Parties are usually celebrated with good music, great food, or with great company. In Kauai, parties come with all of that. A Hawaiian-style party, called a Luau, is a traditional celebration with energetic music, beautiful dances, and sumptuous food. You can find a great abundance of luaus in this Kauai where people flock to celebrate special occasions, usually down its south shores.
With all of the different luaus in the island, there are certain characteristics that you can easily distinguish. Cooking a whole pig using hot stones, thick layers of leaves, and a cloth covering an underground oven follows the traditional Imu ceremony. This main dish, called a Kalua Pig, is usually accompanied by a variety of Hawaiian foods including the Lomi Lomi Salmon (smoked salmon with tomato, onions, and green onions), fresh caught fish, Kulolo (sweet dessert of coconut milk and taro), and Poi (taro paste). Aside from amazing food, there will be a lot of dancing and you’ll even have many chances to show off your moves.
If you’re planning to celebrate in Hawaii’s garden island, let us take you through a quick run up of the best luaus in town.
6 Best Luaus in Kauai
1. Aulii Luau, Sheraton Kauai Resort
With a great view of the Poipu coastline and a buffet-style dinner, the Aulii Luau is an awesome party that is held at the Sheraton Kauai Resort. You’ll experience luxury with the warm tiki torches scattered around the area, cool evening breeze, and a chance to enjoying authentic Hawaiian meals under the stars.
Guests can witness award-winning performances from family raised dance troupes that party to the beat of traditional old Hawaiian music. Better book early as these shows usually sell out fast. This would be a great option for people coming to the island for the first time to experience their first luau.
2. Havaiki Nui Luau, The Grand Hyatt Kauai
With front row seats by the beautiful saltwater lagoon, this luau offers a dive into authentic Hawaiian cuisine in true Kauai fashion. The Imu-style cooked Kalua pig and roasted sweet potatoes are a must-try. Be prepared to have your breath taken away as this luau features exotic dances and songs from different Polynesian islands including Tahiti, Samoa, New Zealand, and Hawaii. These dances depict different stories of ancient Polynesia venturing in double hull canoes, seeking new land in Havaiki Nui or the great land of promise.
If you plan to go, consider booking seats for Sundays and Thursdays as the parties are more lively on those days.
3. Luau Kalamaku, Kilohana Plantation
For a more relaxing yet culture-filled party, the Luau Kalamaku is celebrated on a historical plantation estate owned by the Wilcox Family – the Kilohana Plantation. Explore the vast property including its restaurants, shops, and its immaculate grounds. You can even take a train ride through the Kauai Plantation Railway or get a good taste of the locally crafted Koloa Rum in its in-house distillery. In the evening, you will be amazed with a unique show portraying the original Tahitian voyage to the Hawaiian Islands accompanied with Hawaiian hula performances, Samoan fire knife dancing, and a fire poi-ball exhibition.
A beautiful presentation of elaborate costumes, mesmerizing fire dances, will be performed on a round stage for great views. Music from the Philippines, China, and even Japan are also incorporated in the rhythm of the dance. We suggest coming by every Tuesdays and Fridays to make the most of it.
4. Smith’s Tropical Paradise Luau, Kapa’a
One of the longest running luaus on the island, the Smith’s Tropical Paradise Luau continues to bring culture and entertainment from four generations of the Smith family. Located in the sacred Wailua River Valley, it offers garden tours around the three-acre botanical and cultural garden with the party at the end. Kids will love this place as regal peacocks and their chicks roam freely around the lawns. A food fest of Kalua pig, Gary’s secret teriyaki beef, fresh Mahimahi and many more are served at the feast.
After dinner, you will have a chance to witness a dramatic play telling stories of Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire, at the Pele Amphitheater. This is one luau that all members of a family can enjoy, so we suggest picking this luau if kids are coming with.
5. Hawaii Alive Luau, Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club
Another luau to visit for great food and a lot of extravagant dances is at the Hawaii Alive Luau at Kauai Marriott Resort & Beach Club. At this special luau, guests can order food off a menu, and pick which dances they want to witness. Fronting the beautiful Kalapaki Bay in Lihue, this luau features a plated dinner of delicious Kalua Pork, Huli Huli Chicken, Coconut Glazed Sweet Potato and Lomi Salmon with a magnificent view.
To make it more memorable, try to score front-row seats to the dance show held just up front the beautiful scenery of the koi fishpond at the Niihau Court.
6. Luau Maka’iwa, Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach Resort
At the Courtyard Kauai of Coconut Beach, the Luau Maka’iwa offers an evening of historical entertainment for everyone. It celebrates the connection that Polynesians have with the ocean and is celebrated at the ancestral grounds of the Marquesas Islands that were first discovered 1,500 years ago.
From the traditional lei greeting, authentic arts and craft using the same technique for centuries, to the actual party, everything about the luau is not only authentic but also a deep immersion into the community’s efforts of preserving Hawaiian culture. During the sunset, you will witness a traditional imu ceremony before being served Kalua Pork, green coconut curry Mahimahi, huli huli chicken and lomi lomi salmon. Afterwards, you will get to follow and dance to different ancient stories performed as hula dances and beats of a hundred drums.
Summary and Infographic
The people of Hawaii have always cherished their ancient traditions and worked to preserve it even in this modern time. The most beautiful part of it all is that the locals are more than willing to share their culture to visiting tourists by telling stories, performing dances, and even cooking for a group! To the rest of the world, a luau may just be an awesome party of food, drinks, and dances.
To the locals, it is an intricate marriage of respecting their culture and the optimism that travelers will wish to experience it with open arms and gratitude. Kauai truly has so many to offer and it should be part of anyone’s bucket list. Never miss out on this wonderful gem of the Pacific.