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What is a Luau and Where Can I Attend One?

Have you ever been to a luau? We’re not talking about the mainland version with the flower print decor and tiki torches. A traditional Hawaiian Luau is an experience you’ll never forget, featuring a taste of Hawaiian culture and entertainment. A trip to Kauai wouldn't be complete without attending a flavorful, exciting celebration complete with spectacular Hawaiian food, song and dance.

What is a Luau?

A luau was, in ancient times, a celebration where people of all ages gathered to honor the Hawaiian gods, marking such events as the birth of a child, the arrival of honored guests, or a successful harvest. The celebration was called ‘aha ‘aina, which means “gathering for a feast.”

These days, people in Hawaii still celebrate special occasions with a luau, featuring the cultural foods, song, and dance of Hawaii and Polynesia. Hawaiian luaus for visitors traditionally begin with a lei greeting, drinks and live music and dance. A Hawaiian blessing often kicks off the festivities, and a heartfelt aloha (goodbye) is extended to every guest at the end. Food is usually served buffet-style with an array of options to satisfy your taste buds.

Never Leave a Luau Hungry

One of the most enjoyable parts of every luau is the unique and delicious food! You can expect a plentiful assortment of flavors, ranging from vegetables and fish to pork and poi. Traditional luau foods include lomi lomi salmon, taro rolls, poi, fresh island fish, kalua pig and haupia cake--a local treat combining vanilla cake with Hawaiian coconut pudding and topped with roasted coconut shavings. It is a true island favorite!

Taro is a main staple of the Hawaiian diet and is grown on Kauai. The taro root or leaf are incorporated into many traditional Hawaiian dishes. Some foods are wrapped in taro leaves for cooking, and others incorporate the taro root, such as for poi or taro rolls. Poi is made from the taro plant (or kalo plant, as it is also known in Hawaii), cooked and then mashed.

Other island favorites like local fruits and fresh salads are often included in a luau menu. Accompany your meal with a refreshing Mai Tai for the finishing touch on tropical culinary experience. If island dishes aren't your favorite, most luaus do offer alternative options. No one leaves a luau hungry!

Entertainment for All Ages

If the food at a luau isn't enough to stimulate your senses for the evening, the traditional song and dance of the native culture will surely entertain and delight you. Dancers in traditional Hawaiian attire are accompanied by local musicians, presenting the unique music and dances of Polynesia and Hawaii.

Where can I attend a Luau if I’m staying at Hanalei Colony Resort?

We believe that every Kauai vacation should include an unforgettable luau experience. At Hanalei Colony, the Hanalei By The Sea Luau is featured every Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. at the oceanfront Mediterranean Gourmet restaurant. The intimate setting at the restaurant limits luau guests to just 80 people, making this a truly unique and up-close-and-personal luau experience unlike any other. The traditional luau buffet is fabulous, and the entertainment is the best on the island, featuring famed fire knife dancer Coppin Colburn and his family. Graceful hula dancers are a highlight of the evening, wearing traditional skirts, leis and flowers in their hair. Then the exciting beat of Tahitian music takes over with dancers performing the hip-shaking dances unique to Polynesia. A thrilling performance of Polynesian fire knife dancing brings the entertainment to a close for an unforgettable evening.

The Hanalei By The Sea Luau atmosphere is comfortable for children, families and couples and fun for guests of all ages. Price is $69 for adults; $59 for teens (ages 12 to 20); $35 for children 11 and under. Reservations are required. Because space is limited to only 80 guests, this popular luau often sells out, so we highly recommend that you book your reservation well in advance.

You can fill out the Hanalei Colony activity form when planning your vacation and reserve your place in advance for this unforgettable luau. Or call Hanalei Colony guest services at 808.826.9875 or email