It’s hard not to fall in love with Hawaii. From rupturing volcanos to tanned bodies lying on the sand, it’s a feast of beautiful things to see and experience in paradise. At the top of the list of things to try in Hawaii? A luau banquet. It’s a crime against pleasure to not gorge on succulent pig, savor mai tai cocktails to the last drop, and allow sweet berry juices to pop and soak on your tongue. Ancient luaus were held in celebration of special occasions, such as an achievement or a transition into adulthood. Today, luaus are still celebratory festivals, and combine fantastic food, entertainment, and community for a memory you won’t soon forget. Here are some of the best luaus in Hawaii sure to light your tiki torch:
To experience a dash of history with your sugary luau delights, head to the Lau Kalamaku located on Kauai. This sugar plantation-based feast is one-of-a-kind. Not only you can you expect an indulgent meal and a show of stunts from fire poi ball twirlers and knife dancers, but you can also tour the 42-hectares plantation. Hop on the train and view historic homes, along with rows of endless pineapple, banana, sugarcane, and papaya plants growing in the lowland forest. It’s easy to see why the banana cream pie, pineapple upside-down cake, and dripping rum sauce taste so fresh. You’ll be in love with every mouthful.
Bigger is Better
Sometimes size matters, in which case, the Ali’I Luau at the Polynesian Cultural Centre on Oahu leaves tongues wagging. This award-winning gathering has collected numerous prizes for excellence in preserving the Hawaiian spirit. The luau is part museum, part feast, part show that builds to a crescendo as day seeps into night. Start by exploring the ancient Polynesian villages, followed by enjoying a canoe ride and listening to native music. The food drips with savory juices as entertainers dance and hula around you, but the real dessert isn’t necessarily the coconut cake with haupia sauce. Once the sun sets, you’re taken to the nearby amphitheatre where the Horizons Polynesians Review puts on a spectacle starring over 100 natives in traditional, strategically-placed garb.
What do Donald Trump, Robin Williams, and Kristi Yamaguchi have in common? They all love a slow-roasted pig on a spit. The Old Lahaina Luau on Maui may be an old-fashioned event, but it attracts both the hottest stars and average travellers alike. Guests are welcomed with leis and tropical drinks and invited to check out the Kalua pig cooking in the earthy imu. Prepare your taste buds to be charmed by the native ingredients like fern shoots and taro roots. You may want to close your eyes in appreciation, but keep those eyelashes open for the hula dancing and entertainment taking place as you munch. You also can’t beat the view at this prime spot. It’s one of the best sunsets on the island and an excellent locale for a selfie that’s sure to make everyone jealous of your trip.
Royalty in a Cup
There are luaus and then there is the Royal Hawaiian’s Luau on Oahu. Technically an Aha’aina, a royal celebration rather than a luau, this upscale 5-course evening is punctuated by theatre performances of Hawaii’s history. The host for the night, a wizened storyteller (who is almost always grew up swimming in the azure ocean just in front), adds humour and background to each performance. Every period–from the ancient people, to Hawaii’s uprooted royalty, to WWII’s sailors, and beyond–are included in impeccably coordinated dance and song routines. The night caps with drinks and a fire dance sure to pump a jolt of excitement into your blood stream.
With swaying hips and sugar tips, Hawaii knows how to blend juicy treats into a breezy vacation. Whether you’re travelling solo or with a loved one, you can’t go wrong with a slow-roasted pig and hula dancers. Go ahead, order that drink with the umbrella in it. Hawaiian luaus are sure to leave you shaken and stirred in the best ways.