Driving & Discovering Hawaii: Gay Oahu

Waikiki travel deals, great prices, Oahu’s top gay beaches. and the tastiest bargain eats that Hawaii’s Capitol Island of Oahu has to offer the LGBT traveler.

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Gay Hawaii Honolulu, your insider LGBT travel guide to the island of Oahu, from budget to deluxe. Trendy restaurants, stunning empty romantic beaches, gay friendly accommodations, the hottest bars and dance clubs, limitless shopping, great travel prices, and awesome sightseeing.

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Oahu has more beaches than any other Hawaii island. The Premier Gay Beach on Oahu is Queen’s Surf in Waikiki, located in Kapiolani Park, just east/Diamond Head of Waikiki’s concrete ghetto. Queen’s Surf is a gorgeous narrow lifeguarded beach with good facilities, including a good snack bar with shaded tables, changing rooms and showers. Weekends are best, when legions of gay men and lesbians descend on the huge shaded lawn area and inviting sandy beach to swim, sun, socialize, snooze and score, with their friends, their kids, or solo.

Further west, in front of the classic pink Royal Hawaiian Hotel, is Dig Me Beach, long the mecca for those who love to be admired, and for bi-curious surfers looking to score. When you’ve has enough sun you can seek shade at the renowned Mai Tai Bar where you can lay back and enjoy the lively beach action while laying on a buzz on at the same time.

Alternately, Diamond Head Beach, further east below Diamond Head Lighthouse, the narrow beach to the right as you descend the asphalt path is the gay area.

However, this entire length beach is a delight, chock-full of gorgeous male and female windsurfers, surfers, and gawkers. At the left end of this sandy expanse, which for convenience we will inclusively call Diamond Head Beach, is the famed abode of heiress Doris Duke, where she entertained her paramour, Hawaiian Olympic champion and surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku. Shangri-la is open for tours.

You can park roadside after passing the lighthouse, and descend the steep paved path. You will notice as you drive here along Diamond Head Road there are endless numbers of lithe glistening joggers and lots of teens and young people who come here to park, socialize, and watch the windsurfers from this elevated perch. You can avoid the steep walk down the path by keeping a keen eye out for Beach Street as you drive uphill on Diamond Head Road toward the Lighthouse. Only the lucky find parking on Beach St., but you’ll be at the westernmost end of the gay section of Diamond Head Beach if you do. The photo here of DH Beach was taken from halfway down Beach St. The superior part of the beach is just around the bend in this shot.

Goat Island’s Mokuauia Beach isn’t a gay beach per se, but it’s phenomenal beauty and blessed isolation —it’s located on an island offshore of Cooke’s Point (in Malaekahana Beach Park) —attracts those with a deserted-island mentality. You can wade here from Cooke’s Point at low tide, but its safer if you paddle over a boogie board, surfboard, raft or kayak. There are three beaches on little Goat Island. The popular surfer’s beach is to the right as you approach, and South-Seas Fantasy Mokuauia Beach is to the left, it’s azure waters and white sandy beach protected from the open ocean, making swimming idyllic.

Other great Oahu beaches renowned for people-watching include Sandy Beach, President Obama’s favorite, which attracts hordes of teens on weekends who come to challenge the dangerous bodysurfing waves. On the north shore, Sunset Beach, even though it has no facilities, is a world-renowned favorite of both beachgoers and surfers. The sand is spectacular here, as it consists of a deep, soft blanket of ground seashells, so it does not feel like or stick to you like gritty beach sand. In winter, the surf is wild and dangerous; in summer, it’s a bucolic pond.

Makaha Beach, way over on Oahu’s leeward side, is another fun people-watching beach that attracts surfers, teens, and military. It is very wide, with a steep shorebreak and terrific bodysurfing waves, and water as clear as glass. Additionally, the superior quality beaches to the north of Makaha are deserted on weekdays, but lively and fun on weekends. Nobody lives up this way, so the scenery is unfettered and wondrous, the beaches spectacular, the surfing top-notch.

Lunch wagons dispense snacks reliably at Makaha Beach and Yokohama Beach at road’s end on weekends, but less so during the week.

We recommend you do what we do: get in the car and drive, stopping at any beach that looks inviting, have a swim or a gawk, and move on. This is especially rewarding along the North Shore on weekends, as the NS is Oahu’s weekend playground, attracting people from all over the island —and the world. Haleiwa town is a gridlocked joy on Sundays, which can be fun or a headache, depending on your mood, and shrimp wagons such as Giovanni’s and Macky’s dispense the freshest crustaceans you’ll ever eat, make the rounds here. Soaking wet, starving, sandy and sun-fatigued, for $10-15 you can chow down on what will prove to be the messiest delicious meal you’ve ever had. Some other wagons are Romy’s, Fumi’s, Kahuku Famous Shrimp, and Blue Water Shrimp.

If you want to surf, keep in mind that waves are biggest in winter on the North Shore, and biggest in summer on the South Shore.

Sunset Beach

North Shore

Goat Island Mokuauia Beach

Windward Shore

Queen’s Surf Beach

Dig Me Beach


Giovanni’s Shrimp Wagon: North Shore

Sandy Beach

South Shore East

Hawaii leeward Oahu Makaha Beach surfing copyright
Film & TV

Diamond Head Beach

seen from Beach Street

Honolulu & Waikiki:


TRAVELOCITY supports the LGBT Community in a big way, and has some special deals for LGBT Travelers.


Driving & Discovering Oahu, named Best Hawaii Guidebook by American Airlines and the Hawaii Visitors & Conventions Bureau. With 144 pages of eye-popping color, this book leaves no stone unturned. You haven’t seen Oahu until you’ve seen Driving & Discovering Oahu. Click the book cover to order, or buy/order it at your local mainland US or Canada bookstore. Also available all over Hawaii, and at Honolulu Airport newsstands, which you will pass on your walk to baggage claim.


La Cucaracha Mexican Bar & Grill

2446 Koa Ave., Waikiki
Tel. (808) 924-3366

A fun, very gay-friendly café featuring authentic home-style Mexican food, Latino music, and great margaritas. Open Noon to 11 p.m. daily.

Downtown Honolulu: If you drive west from Waikiki, on your way to the North Shore or Leeward side,the BEST place to pick up sandwiches for the road is MIX CAFE, on the edge of Chinatown.


80% Straight, located in the Waikiki Grand Hotel along with Hawaii’s premier gay bar, HULA’S, is the place to go for a vast selection of shorts, bathing suits, surfwear, name it. We’ve been shopping here since it was located in the sorely missed Kuhio District, and never visit Oahu without seeing what’s new here. If you’re going to Hula’s, pop in to 80% Straight before or after.

MOKU SURF, located behind the Hyatt Waikiki’s East Tower at 2446 Koa St. has been our pit stop for handsome well-made surf-style clothes. You can rent a surfboard here or sign up for lessons


Aqua Hotels and Resorts

Hawaii's gay-friendly boutique hotel brand, Aqua, has properties throughout Waikiki, several of them steps from gay nightlife.

Outrigger Hotels & Resorts

The gay-friendly Pacific Rim hotel chain, Outrigger, with numerous properties throughout the state of Hawaii.

Aston Hotels and Resorts

The gay-friendly Hawaii hotel brand, Aston (formerly known as ResortQuest), which has gay-friendly properties throughout the state of Hawaii.

Embassy Suites Honolulu

The gay-friendly Embassy Suites Honolulu - Waikiki Beach Walk, an upscale all-suites hotel in the Waikiki Beach section of Honolulu, Hawaii.

JW Ihilani Resort & Spa, Oahu, Hawaii

The gay-friendly JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa, west of Honolulu on the island of Oahu.


Hans Hademann Surf School, located next door to HULA’s bar, is a great place to sign up for surf lessons. We were taken aback when our instructors looked to be about 16, but they sure knew their stuff, and the eye-candy factor is not to be dismissed.



Fusion Waikiki

Dancing and Live Shows

2260 Kuhio Ave. (upstairs), Waikiki
Tel. (808) 924-2422

Multi-level nightclub featuring Hawaii's hottest DJ music, videos, dancing and drinks till 4 a.m. nightly. All-male strip revues and Hawaii's best female impersonator shows.  Entrance at top of stairs.

Hula's Bar & Lei Stand

Diamond Head End of Waikiki

134 Kapahulu Ave., Waikiki (Waikiki Grand Hotel, 2nd Floor) Tel. (808) 923-0669

Beach bar and disco with great views of Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach and walking distance from Queen's Surf Beach. Air-conditioned dance floor, videos, pool table, free wifi. Open daily from 10 a.m., with drinks and dancing till 2 a.m.

Sign up for the gay "Mai Tai” catamaran cruises offering beautiful views of Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach, and a chance to meet locals and other visitors on Saturday afternoons (from 2 until 4 pm.


2155 Lau'ula St. (off Lewers), Waikiki
(down walkway by the Prada store on Kalakaua Avenue)
Tel. (808) 926-7060

Waikiki's friendly neighborhood gay bar where visitors and locals meet e. Open 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Sunday. Happy hour specials till 8 p.m. daily.


Queen’s Surf Beach lawn



The Hawaii Visitors & Conventions Bureau:


Driving & Discovering Oahu


WHALE watch


On OAHU, whales are seen plentifully off the Halona Shore and Sandy Beach.  Sandy Beach on weekends is a teen-mecca, with extreme bodysurfing, eye candy and energy.