Say ‘Aloha!’ to the boisterous Polynesian capital of Hawaii, Honolulu, a collage of postcard-perfect views. Located at the southern tip of the island of Oahu, the city has some of the most gorgeous white-sand beaches in the world. The vibrant city embraces the kindness, harmony, and caring spirit that ‘Aloha’ embodies. This is why Honolulu is one of the most gay-friendly places in the U.S. LGBTQ travelers love this adventure-filled beach destination to the hilt. It is for this reason that gay hotels in Honolulu have sprung up and thrived for decades now.
Most gay-friendly cities in the world have ‘gayborhoods’, but very few can boast about having gay beach-hoods. This is why the Waikiki Beach area is the jewel in Honolulu’s crown. Apart from the enviable blend of white sand beach, palm trees, and the azure waters, the area is also the epicenter of gay life in Honolulu. It’s home to a smattering of gay-friendly bars, clubs, and restaurants. The city’s LGBTQ friendliness doesn’t stop at that. There are even gay catamaran cruises, queer rock climbing, and a gay beach shore at Queen’s Surfs Beach. Plus, there’s the LeiBear day weekend, the wet and wild Splash pool party, and even a Pride community picnic.
Shot against the lovely waters of the Pacific, Honolulu is one of the world’s cleanest cities and an exciting LGBTQ playground. Choose from these top 11 gay-friendly hotels in Honolulu to make your stay equally interesting.
The Royal Hawaiian
With an unmissable rose-pink stucco exterior, the 90-year-old Royal Hawaiian has become somewhat of an icon on the Waikiki strip. The gay-friendly hotel commands an enviably long strip of the white sand of Waikiki Beach and is an absolute hit with LGBTQ travelers.
The hotel creates striking first impressions with an exclusive dark lobby lounge and vaulted archways. Despite its size, the hotel’s experience is upscale-personal, right from the flower-lei check-in to the traditional dishes being served in-room. The pool is the center of the action. The Abhasa Spa with its hidden outdoor garden cabanas is perfect for a reinvigorating massage. The hotel is also home to the historic Mai Tai bar, which is said to have imported the drink first on the island. The bar is also said to have added the iconic twist – a freshly-squeezed lime and pineapple.
Many of the hotel’s original rooms face a leafy central corridor, for maritime travelers of the old had had their fill of ocean views. Newer rooms offer elevated views of the city as well as the sea. The historic rooms boast of four-poster beds, paddle fans, and elaborate, pink-patterned wallpaper, local Hawaiian organic toiletries, and a slew of mod-cons. The newer ones have included breakfasts and snacks and patios with lovely pink alfresco seating.
LGBTQ travelers looking for a romantic Honolulu stay cannot get it better than at gay-friendly Moana Surfrider. The 100-year-plus Waikiki Beach Westin-brand hotel emanates a historic yet homey feel. The lobby boasts of white columns, a grand staircase, and hanging cage lanterns, a gorgeous porch, and a huge leafy seaside banyan tree that’s been around for more than a hundred years. This property with its idyllic seaside setting is an extremely popular spot for LGBTQ weddings.
Leisure travelers will love the seaside pool fringed with white chairs. However, the absolute star of the hotel is the Moana Lani Spa with 14 treatment rooms, whirlpool, and steam room. The well-equipped fitness center is great for working off those Hawaiian calories. What’s more, the hotel offers surfing and standup paddleboard lessons, as well as guided historical walks.
Rooms at the Moana feature shades of grey, beige, and white, sleep-inducing comfy beds, and amazing sea views. Plus, most have a bunch of great mod-cons too. While the smallest rooms are in the historic Banyan building, the tower rooms that face Diamond Head crater have some of the best ocean views. LGBTQ couples looking for splurging on romance can book the jaw-dropping Apuakehau Suite, which has a private whirlpool tub and three white-shutter walls opening to panoramic views of the Pacific.
Castle Waikiki Shore Beachfront Condominiums
Located right next to the verdant Fort Derussy Beach Park, Castle Waikiki Shore is Waikiki Beach’s sole condo-hotel. The gay-friendly condo-hotel is a fantastic choice for larger LGBTQ groups looking for privacy and a great party atmosphere on Waikiki Beach. In fact, some of Waikiki Beach’s best gay bars including In Between are a mere five-minute walk from the hotel.
Travelers can choose between one/two-bedroom suites and studios. Each of them boasts of a private lanai with sweeping panoramas of the Pacific Ocean. What’s more, each unit is spacious to boot and outfitted with kitchenettes/full kitchens. Its quiet location on Waikiki beach’s western end makes sure that you get good sleep after partying the evening away. P.S.: A higher floor is quieter and has better views.
Polynesian Hostel Beach Club
Budget gay travelers to Honolulu will find the Polynesian Hostel Beach Club more than perfect. The gay-friendly hostel lies at the southern end of Waikiki Beach, right next to Honolulu Zoo, one of the best things to see in the city. What’s more, the fabulous gay beach of Queens Surf is a five-minute walk away.
Polynesian Hostel Beach Club screams aloha! and is one of the friendliest gay hotels in Honolulu. Guests can choose between dorms and private rooms, and there’s a 14-day maximum staying time.
The hostel’s socials, however, are an absolute dream for outgoing travelers and social butterflies. There’s a gorgeous common area with a small TV, tables, and lots of hammocks, Hawaii-style. Free coffee is available in the lobby and the hostel has free pancake breakfasts as well. Beach bums and water babies can choose from a ton of beach gear available to rent. Plus, luggage storage is free. Free hula shows on the site are a great way to mingle and soak in some Hawaiian culture. Plus, they also do some extremely economical and popular tours like North Shore tours and SCUBA trips. In fact, their sunrise hike costs a dollar. If you’re interested in exploring the entire island, we’d recommend this fantastic full-day sightseeing tour of Oahu.
Aqua Skyline at Island Colony
City mice who love heights can stay at what is Waikiki’s tallest hotel, the Aqua Skyline at Island Colony. The gay-friendly modern skyrise apart/condo-hotel offers gorgeous views of Waikiki beach, Diamond Head, and the glimmering Honolulu skyline.
Guests at Aqua Skyline can choose between an array of understated and renovated suites and studios decorated in Hawaiian style. Bird-of-paradise/palm-tree printed bedspreads are whimsical, as are the island-themed headboards. The units are completely decked out with fully-equipped kitchenettes perfect for whipping up quick meals. Plus, all rooms have private balconies with mountain or city views.
For a condo-hotel, Aqua Skyline has a healthy dose of amenities. Water lovers will appreciate the on-site convenience store stocked with essential beach gear and wear. Jagger’s Cafe is great for grabbing refreshing smoothies and on-the-go snacks. The highlight of the condo-hotel is the fabulous sixth-floor outdoor pool peppered with gas grills, picnic tables, lounge chairs, and even a sauna and a hot tub. What more could one want?
Queen Kapiolani Hotel
Intrepid gay travelers looking for wallet-friendly accommodation in Honolulu will absolutely love the Queen Kapiolani Hotel. Apart from unobstructed views of Diamond Head, the hotel is also right next to Honolulu Zoo. Plus it is within walking distance of Waikiki Aquarium, the War Memorial, and the summit of the Diamond Head Crater. We’d also recommend this extremely popular Manoa Falls trail and rainforest tour, which is extremely popular with hikers and trekkers visiting Honolulu. The pickup for this tour is just two minutes from the hotel.
The Queen Kapiolani Hotel has a 50’s Vegas and Miami vibe, complete with gold-lettered signage and palm-tree-painted walls. While the hotel could use a facelift, the setting with Hawaii’s exotic flowers and palm trees backdrop is very picturesque. There are nods to local heritage in the form of paintings of famous Hawaiians. Apart from a surf-and-snorkel shop in the lobby, the hotel also has bike rental and a day spa with traditional Hawaiian treatments. The highlight of the property is, undoubtedly, the third-floor pool with lovely views of Diamond Head and the ocean.
Albeit the dated decor, rooms at the Kapiolani are modern with comfy beds. The hotel is perfect for those who only wish to come back and sleep, and spend the day exploring the island.
Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club
Socializers and minglers from the LGBTQ set are sure to appreciate the fantastic vibe at the modern and gay-friendly Surfjack Hotel. The contemporary getaway seamlessly blends modern Honolulu design and nostalgic surf culture, making it the hottest gathering place on the island.
A nautical adventure-themed lobby circa the 1980s welcomes guests. There’s a distinct, lovely plumeria aroma hanging around the open-air lobby. An entire slew of amenities is woven around social themes that make it fun for the younger LGBTQ set to stay here. A superb rotating roster of events including DJ events, poolside fashion shows, and off-site farm tours is the perfect way to mingle and explore the island. The oval-shaped plunge pool is perfect for lounging and people-watching. The poolside bar/restaurant offers a unique take on Hawaiian and classic American comfort food. Plus, there are meditation and pilates classes on the offer, a lifestyle boutique, and even a coffee shop for grabbing a quick cuppa. What’s more, complimentary sea blue cruiser bikes make it easy for zipping to Waikiki beach and its fabulous posse of gay bars and clubs.
The rooms and bungalows elevate the fun Bohemian theme with touches like dreamcatchers, denim couches, wooden artwork, and graphic prints. A bevy of modern touches will appeal to travelers; think hi-tech temperature controlled showers and multi-mode dimming lights. What’s more, there are also lovely balconies in each room, which are sort of a Hawaiian hotel mainstay.
Unmatched luxury comes to Waikiki Beach in the form of the gay-friendly Halekulani, a Honolulu veteran for the last century. Even though it is smack dab in the middle of Honolulu’s action, the property is one tranquil and blissful Hawaiian heaven.
The Hawaiian vibes begin right in the airy open-air lobby with a stunning tropical floral centerpiece. The lobby opens onto verdant grassy areas which make for the perfect setting for weddings. The poolside is typically Hawaiian, with shaded umbrellas and pool attendants offering towels and sunscreen. The state-of-the-art gym with ocean views inspires one to work out. Do book a native Polynesian-inspired treatment at the SpaHalekulani, which will melt all your stress away.
Rooms at Halekulani are done up in its signature seven shades of white, blue pillows, and reddish-wood accents. They also boast of large patios or lanais and gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean. Moreover, guests are welcomed with in-room seasonal tropical fruits and are also served Halekulani’s signature chocolates at night.
If you’re looking to splurge similarly on exploring the town, we’d recommend this luxurious 6-hour catamaran cruise around Oahu. Snorkel in crystal-clear turquoise waters of the Pacific, spy an amazing array of marine life and enjoy a lavish Hawaiian buffet meal.
The gay-friendly Hotel Renew at the eastern edge of the Waikiki strip makes for the perfect boutique hotel experience for discerning gay travelers.
Excellent service is the catchphrase at this hotel, which begins right from check-in. A lemongrass-chilled towel and fresh pineapple juice await weary travelers. What’s more, guests can even choose the fragrance for their room. Although the hotel is missing a fitness center and pool, guests have free admission to the Honolulu Museum of Art and the Bishop Museum. Start off your day powered by a hearty, included continental breakfast, which is a rare phenomenon for a Waikiki hotel. Sipping on the ‘maitini,’ the signature cocktail of the onsite bar, is a great way to kickoff evening revelries. Plus, the hotel even features food delivery from certain restaurants.
If leisure is what you’re interested in, the edgy rooms at Renew will appeal to you infinitely. Shades of grey, white, and black are interspersed with red bed throws. Hawaiian touches include bottles of desalinated deep Hawaiian ocean water, copies of the local art-zine Abstract, and photos of tropical plants. Furthermore, the dark windows are perfect frames of picture-perfect ocean views.
Coconut Waikiki Hotel
Overlooking the Ala Wai Canal, the gay-friendly Coconut Waiki Hotel is a funky and relaxed place with a retro-inspired decor. The bright, airy lobby is peppered with comfy couches, monkey-pod coffee tables, and a cozy lounge with bookshelves and a TV. The hotel has a bevy of amenities for its guests’ comfort. The heart continental breakfast is a great way to begin the day, and the complimentary coffee, tea, and popcorn in the lobby keep travelers energized. Apart from outdoor grills, Coconut Waikiki also has a lovely, bean-shaped heated pool and a wraparound sundeck with lounge chairs. What’s more, the hotel even has a small fitness center.
Bright and inviting rooms and suites boast of amazing views of Honolulu’s skyline and the canal from the lanai. Sizes range from cozy queen ones to the spacious suites which have either sea or mountain views. Plus, all rooms are flush with mod-cons and chic, modern decor.
Coconut Waikiki is just three blocks from the beach. In fact, one of Honolulu’s most fabulous gay bars Bacchus is right next to the hotel.
Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort
One of the most unbeatable locations on Waikiki Beach is commanded by the outstanding Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort. The gay-friendly hotel is located along a quieter stretch of Waikiki Beach right next to Fort Derussy Beach Park. The resort dates back to the 1960s, but the decor is thoroughly 21st century. True to the name, the centerpiece is a restored outrigger canoe. Also peppered all over the hotel are photos and murals of marine life.
It’s the profusion of thoughtful amenities that makes this Outrigger property so popular with LGBTQ travelers to Hawaii. The LaáKea Spa decked out in tropical decor is rumored to be one of the best on the island, so it would be criminal to indulge in a traditional Hawaiian treatment here. The 24-hour fitness center allows guests to work off Hawaiian cuisine calories any time they want. Beach bums will be thrilled with the surf lessons right out front. However, the decadent heart of the resort is the languorous pool, complete with cocktail service, whirlpool spa, and padded loungers. Moreover, the signature poolside restaurant even has live music by legendary Hawaiian entertainers every night. If that wasn’t enough, the Outrigger has a host of Hawaiian cultural experiences, including hula and ukelele lessons.
Given its price point, Outrigger has some of the most spacious rooms in Waikiki. The Hawaiian tropical theme is evident in the rattan accents, earth-toned interiors, faux-jute walls, and colorful photographs of undersea life. Mod-cons aside, the rooms feature ridiculously comfortable beds, beach bags, and balconies with beach views in most of them.
Just So You Know:
- On the entire island of Oahu, Honolulu is the sole place with a serious gay nightlife scene.
- The LGBTQ catamaran cruise organized by Hula’s Bar sells out fast and needs to be booked at least seven days in advance.
Get Some Culture in Honolulu:
- Honolulu Pride: Honolulu Pride is the biggest LGBT event in Hawaii and the largest festival for the LGBTQ+ communities. Ther are more than 20 events lined up during the two-week celebrations, which culminates into a gorgeously vibrant Pride Parade along the picturesque Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki.
Best Gay Bars / Clubs in Honolulu:
- Wang Chung’s: A lively Waikiki gay bar famous for its raucous karaoke and a great drag show.
- Bacchus Waikiki: Honolulu’s ‘friendliest gay bar’ with a patio, a seating area, and great beers, wines, and cocktails.
- In Between Waikiki: This cozy Waikiki gay bar has a good-looking male crowd and a karaoke machine.
- Scarlet Honolulu: Honolulu’s premier gay dance club is done up in a kitschy way like a giant dollhouse. It belts out great music and has drag shows too.
- Hula’s Bar & Lei Stand: Honolulu’s most loved gay bar and club which has a balcony, a center bar, and a huge dance area. They even have gay catamaran cruises on Saturday afternoons.
Best Gay Saunas in Honolulu:
Honolulu currently doesn’t have any gay saunas, and the closest one is on the mainland. There are lots of gay hookup apps that one can try out. Plus, the gay beach of Queen’s Surf is great for cruising fun.