Our favorite spots for live music, dancing, and karaoke in Kona, Hawaii
In Kona we sleep to the sounds of surf, but there’s more to listen to than the ocean on any given night. Here are a few of our favorite venues for live music and dancing in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. From classy jazz joints to open mics and karaoke, Kona has some good stuff to offer music lovers. Hey, we may be a cute little beach town, but we do know how to party, OK?
75-5699 Ali’i Drive, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Overlooking the pier with a beautiful sunset view, Gertrude’s Jazz Bar is a favorite among locals and visitors who enjoy good music, food, and drink. Their website has a full calendar of special and nightly events. Wednesday is open mic night and Thursday’s Latin Jazz night is fun for dancing. They have a full bar and serve dinner, with some good stuff on the menu like New York Steak served with sweet potato fries, Grandma’s meatballs, tasty bruschetta and more. They have a creative cocktail menu featuring craft cocktails like the Kona Nightingale, made with Tito’s Vodka, Cock ‘n Bull Ginger Beer and fresh squeezed orange and lime. Gertrudes has the look and feel of a city jazz club, which makes it one of a kind in Kona. Follow them on Facebook.
BONUS SIDE NOTE - A great general resource for finding information on live music and special events is the Kona Town Today and Tonight Facebook Group, which has over 5 K members.
78-6842 Ali’i Dr, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
This tucked away poolside bar located in the Kona Coast Resort in Keauhou is has some good live music. They usually have something going down Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. They are a bit informal and don’t have a website, but their Facebook page is updated regularly. Music generally gets started around sunset time, hence the name. They are big on local brews, offering beers and ciders from Kona Brewing Co, Maui Brewing Co, Big Island Brewhaus, and Ola Brew. They also serve up some interesting tropical cocktails like Dr. Frankenstein’s Vacation, made with coconut rum, pineapple, coconut mint, and passion fruit - basically the deliciously fruity love child of a mojito and a piña colada.
75-5824 Kahakai Road Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Located right on the water with tables and chairs in the sand, this quirky little bar and restaurant - complete with a thatched roof - offers nightly live music and hula. It’s a good place to catch Hawaiian style music while sipping a classic tiki cocktail. Don’t forget your Aloha shirt! Rock bands and other musical styles play here too, just check the entertainment schedule on their website. They have a daily happy hour from 3 - 5 pm and serve lunch and dinner with a mixture of local style and American food. Try the Kalua Pork Nachos. Follow them on Facebook for updates and events.
75-5819 Ali’i Dr Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Your friendly neighborhood sports bar, Lavernes is a go-to spot for visiting bands. DJs crank out some decent sets for dancing on the weekends, too. Charmingly tacky decor, pool tables, big TVs and beefy security guards are all part of the ambiance. It’s popular with locals for a drink after work, to catch a game, or to dance your butt off into the wee hours. They do offer a full menu of standard bar fare, serving breakfast lunch and dinner. Follow them on Facebook for more information on upcoming events, shows, and DJs.
74-5612 Pawai Place Kailua Kona, HI 96740
Kona’s own brewery hosts bands every week usually over the weekend. You can find this month’s line up on the bottom of their ‘visit us’ page, scroll down and click the link at the bottom for events, it’s a bit hidden. A rotating selection of yummy beers are on tap, brewed right on site and go great with their pizzas. Their outdoor patio has room for a little dancing. They offer ‘stoked hour’ specials on beers and slices Monday - Friday, 3 - 5pm.
74-5606 Luhia St, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Located in Kona’s Old Industrial area, Kona My Bar is LGBT friendly and tucked away from touristy Ali’i Drive. This is a great spot for dancing with DJs usually on the weekends. There is karaoke Sunday nights at 8 pm. Follow them on Facebook for upcoming special events like fun themed costume parties and holiday parties. They have a back deck for smoking and pool tables inside too.
If karaoke is your thing check out Sam’s Hideaway, at 75-5729 Ali’i Dr. This is a locals joint with a crowd that skews a bit older. Sam’s has a low key, mellow vibe and feels a bit like a time capsule, in a good way. Regulars with some serious pipes will surprise you. Another spot for karaoke and some good eats - including fresh oysters on the half shell - is Sunflower Bar and Grill at 75-5626 Kuakini Hwy in the King Kam Mall.
Finally, check out Big Island Music Academy. A music school for kids ages 10 and up, they have concerts several times a year at various locations. The students put on an amazing show. Classical music nerds, check out the Chamber Orchestra of Kona and the Kamuela Philharmonic.
Have a favorite spot for live music in Kona we missed? We’d love to hear from you.