Read this guide before booking your gay Hawaii trip!
Hawaii is magical – this gay-friendly oasis has everything from luxurious resorts to rough-and-tumble hikes. Click through for a guide to traveling to Hawaii as an LGBTQ person.
Hawaii is one of the most popular gay-friendly destinations for singles and couples, especially if you want a tropical experience. Its white-sand beaches, diverse locale, and a seemingly endless list of fun and memorable activities can quickly fill your travel itinerary.
Still, overbooking yourself can lead to more stress than relaxation. So, how do you decide which places to go and which activities to skip?
In this guide to gay travel in Hawaii, we discuss everything you need to know, such as when to visit the sunny paradise, tips for first-time travelers, and a few insights into local gay culture and destinations. Aloha!
Before Embarking On Your Gay Hawaii Trip
If you’re a gay person or couple traveling from the stateside US to Hawaii, you should have few to no issues before embarking on your trip. However, this may not be the case for travelers from outside the United States.
Whether you’re from the US or another country, it’s best to be prepared. Here are a few pre-flight tips every traveler should be aware of.
Note: Many of these tips are not exclusive to Hawaii-bound trips.
Research Your Destination
While the idea of taking an impromptu break from your daily life and booking a flight to Hawaii may sound like an appealing romantic-comedy moment, it’s a surefire recipe for disaster. Traveling to a new destination requires lots of research and effort for maximum enjoyment, which may seem counterintuitive – at least, initially.
As gay travelers, there are a few things you need to be aware of before booking a flight. For example, you’ll want to find out if your destination is gay-friendly or if there are laws in place that discriminate against people based on sexuality. Use this information to decide whether a trip is worth any potential risk.
That said, Hawaii is incredibly gay-friendly – you should have no issues being out and proud as a single or attached gay man.
Documentation And Accommodations
The application process for travel can be lengthy and complicated, but being prepared helps alleviate some stress. Luckily for gay travelers, there are no travel restrictions or limitations imposed on gay men from the US, including men who are applying as married couples.
However, gay men who have transitioned in the last few years may want to update their passports to reflect their current gender identity. Failing to do so may result in a few complications during the application process.
Remember To Enjoy
While being safe and informed is essential, travelers shouldn’t sacrifice fun and relaxation for caution. Naturally, it’s important to follow your gut and avoid unnecessary risks, but worrying all the time will get in the way of the whole reason behind your GLBT Hawaii vacation.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Hawaii?
An LGBT Hawaii vacation is almost always an outstanding choice for people looking to get away, no matter the time of year. That said, January, April, May, September, and October are the best times to fly out to paradise.
Here’s a quick look into what you can expect in the peak months:
- January: Hawaii tends to be wetter than average in January, but this time of year is perfect for whale watchers.
- April: April has the best weather for tropical-bound tourists, but it can be more expensive to travel around popular festivals and holidays.
- May: May is the best overall month to stay at gay Hawaii resorts. Low rates and perfect weather conditions make it the best bang for your buck.
- September: Despite the relatively low volume of travelers in September, the weather is still great, and rates tend to be lower.
- October: This is another fabulous time to visit Hawaii’s islands because of the local festivals and events.
What’s The Hawaii Gay Scene Like?
Luckily for LGBTQ travelers, the Hawaii gay scene is one of the friendliest and most accommodating in the world. There are hundreds of welcoming gay bars in Hawaii for folks who’d like to meet new people while on vacation, and many resorts cater almost exclusively to members of the LGBTQ community.
Hawaii is also home to Honolulu Pride in October, which can be an excellent choice for folks who usually don’t have access to Pride or missed out on their locale’s event.
However, even if you visit this beachy paradise in a different month, you’ll still have access to a wide range of events and gay resorts in Hawaii.
Notable Places For Gay Hawaiian Vacations (By Island)
Oahu is the home of Honolulu, Hawaii’s capital city and the most populated area in the entire state. But more than that, Oahu is the safest island in Hawaii for gay travelers while being incredibly accessible because of the Daniel K. Inouye International (HNL) airport.
So, what’s there to do in Hawaii’s bustling center? Here are a few places you might want to check out.
Hotels And Resorts
- Halekulani: This oasis-themed resort has the best of both worlds: a festive yet relaxing vibe plus unparalleled proximity to Oahu’s exciting nightlife scene. Halekulani’s private suites range from premier to diamond head, although every room has a great view and standard amenities. Guests can have tea by the pool and book massages throughout their stay.
- The Royal Hawaiian: As the name suggests, The Royal Hawaiian will make you feel like royalty. Each tower has modern, classic, and historically-themed rooms for all tastes and preferences. The entire resort is located a stone’s throw away from the waterline, so guests have incredible views all year round.
- The Equus: If the hotel’s name didn’t clue you in enough, The Equus is a premier destination for gay travelers in Hawaii. This boutique hotel is located near the island’s north shore and close enough to the more metropolitan side of the area.
- Shoreline Hotel Waikiki: Unlike the other hotels and resorts on this list, the Shoreline Hotel lends a loud and colorful vibe to your vacation. From its vibrant pink lobby to the outstanding color blocking in each of its rooms, the Shoreline is undeniably photogenic while offering all the things you need on a luxury vacation.
- Diamond Head Lūʻau: The Diamond Head Lūʻau is a part cultural experience, part dinner-and-drinks destination. Guests can expect to eat next to live fire dancers while experiencing a gastronomical trip through everything Polynesia offers. It’s located inside the Waikiki Aquarium, so you can go to the Diamond Head after a day tour.
- Scarlet: Considered to be the heart of Honolulu’s gay scene, hundreds of customers move through Scarlet every night. This bar offers everything – live DJs, live drag performances, parties, and theme nights.
- Bacchus: Unlike Scarlet’s vivacious atmosphere, Bacchus represents the slower side of Hawaii’s gay scene. It’s known for its welcoming staff, great ambiance, and overall friendly vibe with space for everyone. The only drawback is that it’s a little far away from the livelier clubs, but everything is still accessible with little effort.
- Wang Chung: Who knew Honolulu had a karaoke place like Wang Chung? This bustling bar is a haven for anime enthusiasts and karaoke queens, with decor and ambiance to match. Every bar corner is lined with anime-themed decorations and bright lights. Wang Chung is also known for its affordable yet delicious drinks and food.
Maui is magical. In contrast to Oahu’s metropolitan charm, Maui captures everything tropical and mystical about Hawaii with its beachfront resorts and laid-back atmosphere.
That said, Maui has less to offer gay travelers looking to connect with the local LGBTQ community, but that doesn’t mean you’ll run out of things to do. Here are the best places you’ll want to check out while in Maui.
Hotels And Resorts
- Napili Kai Beach Resort: Napili Kai is one of the oldest resorts on the island, although it doesn’t feel dated at all. Instead, it’s home to a sprawling property with large private rooms in a plantation-style layout. Guests can expect an en suite bathroom, a small kitchenette, and comfortable bedding during their stay here. Pro tip: they have an incredible swim-up bar that serves drinks all day long.
- Ho’olei At Grand Wailea: The view at Ho’olei is ho’oly, as in completely out of this world. This luxury hotel takes all the amenities and comforts of a city-bound apartment and sets it right beside the Pacific Ocean, making for a romantic view. Each room features palatial bathrooms with emblemed towels, robes, and even slippers.
- Fairmont Kea Lani: If you think bigger is better, you’ll adore the Fairmont Kea Lani. Its suites start at a gigantic 850 square feet, and travelers can have their pick from smaller suites to villa-sized rooms with a full kitchen and stunning view of the ocean. The resort is also all-inclusive, which means you have complete freedom to use anything they offer onsite.
- Vibe Bar: Vibe is an intimate little bar that sits right across Kalama Park. Vibe Bar is known for its great drinks, friendly staff, and welcoming atmosphere that makes even the most inexperienced travelers feel right at home. This little watering hole is also a bit quieter than the spots in Oahu, making it an excellent choice for people looking to relax.
Kauai is Hawaii’s “Garden Island,” which hints at its verdant forests and lush vegetation. Upon arriving, travelers are greeted with a sense of serenity that’s impossible to replicate in big cities, making it a fascinating and enjoyable experience for city-dwellers. Beyond the forests of Kauai lies the same sandy white shores that Hawaii is known for, although there are usually fewer people on this particular island.
Hotels And Resorts
- Aqua Kauai Beach Resort & Spa: The Aqua Kauai Beach Resort & Spa truly lives up to its name. It has everything from an outdoor wedding venue to an all-inclusive spa package that will rejuvenate you for your island adventures. What’s more, it’s only a short walk from the ocean’s calm waters – you can take a post-dinner stroll along the beach if you’d like.
- Sheraton Kaua’i Coconut Beach Resort: Sheraton Hotels have always been a haven for LGBTQ travelers, and its Kauai destination is no different. From plush interiors to breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and the expansive ocean, it has everything you need to experience Hawaii at its greatest. Pro tip: If you’re traveling with a wedding party or big group of friends, call in ahead for considerable discounts.
- Helicopter over Hawaii: Numerous local travel companies offer helicopter rides that take you all over Kauai. You’ll witness incredible sights such as the green and red canyons of the island, numerous waterfalls, and pristine beaches.
- Sail around the Napali Coast: While helicopters can take you to the skies, there’s much you can miss that high off the ground. Take a boat ride around the Napali Coast to see hidden caverns, seaside mountain ranges, whales, and turtles.
- Hike in Koke’e State Park: If you’re spending time in Kauai, chances are you’re also into nature excursions. Lucky for you, the island is home to some of the most scenic hikes in Hawaii. Travelers can take the long Pihea Trail and follow the valley’s outer rim or the Awa’awapuhi Trail for a real workout
Hawaii is undeniably one of the most desirable tropical locations for gay travelers because it has something for everyone. Oahu hosts a long list of nightclubs and gay-friendly establishments for party-goers. Maui and Kauai offer a more nature-attuned getaway for gay singles and couples. So, no matter where you go, you’ll feel welcome and at home in this island paradise.
For more LGBTQ-oriented travel advice and news, keep reading Gayety.