Try a Luau on Maui

By Team

Luaus are standard fare in the Islands…they’re Hawaii’s way of saying, “Let’s party!” At a luau there’s dancing, singing, plenty of laughs and lots of food. The main course is almost always kalua pig, which is a whole pig cooked in an imu, or underground oven, then unearthed with a short, traditional ceremony, shredded and served with an array of side dishes that often include sweet potatoes, poi, lomi-lomi salmon, fresh fish, macaroni salad and an array of desserts. After the food comes the entertainment, which is usually some form of Polynesian review.

That’s the typical format, but not all luaus are alike — not by a long shot. Backyard luaus, often held to celebrate birthdays, graduations, weddings and other special events, are private parties, sometimes attended by hundreds of invited guests.

Commercial luaus are available to anyone who buys a ticket. You’ll find them throughout the islands, some in dedicated outdoor settings, others on the grounds of resorts or restaurants. Since each has its unique signature, you might want to ask a few questions before you book a seat.

Check on the number of guests that can be accommodated. Ask about the format. Will you see an international show, a Polynesian show, a sugar-era performance? Is a fire dancer part of the entertainment and are the dancers professional or amateurs? Questions about the food and bar service may also be revealing. How long is the bar open? Is service included in the luau ticket price or will you pay more after the first drink? What’s on the menu? What’s for dessert? How long is food available? Will you pay extra for a photo? Is the luau inside or outside? What happens when it rains? Is there a cancellation or no-show policy?

Luaus open to the public are presented each week at a variety of locations on Maui. Typically they include an all-you-can-eat buffet, open bar, and an aloha shell lei greeting along with great entertainment.

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