Home Travel To Luau or not to Luau. That Is The Question

To Luau or not to Luau. That Is The Question

by joeheg

When you’re going to Hawaii, there’s an inertial force drawing you to attend a luau. For malihini, which the dictionary defines as “a newcomer or stranger among the people of Hawaii,” a luau encapsulates everything we imagine about Hawaii.

You’re greeted with a flower lei or possibly one made or kukui nuts if you pay for the premium package. You’re offered the chance to partake in Hawaiian crafts and feast on iconic Hawaiian dishes like Kalua pork and Lomilomi salmon. If you go to a luau on the beach, you may even be able to see them pull the pig from the emu, or pit oven. This is pretty graphic if you’re not used to seeing a pig skull with the meat falling off it.

After the meal and a few (watered down) Mai-Tais, you’re treated to a show which is more Polynesian than Hawaiian. The show always includes a classic hula dance, often with audience members pulled onto the stage to show off their moves.

If you’re lucky, the show culminates with a fire dance.

Sharon and I have had a soft spot for luaus since we went to one during our honeymoon in Hawaii. Here we are at the Old Lahaina Luau.

Look at those youngsters all happy and not knowing anything. 🙂

If you didn’t notice, we’re also fans of all things kitsch, and a luau fits the bill. The better ones try to be authentic to the source material but the hosts know that guests will not appreciate hula as you’ll see at the Merrie Monarch Festival. They want to eat their fill of what they think is Hawaiian food and see a fun show.

This begs the question, should visitors to Hawaii go to a luau? They’re not cheap, costing as much or more than a dinner at most restaurants. Considering that you can get authentic Hawaiian food by going to Zippy’s for some Loco Moco, what are you paying for?

Like most touristy places, you’re paying for the experience. I still show THE picture of us at the luau from how many years ago. The food wasn’t great and the drinks were subpar. We couldn’t even see the show that well because we were seated at a long table with people in front of us.

Knowing all of these things, we’re planning on going to another luau when we head back to Hawaii. Unless you have Hawaiian friends, it’s the closest thing you’ll get to a Hawaiian picnic.

It helps if you set your expectations before your visit. I view a luau much like any other dinner theater. It doesn’t matter if you’re going to Dolly Parton’s Stampede in Pigeon Forge, TN, a banquet in an Irish castle or Medieval Times. They all have the same formula. Some of the shows just do a better job than others. If the food is decent and the show enjoyable, then they’ve done their job.

Would I suggest going to a luau? I’d say that Your Mileage May Vary. If you’re a fan of dinner shows, then go for it. Do some research and pick one that’s right for you. Do you want a more authentic luau experience on the beach or would you be happy with a show in a large conference room? What type of show do you want, a Polynesian review or one that focuses more on the history of Hawaii?

If you’d rather do anything else than sit at a table eating a Hawaiian buffet while watching a show, then skip it. There are plenty of other places to eat and things to see. Watch a sunset. Have a nice dinner.

Whichever you do, enjoy your time in Hawaii and stop stressing.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

Image by Les Bohlen from Pixabay

1 comment

Christian November 8, 2021 - 3:30 pm

Say Cheese, LOL. Have fun.


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