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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
If you can dream it, we can do it. Paradise Helicopters offers you the opportunity to create memories that will last a lifetime while here in the islands. See volcanoes, waterfalls & more on our helicopter tours, exclusive landings and custom charters departing from Kona, Hilo and Turtle Bay Resort.
Luxury, historic, plantation bungalows available for short and long term vacation rentals on a private ranch in Hawi. Beautiful, vacation homes with private pools and organic gardens in a stunning setting.
From intimate to extravagant, barefoot sunset ceremonies on the beach to grand receptions with regal ambience, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel helps make every dream wedding or celebration day on Hawaii Island reality with the timeless magic of Mauna Kea.
Kona Lisa is 100% Kona, Estate coffee. We hand pick, sun-dry, custom roast for a remarkably smooth cup. Stop by the farm, or visit us at the Kona Lisa Coffee & Tea Bar at neighboring Paleaku Gardens! Enjoy a cup of Kona Lisa while strolling through the scenic Peace Gardens in the heart of Kona!
Perfectly situated resort for Hawaii Island exploration and abundant ocean activities, meaningful cultural activities, manta ray viewing and inspired island dining.
HO'OMAU RANCH! Horseback riding, ATV/UTV Tours & Ranch Stay. Rare endemic, critically endangered tree species Loulu Palm Pritchardia Schattaueri, Mehamehame, Native Mesic forest. Hawaiian Hoary bat! Bird watch for endangered 'io, endemic 'apapane, 'elepaio and Pueo. Cattle pastures & Agritourism!
The heart and soul of dining at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel is the revered WSW Steakhouse & Seafood Restaurant. Diners relax in the grand splendor of the newly renovated dining room, with floor-to-ceiling windows allowing stunning views of Hilo Bay...
The 'Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii offers an immersive Hawaiian journey through time and space, with interactive exhibits, a leading-edge full-dome planetarium, award-winning landscape of native Hawaiian Plants, and a Resaurant with views of Hilo Bay.
This Smithsonian-affiliated Lyman Museum tells the story of Hawaii’s islands and people. Exhibits trace Hawaii’s history from its volcanic origins and the flora and fauna that arrived before humans to life in ancient Hawaii and the immigrant groups that helped shape Hawaii’s unique culture of today
Located in Hilo's upscale enclave, Reed's Island, a mile from downtown Hilo. The three-bedroom house is perched at eye level to one of Hawaii's most beautiful waterfalls, and is flanked by the Wailuku River and rainforest.