Pack light, it’s going to be hot! October is Pride month in Hawaiʻi and Honolulu is the epicentre for the celebrations, hosting a parade, festival and a month-long program of activities. So start planning and start tanning because Honolulu Pride 2023 is going to be the biggest one yet.
Hawaiʻi’s queer community made October their Pride month to coincide with LGBT History Month, National Coming Out Day and Spirit Day. With so much to celebrate, it’s a great time to be in this idyllic oasis in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
‘The Lush Green Remnants Of A Volcano’
Honolulu, Hawaiʻi’s capital, is on the southern shore of Oʻahu, arguably the jewel in the crown of the Hawaiian Islands. Its natural wonders include the famous Waikīkī Beach with its turquoise water and long breaks; Lē‘ahi (Diamond Head) crater, the lush green remnants of a volcano; and the North Shore which includes the notorious Banzai Pipeline — one of the biggest barrel swells in the world.
Cornucopia Of Queer Treats
Among the man-made attractions are the sprawling Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, which you can visit without staying there; and the five Pearl Harbor Historic Sites.
The centrepiece of the festival is the Honolulu Pride Parade on Saturday October 21. It begins at 10am (yes, AM) at Magic Island, a stunning, grassy peninsula, then proceeds along the wide, high-rise and palm tree lined Ala Moana Blvd and Kalākaua Ave, to finish in picturesque Kapi‘olani Park at 12 noon.
In the park is a cornucopia of queer treats. Two stages featuring DJs and live performances; fabulous food; booths selling gifts, souvenirs, and paraphernalia; and fun activities. There’s even a special ‘ohana (family) zone.
Hawaiʻi’s own Sasha Colby — this year’s RuPaul’s Drag Race Winner —will headline the festival.
It all happens under the impressive Waikīkī Shell and on the Diamond Head Greens.
Surrounding this spectacular day is a four-week program of music, comedy, theatre, dance, parties and everything you’d expect of an LGBTQ party on a tropical island — and maybe some things you weren’t expecting.
Take a hike and chill between events. There are lots of gorgeous trails on the island. Journey into Lē‘ahi where you’ll travel through time in a volcanic tunnel, visit a World War II bunker, then take in the breathless views of Waikīkī (advance reservation required). Or head into Waimea Valley on O‘ahu’s North Shore and be guided by a botanical collections specialist who will point out stunning native birds, beautiful fruit and flora, while leading you to the magical Waimea Waterfall.
Immerse yourself in ancient culture and participate in the ‘Aha‘aina Lū‘au at the historic Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Traditional hula dancing, live music, storytelling and a mouth-watering authentic Hawaiian feast.
Sail away from the shore and have a little piece of the Pacific all to yourself and an intimate group of strangers aboard a Hula’s Catamaran Sun, sea, skin and music.
Mālama Means To Care For
In Hawaiʻi, to mālama means to care for, preserve and protect and you can play a vital role in helping not only to protect Hawaiʻi’s unique environments but also to respect and treasure its vibrant culture. Several organisations offer opportunities for visitors to pay it forward, and if you want to truly be one with nature you have to have the Kualoa Ranch Private Nature Reserve Mālama Experience. Get volcanic earth under your fingernails as you help with cleaning, planting, harvesting taro or looking after the māla lāʻau lapaʻau (Hawaiian medicinal plant garden).
Nothing can be more Hawaiian than learning how to surf — except maybe learning how to hula — and there are lots of places where you can do either. Or for something less traditional but lots of fun, go on a Hollywood locations tour and see where they film picturesque tropical scenes.
There are loads of places you can stay on Oʻahu but if you’d like to narrow it down to some queer-friendly options, here are some suggestions:
Experience authentic Hawaiian hospitality at ‘Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach. This modern oasis offers a perfect balance of energy and relaxation with a stunning 280,000-gallon, two-story saltwater Oceanarium in the lobby. Enjoy beachside accommodation, on-site restaurants, and Swell Pool & Bar featuring a saltwater infinity pool, private cabanas and live music, all overlooking Waikīkī Beach.
With its retro-chic style and LQBTQ+-friendly atmosphere, this boutique hotel offers a unique experience. It features stylish rooms, a pool, a restaurant and hosts LGBTQ+ events throughout the year.
Situated just over a short walk from Waikīkī Beach, the Coconut Waikīkī Hotel provides a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, offering comfortable accommodation, private lanais and your own kitchenette.
Nestled along the iconic Waikīkī Beach, Castle Waikīkī Shore Condominiums offer a welcoming and inclusive environment that embraces diversity. Sleeping up to 6 people, enjoy the comfort and privacy of spacious condominiums with stunning ocean views, while being steps away from the vibrant LGBTQ+-friendly attractions and nightlife.
For ideas on what to do when the sun goes down, here are some popular queer-friendly night spots:
This vibrant bar and lounge in the heart of Waikīkī is renowned for its welcoming atmosphere and energetic entertainment. During Honolulu Pride, Hula’s transforms into a lively hub of celebration, hosting special events, themed parties and performances that showcase the diverse talent of the local LGBTQ+ community. Dance to the beats of renowned DJs and be dazzled by captivating drag shows as you immerse yourself in the contagious spirit of love and acceptance.
Home to the world-famous Pineapple Stage, Scarlet Honolulu is one of the largest nightclub and gay bars that O‘ahu has to offer. Immerse yourself in a kaleidoscope of colours, pulsating beats and a warm, welcoming atmosphere that embraces all. At Scarlet Honolulu, you’ll find an exciting lineup of Pride festivities, from electrifying drag shows featuring some of the most talented performers, to high energy dance parties that will keep you moving all night long. Indulge in signature cocktails, mingle with a diverse community and let your true colours shine.
A fun, tropical cocktail lounge, located across from the iconic Hawaiʻi Theatre in the heart of downtown Honolulu, where Hawaiʻi’s beauty and traditions are translated through food, drink, folk, and flowers.
Bacchus Waikīkī is set to host an array of unforgettable LGBTQ festivities during Honolulu Pride. From dazzling drag shows, to electrifying dance parties, Bacchus offers a welcoming atmosphere and a safe space for everyone to come together and celebrate the LGBTQ spirit. Join the party and raise your rainbow flag high at Bacchus Waikīkī for an unforgettable Pride experience in the heart of Honolulu.
The largest event presented by Gay Island Guide, the atmosphere of Freaky Friday is charged with excitement as the vibrant crowd comes together to revel in the magic of Pride. Be dazzled by the mind-blowing performances from drag superstars and mesmerising live acts. Dance the night away to a pulsating mix of beats, surrounded by an eclectic mix of individuals and allies who are ready to let their flags fly high. From eye-popping costumes to jaw-dropping spectacles, Freaky Friday is a visual feast for the senses. Freaky Friday has it all, including a shirts optional gay dance party, guest models, drag performances, prize giveaways and more.
Oʻahu is saying e komo mai (welcome).
So what are you waiting for?
Great packages are available now.
Hawaiian Airlines is offering 7% discount on return economy airfares from Brisbane / Sydney / Melbourne to Honolulu. Departures 14 October to 11 November 2023, subject to availability.
Full T&C’s and to book your Pride Flight at hawaiianairlines.com.au/honolulupride