Arnold’s, A Dive Tiki Bar, Tops 6 List
By Kevin Wilkerson, PubClub.com Nightlife Blogger
In a town of tiki torches, tourist spot and high-end lounges with double-digit priced Mai Tais, there are also dive bars.
A considerable number of them, too. PubClub.com lists its favorites here, all within walking distance of places like Duke’s and Rumfire.
1.) ARNOLD’S BEACH BAR
This is the best. Arnold’s is really more of an old-school tiki bar with slight dive bar characteristics. That is, namely, cheap drinks ($4 beers, $5 cocktails).
A popcorn machine.
There’s little else in frills, other than its Polynesian decor. And a hula girl with bare breasts which makes for some interesting photo opportunities.
It does have something most dives across the USA do not have, and that’s a patio. In fact, you walk through its narrow lanai to reach the bar, which has no doors and is open to the Waikiki breeze. The bar area is cozy – comfortable, really – and there’s an an upstairs room big enough only for two electronic darts machines.
The crowd is mainly locals with a few “in-the-know” tourists scattered about, and it’s safe (no need to worry about a fight breaking out in the place, let alone collecting you with it). The bartenders will chat you up if you like or leave you alone if that’s what you prefer. It does get in some pleasant-looking rather young single girls and dudes, as well.
From 4-7, there’s even live music from a rotating band of pretty good solo local musicians.
Like many good dives, Arnold’s is a bit difficult to find. There’s not even a sign, just a small sandwich board on the sidewalk of Sarasota Street. It’s across from the post office at Fort Derussy Park next to and Eggs ‘n Things.
Here’s really all you need to know about Arnold’s. Its Happy Hour starts when it opens. And that is at 9 in the morning.
Arnold’s: 339 Saratoga Road, Waikiki Beach
2.) HARBOR PUB
The long-time home bar of the salty sailors from the adjacent “Gilligan’s Island” harbor (that is, the marina where the castaways were last seen before their three-hour tour), the Harbor Pub is indeed a PubClub favorite.
It, too, has a tiki touch, but also with a nautical theme, like a big ship’s wheel in the dining area. And lots of photos from Waikiki’s history on the wall.
The Harbor Pub is where skippers and crews go to toss down a few (okay, many) beers after the semi-annual Transpacific Yacht Race (a wild journey aboard sailboats from Long Beach, CA, to Honolulu), where people stumble in from their docked boats, and where others go for cheap drinks and pretty good food.
The Harbor Pub is actually more restaurant than bar, in space anyway, and it has excellent pizza and the chili is made with chunks of steak. It’s also an intoxicating place to start the day with good, hearty breakfasts and strong Bloody Marys.
Whatever you order, tho, avoid something called Nacholada. This is not a mound of nachos as you might be led to believe but a basket of thin chips and a plate of lettuce and tomatoes, in which hiding somewhere are tiny morsels of chicken so small a team of astrologists could not locate them with the Hubble Telescope.
Other than that, the place is great.
Happy Hour is 4-7 daily with dollar beers (alas, only Miller Lite) .
It’s below the Chart House and a short walk from the Hilton Hawaiian Village, past the lagoon. It’s a beautiful, scenic walk and because it’s at the far end of Waikiki, at least in relation to Duke’s, the Harbor Pub is the prefect watering hole for thirsty beach travelers.
Harbor Pub: 1765 Ala Moana Blvd., #1, Waikiki Beach
3.) IRISH ROSE SALOON
Were it not for a few off-beat characters – a guy marching in with a giant American flag on a pole by his side, dressed and looking as if he just returned from three weeks in the Australian Outback, for example – then the Irish Rose would be classified by PubClub as not a dive bar, but as a great live music venue.
And it is a great live music venue, with bands on weekends after 9 and an Irish band on Sundays. If you want to warm up for the music, the Irish Rose had potent Mai Tais for $3 until 8 p.m.
The bartenders are cool, they love pouring beers (and shots) and the vibe is good. The bar is big; upstairs and it gets crowded on weekend nights.
It’s also right next to our #4 dive bar, so keep reading.
Irish Rose Saloon: 478 Ena Road, Honolulu
4.) THE HIDEAWAY BAR
The moment you step up to The Hideaway, there’s no hiding this is a true, classic American dive bar. You know that before you even go into the place.
The dirty, warm wood decor. Neon signs on the wall. A 1980’s-era NASCAR pinball machine. Pool table in the back with the hanging Budweiser sign above it.
All this with the added benefit of a crowd of well-worn locals that looks like they would like to beat you up and send you back out on the streets with a sign around your neck that says “Tourists Not Welcome In Here!” And that’s just the women.
But that’s just their appearance, not the reality. In fact, the locals will scoot over to let you order a beer which, between the hours of 6-7 p.m., are $1. Well, by the bar’s hours anyway, not by what time is displayed on your smart phone. And the bar’s clock is about 15 minutes fast. Otherwise, you’re out $2.50 at full pop.
Are dive bars great, or what!?
You can really get in good with the locals if you step out on the small – and we do mean small – back patio and shake your head at the glimmering tower that dominates the view in the direction of the inside bar. That shiny developer’s masterpiece is on the location of The Wave, the greatest bar in the history of Waikiki Beach and, most likely, all of the South Pacific. Curse the developer and cheer The Wave and you can clink your dollar beer bottles with anyone in the bar.
The Hideaway, by the way, is a Pittsburgh Steelers bar. Keep that in mind during football season.
To find The Hideaway, be on the entrance part of Waikiki (this is to say the Ala Moana side). It’s behind the 7-11. Past the dumpster.
The Hideaway Bar: 1913 Dudoit Lane, Honolulu
5.) KING’S PUB
Then you meet some of the characters in the bar and realize yes, this is a dive bar.
But it’s also a pizza place. And darned good pizza, too. Get $2 slices and $2 drafts in an ICE-COLD mug. Plus, there’s karaoke on Tuesdays and open mic night on Fridays but it’s best night is Wednesday when a one-man band singer – who won the one of the Hard Rock Cafe’s Battle of the Bands – performs.
King’s Head is located on the ground floor of the Monarch Hotel, which is adjacent to Ala Moana.
The same people who run King’s Head, by the way, own Arnold’s.
King’s Pub, 444 Nui Street, Honolulu
6.) WAIKIKI SANDBOX
The Waikiki Sandbox may not be the kind of place you want to go in early in the day. In fact, save it as your last stop at night when you are stumbling home along Kohio.
Because it does become pretty lively at night. Especially when people are having drinks like the Fins to The Left and a Who’s To Blame Margarita. It gets a spillover crowd when the popular club Zanzibar across the street is too crowded, or people are looking for a drink before or after it.
There’s also live music but this is not exactly Henry Kampono of Duke’s on Sunday quality.
It’s advisable not to go in sober; nobody else is and why should you be, right?
Waikiki Sandbox: 2260 Kuhio Ave., Waikiki Beach