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Welcome to Out There: AFAR's hub for the modern gay traveler

Yes, we love the Big Island for its rustic black beaches, hike-able active volcano, and earthy towns like Hilo and Kona. What you don't often hear? How great it is for gay travelers. Here, five local spots that can’t be missed.

1. Mask-querade Bar

Mask-querade’s claim to fame is that it’s the only full-on gay bar in Hawaii outside of Honolulu, but it’s so non-descript, tucked in a strip mall off of the main west coast highway, that it’s easy to miss. That would be a mistake. With karaoke, drink specials, and friendly bartenders, this is your best chance to have a truly fun gay night out while on the Big Island. Added bonus: the powerful A/C for those sweltering days.

2. Ka’awa Loa Plantation

A gay-owned and operated B&B on the Kona side of the island, the Ka’awa Loa Plantation is situated close to some of the best un-touristy beaches for snorkeling in the area. The five-acre property sits above Kealakekua Bay, a storied patch of water that’s home to one of Hawaii’s most vibrant coral reefs. The Plantation is also a fully functioning farm, growing avocados, papayas, dragon fruit, and perhaps Kona’s most famous crop, coffee.

3. Beach 67

Tucked away in a small corner of the Kohala coast, this beach attracts the largest gay crowd in town. The snorkeling is incredible—clear conditions and so many varities of fish—and it’s not so far from what are considered the Big Island’s most pristine sands, Hapuna Beach. No suit needed, if that’s your thing.

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4. Absolute Paradise

B&B Absolute Paradise outright caters to LGBT clients. It’s a clothing-optional establishment—with swimming pool—and they are a short walk as well from a clothing-optional black-sand beach, Kehena. A great place to set yourself up on the east coast of the island, especially if you’re planning to hike Hawai’i Volcano National Park.

5. My Bar

More LGBT-friendly than all the way gay, My Bar is a fun locals spot around Kona with pool tables, DJs, and karaoke. They also host a regular raucous party cruise with whale watching that ends with a BBQ at the bar about once a month.

>>Next: The Best Gay Bars in San Francisco