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Is This My Favorite Office Ever?

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By Michelle Railey

Spoiler: It is.

339 Saratoga Road, Honolulu, HI 96815

So. Say you’re me. Your idea of one of the best things ever is to sit at cool bars, drink, and write things, design things, or otherwise chill with your pens, laptop*, paper, books, whatevs.

In other words, I like using bars as libraries. I used to like coffee shops and diners too but that’s another post for another day.

I like the people-watching.

I like the quiet.

I may or may not like the alcohol. (Okay, you caught me. I like the alcohol.)

Anyhoo, you know, I really aspire never to hog a seat when things are crowded or make anyone uncomfortable or take up a seat that is needed or wanted by someone who is, oh yeah, not me and not doing my schtick.

And, especially in the Age of COVID (TM), finding places that don’t mind you parking with your backpack and laptop when seats are limited is difficult.

And on vacation? Goodness.

It’s hard, dear Internets, like, real difficult sometimes. (I’ll take First World Problems for a thousand, Alex.)

But you’re not reading this for my thing. You want to know about Arnold’s Beach Bar. So, let’s go.

Not a real mermaid. I checked.

Okay, so I was in Hawaii [1] with time to spare and also, my usual desire to blog the world and sit with my BFF, Laptop, while Drinking and Doing Things. [2] I also had this massive urge that ”I wanna go to a real tiki bar.” I mean, because, obviously.

Originally, I wanted to go to La Mariana Sailing Club. But they’re closed for the time being. I had been to Tiki’s Grill and Bar [3] which, while delightful, was not what I’d call authentic. I wanted, dear reader, a quiet-ish spot in the middle of the day, preferably Tiki, definitely with character, and that would give me fairly affordable drinks and a spot at the bar on which to place my laptop [4].

When I was googling tiki bars, Arnold’s came up. When I was googling places to work (i.e. work remotely), Arnold’s came up. When I searched for “cheap” and ”dive” and “unique” and ”quiet,” Arnold’s Beach Bar kept coming up.

So I walked a really long time (didn’t have a car that day) and relied heavily on maps, enjoyed the scenery, and finally found Arnold’s. (Pro Tip: if walking a lot, like a lot, wear something that is not flip flops. Your calves will thank you.)

And Arnold’s, as it turned out, is perfect.

The “outside” portion of the bar. It’s pretty great.

For the record, I got there early afternoon-ish (not a technical term). It was quiet. One or two locals at the bar; a couple people on the patio. The poor bodyguard/bouncer/vaccine card checker was painfully bored (cheers, brother). The walls were covered in straw and rattan, tiki totems, handpainted things amateurish, nostalgic, historic, great, and fantastic. Glass fishing floats [5] and surfboards and palm leaf fans decorated the ceiling. And did I mention that the drinks were cheap, the customers were locals, and it was not crowded? It had huge character, unique, and should have been packed to the gills with tourists seeking ”tiki bar.”

It wasn’t. They plugged my laptop in without asking [6]. They had Gold Cliff IPA [7] for dirt cheap.

And I spent one of the best afternoons of my life at Arnold’s Beach Bar.

Yes, it was easy to sit there, work peacefully, and drink local, well-crafted beer. (They had Mai Tais and other ”tiki” drinks and maybe on a different day, I would have drank those.) It was blissful to sit in a place that had its own special kind of identity, that wasn’t too perfect, that was (quite literally in Honolulu) off the beaten path. [8]

Don’t look too closely at the photo on the far right wall: She forgot her shirt!

Now, there’s an alternate world in which the people (and cats) I love most relocate to Hawaii and I meander there all the rest of my born days. And if I did, Arnold’s would definitely be my most consistent, particular haunt for doing my strange writing/thinking/laptop [9] ways. Sometimes, you just love places. I just love Arnold’s.

In my life, I’ve had several “offices” that were not actual offices or in my home or whatevs. I’ve had several third places that have been more home to me than home. And I’m grateful to every one of them.

But I gotta tell you, Arnold’s is by far my favorite. Of course, being in the paradise that is Hawaii is quite an edge for a place to have. And when you add tikis and just an old-school kind of unfussy decency? (And Dole Whips around the corner????)

Yeah. It’s my favorite ”office” ever.

And if you’re looking for a great drink and unique spot near Waikiki, check this place out.

And here, I just want to say a very special thank you to Lynn, my bartender at Arnold’s, my favorite office/bar in the world.

Notes

[1] I understand “Eat the Rich” and I feel I should apologize for being in Hawaii instead of at my much less than ”Fight for 15” per hour job. I wouldn’t have been there if I hadn’t found round trip fare for about $440 and didn’t have to pay for lodging. I’m way not rich. I was just lucky for a month in 2021. I wish everyone were lucky. And rich. (Again, that’s another post.)

[2] Not a laptop. iPad with bluetooth keyboard. Highly recommend. May or may not be my actual best friend.

[3] Completely awesome. Definitely visit. Post forthcoming.

[4] Again, not a laptop.

[5] Glass fishing floats are also known as ”glass balls with nets that come from the sea.” Google accepts this as a search term. I accept it as just as valid as ”glass fishing floats,” which is not the thing I would have guessed. Also? I’m a sucker for these things. As well as sea glass. Not that you asked.

[6] Not a laptop.

[7] Gold Cliff IPA has made it into my holy trinity of hoppy pale ales: Two-Hearted (Bell’s), Gnawbone (Oaken Barrel) and now, Gold Cliff IPA (hoppy with a hint of pineapple!).

[8] The beaten path especially being Kalakaua Boulevard, with all the hotels and Luxury Row and beaches, beaches, parks, Dole Whip, and beaches. Re: getting to Arnold’s— it’s not that far, really, from the Main Shit (TM). It is, however, tucked in by an Eggs ’n Things on a quiet side street across from a park (excellent banyan trees!). No discernible parking. Close enough to an ABC Store to be in, as the kids call it, “civilization.” Bonus, if you walk to one of the corners and turn right, you’ll hit something called the ”Hemptuary” or similar and, never mind the CBD stuff, it sells Dole Whip!

[9] Seriously, not a laptop. It’s just easier to call it that.

See also:

Arnold’s Beach Bar, mytiki.life

Arnold’s Beach Bar (Facebook)

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