Hawaii Aloha Travel enjoyed a dinner with out-of-town friends there recently, and we were reminded of what makes Duke’s Waikiki a special place for residents and a must-do for Waikiki visitors. There are other hugely popular restaurants in Waikiki, giant chain restaurants like Hard Rock Café and Cheesecake Factory do a brisk business, with lines out the door and people waiting up to an hour for a table.
Duke’s Waikiki can also get intimidatingly busy and packed. It also has other properties in other locations. But its commitment to the feel of “old Waikiki” is real, without pandering postcard tropes to tourists in gaudy aloha attire. Duke Kahanamoku was and remains a true native Hawaiian and American hero. His legacy is carefully minded at Duke’s Waikiki.
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What sets Duke’s apart from other popular Waikiki restaurants is its seafood menu. Respecting the historical practice of only harvesting fish when they are “in season”, the fresh fish selection changes often, nightly even. What is constant, however, is the preparation of whatever the day’s fresh is. Baked, sautéed, “seven-spice” and ginger roasted are on offer, with helpful servers explaining what fish is available, and what goes into each recipe
Duke’s is also surprisingly affordable for a seafood restaurant on the beach in Waikiki. Fresh fish selections run $29-$32, and other seafood and meat selections are similarly reasonable. Duke’s also offer a fine selection of local brews and innovative takes on traditional tropical drinks.
Duke’s Waikiki is perhaps most famous (among local residents, anyway) for its Sunday evening sunset concerts with legendary Hawaii music icon Henry Kapono. The outdoor dining area becomes the dancefloor for a kinetic beach party, with locals and visitors mingling and singing along to Henry’s original classics and a choice selection of popular hit from over the decades as the sun sets. Sunday’s at Duke’s have become a Waikiki institution.
On other nights of the week, the crowd skews visitor. But many Hawaii families head for Duke’s to celebrate milestones like graduations, wedding rehearsal dinners, or fond farewells for those leaving the Aloha State.
At the bar at any time of the week, you’ll find honeymooners, Midwestern retirees, and sun-soaked beachboys (and girls) smiling over drinks or beers. Everyone is relaxed gets along like old friends. No need to be uptight when you’re enjoying a meal or drinks on one of the most beautiful beaches anywhere in the world!
Here at Hawaii Aloha Travel, we can help get you in the door to one of the most popular destinations in Waikiki. Give us a call!