Honolulu has a thriving live music scene, with a new jazz club popping up around every corner. Talented musicians from all over the world come to play here in this island paradise, where music is an inherent part of the culture. Almost everywhere you look there’s someone belting out a tune or strumming an instrument. If you’re looking for a musical night out with your loved one, look no further than these noteworthy venues, where the music does all the talking.
53 by the Sea
The grand marble staircase at the entrance to 53 by the Sea, a five-star restaurant, makes you feel as if you’re attending a private dinner with royalty. Walking in, the windows open up to the ocean as you smell the fresh breeze. If you wish to skip the seafood tonight, there are other options to peruse, like the juicy filet mignon in a red wine reduction and fettuccine salsiccia with Italian sausage, mushrooms, and Grana Padano. By the first course, you’re swaying to the live music coming from the Fazioli piano, guitar, and ukulele.
Hidden away at Oahu’s five-star Halekulani hotel on Lewers Street is the city’s premier jazz club with a fantastic cocktail program. Right next door to Honolulu’s other best restaurants, Orchids and La Mer, Lewers Lounge hosts all the major jazz acts like legendary jazz trumpeter Eddie Henderson. The intimate space, with sumptuous leather chairs and dark wood accents, feels as if you hopped on a plane to New York and happened into the swankiest of joints in the city. Only Hawaii-inspired cocktails, like the ginger lychee caipiroska and the signature mai tais, keep you grounded. Besides, you won’t dare miss the chance to see celebrated Hawaiian musicians like Rocky Holmes and Maggie Herron.
Blue Note Hawaii
The newest jazz club on the scene is steadily gaining momentum as the city’s go-to spot for world-class performances, including those by jazz icons Kenny G, Sarah Vaughan, Lionel Hampton, and Ray Brown. You expect, and get, only the best in live music entertainment and service from Blue Note Hawaii. You reserve one of the booths in the large 9,000 square-foot facility, order some hors-d’oeuvres, and start in on a bottle of their finest wine. With great food, and even better entertainment, the overall experience has you on a high note by intermission.
Jazz Minds Art & Café
Young Hae Yi opened the Jazz Minds Arts & Cafe, a Honolulu landmark, in 2005, and until recently it was the only dedicated live jazz venue on the island. Today, it remains a low-key jazz club where you enjoy a full service bar, a variety of pupus (appetizers), and delicious entrees like chopped steak and garlic shrimp. While you dine, talented jazz musicians fill the space with smooth, sultry grooves. You relax and unwind with your loved one. This is not your average date night.
For fans of the iconic Kahala Hotel & Resort, the Veranda remains of the city’s best kept secrets. Located right at the entrance to the hotel at the shady upper terrace, it’s known for its afternoon tea. But once the sun goes down, jazz musicians rock the house. A vibrantly sophisticated crowd mixes you up with local jazz enthusiasts. Conversation flows freely among your hand-crafted cocktails and wonderful meal options, including red wine and maple syrup teriyaki prawns, sous vide capon, and grilled New York steak. You think it’s a quieter alternative to a non-stop club, so you grab a seat outside on a lounge chair and enjoy the cool Hawaiian breeze.