What is a Luau?
A luau (properly written as lūaʻu) is a Hawaiian party, a feast, a gathering of friends and family. The luaus you will find on this site are all commercially operated luaus aimed at visitors to our island. The four major islands, Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii’s self named “Big Island”, all have a few different luaus to choose from depending on what you are looking for from your experience. The luaus tend to sell out very quickly which is why a booking in advance is almost the only way to guarantee your enjoyment. With the beautiful Hawaiian setting at each luau this truly is an experience that should not be missed. With dances from various Polynesian Islands as well as certain traditional elements it is a whole night of fun that you will treasure.
The luaus across the island vary in their offering although certain elements remain the same, listed below is typical sequence of events:
- Some luaus offer pick up and drop off from your hotel so you don’t have to worry about getting there or hiring a car.
- A lei greeting is very traditional, whether it is a shell or flower lei you can almost be guaranteed that you will be “lei’d” tonight!
- In the Imu Ceremony, the roast Kalua Pig will be dug up from the underground oven (imu) where it has been slow-roasting all day.
- Free drinks and appetizers are a usual accompaniment to your arrival.
- Be aware that music and dancing is a large part of the luau experience and that crowd participation is always expected, you will most certainly be invited to get up and strut your stuff – Hawaiian style!
- Hawaiians are all about family and as such the buffet style is a big favorite in the islands, expect a large buffet style serving.
- For an idea of the menu you can expect see the menu further down on this page.
- After dinner, as the sun goes down and the stars come out, you’ll enjoy more entertainment, often in the form of a Polynesian revue that introduces you to island cultures all over the South Seas.
- Your luau will come to an end at approximately 8-9 PM, leaving you totally full and with a night that’s still young!
Typical Luau Menu
Ahi – Yellowfin tuna.
Chicken long rice – A filling combination of chicken and translucent rice noodles.
Haupia – A delicately-flavored, translucent white coconut pudding.
Kalua Pig – Roast pig.
Lau lau – A dish consisting of a spicy vegetable, pork, or chicken filling wrapped in taro leaves, and then further wrapped in ti leaves.
Lomi lomi salmon – A spicy raw fish and tomato dish.
Mahi mahi – The colorful dolphin or dorado fish, named for its fighting ability (mahi means “strong”). The meat is moist, white, and has a mild flavor.
Namasu – Pickled cucumber salad.
Ono – Tuna, also the name means “delicious” in Hawaiian.
Pipi Kaula – Hawaiian-style beef jerky.
Poi – A bland whitish to purplish paste made from the root of the taro.
Poke – Seasoned raw fish.
Sweet potatoes – A yellow slightly less sweet version of the orange mainland cousins.
Taro – This plant is made into a sweet purple bread, poi, boiled, fried, or baked.
History of the luau
In ancient Hawaii, men and woman ate their meals apart. The common people and were also forbidden to eat certain delicacies. These gatherings would usually mark an important occasion and were know as “Aha-Aina”, they would only be known as “Luaus” after a change in the way Hawaiians feasted. This happened in 1819 when King Kamehameha II abolished the old religious practice known as the “Kapu” system. Thus when the King feasted with women in his company it was a symbolic act which would change the way Hawaiian’s feasted and hence the “luau” was born.
The luau actually gets its name from one of the favorite dishes where the young and tender leaves of the taro plant were combined with chicken, baked in coconut milk and called luau.
Traditionally the luau was eaten on the floor with luahala mats rolled out for diners to sit on. Ti leaves ferns and native flowers would adorn the length of the table and bowls will with poi, platters of meat, dry foods like sweet potatoes, salt, dried fish or meat covered in leaves were laid directly on the clean ti leaves.