Amazing scenery, a choice of gay-owned as well as gay-friendly accommodation and beaches ensure Hawaii is a premier drawcard for LGBTQI travel. In addition, since 2013, when same-sex marriage became legal, Hawaii has become a popular place for gay weddings, indeed there are companies specialising in it – for example, gayhawaiiwedding.com which seems to specialise in weddings on Maui and which has an ocean view condo which can be hired.
The many trendy hotels, dining scene and plentiful nightlife on Oahu attract numerous members of LGBTQI international communities, which is not surprising as this island and the state’s capital Honolulu attracts the most visitors annually – around five million.
However there’s also cozy bars, Tapa’s Lanai Bar – which offers delicious brunches – and Wang Chung’s are popular gay hangouts which offer karaoke that also features at Mask-Querade bar on the Big Island. Hilo is that island’s largest town, which is located along the beach and is also a top gay destination.
The most popular gay bars in Waikiki are Hula’s and Bacchus. The latter offers daily drink specials and live DJs on weekends as well as events, such as trivia nights and catamaran cruises. Hula’s Bar at the Waikiki Grand Hotel has been serving international guests for over 40 years and offers spectacular views of Diamond Head as well as the beautiful Waikiki Beach sunsets. With live and recorded music (thongs are accepted!) it turns from beach bar to nightclub with dancing till late as well as regular male revues and drag shows, and Pride Events (October 20, 2018).
Not far from Hula’s, conveniently located in the heart of Waikiki and touted as the most popular gay beach in Hawaii is Queen’s Surf Beach. A scenic beach on a secluded stretch of sand which is famous for its surf break, Queen’s draws a mainly gay-male crowd and is very social. On Kauai, Donkey Beach is very popular with the community while on Maui, stunning and world-renowned Little Beach is the place to go. On the Big Island of Hawaii, gay-popular beaches include the black sand beach of Kahena Beach which features spinner dolphins while Wailea Beach offers good snorkelling.
As well as gay couples and single travellers, earlier this year Oahu showed it caters to gay families when its Disney Aulani Resort & Spa specifically welcomed LGBT families for an authentic island experience in January. They happily discovered that, welcoming people like family – ‘ohana – is a tradition that Hawaiians warmly extend to all members of the LGBT community.
There are many gay events held through the year. Kauai Pride is held in each Summer in June. The Pride Dance Party and Drag Show is at Tree’s Lounge on Sunday, June 18; Camping, Parade, Gay Games & Picnic TBA, around June 16-18.
Maui Pride is held on the first weekend of October [www.MauiPride.org] while Hawaii’s largest Pride Festival is held in Oahu. The 2018 Honolulu Pride™ Parade + Festival takes place on Saturday, October 20, 2018 and is set to be big – the 2017 parade featured 115 floats with the festival attracting thousands of participants and visitors. It is organised by the Hawai’i Legacy Foundation [hawaiilgbtlegacyfoundation.com] which in the past year has provided over 3,500 direct services for the LGBT community. The Foundation also established the LGBT Center – Waikiki for meetings, education and training.
There are a number of key organisations that support the LGBTQI community. In a residential neighbourhood of Honolulu lies the district of Manoa, home to the largest college campus in the state, the University of Hawaii, which offers many initiatives and programs for LGBT youth and maintains LGBTI Student Services.
www.HonoluluFrontrunners.org provides encouragement and support to gay men, lesbians and others with an interest in running or walking.
Lambda Aloha is a non-profit organization established on Kauai for over 30 years, supporting LGBT efforts and civil rights as well as providing social interaction and support. www.LambdaAloha.com
General information on events, attractions and accommodation is available at Gogayhawaii.com