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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
Our daily Deluxe Snorkel & Dolphin Watch guarantees dolphin sightings or come again FREE! Captain Cook Sunset Dinner Cruise to Kealakekua Bay and a Seasonal Whale Watch! Beautiful 65' luxury catamaran with plenty of shade, cushioned seating, a premium cash bar, and is 100% wheel chair accessible.
Explore a forbidden coastline formed by Mt. Haleakala's last eruption. Experience close encounters with protected green sea turtles, race across the waves searching for dolphins, and snorkel the crystal waters of the world-famous Molokini Crater.
Snorkel with award-winning Fair Wind Cruises! Located on the Big Island of Hawaii, our snorkeling tour travels up the Kona Coast to snorkel at historic Kealakekua Bay marine sanctuary, site of Captain Cook Monument. Our family friendly tours will be the highlight of your Kona, Hawaii vacation!
Atlantis Submarines offers a one-of-a-kind underwater experience off the shorelines of Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii Island, giving guests a close-up view of an array of marine life, exotic tropical reefs and numerous sunken vessels. It's like swimming in a giant aquarium, but staying dry the whole time!
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Kauai Hiking Tours offers day hikes, backpacking trips and driving tours on Kauai Island. Our local guides are passionate about sharing their knowledge with aloha. We welcome adventurers of all ages & ability levels - several options of beginner, intermediate, and advanced tours are available.
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Hawaiian Paddle Sports offers authentic, sustainable eco-tours that empower guests to discover a deeper appreciation of and connection to Hawaii’s marine environment. Guests can choose from private kayak, outrigger canoe, canoe surfing, whale watch, and snorkel tours, or take SUP or surf lessons.