Most visitors to Maui are looking to escape the busy nature and stress of everyday life. However, many still appreciate planned busyness and enjoy regular visits to local taverns. If you are a night owl traveling to the Valley Isle, fear not. You don’t have to take a break from tearing up the dance floor or indulging in your daily nightcap.
Though smaller than most cities’ nightlife scenes, that on Maui is fairly impressive, given the small size of the Island. With a wide variety of places to choose from – from an authentic Irish pub with live Irish music nightly to a rowdy local water hole where locals go to watch the game to a swanky, upscale martini lounge, you are sure to find your niche. You might even build up the courage to try someplace outside your comfort zone. You are on vacation after all. If not now, when?
The nighttime crowds, including a large percentage of locals, are interested in far more than simply visiting tiki-style huts and sipping mai tais on a beach (thought these are also great options). Plenty of places offer a beautiful view of the Pacific, so you don’t even have to get your toes sandy unless you want to. No matter where you choose, you will end your night happily with these selections from our own travels in the Islands.
This isn’t just a run-of-the-mill beach lounge for tourists. It’s actually an established watering hole frequented by locals every day of the week. Perhaps it’s the “come as you are” atmosphere of the place, or the pool tables and foosball tables, but this place seems to appeal everyone looking for a casual yet lively outing. Of course, the $5 lunch specials don’t hurt either. The food is basic bar fare, but the inexpensive price evens out the score.
The novelty of its jumbo-size drinks (think 32oz. mai tai for $6 each during happy hour) makes it twice as difficult to say no to this place. Plus, it’s location right across from the beach make it especially convenient after a long day soaking up the sun.
Local Expert tip: Be sure to check their entertainment schedule. They have everything from live reggae bands to open mic nights.
In the midst of local and touristy bars, Ambrosia Martinia Lounge is a unique nightspot providing an upscale environment and offering a high-end liquor selection. The full bar includes an extensive wine and beer list, but its specialties, of course, are its martinis. The most popular martini is called the lilikoi lemon drop. A spin on the traditional lemon drop martini, this crowd pleaser is infused with the tangy flavor of lilikoi, or Hawaiian passion fruit. The patrons here are a very diverse bunch, including both locals and tourists looking for a touch of class and an intimate setting for their evening cocktails.
Local Expert tip: Abrosia turns from swanky bar to nightclub after 10pm every night, featuring house music not played at other venues on Maui.
The name of this spot was inspired by a Harlequin Great Dane named Charley, who embodied the aloha spirit. Now a full-blown restaurant and bar in a historic building in Paia, the original juice stand that once claimed this name has come a long way since its opening in 1969. The friendly staff continue to dole out a fresh helping of aloha spirit with every order.
Because of its proximity to Maui’s north shore, where there are waves aplenty, it remains a favorite among surfers, windsurfers, and kiteboarders. Though the restaurant is well-known for it’s breakfast and brunch menu, which includes the world famous pancakes (available with macadamia nuts and coconut syrup), the saloon provides one of the only places in this small, former sugar plantation town to hear live music at night. Willie Nelson is said to be a regular.
Local Expert tip: You might want to check their drink menu online, since their specials change often.
This restaurant has multiple personalities – in a good way. A tasty sushi and seafood restaurant by day, an intimate karaoke lounge by night, this place does both well. Considering the name, it is no wonder. The word “sansei” means “3rd generation” in Japanese, a shout out to the chef owner who is in the third generation of his family from Japan who are now living in Hawaii.
You will see items on the menu unfound at any other sushi place. One of their most popular rolls is the filling and delicious panko-crusted ahi roll. Pair this with a lychee or mango martini to really appreciate the variety of flavors Sansei offers.
Those 21 and over can enjoy “Late Night” specials after 10pm on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, including free karaoke, 50% off food and sushi items, and discounted drinks.
Local Expert tip: The logo, featuring a purple cartoon octopus may imply it’s a kiddie place, but trust me, it’s not.
Right in the middle of busy Front Street in Lahaina, this restaurant and bar makes no attempt to hide the fact that it is trying to be a dive bar and night club all in one. In addition, antique signs and other paraphernalia littering the walls, as well several strategically located TVs and blaring music (often pop and rock) give it a sports-bar-like feel. Perhaps as a result of this myriad of atmospheres, locals and tourists alike are drawn to this place. Daily happy hour promises cheap drinks and basic bar food. A dance floor is ready and waiting for those who feel like dancing off the calories.
Local Expert tip: This is a great place for sports fans to watch the game over a round (or two) of beers.
As the name suggests, the source of pride here is the classic mai tai cocktail. Frequently cited as the best in the Islands, it is a must-try for visitors. The place itself allows patrons to literally rise above the city’s hustle and bustle. Located among the many boutiques in the middle of busy downtown Lahaina, it is the only establishment on Maui that offers rooftop dining.
The ahi rainbow tower, consisting of enough ahi poke (raw, sushi-style tuna) layered with rice, mango, avocado and delicious sauce for two people, is another of its strong points. The menu is a bit on the pricey side, but those looking for a unique place to watch the sunset will think the outing worth it. While lounging on the deck overlooking Lahaina harbor, guests can even see the Neighbor Islands of Lanai and Molokai on a clear day.
Local Expert tip: Be sure to visit the website beforehand to get a printable coupon for a discounted mai tai.
Celtic and Polynesian hospitality merge in this pub on the southern coast of Maui, resulting in a an “Irish aloha” feel all its own and proving that not all great nightlife spots are located in the west. Guinness signs and classic polished woodwork complete the authentic Irish appearance and set the mood for the nightly live Irish music. A live jazz band also plays nightly.
The beautiful ocean views from the lanai remind you that you are, in fact, on a tropical island. Two happy hours (one from 3pm to 6pm and another from 9pm-12am) ensure that, no matter when you visit, you won’t miss out on food and drink specials.
Local Expert tip: Don’t miss the regular dinner show by talented musician Willie K!
Those in the mood to dress up should head to the Alaloa Lounge (formerly the Lobby Lounge). Located in the Ritz-Carlton in Kapalua, the level of class is above that of bars you will find in downtown Kihei or Lahaina. With indoor and outdoor seating available, patrons are free to enjoy live entertainment (Thursday through Monday evenings) or do some whale-watching between the months of December and April.
Choose from a number of specialty cocktails, domestic and imported beers, and top-shelf liquors on the menu and pair it with one of the signature appetizers or desserts. You can also get the fine dining experience at lunch, since the Alaloa Lounge has just introduced a casual lunch menu.
Local Expert tip: Try the Kapalua martini, a special featuring local pineapple, to get into the aloha mood.
Striving to be the most authentic tiki bar on the Island, the heavy stereotypical island decor comes off as a bit kitschy. But don’t let its appearance deter you. The service here is fantastic, and the specialty drinks include a lava flow (think pina colada plus strawberry) made with freshly blended strawberries, rather than a mix. Its version of the mai tai uses two St. Croix Rums, resulting in a unique version of the official drink of the Islands. Its signature tiki cups are available for purchase and are a great item to remember your trip by.
Great for kids during the day, this place is also a late-night favorite of young adults, with a DJ spinning tunes everyday starting at 10pm. Like many places on Maui, the dress code is casual, but you are bound to see women in heels alongside men in shorts and slippers on the dance floor. Monthly art shows held here draw in the artsy crowd.
Local Expert tip: Bring a local friend and enjoy the kama’aina (residents only) happy hour from 11am to 4pm daily.
Those looking to find a real locals’ bar need look no further than this cozy spot. A little dive-ish in appearance, this Kihei cornerstone is known for its laidback atmosphere and friendly clientele. It boasts the longest happy hour (10am to 5pm) in the Islands, with a small pupu, or appetizer, menu.
You can also groove to the sounds of live music (mostly Hawaiian) 7 days a week. Leave your planner at home. Created in the pre-Internet dark ages, this place still does not have a website, perpetuating its no-fuss attitude.
Local Expert tip: You may want to eat before coming here. Lacking a full kitchen, they have only a few simple food items available.