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Hot Picks for Island Nightlife

Article by Samantha Campos

Whether it's a Cirque du Soleil-style production of Hawaiian mythology or a local hip-hop band with an electric ukulele player, you'll find something entertaining every night of the week on Maui.

Maui Family Vacations

Looking for a hot night out on the town but dubious you'll find it? Don't despair! Maui may not offer as much in the way of nightlife as its neighboring "city isle," Oahu. But Maui's world of music, theater, and dance, is surprisingly eclectic.

Whether you're into checking out "Ulalena," a Cirque du Soleil-style production of Hawaiian mythology, or "Amphibeus Tungs," a local hip-hop band with an electric ukulele player, you'll find something entertaining every night of the week on Maui.

From happy hour to sunset, many bars offer live slack key guitarists in addition to their drink specials. On the Westside, Hula Grill and Leilani's in Kaanapali Beach offer side-by-side, beachfront ambience to accompany the swooning croons of local entertainers like Ernest Puaa, Kawika Lum Lo, and Kilohana. In South Maui, the Tiki Lounge features a rotating lineup of local musicians in folk rock, reggae and rock music.

Most major hotels host luaus, but for a more authentic experience, make a reservation at Old Lahaina Luau. Or, if you'd appreciate a luau that's a bit more intimate, with a menu prepared by local celebrity chef James McDonald (of Pacific'o and I'o), reserve a spot at Feast at Lele.

In for a dinner show that's a bit more off the beaten path? Treat yourself to "Wailea Nights" on Fridays at Mulligan's on the Blue, where acclaimed musicians Eric Gilliom and Barry Flanagan of Hapa talk story and play traditional to contemporary Hawaiian music. Or you can check out the interactive, adults-only magic show at Warren & Annabelle's, while enjoying cocktails and appetizers in their "haunted" piano bar.

If it's dancing you're after, there's sure to be a DJ to fill your need any night of the week, depending on which side of the island you find yourself on. Wednesdays are "Ultra Fab" nights at Bada Bings in Kihei, DJ Durty sets the groove at South Shore Tiki Lounge Thursdays, DJ El Gato spins world beats at Jacques Fridays on the north shore, and on the west side, DJ Blast gets bodies shakin' on Saturdays at Spats Trattoria and DJ Boomshot spins reggae, funk and soul every Thursday night at Paradice Bluz.

Top Seven Friendliest Dive Bars

      1. Sly Mongoose, 1036 Limahana Pl., Lahaina, 808-661-8097
      2. Kahale's Beach Club, 36 Keala Pl., Kihei, 808-875-7711
      3. Henry's Bar & Grill, 41 E. Lipoa St., Kihei, 808-879-2849
      4. Stopwatch Sportsbar & Grill, 1127 Makawao Ave., Makawao, 808-572-1380
      5. Nachos Grande, 3350 L. Honoapiilani Rd., Honokowai, 808-662-0890
      6. Sports Page Bar & Grill, 2411 S. Kihei Rd., Kihei, 808-879-0602
      7. Hang Loose Lounge, 333 Dairy Rd., Kahului, 808-877-6284


The Ideal Lineup:

      • Monday: live rock/funk/Hawaiian with Uncle Willie K at Bada Bing's, Kihei
      • Tuesday: live soul/dance/pop with The New Project at Tips Up Tavern, Kihei
      • Wednesday: Maui Film Festival at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's Castle Theater in Kahului then dancing at Casanova in Makawao
      • Thursday: live reggae with Marty Dread at Charley's, Paia
      • Friday: live jazz at Pacific'o, then dancing with live local band at Longhi's, Lahaina
      • Saturday: live soft rock and soul with Nils and Anastasia at the Four Seasons Resort Wailea Lobby Lounge, then late night karaoke and half-price sushi at Sansei, Kihei
      • Sunday: day of rest? No way! It's time for happy hour at the Blue Lagoon then walk down the block for live reggae and Jamaican-inspired drink specials at Paradice Bluz, Lahaina.


Samantha Campos is the associate editor of Maui Time Weekly, the island's only independent, locally owned, alternative newsweekly. She loves to go out on weeknights, often frequents dive bars, and really, really hates pineapple.