No Hawaiian vacation would be complete without attending a luau. The word luau really means a party or a celebration. Typically in ancient Hawaiian culture luaus were given to celebrate the birth of a child or a wedding. These days the word luau has become a household name all across the United States. When we think of a luau today, we think of those cheap plastic leis and those silly plastic tiki cups. But a luau is so much more. In Hawaii there are two basic types of luau. The first type closely resembles that of the original type of luau. This is a private gathering of friends and family for a celebration.
The second type of luau is a commercial luau open to the public and what we tourists typically visit. While in the state of Hawaii there will be many different luaus to choose from. They are basically all the same, with a few different high points. Arriving guests are greeted with a fresh flower lei. The entertainment is usually choreographed and top notch, complete with hula dancers and fire eaters. Sometimes the guests provide some of the entertainment themselves. It’s always fun watching grown men wear hula skirts and try to learn this complicated dance. There are different options for food and drink as well. I myself prefer the open bar type. The food is usually a buffet, consisting of a roasted pig or perhaps some sort of roast beef, rice, and of course the Hawaiian staple…pineapple.
I have to mention some of the best known luaus and those with the best reputations. While in Maui, the Old Lahaina Luau is one not to be missed. This is the most authentic Luau on the island. The hula dancers are superb and the food is of the highest quality. The other luaus available in Maui are usually done at the resorts and lack the realism of Old Lahaina. Because of it’s popularity, the Old Lahaina Luau does require reservations. In fact, I would recommend that you make your reservations before you even get to Hawaii.
While visiting the big island, there are a plethora of options to choose from. Kona seems to be a popular town for the luau. King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel offers a Luau with a shell lei greeting, and a torch lighting ceremony. Check with the hotel for luau days. On the mornings of luaus spectators can watch the hotel staff bury the pig in the sand and begin roasting.
The island of Kaui offers a couple of luau’s of its own. Both the Radisson Kauai Beach Resort and the Kilohana Plantation have nice luaus complete with open bars, fire eaters and of course, hula dancers.
Whichever island or islands you choose to visit while in Hawaii, a Hawaiian luau is a must. Whether the gorgeous hula girls are your thing (scantily clad Polynesian dancers for the ladies) or you are just there for the food, a luau is sure to please.