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.
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 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!
Kauai is so beautiful, quiet, and lush, that even Hawaiians go there on vacation. The "Garden Island" is more than 550 square miles and has only 64,000 inhabitants. Its Mount Waialeale gets more than 440 inches of rainfall per year, making it the world's wettest place. There are nearly 40 sand beaches, the most of any island in the state. The island's few highways can be crowded but there are many secluded spots, overgrown jungles, and torrential waterfalls to be discovered.
At the Luau Kalamaku located in the historic Kilohana Plantation, check out hula dancers—men and women—and fire-knife dancers, like the above.
You'll find many of these attractions during a visit to the Allerton Estate, once a retreat of Hawaii's Queen Emma, wife of King Kamehameha IV in the 1870s. She loved the deep-purple bougainvillea cascading down the cliffs of the Lawai Valley.
Speaking of queens, in the 1930s Robert Allerton and his lover John Gregg Allerton began to remake this 100-acre estate, spending 20 years transforming it into the lush paradise it is today. Visitors love the Jurassic Park trees (Moreton Bay figs), along with the rippling pools and huge range of tropical flora.
Next door, the National Tropical Botanical Gardens is one of the premier botanical gardens in the country, incorporating gardens and pools, as well as lovely statuary. The Kauai Marriott Resort on Kalapaki Beach is where we made our base. It's super convenient to the airport, with a free hotel shuttle that takes about 10 minutes to make the one-way trip. The hotel, which underwent an extensive $50 million renovation recently, stretches along a beautiful inlet with homes dotting the surrounding cliffs, swaying palm trees framing every postcard view, and mist-shrouded mountains in the distance. There are nice options for dining on property, including Duke's, which boasts gorgeous beach views and a waterfall feature.