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March 30, 2010

The Scene

Honolulu after dark

The Hawaiian capital may be most loved for its beaches, surfers, and endless blue-sky days. But once the sun sinks into the sea, there's good reason to ignore Oahu's early-to-bed, early-to-rise policy. Honolulu is a city, after all, with several nighttime playgrounds—moody lounges, homey alfresco bars—where the chic gather to sip, schmooze, and listen to some of the best musicians on the scene.

GREEN ROOM, INDIGO BAR & RESTAURANT
For the past few years, Honolulu's historic Chinatown has been undergoing a metamorphosis: Seedy, sticky bars have been transformed into art galleries, and boarded-up factories into artists' lofts. And one of the most popular "new Chinatown" restaurants is Indigo. You can dine on the porch under dozens of sparkling candles and afterward slip into the Green Room, a cozy space that seems like a sixties tiki lounge transported to colonial Saigon. The lighting is kind, the music is swoony, and the people are beautiful. $ At 1121 Nu'uanu Ave.; 808-521-2900; www.indigo-hawaii.com.

HOUSE WITHOUT A KEY, HALEKULANI
The outdoor restaurant at Halekulani is a languorous spot catering to a nostalgic crowd. The fifties Continental dishes are served by a friendly, blue-smocked staff. And every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 5:00 to 8:30 p.m., the group Po'okela croons post-World War II classics like "Royal Hawaiian Hotel" under a giant kiawe tree while the sun paints the sky scarlet. At 2199 Kalia Rd.; 808-923-2311; www.halekulani.com.

THE DIAMOND HEAD GRILL, THE W
Nostalgia is entirely absent at the grill's Honolulu Bar, where tanned, smartly turned-out locals and hotel guests (and the stray celebrity) flirt, chat, eat, and table-hop. There's contemporary jazz nightly, but the real fun is watching the young crowd (and staff) eye one another appreciatively. Welcoming and friendly, the place maintains its mellow ambience even on the busiest evenings. At 2885 Kalakaua Ave.; 808-922-3734; www.diamondheadgrill.com.

THE MOANA TERRACE, WAIKIKI MARRIOTT HOTEL
Many stars of modern Hawaiian music—a soulful amalgam of Latin, ragtime, country, jazz, folk, bluegrass, and native sounds—play regularly at the Moana Terrace, a twinkling bar high above Waikiki. The big draw is Auntie Genoa Keawe (Thursdays, from 5:30 p.m.), an octogenarian diva whose crisp, sharp ukulele strumming and powerful falsetto puts singers half her age to shame. Locals leap to their feet and cheer, and you will, too. At 2552 Kalakaua Ave.; 808-922-6611; www.marriottwaikiki.com.

—HANYA YANAGIHARA

$ Establishment accepts no charge/credit cards or accepts cards other than the American Express Card.