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Hula's Bar & Lei Stand, the famed gay nightclub in the Waikiki Grand Hotel

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Hula's Bar & Lei Stand, the famed gay nightclub in the Waikiki Grand Hotel
photo by Andrew Collins
Set in the spacious, open-air, second-floor level of the Waikiki Grand Hotel, Hula's Bar & Lei Stand (134 Kapahulu Ave., 808-923-0669) is Honolulu's definitive gay and lesbian dance club. It's a short walk from Queen's Surf gay beach, and the cheerful terrace bar overlooks Kapiolani Park and, beyond that, iconic Diamond Head.

It's a great place to enjoy cocktails after hanging out on the beach, and there's also a kitchen turning out terrific, inventive tapas - spiced lotus chips, Kalua pork sliders, five-spice duck quesadillas with raspberry-chipotle and green onion, sushi "cupcakes" - and delicious weekend brunch fare, include bagels and lox, eggs Benedict with pancetta, and Hawaiian breakfast bread pudding with taro bread, papaya, banana, and Tahitian vanilla sauce.

Adjacent to the extremely popular bar overlooking Kapiolani Park and Honolulu Zoo, there's a good-size dance floor spinning the latest club hits, a pool table, and about as friendly a staff as you'll find at a gay club anywhere. Hula's has been a fixture in the Honolulu gay community since the mid-'70s, back when it was located along Kuhio Avenue. When that location was lost in the mid-'90s, Hula's moved into this space that's actually quite a bit nicer, especially given its proximity to the beach (and arguably the gayest Starbucks in Hawaii, at the corner of Kapahulu and Kalakaua, inside the Park Shore Waikiki Hotel.

Another cool thing about Hula's is that it organizes a number of great events, all of them a good opportunity for visitors to meet locals, and vice versa. Activities include gay "Mai Tai" catamaran cruises on Saturday afternoons (from 2 until 4 pm - contact the bar for details), Sunday Beach Party Beer Busts, and a variety of convivial parties. Hula's is also within walking distance of many of Waikiki's most gay-friendly accommodations, including the Hotel Renew and the gay-friendly Waikiki Beachside youth hostel

As for the hotel in which Hula's is situated, the Waikiki Grand, this is an apartment-rental property that has reasonable rates, though rather outdated and unimpressive rooms. It's a great location, but there are better lodging options in Waikiki.

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