Rules For Drinking IN Bars & On The Beach
Yes, it’s paradise.
Warm weather, palm trees, gorgeous beaches and, of course, tropical drinks with slices of pineapple and umbrellas on the edge of the glass.
But as great as Hawaii is as a place to enjoy such drinks – and even several for those on vacation who want to cut loose and party – the state has some odd, strange and bizarre laws when it comes to drinking.
It’s quite usual for tourists to get a puzzled look on their face when a server tells them “you can’t do this,” or “you can’t do that” when ordering a drink. Hawaii calls itself the Aloha State and it certainly is that, but not all of its liquor laws exactly show off its Aloha spirit.
PubClub.com presents a look at these laws to help unsuspecting tourists when they visit the islands.
• You Can Only Orer One Drink At A Time
This is the law that confuses tourists the most, the one that has them standing puzzled at the bar staring at the bartender like an Ewok in Star Wars.
Most of the time, they are just getting a beer or cocktail for friends. But the bartender must ask “who is that other drink (or drinks) for,” and the customer must point them out. And that person (or persons) may not be holding a drink. Even if they are on the last sips of their adult beverage. And you thought cell phones were the only “devices” to be hands-free by law.
Three girls, three beers.
The bartenders at Duke’s Canoe Club, the #1 tourist bar at the #1 spot on Waikiki Beach, is especially strict when it comes to this law. Their reason is a sound one, tho: They don’t want people ordering drinks for minors lurking in the background. This popular spot brings in so many people it would be easy for underage people to get access to drinks otherwise.
Having a shot with a drink is legal; now it can even be chilled.
• Having Shots With Drinks Are OK (Now)
Thank goodness there’s latitude for shots; imagine the chaos if this were not the case. Customers would have to finish a shot before getting a drink, or vise-versa. And only until recently did the law change to enable the shots to be chilled; previously anything involving ice was considered a second drink.
• So, Too, Is Having A Pitcher To One’s Self
PubClub.com is all for this loophole, but it does beg the question if it’s okay for an individual to have his or her own pitcher (which is 3-4 beers) then why cannot they have a back-up beer waiting before the previous one is finished?
• No Drinking On The Beach
Most states have what is known as an open container law. But this is Hawaii! So for those who want to take a boat drink or Kona out of, say Duke’s, or a Mai Tai from the Royal Hawaiian out to the sand, shelf that thought. Not even guests of the Royal Hawaiian, who are paying at least $250 a night and have their own roped-off area of the beach, can take a drink to their lounge chair (or better yet, have one brought to them).
Of course, you can buy a mini-bottle like is served on airplanes from f convenience stories (in Waikiki Beach, there’s an ABC Store on just about every corner) and then a bottle of juice or soda. So…
• It’s Perfectly Legals To Drink ON The Water
For a state that has restrictive rules on dry land, it’s interesting to note that there are booze cruises. Those catamarans on the beach take people out on the water; for one price (usually $30) people have an open bar of beers, rum drinks and cheap champagne during a 1 1/2-hour sail.
• The Legal Drinking Age is 21
Servers can be 18 but drinkers must be 21. California has a similar law, with the drinking age being 21.
• In Bars, Alcohol Sales End At 2 a.m., Clubs 4 a.m.
Bars and restaurants must stop serving alcohol by 2 a.m. Many of the “tourist” places actually close at midnight (or sometimes 12;30 a.m.), so this is not an issue for those places. This is because they do most of their business in the afternoons and evenings up to that point. Waikiki then turns the party over to the clubs, which have a special “cabaret license” that allows them to stay open until 4.
• The Blood Alcohol Level is .08%
Anything above that level is against the law. PubClub.coom is against any drinking and driving and cautions that anything more than extremely moderate drinking should not be followed by driving. A lot of the tropical drinks contain good amounts of rum or vodka and often pack more of a punch than seems initially.
Sounds good to me.. I dont drink and I hate Drunks
…and they speak so highly of you
So why are you in a drinking site?
NOt sure we understand the question We are just pointing out the somewhat odd drinking laws so visitors know what to expect when traveling in Hawaii. Thanks for reading!
Brad Johnson says
Hate sober people , so boring. Mexico is the only place you can kick back and have a drink on the beach. People are so uptight these days. Plus the laws were made to protect drunk people from going out to the water and drowning not to protect the sobers from the people having a good time…
At least one of the laws in Hawaii was made to keep tourists from buying drinks for underage people in their group because a lot of places are restaurants and bars. Still, it’s silly to have to point to your friend to say “I’m buying a second beer for THAT person.”
E. Z. says
Yeah but nobody cares what you think.
Well I wish there were signs posted including a number to call and report. Trying to enjoy our last day on waikiki with our kids and sitting next to 6 loud, obnoxious drunks with a bevvy of unconcealed beers. They showef up about 2 hours ago and showing no sign of leaving soon. We have paid for rental chairs for the day and can’t even move or believe me, we would. I enjoy a beer now and then, myself but this is ridiculous and totally inappropriate. Frustrated.
Never beach on Wiakiki..haha. Too many tourists like yourselves. Rent a car and go to the North Shore and you won’t have that problem. If you are too lazy to drive then stay and deal with the drunks. 🙂
The North Shore sure is quieter than Waikiki. But you should go there sometime G; you may be pleasantly surprised.
So many typos. And it’s not strange to anyone that the national drinking age and the national limit on bac for driving, which is true for all 50 states, applies here in Hawaii. The one drink maximum is a common regulation in the states. May I suggest, next time you write an article, sober up first. Or at least proof read the morning after.
Michael G says
Exactly, Should say CAN NOT have a drink, not MAY not, how confusing.
Jessica J says
I guess this means I’ll have to get really fucked up in my hotel and then hit the beach.
That’s one approach – but do take advantage of the cool bars and nightlife while you’re there too.
Jocelyn Avila says
I’m coming from Arizona but my license isn’t flipped /vehicle I am 23 and I’ll I still be able to drink
If you’re over 21 and have a valid i.d., you will be able to drink.