Poipu Party Time

It’s happy hour, and you and your spouse cozy up to the bar at Merriman’s Fish House on Kauai’s sunny South Shore. The bartender places in front of you two rocks glasses filled with gradient amber liquid topped with a cloud of lilikoi foam and a pineapple slice. You clink glasses and take a long sip. The foam has a tropical sweetness yet is lighter than expected and the drink is complex with layers of tang and rum. This may be the tastiest mai tai you’ve ever met (and you’ve met plenty).

“Nice mustache, darling,” your spouse says with a wink, indicating your foamy lip. She sips her mai tai through the tiny straw then murmurs, “Mmm. Tastes like . . . vacation.”

And the best part? These potent potables are only $8.00 a pop for the next hour. (You start calculating how many you can fit in. . .)

Groovy Hawaiian reggae wafts in from the speakers as your server sets down a plate of short rib tacos and garlic truffle fries. You order more cocktails. Folks start sliding onto the neighboring barstools, comparing notes about the menu and pretty soon it’s a party.

Happy Hour on Kauai almost seems redundant, but plenty of spots on the South Shore offer up this extra level of bliss. Here are just a few of your favorites:

Merriman’s Fish House

Happy Hour 4:00pm – 5:00pm Tuesday through Sunday

Menu: $8 mai tais, $6 well drinks, $3 draft beer, $6 house wines, $5 tacos and $5 garlic truffle fries.

Why it’s great:

Chef/owner Greg Merriman’s farm-to-table-and-glass concept means fresh local ingredients are used in most of their recipes. Found on the second story of an elegant plantation-style structure, the space is open and airy with all-star coastal views. Those who stay for dinner are usually rewarded with a spectacular sunset.

2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka Street in the Shops at Kukui’ula  |  (808) 742-8385

Merriman’s website

The Cabana Bar & Grill at Poipu Beach Athletic Club

Happy Hour 4:00pm – 6:00pm daily

Menu: $7 off all wines and sparkling wines and $2 off local craft and big-name beers,

$2 off all pupus like poke, sliders, summer rolls, wings, quesadillas and hummus.

Why it’s great:

Though favored by locals, the aloha vibe at this laid-back lanai means a happy-good time for all — and non-members are more than welcome. Multiple TV screens and views of the tennis courts and other club activities make this a haven for athletes, drinkers, and athletic drinkers. Reduced-price sparkling wines pair perfectly with the poke — and the Poipu sunshine.

2290 Poipu Road  |  (808) 320-3006

The Cabana Bar and Grill

Holoholo Grill at Koloa Landing Resort

Aloha Hour 3:00pm – 5:00pm daily

Menu: $2 off draft beer and house wine and $5 selected cocktails, $2 off appetizers, $3 fish tacos, $1 shrimp tempura.

Why it’s great:

Holoholo in Hawaiian means “a pleasurable journey of discovery,” and this poolside gastropub lives up to its name with a festive ”aloha hour” featuring hand-crafted cocktails and a kitchen brought to you by celebrity chef Sam Choy. Discover the pleasure of kicking back next to the ”The Best Pool in America” with a plate of fresh-grilled fish tacos and a Kona IPA or three.

2641 Poipu Road in Koloa |  (808) 742-2538

Holoholo Grill website

Brennecke’s Beach Broiler

Happy Hour 3pm – 5pm Tuesday through Sunday

Menu: $8 margaritas, mai tais and select martinis, $9 cosmos, $20 pitchers of coladas, daiquiris & margaritas, $3/$15 select beers/pitchers, $3/$20 draft beer/pitchers, $9 select wine.

Why it’s great:

If you’re down for an iconic Kauaian experience, world-famous Brennecke’s is a great place to start your evening. Their pupu prices aren’t as low as some, but remember you’re paying for the history of this beloved boozy institution. More than 1 million mai tais have been making bar hoppers happy since 1984. And the views over Poipu Beach aren’t all bad either.

2100 Hoone Road, Poipu Beach  |  (808) 742-7588

Brennecke’s website

Kalapaki Joe’s Poipu

Happy Hour 3:00pm – 6:00pm daily

Menu: $3 house wines, $5 select cocktails, $3 fish tacos, $1 shrimp tempura and more. Two-drink minimum for happy hour food prices.

Touting itself as “the westernmost sports bar” in the United States, “Kalapaki Joe’s” is not just fun to say, it is also a fine spot to spend a few hours getting happy. Local musicians perform nightly as folks order pint after pint from the longest beer menu on the island. Twenty TVs tune into sports all day and night which means no one needs to miss their team’s at-the-buzzer three pointer.

1941 Poipu Road  |  (808) 742-6366

Kalapaki Joe’s website


Nothing says “I’m on vacation” like a tropical happy hour. Come stay near all this fun and more at Koloa Landing Resort. We’ll save a little paper umbrella just for you. 

Erica Karlin — Koloa Landing Resort