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Sep 25, 2007 03:51 PM

House Without A Key

Aloha! I'm planning a trip from LA to Oahu next month and I've been putting together my wish list of dining/drink options. The scenery at HWAK grabbed me and I think I'd really like to check it out. I can't seem to find info on attire- website says resort casual but some reviews say sporty is fine. Can someone tell me if sundresses are appropriate?

Also I read that the coconut shrimp are great. Should we be dining here or just visit for drinks/appetizers? Do they have any sort of a Happy Hour?

Thank You!!

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  1. Absolutely. When we dined there, I wore my normal blazer, and wife her light knit suit. We were overdressed, but that happens alot. I cannot recall being underdressed in the last 30 years. One caution: HWAK is on the pool level, and is surrounded by the pool chaise and small tables. You will be amongst, or almost, the folk, who come for a drink and the music, which is very good. It's almost like having two dining venues in one - pool attire at one, and more formal diners at the other.

    For a review of the food/wine, take a look at:

    O`ahu dining is about 2/3 of the way through the review, and HWAK is near the first of the Honolulu section.

    All things considered, I'd probably dine at La Mer (last trip was NOT the best), and ask to be seated over the pool/HWAK area, rather than dine there. It was OK, but not enough to justify an evening there. OTOH, La Mer is about 5x the price, but the wine list is worth that difference to me.

    Lovely setting and lovely music (changes every few nights with a cycle of about 4 performers, or groups). Sunset, in that location, is not to be missed. Just do not expect a great wine list there. They really need to work on that aspect, especially as they have some wonderful wines, just upstairs.


    1 Reply
    1. re: Bill Hunt

      Edit - as Hopkid so kindly pointed out, it is really three (not two, as I stated) slightly different dining experiences, going from the covered HWAK lanai area, to the small parasol tables, to the pool-side chaise iwth tiny tables.

      As to a Happy Hour, I do not recall any mention of anything, based on time of day. I'd guess that they feel that the entire time, that they are open, is "Happy Hour," with the music.

      Hunt, standing corrected, thanks to HopKid

    2. Can't argue with Hunt, La Mer really is a special experience, but most of the time I would rather be downstairs on the lanai. The pupus are excelent, if steeply priced (hey, its the "best" hotel in Honolulu) and sitting there with the hawaiian steel guitar band, the lovely and graceful hula being performed, while the sun sets offshore - life doesn't get a whole lot better than that. And I would rather sit there and have a variety pupus and a couple of drinks than sit in the HWAK, most of the time. If you want to eat at the HWAK, make it Sunday Brunch.

      7 Replies
      1. re: KaimukiMan

        That's right, they do a Sunday Brunch also (only been to Orchids, across the courtyard). I'd forgotten about that. When we passed it, enroute to Orchids, the spread looked very good, but we have yet to sample it. One could always save the $, do brunch at HWAK, then go "people watch" at Orchids.

        Thanks for the refresher,

        1. re: Bill Hunt

          Just to add a bit of clarification to the excellent (as usual) descriptions by Bill and KaimukiMan...

          The main area of HWAK is under a roof where there are formal tables for dining. Outside of that there are tables with umbrellas on the pool side of the roofed area and then low-lying tables and chairs makai (ocean) side that face the small stage with the Pacific Ocean beyond. The attached photos will give you a bit of an idea what I'm talking about.

          I've always made it a point to go for pupus, music, and sunset at least once when I visit. We also once made it our first stop after checking in to our nearby hotel the day we arrived and had pupus and prosecco mid-afternoon. Going to HWAK has been a family tradition of ours for a long time.

          1. re: hopkid

            Thanks so much for sharing the photos and info everyone!

            1. re: hopkid

              Yes, the photos give a better picture, than my verbal discription of the venue. We've never done the pool-side casual, only the HWAK, or, more often the La Mer, overlooking the area.

              I think that the OP will get a good picture (pun fully intended) of what is available. For me, pool-side would score better, than did HWAK. Maybe after years of La Mer, I expected far too much and held them to too high a standard, but hey, they ARE the Halekulani, after all.

              Thanks for taking the time to clarify,


              [EDIT] One question: considering that it's basically three, slightly different venues, how do the menus differ, between the HWAK, the parasol tables in the midground, and the pool-side chairs, tiny tables, closer to the stage - same, or different? Just curious.

              1. re: Bill Hunt

                I was always under the impression that the three areas were part of the same "restaurant". The website only has menus for lunch and dinner and are not separated by area (i.e., pool versus covered area, etc.).


                Looking at the music line-up I would highly recommend going when Pa'ahana is playing (Sun/Mon). They are excellent! And the former Miss Hawaiis that do hula on any given night are excellent as well.

                1. re: hopkid

                  Agree! Do go when Pa'ahana is playing! A good friend of mine is in
                  that group and I'm sure you will enjoy them!

                  1. re: manomin

                    I saw them twice in one day! Well the two guitar players were strolling around the Banyan Veranda during Easter brunch at the Surfrider and I really enjoyed them. Imagine my surprise when they also showed up at HWAK that evening. I was pretty happy!

                    BTW, we had the coconut shrimp, the premium grade ahi sashimi, the lemongrass beef skewers and the seafood spring rolls. I'd probably not order the beef skewers again but the rest were great!