider ☆☆☆☆☆ – Another gay-popular luxury hotel in Waikiki. First opened in 1901, a recent renovation has brought the Moana Surfrider back up to par and guests enjoy amenities include a spa, a 24-hour gym, an outdoor pool, and direct beach access. We loved the oceanfront afternoon tea, chilled beach bar and swimming in their heavenly pool under the shady banyan tree.
- Halekulani ☆☆☆☆☆ – One of the best hotel in Waikiki with service that is second to none. Live jazz, glorious pools, and a relaxed vibe – all minutes away from bustling Waikiki. You will feel right at home here and fall in love with the Halekulani oceanfront casual terrace dining. Who said you couldn’t have a relaxing holiday and stay in Waikiki!
- The Modern Honolulu ☆☆☆☆ – A extremely popular gay-friendly hotel in Waikiki. We love the hip, contemporary interiors without being over-the-top. 2 pools on property with a trendy bar, Italian linens, free shaved ice and iPads pre-programmed with Hawaiian music and apps are available on request.
- Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort ☆☆☆☆ – Super clean if not a bit dated, the Outrigger Reef in popular thanks to its beachside location, stunning views, and open-air environment. They actually have very great rates compared to other properties in the same category and really know how to treat us queens as true Kamaaina royalty with poolside parties, DJs, yoga, hula classes, plenty of freebies and a heavenly mango pineapple spritzer at check-in.
- Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club ☆☆☆☆ – Newly opened, this contemporary, 10-floor hotel might be a 1 0 minute walk from the beach but its breezy rooms, outdoor pool with cabanas, movie nights and boutique vibes make it a clear winner. Hand-crafted furniture, custom-tile bathroom floors, and eclectic artwork is featured in all rooms and we are living for it honey! This is one place to stay to get real value for money and make everyone hella jealous on Instagram!
- Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa ☆☆☆☆ – A international renown hotel chain supporting the LGBT community. This sprawling resort backs onto Kuhio Beach Park and offers straightforward rooms at affordable prices with plenty of amenities. Miles ahead of your standard Marriott Hotel offerings – they have plenty of deals and know how to make guests feel like a queen!
- Hilton Hawaiian Village ☆☆☆☆ – 2 minutes from the beach, who could pass up the opportunity to stay in the Hilton Rainbow tower or enjoy a firework show every Friday! Spacious, bright rooms with beautiful gardens, expansive pools and exotic animals – perfect for a gay family vacation in Hawaii!
- Castle Waikiki Shore Beachfront Condominiums ☆☆☆ An apartment hotel with rave reviews and location directly on beautiful Waikiki Beach. If you want to cook for yourself, have plenty of space – or have a few friends over for drinks or more in privacy, this is the place!
- Hotel Renew ☆☆☆ – A sleek, chic hotel only one block from the beach. Their ocean view rooms are our favorite(obviously) but it does lack a pool – as do most hotels at this price point in Hawaii. A great option is you want to explore the gay Honolulu scene and are happy with dips into the gorgeous turquoise ocean!
- Vive Hotel Waikiki ☆☆☆ – Another cheap, boutique hotel in Waikiki. Beautiful rooms, great service and only a few minutes to the beach! Why waste money on a hotel room when you’re going to be out exploring all day right?
- Polynesian Hostel Beach Club ☆☆ – If you are really on a budget, don’t mind sharing accommodation and want to have instant friends to go out and explore or party – then the Polynesian Hostel Beach Club is for you! Plenty of beautiful, young people all travelling on a dime and looking for friends and cheap fun. Rave reviews from past travellers make this a great option for solo travellers!
Gay Clubs and Gay Bars in Honolulu Hawaii
Befitting Honolulu’s reputation as one of the gay-friendliest cities in the world, there is a whole host of gay bar and nightclub destination to choose between. Even better, pretty much all of the gar bars in Hawaii lean heavily toward “get drunk and have a good time” rather than the whole “not dressed well enough for our establishment” scene. This is not a place ‘to see and to be seen’ – but rather Honolulu is a city to actually grab a casual beer, strike up a conversation and make new friends…or more!
As an international renown dream holiday destination, the crowds in Honolulu’s gay clubs are typically very mixed between locals and those visiting from the mainland. You will find gay’s here from conservative towns and cities experimenting and experiencing gay life for the first time – but two things that stand out are the friendly aloha spirit and how everyone just want to relax with their ‘ohana’ or family. The gay bars in Honolulu are conveniently centred in the Waikiki tourist district but to visit Honolulu’s only real gay dance club you will need to head into the downtown!
- Scarlet Honolulu – The only real gay dance club in Honolulu with different events most night of the week. The drag shows here are absolutely legendary and the new added Tiki Room gives you a quiet space away from the hopping EDM & pop music on the main floor. Strong drinks, hot dancers and a tacky tiki bar vibe meets frat party. The only gay bar in Honolulu not located around Waikiki, you will have to take a ride-share to the downtown to enjoy this epic gay club!
- Bacchus Waikiki – The best gay bar in Honolulu, we loved the friendly neighbourhood vibes, shirtless nights, drink deals and meeting plenty of people! Away from the resort area but on the Waikiki Lewer’s Party Street, prices are cheaper here, the drinks are strong and served by sexy bar-tenders.Check out their website in advance as they list all prices, daily specials and upcoming events. If you want to experience the Honolulu gay scene you need to head here first!
- Hula’s Bar & Lei Stand – Everybody know Hula’s, it’s a Waikiki icon and a mainstay of the local gay community in Hawaii. Popular in the afternoon and early evening, the view of Diamond Head is spectacular and the Happy Hour specials are still fabulous enough to pull in a huge crowd most days. The food is actually pretty great too, as being able to sip an ice-cold mojito with ocean views – and yes Hula’s gay bar does take reservations. At night it transforms into more of a lounge / nightclub with live music events, cabaret and drag shows. No matter when you visit this famous gay bar in Waikiki you can guarantee plenty of friendly faces and positive energy!
- Wang Chung’s – A cute little gay karaoke bar with a super-friendly crowd which is generally lively but not crowded. A fun neon anime theme goes here but you probably won’t notice as you get table service from the ripped bartenders – yes those abs still show under their tight shirts. The drinks are cheap and non-pretentious but well made, and the atmosphere is rather intoxicating as everyone takes their turn belting out gay anthems and a few blast’s from the past. They also run a fabulous and well-priced Drag Brunch in Waikiki every Sunday which gets insanely good reviews and should not be missed.
- In Between – A small and cosy dive gay bar which makes you feel part of the family the second you walk through the front door. Karaoke is very popular here, but even if it’s not your thing the bartenders here have the best personalities and make up for it – Plus you have not lived until you have heard their rendition of Sia’s Chandelier. Leave your labels at the door, because even though this hidden gem is clearly a gay bar, any fun-loving people – straight or gay – are welcomed here!
- Tapa’s Bar – The only gay restaurant in Waikiki, very quaint and relatively affordable – We love the main bar with it’s open air lanai and tables, and the super friendly and attentive bartenders. The food is fabulous, but it always seems to be pretty quiet in here during the day and populated with locals. I put this down to the general confusion over the name – It’s not a ‘Tapa’s’ bar but a bar owned by a Polynesian named Tapa. Either way come Friday and Saturday night the party atmosphere in here is electric and often standing room only. Complete with go-go boys and a LED fiber optic whip dancer, its guaranteed fun!
Stay safe! Don’t drink and drive. Ride share apps in Honolulu are cheap and easy, so wherever you are staying ditch your car and have some worry-free fun!
Gay Events In Honolulu Hawaii
Honolulu is a city that has plenty of events on every single night of the year catering to both locals and tourists – and therefore you can expect the Gay Honolulu events calendar to be similarly jam-packed. The local Honolulu Pride has been moved to October to spread more events out over the year and help make Honolulu Pride a bigger tourist attraction as more mainland visitors can make it, and it seems to be working!
Hawaii’s LGBT vibrant community ensure there are plenty of other gay events taking place in Hawaii to look out for during the rest of the year – and we have gathered together our favourites and separated them into annual gay events and weekly/ monthly gay events in Hawaii, but the list is by no means comprehensive. People in Hawaii are incredibly social and welcoming so any time you choose to go to Hawaii you are guaranteed to hear about another event, so keep an ear out!
Gay Annual Events In Honolulu Hawaii
- Honolulu Pride 2018 – The biggest LGBT event Hawaii held annually in October – after most mainland Pride’s have taken place in June so everyone can have another round! You can never have too much pride right? More than 20 events are held in the two-week learn up to the glorious and prideful parade with winds a scenic route along Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki. A celebration of love and pride for LGBTQ people, friends, family and supporters – This is one annual gay event in Hawaii not to miss!
- Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival 2018 – A LGBT film festival held annually in March since 1989 to showcase the best gay & lesbian culture, arts, and lifestyle films annually with discussions and panels, plus plenty of social events and exclusive appearances.
- Honolulu AIDS Walk 2018 – A family friendly 5k walk held annually in April starting at Kapiolani Park to raise funds for Life Foundation is the largest provider of HIV-related care and prevention services on the island. Life Foundation is free of charge and no one is ever turned away or refused access to HIV care, treatment, counselling or testing. Last year raised $200,000. A highly social, family friend event with no registration required where everyone is welcome.
- Pride Community Picnic 2018 – Just because Pride is held later does not mean Gay Honolulu forgets national pride month in June. This free gay picnic is a free event in the sun with complimentary food and beverages, good vibes and lots of fun beach games and prizes. A wholesome family picnic in the heart of paradise – there is no excuse not to attend!
- Splash – Held annually in July this LGBTQ Day at Wet ‘n’ Wild Hawaii is a pool party like no other and large crowds as Cutter’s Island is reserved with DJ’s, cocktails and lots of sun-kissed and gorgeous queers!
- LeiBear Day Weekend – An annual 5-day event hosted by The Aloha Bears with pool parties, hiking, catamaran sailing, brunch, beach trips and more. Held annually in August, bears and their admirers fly in from all over the world. If you can’t make this maybe consider the The International Bear Bash in Gay Orlando every September?
Monthly Gay Events In Honolulu Hawaii
- Queer Rock Climbing – Out In The Rocks have been holding sessions every Tuesday since 2015 at Volcanic Rock Gym to have fun and introduce new people to the sports. Periodic events are held otherwise but a great way to make new friends, stay active and be part of the community!
- Bear Booze Cruise – Called all bears, otters, panda’s and any admirers that might love a gentle bear huge. The Aloha Bears Booze Cruise is a monthly gathering out on the calm ocean with cocktails, lunch, great conversation and plenty of shirtless hunks – oh and did we mention there is an open bar!Gay
- Blazing Saddles – Oh hunny! This is the event we live for! A totally all-inclusive country-western dance club hosting tobacco and alcohol free country dancing events most weeks. Insanely fun, and a great way to meet queer locals while enjoying some sexy line dancing, two-step, waltzes and swing dancing. For those who prefer wholesome fun and genuine company rather than the hot and sweaty anonymous grinding of a club – If this is your scene then we suggest considering a trip to Gay Austin as well and their fabulous annual Gay Rodeo!
- Mimosas & Marys Daytime Drag and Burlesque – A monthly Sunday Funday, Daytime Drag and Variety Show at the iconic Hula Gay Bar which is open to all-ages. You can expect multitalented, singing drag queen and comedy shows to liven up your Sunday afternoon with plenty of drink specials – possibly to help stave off that killer hang over from the night before?
- Nudist Days – ManoH or Males au natural of Hawaii hosts various events throughout the year for those who enjoy others company while in the nude. Extremely popular, take a look at their website for upcoming events or get directly in touch as they have wait lists for many nudist events in Hawaii.
Gay Saunas and Gay Bath House in Honolulu Hawaii
Sadly, for one of the best gay beach holiday destinations in the world – There is currently no operating gay bath house in Honolulu Hawaii. Previously there had been Max’s Gym but this gay sauna in Waikiki has closed as of 2015. Where all the closeted republicans and holiday makers who looked forward to some discreet fun in the Aloha State will go now is anyones guess – but I sense a business opportunity for a new gay bathhouse in Honolulu!
The closest gay bathhouse and sauna to Honolulu are now back on the mainland – or you could keep flying to the amazing gay scene in Taipei. Of course there are plenty of gay hook up apps you can try out for a bit of action or for some cruisy fun head to Queen’s Surf – no pun intended – which is covered in gay men on the weekends or weekday afternoon. Otherwise the gay bars and clubs are going to be the next best thing!