Honolulu is on Oahu, the most populous of the Hawaiian chain. More than 75 percent of Hawaiians make their home on this verdant island. The surfing is good at Makapuu and Sandy Beach, along with Waimea, Sunset and Pipeline beaches in the winter. If you prefer, you can snorkel among dolphins and colorful tropical fish in Hanauma Bay.
Hawai'ians surprised Captain Cook's crew in 1779 with their bisexual ways, and King Kamehameha came aboard Cook's ship to travel with his young aikane sexual companion. Writer and poet Charles Warren Stoddard, the "Boy Poet of San Francisco," a one-time secretary to Mark Twain and friend of Walt Whitman, wrote much about his blissful times in the islands, saying he could act out his "nature" in ways he couldn't "even in California, where men are tolerably bold." Missionaries soon began putting a stop to many of the old ways, but as late as 1854 King Kamehameha III had his own aikane.
The island remains a popular destination for gay travelers and has many welcoming guesthouses, shops, restaurants, and bars. The annual Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival screens at the Doris Duke Theatre at the Honolulu Academy of Arts in May. The Honolulu Pride Festival takes place in June.
Honolulu International Airport is 20 minutes from the strip of tourist hotels along Waikiki Beach. Taxis cost $35-40 --look for taxi dispatchers in green shirts at the center median outside the terminal baggage area. You can also try the SpeediShuttle, or the even less inexpensive bus. Bus 19 departs the airport every half hour for Kalihi Kai, then continues to the downtown Honolulu Civic Center, the Ala Moana Shopping Center, and Waikiki.
Hawaiian Airlines is the largest local provider of flights between the islands, or to/from points in North America, Australia and Asia. Go! Airlines is Hawaii's low-price carrier, with flights between the islands at bargain rates.
If you’re staying at the beach, you probably won't need to rent a car; most destinations are an easy walk, or short taxi ride away. However, to explore more of the island a car is convenient, and easily rented at the airport terminal, or at offices in Waikiki. For getting around the city see the Oahu Public Transportation website: TheBus.
For getting around town by pedal power see the Hawaii Bicycling League website. In Waikiki, street bikes can be rented by the day or week for as little as $20-25/day at Hawaiian Style (3 days or more half-price), including helmet, secure lock, maps, pouch, rack and bungie cord. They also rent mopeds and scooters at $35-110/day.
The Bike Shop offers a full range of bicycle equipment, from $20/day for a street bike, to $40-85/day for top performance mountain gear. The Big Kahuna Motorcycle Tours & Rentals also has bikes, motercycles, mopeds and scooters for rent, in central Waikiki.
On and in the water, Waikiki Ocean Club has boat tours, snorkeling, scuba and helmet diving, plus Aqua Quad and kayak rentals. Most hotels also have information on similar services.
Hawaii Gay Travel and Hawaii Gay Tours can help get you around in Oahu, and between here and nearby Big Island, Kauai, and Maui. Pacific Ocean Holidays can arrange gay-friendly package tours, accommodations, and other details throughout the Islands. Adventures in Hawaii also provides flights, tours and lodgings.
The gayest Oahu beach is Queen's Surf Beach, at the Diamond Head end of Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki. A secluded area at the base of the lighthouse, off Diamond Head Road, is another favorite spot.
The North Shore, at the other side of the island, has some of the world's best surfing beaches and a more laid-back atmosphere, along with a variety of restaurants and cafes scattered along Kamehameha Highway. The Vans Triple Crown, the biggest event in the surfer world, takes place in November and December each year, at Haleiwa, Pipeline (Ehukai Beach Park) and Sunset beaches. Local surfers sometimes make puka shell necklaces while they wait for the big waves, to sell to tourists.
Media and resources
Odyssey is the local gay magazine filled with information about the island’s nightlife. Download a pdf of their current or back issues for easy reading.
HG&LCF, the Honolulu Gay & Lesbian Cultural Foundation, produces the Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival, one of the longest-running and well-respected GLBTQ film festivals in the country.
For locations and web links to Honolulu businesses listed below, and more, see our map & listings pages.
Aloha Guest House (84-4780 Mamalahoa Hwy, Captain Cook; 808-328-8955) lovely orchards, fragrant flowers, spectacular views.
Waikiki Beachside Hostel (2556 Lemon; 808-923- 9566) affordable beach lodgings, internet access.
Waikiki Grand Hotel (134 Kapahulu Ave; 808- 923-1814) on the beach, Hula's bar on second floor, reasonable rates.
The Cabana at Waikiki (2551 Cartwright), the gay hotel of many years, sold off their suites as condo units in 2012.
Bars & clubs
Most Honolulu gay nightlife is located around world-famous Waikiki. To this cultural crossroads come all types of people, from US service members to European tourists to visitors from other Pacific islands and Japan.
Bacchus (408 Lewers St), new gay bar/lounge, comfy chairs, good drinks prices.
Blazing Saddles, every Tuesday 6:30-9:30pm at Ala Wai Golf Course Clubhouse Ballroom (404 Kapahulu Ave), line dancing, two-step, waltzes, and swing; food; refreshments, tobacco and alcohol free.
Fusion (2260 Kuhio) gender-bending revues, Saturday strippers, Friday and Saturday with dancing until 4am.
Hula's Bar & Lei Stand (134 Kapahulu Ave) popular after-beach patio, dance club and video cruise bar, sunset views and Thursday through Sunday go-go boys.
In Between (2155 Lauula St) small neighborhood karaoke bar, mixed crowd, casual atmosphere.
LoJax (2256 Kuhio Ave), gay sports bar, nine big video monitors, hip hop vibe, chest & buns contests, sandwiches and finger food. Sunday Breakfast & Football 6-11am. At old Angles space.
Phoenix at Rum Fire (2255 Kalakaua Ave), every last Sunday gay dance party at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel beachfront restaurant and nightclub.
Seven (1344 Kona St), former Venus, mixed young crowd, tight space, gayest Saturdays, midnight shows, after-hours dancing. In same building the V.Lounge has good pizza, late.
Tapas (407 Seaside Ave, 2nd Floor), cool patio, gay-popular restaurant and lounge, good Sunday brunch, music, special parties, Aloha Bears nights.
Wang Chung's (2410 Koa Ave) a friendly, fresh and exotic new karaoke neighborhood bar with Japanese food and drinks.
Fresh fruit, pineapple, papaya, mango, guava, and coconut are a staple here, and these flavors are to be found in every type of dish. Local fish, such as mahimahi and a pink snapper, are too good to pass up. A luau, or outdoor celebration feast, is the best place to sample such traditional Hawaiian foods as baked breadfruit.
See a list of restaurants, with links, at our map & listings tab above. Below are the most popular in the gay community. See Tapas above for Sunday brunch, LoJack for finger foods and sandwiches, and Wang Chung's for Japanese food.
Keo's (2028 Kuhio), celebrated Thai restaurant, nightly specials; meat, seafood, vegetarian, open daily.
La Cucaracha (2310 Kuhio Ave), delicious home-style, authentic Mexican food, music.
Shabu Shabu Bangkok (949 Kapahulu Ave), byob, hot-pot cuisine, seafood, meat, vegetable, noodles, hot and spicy dipping sauces.
Max's Gym (444 Hobron Lane, 4th floor) is the 24-hour men's 18+ recreational space with steam room, sauna, videos, playrooms, sling, and a garden patio.
80% Straight (134 Kalakaua, Suite B) is a favorite gay shop for swimsuits, club wear, T-shirts, books, magazines, videos, and erotica.
Divine Pleasures (55 S Kamehameha Hwy, Wahiawa; Divinepleasures.net), rent, buy or preview male erotic videos; magazines, lubes, toys, theater, open 24 hours - north of Honolulu, center of Oahu.
The Art of Douglas Simonson (808-737-6275) is created here in Hawaii by a local artist who celebrates the beauty of young male Pacific Islanders in paintings, sketches and photographs. See his gallery website in our links.
Over Easy Down Under (2299 Kuhio Ave), best brand active wear, swimwear, underwear, and beach accessories.
Suzie's Secrets (1370 Kapiolani Blvd), 24 hour adult video arcade, DVD sales and rentals, novelties, toys, lubes, leather.
Velvet Video (2155 Lauula St), DVDs, lube, toys, private viewing booths.
Wiki Wiki Flix (1249 Wilder Ave), general release cinema, hard-to-find classics, DVD and Blu-Ray rentals. (Diamond Head Video on Kalakaua is closed).
See our Maui pages for information about Hawaii's second largest, and perhaps most beautiful island.