The vibe in Waikiki is the most frenetic of all the spots in the islands, but there is an escape. The scene at the current iteration of the classic Hawaiian hangout, Duke's, is a step back even by Oahu standards.
Best approached via the beach to enhance the original feel and avoid the mall-like carnival from the street entrance, this is the kind of bar that welcomes sand on your flips. Slip in for happy hour and be prepared to jockey for a spot. Even with the crowd, the music, the food, the drinks are all designed draw you back to a simpler time when Duke was still riding the longboard. I'm partial to the beers and french fries, but will never refuse a fish taco. With a long relationship with the Kona Brewing brand, I opt for the Longboard larger or Fire Rock Pale ale. The umbrella drinks don't disappoint, but neither do the gin and tonics.
The local musical talent that ply the stage at Duke's are traditional Hawaiian in style and like to keep the island theme front and center. There is a family vibe to the musical community, much like the rest of Hawaiian culture, and it's not unusual to get a sibling or cousin to come up on stage and do some traditional Hawaiian dance or help out on a song or two. There was an 8 year old girl that got asked to come up on one of our visits and she blew the crowd away!
The strip a Waikiki can be a bit daunting in terms of relaxation, but Duke's remains my refuge from the madness. Aloha.
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The Only Lava Flow on Oahu
The only lava flow on Oahu is the one in your cocktail glass. Surprisingly sweet and easy to swallow, the lava flow is a blended, icy mix of tropical flavors. Coconut rum, strawberries, coconuts, pineapple juice, and coconut cream make this an island classic. There is no better place to give this fancy drink a try than right on Waikiki beach at Duke's Barefoot Bar.