Waikiki packs a lot of activity into just 1.5 square miles. Once set aside as a retreat for royalty, it's now an internationally recognized vacation spot with dozens of high-rise resort towers backdropping the white-sand strip that made it famous. Residents and visitors tend to spend their daylight hours rooted firmly on the beach, but the night brings several attractions.
Watch a Boat Race
Any given Friday night, you can head down to the Waikiki Yacht Club to check out the Beer Can Races. Cheer boat-racing strangers -- and drink beer, of course -- as a motley group of boats hustle from Ala Wai Harbor to either the Diamond Head Bouy or Honolulu Harbor. It's no serious regatta, as the participants' experience levels range from America’s Cup veterans to total newbies. And as long as your sailboat measures at least 20 feet in length and you can avoid the coral and local canoers, you're welcome to join the fun.
Sip a Posh Drink
Roll up to Lewers Lounge, a seductive little ocean-view bar tucked away in Waikiki's central Halekulani Hotel. Live jazz plays most nights, while the primly dressed bartender pours potent artisanal cocktails. If you're lucky, that barman is Colin Peter Field, declared the “Best Barman in the World” by Forbes, whose signature cocktails grace Lewers' elegant digestif menu. Treat yourself to the bar's most unique offering: absinthe. Lewers Lounge is one of few places in the U.S. that serves it.
The Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa first put on a fireworks show in 1990, a tradition that still unfolds every Friday at twilight. The pyrotechnic show caps a Polynesian song and dance revue by lighting up the night sky above Waikiki Beach using 1,000-plus explosives. Buy a poolside ticket to enjoy a free mai tai cocktail with the performance.
Explore the Reef
From late fall through early spring, you can put on waders and enjoy a unique after-dark educational experience with the Waikiki Aquarium. A moonlight exploration hunts the nearby shallow reefs and tidepools for nocturnal crabs, lobsters, eels and octopi. Flashlights reveal sleeping fish, too, tucked away in their dens. Participants 6 years and older are welcome, though minors must be accompanied by an adult. If you visit in the summertime, the aquarium has another night offering: “Ke Kani O Ke Kai,” a seaside concert series held on the facility's lawn. Live Hawaiian music performances underscore a cheerful picnic wtih takeaway food from local restaurants. The aquarium also remains open throughout the concert.