One of the most festive experiences to be had on a visit to the Hawaiian Islands is a luau – a Hawaiian feast featuring lively music and vibrant cultural performances from Hawaii and greater Polynesia.
History of the Luau
The first feast in Hawaii resembling a modern-day luau was probably held in 1819. Before then, the kapu system of restrictions, religion and resource management separated men and women at mealtimes, even in times of celebration. Other names for these feasts are ahaaina or paina, but over the course of time, the nickname luau – a reference to the taro leaves at the core of many popular dishes – stuck.
Two centuries later, luau are still being celebrated. But it is important to note that despite the name and its Hawaiian roots, not all food or entertainment at a luau today is Hawaiian. A contemporary luau in Hawaii reflects our multi-cultural society. Food at a family luau is as diverse as the various branches of the family tree. Entertainment at a visitor luau often includes dances and music from other Polynesian cultures.
Popular Luau Dishes
- Poi: Pounded taro plant root; a starch meant to be eaten with everything.
- Kalua Pig: Pork prepared in an imu (underground oven) and shredded.
- Laulau: Meat wrapped in luau (taro) leaves and steamed, traditionally prepared in an imu.
- Haupia: Coconut pudding.
- Poke: A term that literally means to cut into pieces, this newly global delicacy is traditionally prepared with raw fish, shoyu (soy sauce), green onions, kukui nut (candlenut), and limu (seaweed).
Find a Luau to Attend
Hawaii’s #1 “Must See” Stage Spectacular! Magic of Polynesia is a spellbinding night of death-defying magic by award-winning illusionist John Hirokawa and professionally choreographed Polynesian entertainment – all in a beautiful Vegas-style showroom in the heart of Waikiki.
Enjoy a garden luau followed by Kauai's most spectacular international pageant at the lagoon amphitheater. The Golden People of Hawaii depicts dances and songs from Polynesia and Asia. Luau's are on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
As the sun sets across famed Kaanapali Beach, beating drums and the call of a conch shell signal the start of Maui's most exciting and longest running Polynesian luau. Enjoy a stunning celebration of music and dance that culminates with an amazing fire knife finale sure to dazzle the entire family.
The Dinner Detective is an experience unlike any other! We offer an amazing murder mystery show paired with a fantastic three-course dinner. From the very beginning, we hide actors in the audience that are not dressed in costume. Anyone in the room can end up being part of the show, including YOU!
Hā: Breath of Life, is a stunning evening show featuring over 100 Polynesia performers, special effects, animation and surround sound. It is a story of passion, ignited by fire, song, and dance. This 90-minute, world-famous, award-winning show is a MUST see and truly an unforgettable experience.
Waikiki’s only oceanfront dinner show is a culinary and sensory celebration, commemorating Hawaiian culture and transforming the traditional island experience in grand Royal Hawaiian style. The Royal Hawaiian’s ‘Aha‘aina is a lavish epicurean journey through time.