Island Tunes

Vacation for many translates as a tropical beverage, warm trade winds and local music. Luckily these are in abundance in Waikiki. We’ve asked a curator of Honolulu’s nightlife culture, Lance Rae, for some tips on finding local music.

The lobby of the Kahala Hotel and Resort has been a glitterati gathering spot for more than five decades. On Sundays and Mondays, the Veranda, with indoor and outdoor seating, features renowned Hawaiian musicians such as Cory Oliveros Duo and the Puuhonua Duo. Tuesday through Saturday, David Swanson plays jazz. No cover, and parking is validated for up to four hours with a $50 purchase.

Halekulani House of Keys features nightly hula and live music. The good news is there are no reservations, and the bad news for big groups is there are no reservations. But take your chances; there is always a place to sit and enjoy the world-famous view of Diamond Head, watch the dancers and enjoy Hawaiian music. Looking for jazz? Head to the on-site Lewers Lounge.

Topping many lists is the Kani Ka Pila Grille at Outrigger Reef, featuring first-rate local performers in a casual outdoor setting. Depending on the night, one might see award-winning musicians such as Cyril Pahinui, Kawika Kahiapo and Martin Pahinui. The name Kani Ka Pila means to make music, and this happens nightly from 6 to 9 p.m.

For more on nightlife, check out his picks on


Mimi Towle

Mimi Towle has been the editor of Marin Magazine for over a decade. She lived with her family in Sycamore Park and Strawberry and thoroughly enjoyed raising two daughters in the mayhem of Marin’s youth sports; soccer, swim, volleyball, ballet, hip hop, gymnastics and many many hours spent at Miwok Stables. Her community involvements include volunteering at her daughter’s schools, coaching soccer and volleyball (glorified snack mom), being on the board of both Richardson Bay Audubon Center. Currently residing on a floating home in Sausalito, she enjoys all water activity, including learning how to steer a 6-person canoe for the Tamalpais Outrigger Canoe Club. Born and raised in Hawaii, her fondness for the islands has on occasion made its way into the pages of the magazine.