Best time to visit Hawaii

Luau Party in Hawaii

A trip to Hawaii isn't complete without a traditional Hawaiian party

Best time: all year round

Luau Party
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​Luau is a traditional party in Hawaii—a large gathering of hundreds of people, accompanied by a load of fun and Hawaiian food such as dried fish, sweet potatoes, bananas, and actual luau—the young taro leaf that is cooked like spinach. Luaus are usually held in honor of significant events in the Aloha State, such as a visiting wedding or a dignitary. Entertainment at a visitor luau often includes music and dances from several Polynesian cultures. The food at a family luau is as diverse as the various branches of the family tree.

The first feast in Hawaii was held in the 18th century. Before then, the kapu religion, system of restrictions, and resource management separated women and men at mealtimes in times of celebration. But in 1819, King Kamehameha II eliminated all the religious laws and conducted a symbolic performance by collective eating. This is when the luau parties were set up. Now, two centuries later, it is essential to note that not all entertainment or food at a luau today is Hawaiian, despite Hawaiian roots. Luau reflects mostly reflects the multi-cultural society.

Nowadays,​ luau gatherings are much smaller and are often arranged for tourists so that they can experience Hawaiian cultures and unique foods, like lomilomi salmon, kalua pig, and poi, which is made from the taro plant. Visit Big Island, Kauai, Maui, and Oahu to take part in the brightest parties.

Practical info

What is the definition of a Hawaiian luau?

A Hawaiian luau is a traditional celebration that originated in Hawaii. It usually involves a gathering of people, typically to mark special events such as weddings. The party features Hawaiian food, including sweet potatoes, dried fish, bananas, luau leaves, and others. Entertainment includes music and dancing, often displayed from different cultures in Polynesia. Today, luau is an essential part of Hawaiian celebrations and cultural experience for tourists seeking Hawaiian traditions. Show more

When was the first time that a luau was held in Hawaii?

The Hawaiian people had their first luau celebration in 1819. After eliminating the kapu religion, King Kamehameha II abolished all religious laws, and the people started collective eating. The luau has since grown to become an integral part of modern Hawaiian culture, and it showcases the unique culinary and cultural diversity of Hawaii. Modern-day luau parties have gone beyond the local communities to become a significant hit among tourists visiting Hawaii. Show more

Where is the best place for foreigners to experience authentic Hawaiian cuisine?

If foreigners are seeking authentic Hawaiian cuisine, they could explore several places, including Big Island, Kauai, Maui, and Oahu. Maui luaus are the best Hawaiian cultural experiences and offer a royal procession, torch lighting ceremonies, and fire knife dancers to stay true to Hawaiian traditions. Oahu luaus are also an excellent option as they combine traditional Hawaiian foods and music with various island dances from Polynesia. Overall, tourists have numerous options to experience traditional Hawaiian cuisine and embrace the cultural diversity and culinary offerings available in Hawaii. Show more

What are some of the common food choices during a luau party?

Luau parties usually feature a variety of traditional Hawaiian foods, including poi (a taro plant-based food), sweet potatoes, bananas, dried fish, luau or taro leaves, and more. It also features lomi-lomi salmon, salt-cured salmon mixed with onions, manapua, a dim-sum-like dish with assorted fillings, kalua pig, where a whole pig is roasted in an underground oven, serving as the focal point of the party. There are also desserts like haupia, coconut milk jello, and guava cake to make the party even more festive. Show more

How have Hawaiian luau parties changed to reflect the multicultural community in Hawaii?

Hawaiian luau parties changed over time to reflect the multicultural and diverse communities present in Hawaii today. While music and dances feature Hawaiian roots, they have also assimilated other Polynesian cultures like Samoa and Tahiti. Food items also reflect Hawaii's unique fusion of cultures, including dishes from various cultures such as Japan, China, and the Philippines. In addition, these parties are now organized for tourists, allowing them to experience the cultural blend of Hawaii's diverse communities and to enjoy authentic Hawaiian and fusion foods. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin