During an extra happy happy hour at your local pub back home in Chicago, you, your wife and two other couples all toasted your half-priced martinis to “Getting out to Hawaii together someday!”

That “someday” has actually arrived, and you are all thrilled to find yourselves at Koloa Landing Resort on Kauai’s sunny South Shore.

The six of you have taken over a remarkably spacious three-bedroom villa with the kind of ocean view your dreams have had on replay for years. You felt pretty smart when you realized how much you could save (and how much more fun you could have) by sharing a villa instead of booking three separate hotel rooms. And how best to celebrate the happy hour pact that got you here? With happy hour, of course!

So after a day of snorkeling at Poipu Beach you are now gathered around a table at the resort’s Holoholo Grill — an all-day open-air gastropub with the motto “celebrating life’s pleasures”. Happy hour here is called “Aloha Hour” and you love the laid-back vibe, friendly servers, specially priced snacks and drinks, and full view of the spectacular Main Pool — just named ”The Best Pool in America” by USA Today.

Holoholo Grill features a menu of island-inspired goodies by celebrity chef Sam Choy, aka Hawaii’s Culinary Ambassador to the World and all-around taste bud wizard. The bartenders stir up an array of tropical cocktails designed to send you into instant vacation mode.

It’s your gang’s second round of Mai Tais, prosecco and craft beers — or possibly your third. (When you’re on vacation no one is allowed to count.) The only thing tastier than the crispy-crunchy coconut shrimp dipped in lilikoi sauce is pairing it with this cold IPA. Pure hoppiness. Your server sets down a platter of Kauai-style nachos: a tower of chips melting with cheese and spicy guac and crowned with a healthy pile of pulled Kalua pork. It’s crackly and messy with flavors unlike anything you’ve had back home, and it’s devoured down to the last swipe of sauce. The poke platter, however, is the showstopper: A banana leaf cradling silky cubes of raw fish bathed in a spicy marinade and topped with curls of spring onion. You all lean in and scoop it up with the house-made taro chips. Aloha!

On the other side of the bar a steel guitarist plays a groovy reggae, and at some point — between your wife’s singing along to the song and your friend’s story about the eel he dodged snorkeling — it dawns on you just how grateful you are that someday somehow managed to become today.

You’re going to need another round. But who’s counting?

Koloa Landing Resort’s Holoholo Grill hosts “Aloha Hour” daily from 3pm to 5pm. Snack and drink specials extend to poolside and cabana service, too. Holoholo Grill’s website has all the latest info — including even more savings for locals.


Erica Karlin — Koloa Landing Resort