Hawaii Rolls out a Rainbow-colored Aloha
Story by Ed Salvato; above, Honolulu's Waikiki Beach as seen from the Hula’s Bar gay catamaran cruise offered on Saturdays at 2 p.m. Participants gather at Hula's, 134 Kapahulu Ave.
Hawaiians boast a proud history, a line of mighty monarchs (some of whom openly had aikane or same-sex favorites), and an unshakable belief in the heartwarming concept of aloha, which signifies hello or goodbye but which also connotes love, peace, and compassion (among many other meanings).
For a gay visitor we recommend spending a weekend in Honolulu, which has the only developed gay nightlife in the state, followed by a few days detoxing on the other side of Oahu or on one of the other major islands, like Kauai, Maui or the Big Island. A recent visit paired Oahu with Kauai.
With the welcoming concept of aloha animating interactions, it's hard to find a hotel that isn't friendly to gays and lesbians.
That said, there are properties that are particularly accommodating to LGBT travelers. Among them the three Marriotts on Oahu and the one on Kauai have extended a sincere invitation to same-sex loving travelers, and you'll find plenty of us at every address.
The hip, upscale Aqua Hotels and Resorts with properties throughout the islands, also actively market to the LGBT travel segment, and you'll find other gay and lesbian guests at just about every one.
The Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort is a particularly good choice not only for its airy rooms (most of which have great views of Diamond Head or the sea) and lanais (balconies), great restaurant and bar overlooking the beach, but for its stumbling-distance proximity to Hula's Bar as well as Queen's Surf, the official and appropriate name for the gay beach.
A more wallet-friendly choice is the surprisingly stylish Courtyard by Marriott, with its groovy lobby, vibrant and social pool area, chill room (with free massage chairs), and “honor” snack area. Photo, right: Hawaiian "warrior" performs fire-knife solo at Luau Kalamaku.
Also in Waikiki, Hotel Renew hasn't specifically marketed to the LGBT segment, but it's a great option for travelers who like boutique hotels. Its luxurious version of hip style can be a tad pricey.
At the western end of the island, the JW Marriott Ihilani is a great choice for couples who want to escape but don’t feel like island hopping and a nice place to relax after a few nocturnal gay outings in Waikiki. The views, especially at sunset, are stunning. The hotel's Ushio-Tei restaurant offers delicious Japanese cuisine buffet style. The hotel's breakfast is one of the best on the island. Try warm coconut syrup on your macadamia and banana pancakes. Heaven!
Continue your Hawaiian adventure in Kauai after the jump.