The Tahiti Nui has changed hands and menus, and seen its fair share of dated hairdos, barflies and beer bellies, and thank the gods for that. See, the soul of ‘the Nui’ is timeless and unchangeable. All are welcome here and most leave with a smile, which is why it remains the liveliest spot in little Hanalei and, though certainly a dive, the North Shore joint par excellence for regulars and visitors alike.
In 1964 a Tahitian woman named Louise Hauata and her husband Bruce Marston founded the now iconic South Seas–style restaurant and bar. Its popularity grew and so did its draw – luring such names as Jacqueline Kennedy, who legendarily arrived unexpectedly, preceded by secret service agents. Yet despite the fact that it’s seen its share of A-listers, you’d never guess it at first glance.
Bruce died in 1975, but Louise continued the spot’s luau tradition, augmenting it with renditions of Tahitian songs in English, French or their original language. She was also well-known for giving much aloha to her community in times of need.
Louise died in 2003, and Tahiti Nui is now run by her son, Christian Marston, and his daughter, Nanea Marston Correa. The Nui remains a lively, loud hangout long after the sun sets, and police regularly set up shop outside its doors around 2am to ensure no one’s drinking and driving.