A Luau to Remember

Luaus in Hawaii are a celebration of food, entertainment and culture, and the tropical flavors, sounds and performances leave a lasting impression.

Samoan fire-knife dance at Waikiki Starlight Luau

Photo: Courtesy Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort

For some, it’s the opportunity to taste poi. For others, it’s a chance to try their hands at the hula. Luaus in Hawaii delight the senses: gorgeous sunsets and fragrant flower lei are a feast for the eyes; flavorful Hawaiian food excites the palate; and the syncopated beat of Polynesian drums gets the blood pumping. What’s more, you’ll leave with a deeper appreciation of Hawaiian history. So don some festive aloha wear, sip a fancy cocktail and enjoy the ultimate in dinner and a show in paradise. Here’s a sampling of luau options across the islands.

Maui Nui Luau at Black Rock (Maui)

The Maui Nui Luau takes place at the foot of Pu‘u Keka‘a (the Hawaiian name for the Black Rock lava outcropping) at Ka‘anapali Beach, a splendid place to hear the saga of the demigod Maui and other enchanting stories from the Pacific. Choreographed by the renowned Tihati Productions, crowd-pleasers include the ancient Kane Hula dance, performed by men, and the romantic Tumu Iti Ame dance of the people of the Tuamotu Islands. A new addition to the luau’s buffet is the custom bread and bowl station, where guests can make their own kalua pig sliders and poke bowls.

Waikiki Starlight Luau (Oahu)

As its name suggests, this luau takes place on a rooftop terrace at the Hilton Hawaiian Village® Waikiki Beach Resort. Pre-show festivities include a conch shell-blowing challenge and group hula lessons. Dinner offerings feature locally sourced ingredients, and the show takes the audience on a fabulous voyage across the South Seas, highlighted by a dazzling four-man Samoan fire knife dance.

Feast on Hawaiian favorites like lomi salmon and laulau at the Mauna Kea Luau

Photo: Courtesy of Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

Mauna Kea Luau (Hawaii Island)

The Lim family, one of the most renowned names in Hawaiian music, has produced the luau at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel since the 1960s. The Lims hail from Kohala, the birthplace of King Kamehameha I, and their music reflects their pride in the traditions of the Big Island. Guests feast on Hawaiian favorites like lomi salmon and laulau with the blazing Waimea sunset as their backdrop. A new premium package offers guests advance entry, front-row seating and family-style appetizers on each table.

Old Lahaina Luau (Maui)

Upon arrival at the oceanfront Old Lahaina Luau, guests are greeted with a flower lei and the chance to watch as the kalua pig is unearthed from the imu (underground oven). Local eateries Aloha Mixed Plate, Star Noodle and Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop contribute popular dishes to the tasty feast, and the show features both ancient and contemporary hula as it traces Hawaiian history from early Polynesian migration to modern times.

Smith Family Garden Luau (Kaua‘i)

Located on the grounds of a lush, 30-acre botanical garden adjacent to the Wailua River roamed by peacocks, nene and chickens, the Smith Family Garden Luau treats guests to live Hawaiian music during dinner before moving to an open-air amphitheatre for the main show. Fans cite Cousin Gary’s secret recipe for teriyaki beef and the unlimited mai tais as the special touches that distinguish this luau from other luaus in Hawaii.

Ready to plan a Hawaiian getaway? Call 877-396-7159 or contact a AAA Travel Counselor today.

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Heidi Kazemi, AAA Travel Counselor, Roseville, Calif.

Customization is always my top priority when planning a client's vacation. I ask about their family and where they've been before. Their preferences guide our planning so the vacation is perfectly tailored for them.

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