Diner en Blanc Honolulu | An Evening of Surprising Splendor

I attended the 5th Annual Diner en Blanc Honolulu last night and had a fantastic time! But this was no surprise. It was my third time at Diner en Blanc on Oahu and I’ve loved it each time. What was surprising was the location… They never announce it before the event, itself. Past locations have included Kualoa Ranch’s “Jurassic Park” meadow on the Windward Coast, Iolani Palace, Ko’Olina, and the rooftop of the Hawaii Convention Center. Diner en Blanc Honolulu is always held in a spectacular and stunning spot, under the stars, rain or shine. This year it was held at Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore of Oahu and there were approximately 2,000 in attendance.

This year’s theme was sustainability, and the event was in partnership with Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii. A one-of-a-kind sculpture made from white beach plastics and debris, displayed at Diner en Blanc on Oahu, was created by Aurora Robson.

What is Diner en Blanc Honolulu?

What is Diner en Blanc Honolulu, besides an event with a surprise location? Diner en Blanc on Oahu is many things. A spectacular gala at one of the most beautiful locations possible on Oahu. A giant, eclectic, pop-up picnic. A chance to try out new gourmet recipes or new wines. An opportunity to see old friends and meet interesting new friends. And a chance to get dressed up, elegantly in white, and even a little bit outrageously, if you’d like. A night of dancing and letting loose. Or a moms’ night out,  a romantic first date, or a great birthday or anniversary gift. Overall, it’s a celebration of beauty, fine food, and all things French.

Great food, beautiful decor, and an elegant setting at Diner en Blanc Honolulu 2018 Turtle Bay.

It is NOT a raucous, fraternity-party type of event. It is also not a super-expensive event (unless you go all out with your dress, food, and decor). You can do this fairly reasonably, bringing only your own food, a table, 2 chairs, and a tablecloth, for not more than the cost of a nice dinner out in Honolulu. “Bad behavior” is not welcome. They like to keep it classy. Diner en Blanc Honolulu is certainly a unique and special event, and everyone there truly seemed to enjoy themselves.

What is the History of Diner en Blanc?

Le Diner en Blanc was started in Paris in 1988 by François Pasquier. The story is something along the lines of this: his apartment was too small to gather all of his friends for a dinner party. So, he told everyone to meet at the park, with picnic provisions, and wearing all white to be easy to find. The rest is history. The event is held annually, around the world, in various cities, including many on the U.S. Mainland, as well as Hawaii.

Beautiful tables and flowers at Diner en Blanc on Oahu 2018 Turtle Bay – and surprise – adult bouncy houses in the background!

How Can I Attend Diner en Blanc on Oahu?

Anyone over 21 can attend Diner en Blanc Honolulu. But they do limit the number of guests attending to the size of the venue. It is first come, first served, and there is somewhat of a waiting list. People who attended the year before get first priority to register. Invited guests of those in the first registration group are the second registration group. The third registration group is everyone else, and you can sign up for this online. I registered and attended from Group 3 on my first try. As word spreads and Diner en Blanc on Oahu becomes more popular, it may be harder to get a ticket. However, at this point, I don’t know anyone who has tried to go that could not get a ticket.

How Does Diner en Blanc Honolulu Work?

Everyone who attends Diner en Blanc on Oahu registers as a couple. Your dining partner can be anyone you wish, no matter the gender. However, it is an adult only event. As mentioned, the event is held at a secret location that is not disclosed until you get there. Everyone meets at certain designated locations around Oahu and takes buses to the secret location.

Set Up

Once at the secret location, everyone lines up and goes to a pre-designated spot at the venue. You bring your own table, white chairs, white tablecloth, and white table settings and decor.

Arriving at Diner en Blanc on Oahu – secret location Turtle Bay 2018. People carry in their own tables and chairs, decor, and food.

Food, Drink, and Decor

To eat, many people bring elegant picnic-style food and beverages. However, you can also pre-order delicious menu items (including water, champagne, and wine), which are available for pickup at the venue. Typically, they put men on one side of the table and women on the other, but that varies with your group.

Everyone sets up and decorates their own tables, and arranges their food and beverages for dinner. It’s amazing to see the thought and effort people put into their table decor. Everything except the food and flowers is white!

Table decor at Diner en Blanc on Oahu.

The meal starts with an impressive group napkin wave. Bon Appetite!

The napkin wave at Diner en Blanc on Oahu Turtle Bay 2018.

We’ve always purchased the picnic for convenience, and mostly, it has been exquisite. This year, the picnic was prepared by Chef Kevin Nakata and included kalua pork rillette, burrata with tomato jam and pesto, niçoise-style ahi, and salmon sandwiches with apple and horseradish. We also ogle the beautiful food at other people’s tables… often people share. There is much aloha at this event.

Impressive food, including a delicious nicoise salad, at Diner en Blanc Honolulu.

What Should I Wear to Diner en Blanc on Oahu?

White, white, and more white. No, seriously, they want you to wear white, and not cream or ivory. Take your typical beachy dress code up a notch at Diner en Blanc Oahu. They request no shorts or slippers. You will see both white sundresses and white evening gowns. Men typically wear white jeans or white linen pants, but you may also see white tuxedos and top hats. Anything white goes, so long as it is not overly casual, in good taste, and presentable.

Hawaii Life Brokers, Ana Kuna & Yvonne Ahearn, with their spouses, at Diner en Blanc Honolulu at Turtle Bay.

What’s After Dinner at Diner en Blanc Honolulu?

There is plenty of time after dinner to socialize with your friends and meet new people. There are also many photo ops because, of course, everybody looks fabulous! Diner en Blanc Oahu ends the evening with DJ music and dancing. This year’s special surprise was bouncy houses!

2018 Diner en Blanc on Oahu Turtle Bay lighting of the sparklers.

Diner en Blanc Honolulu is over at around 10:30 pm. Enough time for fun, but not too late for us “old folks,” who need to get home to our kids.

Dancing under the stars at Diner en Blanc Honolulu at Turtle Bay.

Everyone is asked to bring their own trash bag and the event location is left as pristine as it was when we all arrived. We pack it all back up and head to the buses to take us back to our pickup locations. In all, a very fun night!

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August 15, 2019

Awesome article! Great snapshot of what to expect! Do you know what time people meet ar the designated meeting points to transport over? And what time does the event start? We have a 6 mo old and need to coordinate a sitter

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