Hawaii's best beach bars

Willie Grace | 12/11/2014, 9:02 p.m. | Updated on 12/11/2014, 9:02 p.m.
Killer ocean views, sunset exposure and a creative menu from which, for once, you don't have to feel ashamed about ...
Though the thatched-roof bar has an informal vibe, it's got a sophisticated beer and wine menu (more than 60 wines by the glass) and 19 cocktails, including the popular limoncello-pear concoction that's the signature Beach Tree Smash.

(CNN) -- We all know what makes a great beach bar.

Killer ocean views, sunset exposure and a creative menu from which, for once, you don't have to feel ashamed about drinks that come in coconut shells garnished with pink umbrellas.

In Hawaii, though, perfect beach drinkeries also have to be imbued with that distinctive mahalo spirit.

These 10 waterfront watering holes have all that, and then some.

The Edge of Waikiki (Oahu)

The Edge of Waikiki almost seems too obvious, with its prime Waikiki Beach location and unobstructed views of Diamond Head.

As the name suggests, it sits right on the edge of the Sheraton Waikiki's infinity pool -- happy souls occasionally float past you on orange bean bags.

Every morning between 10 a.m. and noon, bartenders serve $3 draft beers and $7 cocktails; in the afternoon, there's live acoustic music and umbrella-topped pina coladas.

For all the cliches, the bar remains quintessentially Waikiki, frequented by visitors and locals alike.

The Edge of Waikiki, 2255 Kalakaua Ave. on Waikiki Beach, Honolulu; +1 808 922 4422

Lava Lava Beach Club (Big Island)

Lava Lava might be your textbook Hawaiian beach bar -- tiki torches, swaying palms, hula dancing and a live band -- but its kitschy charm works.

The location helps -- it's on quiet Anaeho'omalu Bay on the Big Island's northwestern coast.

Though its decor can be described as casual, at best -- basic rattan chairs and tables on the sand -- the drinks are strong and cheap, with $5 cocktails during happy hour, and service is attentive and energetic.

Lava Lava Beach Club, 69-1081 Ku'uali'i Place on Anaeho'omalu Bay, Waikoloa Village, Big Island; +1 808 769 5282

Bumbye Beach Bar (Maui)

Though Bumbye is located just steps from low-key Mokapu Beach on Maui's southwest coast, it's not exactly what you'd call low key.

Its beechwood exteriors, surf-inspired art and artisan cocktails attract a largely young clientele, mainly guests at the Andaz Wailea.

But there's no attitude here: bartenders are chatty and easygoing and there's a solid local presence, particularly during football season when drinks are half-price during games.

The signature Honua'ula cocktail, a mix of Amaro, tequila, rum, pineapple and lime, is a crowd favorite.

Bumbye Beach Bar, 3550 Wailea Alanui Drive on Mokapu Beach, Wailea, Maui; +1 808 573 1234

House Without a Key (Oahu)

Sheltered beneath the sprawling branches of a century-old kiawe tree behind the Halekulani's orchid pool, House Without a Key feels tucked away despite its central Waikiki Beach address.

Each night on a small, oceanfront stage, live Hawaiian music is paired with traditional hula dancing performed by former Miss Hawaii winners as the sun sets over Waikiki.

The signature cocktail is a mai tai -- more than one call it the best on the island -- served over crushed ice and a sugarcane stick, and garnished with a mint leaf and a Vanda orchid.

House Without a Key, 2199 Kalia Road on Waikiki Beach, Honolulu; +1 808 923 2311

Nalu Kai (Kauai)

Quite possibly the only true beach bar on Kauai's north shore, Nalu Kai pairs barefoot appeal with strong drinks and views over Hanalei Bay, Pu'u Poa Beach and Bali Hai.