Luau: the Traditional Hawaiian Feast


Who goes to Hawaii and passes this up? (Okay, but only if you’ve been to one before), a Luau is one of those “must-dos” when in Hawaii, especially if it’s your first time to the islands. Luaus are known as the traditional Hawaiian feast that have you indulging in delicious Hawaiian delicacies (complete with roasted pig) and watching hula performances for three hours of your life.

Yes, luaus are tourist attractions, (and nothing screams “cliche Hawaiian tourist” more than a middle-aged man wearing aloha-wear, khaki knee shorts, and socks with leather sandals), but who cares?! When you are fed insane amounts of scrumptious food, given any kind of drink you want (whenever you want), get impeccable customer service from your host, and get to enjoy a variety of traditional hula performances, even the “anti-tourist” tourist is going to leave pleased.

When Kyle and I were planning our trip, we left one evening open to attend a luau. After doing research online, and with the help of Kyle’s co-workers, we settled on the Old Lahaina Luau in Lahaina, Maui. About two weeks in advance, we had two front-row seats reserved! Good thing we reserved ahead, too, because when we called to ask about changing the date about an hour before the thing actually began (don’t give me crap – we had spent all day in the sun and I was feeling pretty dehydrated and sick by then), they said that that evening’s show and every other show that week had been sold out! With that information, I pushed myself to go, despite the handful of times I tried to convince Kyle that I would repay him the $100 he spent reserving my seat. (Yes, that does indeed mean the luau cost $100 per person).

Turns out, with just a bit of fresh ocean air and a few sips of some kind of red, fruity beverage, the dehydration/minor heat stroke/whatever-else-I-thought-I-had went away. The luau grounds were literally right next to the ocean, and the breeze was rejuvenating. For about an hour, we walked around the property, took pictures with the tiki ornaments, and looked at all the souvenirs they had on display. I ended up buying a wooden sea turtle for my parents. One of the guys at the stand even did on-the-spot engraving with a chisel, which was pretty cool to watch.

This picture probably only shows about 1/4 of the entire luau audience. Kyle and I had the pleasure of sitting at one of those lower tables by the round stage.

Another part of that pre-dinner hour was spent “watching” two of the luau hosts dig up the roasting pig from beneath the dirt. I put “watching” in quotes because I was at the very back of the standing audience, trying to capture each moment on film with my arms stretched all the way up, and trying to accurately aim the lens toward the action while standing on my tippy toes. Needless to say, I didn’t get very many great pictures of that, but it’s still cool to visualize in your head, right?

Then it was time to eat! Our table was the first allowed to go get food, and Kyle and I – no joke – were the first people in the entire place to even touch the food at the buffet. We concluded that we struck it lucky in Maui (there’s a lot more than just being the first people to get food at a luau, but I’ll save it for another post)! Just try to focus on not getting hungry when looking at the following photo:

You can’t really tell in the picture, but the plate is about a foot long. That’s a foot-long of food, people.

A bit shaky of a picture, but it was the only one I got of the buffet full of traditional Hawaiian dishes.

After about 45 minutes of stuffing my face, the hula performances begun! The variety of costumes, styles of dance, and emotions conveyed through those dances were a sight to see. I quite enjoyed it all.

Ask me for a review, I dare ya! Just kidding – I’ll just give it to you now. While I have no other luaus to compare this one to, I would have to say that I was very impressed with Old Lahaina Luau. The only thing I have to get over is the fact that it cost $100 per person, but considering all the other luaus in town cost at least that much, and considering this one was recommended by almost everyone (in person and online), I’d say it was well-worth it. Like I mentioned before, the food was amazing, the service was amazing, and the performances were amazing. It was very family-friendly and it provided a great experience (and great pictures!) overall. Just remember that if you are planning a trip to Maui and would like to attend a luau, your best bet at getting that chance is by reserving (and paying for) your seats well in advance. Also, don’t spend all day on the beach and get dehydrated before the show! 🙂

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1 comment
  1. Kyle said:

    Next time don’t get dehydrated before the luau.

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