Hawaiian Luau | Luaus in Hawaii | Go Hawaii


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Luau of Hawaii

A visit to the Hawaiian Islands is not complete without experiencing a luau – a Hawaiian feast featuring lively music and vibrant cultural performances from Hawaii and greater Polynesia. 

History of the Luau

In ancient Hawaii, a feast to celebrate special occasions was called an ahaainaaha meaning gathering and aina meaning meal. Celebrating special occasions together was an important cultural tradition. Additionally, it was believed that certain foods represented specific qualities and attributes. During this time women were not allowed to eat with men nor were they allowed to eat certain foods.   

King Kamehameha II marked a new era by ending traditional practices in 1819. He celebrated this event with a special ahaaina where the women were invited to eat with the men, symbolizing a dramatic shift in societal norms.   

Over time the word luau became the more commonly used term for these special parties. Luau, which refers to the taro leaf, was frequently served at these special feasts as well as a number of other dishes. 

Popular Luau Dishes

  • Poi: Pounded taro plant root; a starch meant to be eaten with everything. 
  • Kalua Pig: Pork prepared in an imu or underground oven and shredded.
  • Chicken Long Rice: A chicken noodle soup-like dish with bean thread noodles and ginger.
  • Laulau: Meat wrapped in luau (taro) leaves and steamed. Traditionally, this is prepared in an underground oven called an imu. 
  • Lomilomi Salmon: A side dish made from salmon, tomatoes, onion and crushed ice.
  • Haupia: Coconut pudding. 
  • Poke: The term literally means "to slice cross-wise into pieces" and commonly features raw fish served with a variety of condiments such as shoyu (soy sauce), green onions, kukui nut (candlenut), limu (seaweed). However, the dish isn't exclusively fish-based and there are other variations as well. 

The luau tradition carries on today. Friends and family get together for a luau to celebrate special occasions including graduation, a wedding and most commonly – a birthday. While these luau are private, there are a number of different luau experiences across the state for visitors to enjoy. 

Where to Experience a Luau

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Legends of Kaanapali Luau - Legends of Kaanapali Luau
Legends of Kaanapali Luau
2525 Kaanapali Pkwy
Lahaina, HI 96761

Kā‘anapali Beach Hotel extends their ho‘okipa by presenting The Legends of Kā‘anapali Lū‘au every Monday night in the heart of the hotel‘s Tiki Courtyard. You’ll be greeted with warm smiles by the friendly staff of the hotel, leading you to a scrumptious feast prepared by island-born chefs.

Ahaaina Luau
Aha’aina Luau
2259 Kalakaua Ave.
Honolulu, HI 96815

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.

Myths of Maui Luau Fire Dancer
Voyagers of the Pacific at the Royal Kona Resort
Royal Kona Resort
75-5852 Alii Drive
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740

As the sun sets on the legendary shores of Kailua Bay, the excitement of the Royal Kona Luau, Voyagers of the Pacific, comes to life. Spectacular ocean views, awe-inspiring sunsets and the sound of waves softly breaking on the lava shore provide a breathtaking backdrop for an unforgettable journey.

Polynesian Cultural Center
55-370 Kamehameha Highway Suite 1010
Laie, HI 96762

Voted the #1 paid attraction in Hawaii, the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu's North Shore offers 6 Pacific Island villages and exhibits. Featuring Hawaii's most authentic luau, and our award-winning show, "Hā: Breath of Life.” Visit us for an unforgettable experience great for the whole family.