There’s nothing quite like listening to live Hawaiian music under a star-filled sky on Waikiki Beach. Or at least near a beach. And there’s no better time than the summer months on Oahu, when restaurants, bars and even aquariums host outdoor concerts or nightly jam sessions featuring some of the state’s best — and favorite — local artists. Here are four spots to get your foot tapping this summer:
“Ke Kani O Ke Kai” summer concert series, Waikiki Aquarium
Every summer, the Waikiki Aquarium hosts a series of intimate concerts right at sunset on its oceanfront lawn. The lineup includes award-winning Hawaiian artists (such as John Cruz who performed at President Obama’s 2009 inauguration) paired with local food vendors. Tickets are only $45 with discounts for children and aquarium members, and it includes admission to the aquarium’s exhibits, so you can visit the endangered Hawaiian monk seals in their outdoor habitat or check out the black-tip reef sharks in the aquarium’s indoor shark gallery. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., with performances starting at 7 p.m. Space is limited and you can purchase your tickets online. Up next: Mākaha Sons round out the summer series with a performance on August 8, with food provided by the popular The Counter.
“Wildest Show in Town” summer concert series, Honolulu Zoo
A favorite summer concert series among residents and visitors alike, the “Wildest Show in Town” features 10 concerts, held on Wednesdays at twilight at the Honolulu Zoo, showcasing a variety of musical genres with the nearby Indian elephants and ring-tailed lemurs adding background vocals. Admission is a $3 donation benefiting the zoo, and you can bring in your own picnic blankets, chairs and food. Each week, there will be a drawing for a Kālā soprano ukulele for kids under 12. Gates open at 4:45 p.m., with the hourlong performances starting at 6 p.m. Up next: Rolando Sanchez and Salsa Hawai‘i take the stage on July 24, Nelly and Daniel Baduria on July 31, and Jimmy Borges and his Jazz All-Stars on August 7. Award-winning Hawaiian trio Nā Leo Pilimehana anchors the schedule on August 14.
House Without a Key, Halekūlani Hotel
There’s nothing better than lounging under the century-old kiawe tree at the posh Halekūlani Hotel in Waikiki, sipping on a tropical mojito and enjoying some of the best live Hawaiian music around. This casual dining spot has featured live music nightly for years, making it a beloved tradition at the upscale hotel. Watch the sunset, dine on coconut-crusted shrimp and beef curry puffs, and watch some of Hawaii’s finest hula dancers take the stage fronting the lawn. Up next: House Without a Key features live music nightly, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Don’t miss the Sunset Serenaders — a duet featuring Kanoe Miller dancing hula — who plays on Friday and Saturday nights.
Kani Ka Pila Grille, Outrigger Reef on the Beach
Imagine listening to live music while relaxing poolside in Hawaii, drink in hand. This imagination can be a reality at Kani Ka Pila Grille at the Outrigger Reef on the Beach in Waikiki. In addition to entertainment by some of Hawaii’s best artists such as Weldon Kekauoha and Cyril Pahinui, indulge in the restaurant’s pūpū (appetizer) menu, which features ahi poke, a creamy spinach-artichoke-crab dip, deep-fried calamari, edamame dressed in a shoyu chili sauce, or coconut shrimp served with a sweet orange-chili dipping sauce and pineapple wedges. The music — and menu —are served nightly. Entertainment runs from 6 to 9 p.m. Up next: Award-winning artist Sean Na‘auao plays on Monday nights and popular Mānoa DNA headlines Saturdays.
Photo Courtesy of Halekulani