Happy hour: cocktails and pupus in paradise

RumFire at Sheraton WaikikiHappy Hour is a fabulous tradition in Hawai’i. It’s when you get to watch the sun dip below the Pacific horizon while sipping on a tropical concoction and snacking on tasty treats. From Mai Tais and Lava Flows to delicious pupus (Hawaiian appetisers), not only is it a lovely time of day to sit back and celebrate being on holidays, but it’s also when you can enjoy the experience at a reduced price. Yes, Happy Hour specials are a beautiful thing and dining early can mean great savings and put some of the more flashy establishments within your financial reach.

Of course there’s an app for everything these days, and Happy Hour Hawaii is a good one to download for free, but it misses out on the personal info. Below is a selection of some of the places we’ve visited that we think rate a mention, for either their location, unusual cocktail blends, delicious foods, excellent value… or all of the above!

We’d love to add to this list, so feel free to let us know your own suggestions or recommendations.

Hula Grill WaikikiHula Grill Waikiki – 4-6pm oceanfront at the Outrigger Waikiki
This is a longtime favourite with so many visitors and locals alike, and for good reason. During Aloha Hour the Plantation Bar comes to life and you have a selection of draft beers for US$3.75, wines for US$4.75, discounted tropical drinks and an extensive choice of entrees and pupus at reduced prices. The staff are informal but efficient and it’s decked out in local decor. The amount of choice for drinks and food makes this a personal favourite, plus their Mai Tais are served in special tiki glasses – gotta love that. It’s just opposite the International Marketplace, so very central and a great meeting place.

Moana TerraceMoana Terrace – 4-6pm oceanfront at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa
Not a place that as many people know about, but a stunning spot to watch the sun set over the ocean and enjoy a Bartender Special or Tropical Drink for US$6. The staff here have a real professional air about them and are so friendly and accommodating. It’s kinda classy (in a relaxed Waikiki way) though it is also the pool bar, so drinks are served in plastic glasses. Though having said that there is one exception, their signature Moana Mai Tai comes in a fantastic whole pineapple. It’s US$15 and not included in the happy hour discounts, but it’s one of those gotta-go-for-it Hawai’i moments and makes for a fab photo!

La Cucaracha Mexican BarLa Cucaracha Mexican Bar and Grill – 2-6pm 2310 Kuhio Ave (actually on corner of Koa Ave & Uluniu Ave)
Having read some of the Trip Advisor and Yelp reviews, I feel like I was eating in a different place. We’ve dined here several times and the food was always good. You can enjoy a late-ish lunch or early dinner at happy hour prices, which means a selection of beers, snacks and Mexican cocktails with a Hawaiian twist at reduced prices. There’s outdoor seating, a great atmosphere and staff are fun.

Hula's bar and lei standHula’s Bar and Lei Stand – 10am-9pm Monday to Friday, 2nd floor of Waikiki Grand Hotel
Hula’s is very proud to offer one of the longest happy hours in Waikiki, because as they’ll tell you “size does matter”. This bar is a legend amongst the gay set, but also the epitome of “Aloha” and everyone feels welcome. The time of day determines Hula’s personality and in the afternoon it’s an after-the-beach bar with a fantastic view of Diamond Head, serving hand-crafted Mai Tais, Mojitos, drafts and live music most nights. We sampled their new menu and it’s really delicious. There’s a scrumptious selection of pupus for US$10 and under – be sure to try the Mini Reuben Sliders or the Spiced Lotus Chips. The curried cashews for US$1 are to die for!

chart house waikiki guy taiThe Chart House Waikiki – opening-7pm daily, 1765 Ala Moana Boulevard
Tucked away from the hustle of Waikiki, Chart House fronts the marina near the Ilikai. Its happy hour is legendary with locals and a great way to enjoy this high quality restaurant at reduced prices. Don’t be surprised if you see a crowd gathering before opening and it pays to get there early if you want a choice of great seats. The pupu menu is a creative Pacific Rim selection of fresh and tantalising dishes and the drinks, well! The star of the show is their Gai Tai – created by the man himself, Guy has been perfecting his signature cocktail for the past 22 years. The choice of discounted drinks and pupus available during happy hour, plus the friendly staff make this is a real Happy Hour hero.

Giovanni Pastrami happy hourGiovanni Pastrami – 3-6pm Monday to Friday, plus 10pm-12am Sunday to Thursday, 227 Lewers Street
Sure, happy hours are about soaking up the fun end-of-the-day atmosphere, but there also about bargains and that makes Giovanni Pastrami hard to beat. During their afternoon happy hour they generously give out free slices of cheese pizza! For all their happy hours you can get US$5 personal pizzas, buffalo wings and nachos, plus a good selection of discounted drinks. It’s a sports bar too but there’s nothing dingy about it, so you’ve got great food and drinks on tap while you watch the big game!

rumfire at sheraton waikikiRumFire – 4-6pm daily, Sheraton Waikiki
Proving that Waikiki has no shortage of incredible beachfront bars, here’s where you can sit back and enjoy a selection of epic Mai Tais, because as the name suggests – they know their rum! Their Pau Hana drink prices are excellent and they have a delicious selection of pupus to match!

What are your favourite Hawai’i happy hour hangouts? – let us know and we’d love to add them to the list!

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