The Luau, an ancient Polynesian and Hawaiian ritual, is a popular social gathering aimed at uniting the people of a city in celebration of an important life event, achievement, war victory or launching a new canoe. From the spectacular Grand Luau show to the most intimate Andaz luau, the Wailea luaus attract guests from every corner of the island. Pre-show activities for luau party guests include an opportunity to meet the artists and discuss history with them. With Hawaiian music adding to the magical setting under the stars at Hawaii Lawn, guests can enjoy a buffet dinner with traditional Hawaiian fare and contemporary favorites prepared by chefs at Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay.
The cultural journey begins with demonstrations of Hawaiian crafts and games, followed by the traditional imu ceremony. Guests enjoy a sumptuous buffet while hula dancers and musicians entertain themselves. After dinner, the main 45-minute show begins as dancers take to the stage to share the ancient Hawaiian legend of Kalamaku (son of the new earth) and the incredible and perilous journey of the Polynesians from Tahiti to Kauai. Sheraton Kauai Resort's 'Auli'i Luau is located on the sands of crescent-shaped Poipu Beach and is Kauai's only beachfront luau.
Visitors can connect with Kauai's rich history and culture, traditional culinary foods and tropical delights with the blue Pacific Ocean and bright orange sunset as a stunning backdrop. A Guide to Attending Luaus on Kauai Visit Kauai Kilohana Plantation and Luau Kalamaku. In ancient Hawaii, men and women ate separately. The ancient Hawaiian religion also prohibited commoners and women of all ranks from eating certain delicacies.
This all changed in 1819, when King Kamehameha II abolished traditional religious practices. A feast at which the king ate with women was the symbolic act that put an end to Hawaiian religious taboos, and the luau was born. If you're planning a trip to Hawaii, it's likely that at some point in your research you came across the word “luau”. You might be wondering what it is and if it's worth going to.
I've been to luaus in Hawaii since I was 10 years old. It's always been a highlight for me because I love learning about other cultures when I travel. I used to be surprised when people told me they didn't know what a Hawaiian luau was (some thought it was a fancy dinner). So, since I run a travel site in Hawaii, I felt compelled to write a post explaining what a luau is (and what it isn't), describing what to expect, and showing some of the best luaus in Hawaii.
That seems to be the million-dollar question. And that's why I put it first in this blog post about Hawaii. Although I used to think the answer was a simple yes, I now realize that it really depends on the type of Hawaii vacation you plan. I know that some families think that since they've already had a luau party, they don't need to have another luau party again.
However, there are SO many innovative and unique Hawaiian luaus these days. Some offer a farm-to-table dining experience, theatrical performances, or are a truly intimate experience. So, if your family is interested in Hawaiian culture, it's worth looking for new luaus in Hawaii. If you are planning a honeymoon in Hawaii, attending a luau party is one of the top honeymoon activities in Hawaii.
They usually ask who is a newlywed or is on a honeymoon and invite those couples to the stage to learn a hula dance or sing the Hawaiian wedding song to them. In addition, it is a good excuse to enjoy tropical cocktails and enjoy fun entertainment. I think attending a luau party is one of the best things to do in Hawaii with kids. Many offer activities for children and hands-on crafts before the show.
I have done them with both and it has been a great experience. Babies and toddlers are usually free and mine always fall asleep in the middle of the show. Some luaus allow you to bring a stroller so that your baby or toddler can sleep while you can enjoy the show. If you're visiting Hawaii on a budget, you might want to skip the luau.
Otherwise, it will consume a lot of your budget in Hawaii. Things changed in 1819 when King Kamehameha II got rid of religious aspects and made 'aha'aina the present luau. This was a big social change, as men and women were allowed to eat together. After that, luaus were mainly for royalty.
And then, mainly for family celebrations. It wasn't until the 1960s that Hawaiian luaus became a tourist attraction. That's when tourism in Hawaii really exploded. Honestly, many luaus are aimed at tourists and feature cheesy jokes, mediocre dances and lots of alcohol.
However, it is becoming fashionable to offer smaller, more intimate luaus that focus on good food, quality hula dancing and lots of small group activities. Many (but not all) luaus are free for infants and toddlers. If you have a large group, you may qualify for a group rate to save money. And be sure to check if they offer a military discount.
The time of luaus may vary, but it usually lasts about 5 hours. They usually run from 5 pm, m. Although some invite guests to come as soon as 4 pm,. Many luaus offer Hawaiian activities before dinner.
They're a great way to make Hawaiian crafts or try something new in person. Some of these activities may include teaching the basic hula dance, weaving lauhala, learning about coconuts or pineapples, digging up the pig in the imu, lighting torches, etc. If you booked a large luau, expect to sit at a long, rectangular table with others you may or may not know. Some luaus use round tables instead of rectangular tables.
These may or may not be communal, depending on the size of your group. A few smaller luaus have private tables just for your family. While most people think that luaus only include Hawaiian hula dances, it's actually quite rare that they only have Hawaiian dances. Almost all of them will start with the Tahitian dance.
This is because the people of Tahitian traveled to Hawaii and became the first Hawaiians. Tahitian dancers often wear large headdresses, coconut bras and skirts with tassels on the hips. Hula Kahiko is the old style of dance. You will hear songs and drums and the dance is more angular.
The dancers wear pa'u skirts and vegetation on their heads, arms and legs. The Hula Auana is the modern style of dance. The music usually includes the ukulele and the dancers waving their hands for floral movements. Dancers wear grass skirts or mu'u mu'u dresses and usually garlands of flowers.
And many luaus end with Samoa's famous fire knife dance. This is done by men who light the tips of their knife with fire and spin it while dancing. In addition, some luaus include other Polynesian dances from New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga or even dances from Asia. Hawaiian luau music usually includes ukulele, ipu heke (double pumpkin drum) and steel guitar.
Sometimes, hula dancers also use instruments (called hula implements) while dancing. These implements include the ipu (pumpkin drum), uli uli (feather rattles), pu ili (split bamboo), kalaau (sticks) and ili ili (rocks). Some luaus will say a Hawaiian blessing before dinner. I know that many families want to know what kind of food is served at a luau party.
That way, they can make sure there are enough things they like to eat or they can Google what it is all about before they leave. Here are some of the most popular Hawaiian luau dishes you'll find at luaus in Hawaii. The most iconic luau food is the kalua pig. It is roasted in an underground oven called imu.
Most luaus will give a full presentation in which they will remove the kalua pig from the ground. Kalua pork has a smoky taste and is so tender that the meat falls off the bone. It is served shredded and tastes very good dipped in poi or with a little rice. Traditionally, huli huli chicken is made by constantly lighting it in a rotisserie over the fire or barbecue.
It usually has a little smoky flavor, but also sweet Hawaiian BBQ sauce. This is usually my favorite food for picky eaters. Tastes like chicken noodle soup, but with a lot of noodles. And noodles are thin rice noodles.
The taste is quite mild but tasty. Lomi Lomi salmon looks like sauce, but it is not spicy and the taste is completely different. Basically, it is cut into cubes of tomato, onion and raw salmon and then add a little salt. This is another staple food for picky eaters.
It is usually the typical American-style macaroni salad. Some luaus are mixed in potato salad (my favorite) and others have grated carrots, but otherwise it's mostly macaroni, mayonnaise and a little spice. Poi is probably the most iconic traditional Hawaiian food. It is fermented taro root that has been crushed into a purple paste.
Another option is to add sugar and a little milk to make it more dessert. Some luaus also have a pineapple, coconut or other tropical cake. And many offer fresh tropical Hawaiian fruits such as pineapple, mango and papaya. Some luaus even invite people to come back for a second help.
Wondering what to drink at a luau party? There is usually a bar offering Hawaiian Mai Tais or Blue Hawaiians or other Hawaiian cocktails. Some offer beer, wine and other spirits. For non-alcoholic drinks, there is usually some type of Hawaiian punch and a variety of soft drinks. If you're vegan or vegetarian, you'll definitely want to contact the luau directly to see what they can do.
The same applies to other dietary restrictions. I always suggest that people schedule their luau to Hawaii for the middle of their trip. That way, they have time to overcome jet lag (so they don't fall asleep during dinner). I have a complete guide to the Polynesian Cultural Center HERE, where you can find out which ticket package is right for your family.
Personally, I'm obsessed with Toa Luau on North Shore Oahu. It's pretty intimate and they do a great kava ceremony at first. Plus, you have free entry to the Waimea Valley. I think it's the best luau on oahu and you can read why in my Toa Luau review.
Most Maui luaus are located in Lahaina (west of Maui) or Wailea (south of Maui). It is located at the Andaz Maui Resort in Wailea, where you will enjoy a family-style meal while watching a theatrical performance. You can read my full review of Feast at Mokapu HERE. While Kauai doesn't have as many luau options as Oahu or Maui, there are still some fun options.
The good thing about this luau in Kauai Hawaii is that your family can travel by train through the Kilohana plantation before the luau. You can read my full review of Luau Kalamaku to see all the details. This has been one of our favorite luau parties in Kauai, Hawaii. You can take a boat ride to Fern Grotto before the luau.
We have a full review of Smith Family Luau that is worth reading. In addition, they present dances from all over Polynesia and Asia. If you want a luau on Big Island, most of them are in Kona. One of the most popular luaus on Big Island is the Luau of the Voyagers of the Pacific at the Royal Kona Resort.
You can read my honest review of Royal Kona Resort luau HERE. The Island Breeze Luau is often considered to be the best luau in Kona, Hawaii. There is a royal procession, delicious food and an incredible Polynesian show. Most luaus will give women a shell lei or purple orchid lei as they arrive.
If you think you're going to take a lot of pictures, you'll want to keep them in mind so that the lei stands out against your dress. I'm also a big fan of clothing subscription boxes. You can order tropical dresses (or any nice Hawaiian vacation attire) from Wantable. See the latest rates and more information.
Men can easily combine Aloha shirts with khaki pants or shorts. Or linen pants or pants of any kind. I love the matching Aloha shirt and shorts sets like this one for boys and adorable Hawaiian dresses like this one for girls. I hope you already have an answer to your question “what is a luau? Plus, I've even given you ideas for the best luau party in Hawaii no matter what island you visit.
As an Amazon associate, I earn on qualifying purchases. Many use Hawaii's beautiful beaches and parks and reserve space months in advance. There are also well-known beach houses or ranch grounds that are available to rent for such celebrations. Others ask family or friends who have large patios or empty lots to host their luau parties.
In its simplest form, a luau is a Hawaiian party where a group of people gather to celebrate and celebrate an event. Nowadays, a luau party can celebrate a milestone such as a wedding, graduation or birthday. However, in ancient times, luaus were celebrated to observe a victory in battle, a bountiful harvest, or the like. This luau's banquet is served in buffet form and offers the same traditional cuisine you would find in other luaus, such as kalua pork, Huli Huli chicken and lomi-lomi salmon, and more.
Local luaus preserve the unifying community experience that King Kamehameha II set out to create in the first true Hawaiian luaus. The modern luau has some differences from the luaus of the past, but the significant elements remain the same. Unlike commercial luaus held at night, most baby luaus start during the day and can extend into the night. You'll enjoy the experience more if you hear about the luaus and their history like a Hawaiian banquet before you go.
Unlike other luaus on this list, this one takes place on the resort's rooftop garden, putting talented musicians, singers and dancers in the iconic hula skirts made of ti leaves and choreographers from all over the Polynesian islands in the round, where each seat promises a great view. Consistently voted one of Hawaii's best luaus, Smith Family Garden Luau invites you to celebrate the Hawaiian spirit of aloha in the family's 30-acre garden along the Wailua River. Like most luaus, this one offers an open buffet with a variety of traditional island favorites that are sure to please even the less adventurous. While modern Hawaiian luaus are celebrated daily on all islands as a way to gather visitors and residents in a celebratory feast under the stars, with common entertainment such as live music, hula dancing, lei making, Samoan fire knife dancing, imu ceremonies, storytelling, a dinner party buffet and fluid assortment of tropical cocktails, the Hawaiian luaus of the past, although also a great event, were generally very different in terms of general purpose and style.