Musical groups such as Hoku Paa perform free shows four nights per week at King’s Shops on Hawaii Island. // © 2018 Kings' Shops
Feature image (above): Na Mele No Na Pua concerts enliven Waikiki for free. // © 2018 Waikiki Beach Walk
Hawaii resorts often offer live entertainment as a perk for their paying guests. But what about free, live music for the general public? Fortunately, there are several great options. Following are our favorite non-hotel venues for island visitors who want to enjoy live tunes without spending a dime.
Coconut Marketplace, Kauai
Born and raised on Kauai, Larry Rivera is a living treasure among local musicians. A recipient of the Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts’ lifetime achievement award, he strums his ukulele, sings his own compositions and charms audiences with his warmth (each Friday at 5 p.m.).
Friday Art Night in Hanapepe, Kauai
A tradition for more than 20 years, this casual street party signals the start of each weekend in neighborly fashion. Live tunes provide the soundtrack as visitors stroll along the main drag through town, see local artworks, check out the food trucks and mingle with residents (each Friday from 5 to 9 p.m.).
Hulihee Palace, Hawaii Island
Located in Kailua-Kona, this historic vacation home for Hawaiian royalty invites visitors to spread out on its lawn for an hour of live music and hula. Among the performers are the Hulihee Palace Band and the all-male Merrie Monarchs, whose vocal numbers have deep roots in the islands (third Sunday of each month from 4 to 5 p.m.).
Kings’ Shops, Hawaii Island
The alfresco shopping mall in Waikoloa Resort rolls out a rotating roster of island musicians, from a self-taught slack key guitarist to a ukulele wizard. Look for the free shows on Center Stage (each Monday and Wednesday from 6 to 7 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday from 5 to 6 p.m.).
If it’s Friday night, that means there’s an outdoor party in one of five small Maui towns: Wailuku, Lahaina, Makawao, Kihei and Lanai City. Nonstop live music ranges from rock and reggae to dance tunes. Also on hand are food trucks, vendor booths, games and arts and crafts (each Friday from 6 to 9 p.m.).
Na Mele No Na Pua, Oahu
These monthly concerts draw crowds to pedestrian-friendly Waikiki Beach Walk. Budding stars as well as established Hawaii names play and sing on the Plaza Stage. Outrigger Hotels & Resorts hosts the events as part of its commitment to culture (one Sunday each month from 5 to 6 p.m.).
Royal Hawaiian Band, Oahu
Founded by King Kamehameha III in 1836, this beloved concert band upholds its legacy with free, outdoor performances of western and Hawaiian songs. Its delightful shows turn back the pages of time (Iolani Palace grounds each Friday from noon to 1 p.m.; Kapiolani Park bandstand each Sunday from 2 to 3 p.m.).
Royal Hawaiian Center, Oahu
In a tropical garden surrounded by graceful palms, these one-hour shows help visitors start their evening in harmony. Five nights each week, some of Hawaii’s top musicians and hula dancers share their talents under the stars (each Tuesday through Saturday from 6 to 7 p.m.).
Shops at Wailea, Maui
Each month at Wailea Resort’s upscale retail hub, headliners from around the islands sing and play everything from rhythm-and-blues riffs to Hawaii-inspired melodies. Concerts take place on the Fountain Courtyard stage (third Wednesday of each month from 5:30 to 7 p.m.).
Whalers Village, Maui
The lower level courtyard of the oceanfront shopping emporium presents a picturesque setting for live music as the sun slides into the sea (each Sunday from 6 to 8 pm.). Whalers Village also features free hula shows (each Wednesday and Saturday from 7 to 8 p.m.).