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Mock This Way: How to Party in Hawaii Without Going to Rehab

Unless you’re a friend of Bill’s or preggers, Hawaiian vacations are pretty much synonymous with getting shitfaced. Tropical umbrella drinks, swim-up bars, beaches built for beer commercials—this place is a breeding ground for some serious imbibing.

And, while I’m all for having a kick ass time on one of our gorgeous islands, I find nothing sadder than tourists who go so wild that they forget their hard-won stay in Hawaii. Sure, fuzzy memories have a certain beauty to them, but a week of blackouts suggests that the next trip you’ll be taking is to the Betty Ford Center.

Like savory crepes, mojitos and headstands, the key to the perfect Hawaiian trip rests in balance. Here’s how to drink like a rock star, without waking up on the mainland with a tramp stamp:

Fuel ‘Er Up

Loco Moco

Day drinking isn’t just a hobby here; it’s the aloha way of life.

We like our sun hot, our water warm and our beers ice-cold, preferably popped open on the beach in the mid-morning.

But, start slamming them back without proper sustenance and that dip in the ocean could be a recipe for disaster.

Start your day as if you’ll be gearing up for a marathon (which, in many ways, you are). Papaya and yogurt is sweet and nice.  But, if you’re gonna go Lohan, you best gobble up some protein.

Lucky for you, all of the major islands peddle scrambled eggs and SPAM. (Don’t know what SPAM actually, um, entails? Learn more here.)

Or, try make like a Hawaiian and ordered a Loco Moco—a genius invention that involves a hamburger patty, fried eggs, rice and gravy.

Sure, it may not be the most judicious choice, when it comes to your waistline.  But, it’ll grant you the drinking prowess of a pre-AA Anthony Hopkins.

Hydrate Like a Mother****

You know and I know that alcohol is a serious diuretic. Combine that with Hawaii’s proximity to the equator and island time—where three margaritas can easily turn into nine—and we’re talking ER-worthy levels of dehydration.

Gatorade is a superb choice for the electrolytes it provides.  But, you’re not exactly still a track runner in high school, are you?

Go for a little class and stock up on coconut water and noni juice instead. The former is sold everywhere from gas stations to sand-side kiosks; the latter—which bursts with hangover-healing antioxidants—can be found at most Hawaiian Whole Foods and Island Gourmet locations.

Keep them cold and sip ‘em up—these bevvies might be the thing that’ll save you from waking up with Sharpie tattoos and half an eyebrow.

Mix With Care


Beer before liquor and never sicker might be more myth than fact.  But, there’s something to be said about the dangers of starting off with a beer, downing a shot of Fireball and then ordering a Long Island.

It’s like a Vegas buffet for the brain, a whole bunch of flavors and possible reactions flooding together and wreaking havoc on those cells that help you solve simple math problems.

And, the more you mix, the more you will typically tend to drink—in part because hard liquor works way faster than its more tepid cousins (beer and wine).

If you’re fixing to mix, consider something professional partiers do: Choose a non-alcoholic mixer. Love beer? Try a Hefeweizen/lemonade Shandy. Craving champagne? Opt not for a glass, but for a Vitamin-C-laced mimosa instead.

And, while wine coolers deserve to be illegal, you can do a spritzer—if, of course, you’re a blonde who wears pearls.

Go Faux

Hate to rain on your Aloha Day parade, but here’s something to consider: Not everyone you encounter in Hawaii will be tuned into the same party track as you, dear traveler.

Because, while we are surrounded by water, our islands are not giant floating cruise ships where everyone on board has unlimited drink tickets.

In other words, act like a hot mess at the bar, when locals are there to chill and you’ll a) be asked to leave, or b) sense the tone change the moment you stagger back from the bathroom for jus one more. And, that can lead to some mad discomfort for everyone else in your social circle.

Channel your inner Elizabeth Vargas instead. Meaning, kick it with your crew and have a fantastic time, but switch it up with mocktails, instead of keeping pace with the boys.

And no, I’m not talking about a modest glass of club soda whose only excitement is a squeeze of lime; I’m talking about the super-delish fauxjitos and zero-proof mélanges that are taking bar menus by storm.

From Tommy Bahama’s Pineapple, Cream of Coconut, and Nutmeg “Pain Chiller” to the Genius Lounge’s whisky-free, cherry-infused “The Duke,” watering holes around the world are paying mind to the fact that peeps want to party without the consequences.

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

Hawaii’s got more perks in a square mile than entire cities on the mainland (here’s looking at you, Grand Rapids). But, outside of Oahu, we’re not exactly known for our nightlife.

Apart from drug dealers, owners of Korean bars and the very mixologists who keep you from going thirsty, most of us survive and thrive during daylight hours.

Maui Activities, Best things to do in Maui

In other words, beach drinking, early Happy Hours, bars that shutter up at 10 pm—most islands go crickets-quiet, far before midnight. And, it would behoove you to do the same.


The best Hawaiian activities have to do with fun under the sun, whether it’s hiking Maui’s bad-ass bamboo forest or long-boarding summer swells in Hanalei on Kauai.

Rise after 9 am, only to nurse a throbbing head and you’ll feel, well, kinda like a loser. From watching the sun rise over Haleakala to taking an early-morning snorkeling trip, trust me when I say that most Hawaiian activities aren’t exactly geared towards Phil and Stu’s coterie of friends.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t rock out, let loose, get tipsy, or even plan a night to get smashed to smithereens at LuLu’s. Rather, it means internalizing these tips, exercising some restraint and showing some decorum. And, if all of this sounds damn near impossible—well, kid, you’re on your own; here’s the number for Meadows.





  • Brian K

    Brian K has been a writer and publisher for 10+ years and has worked for LiveYourAloha as a freelance author and content manager for several of them. There's not much about Hawaii he can't tell you about!