Tip: A massive shield volcano that rises 10,023 feet above Maui's coastal areas.

 Currently: Maui Things to Do Luaus

About the Hawaiian Luau

Lu'au weren't always called lu'au. Until the mid-1800s small get-togethers were called pa'ina and large banquets — the equivalent of today's lu'au — were referred to as 'aha'aina. These root words mean, among other things, "gathering" ('aha) and "eating" ('aina).

Local records show

the word "lu'au" was first publicly used to describe the 'aha'aina in 1856, in the pages of the Pacific Commercial Advertiser (the weekly predecessor of today's daily newspaper, The Honolulu Advertiser). The word also means the leafy top of the young taro plant, especially when baked in coconut cream with chicken or octopus. Not surprisingly, this dish is a staple of the lu'au menu.

Much has changed since the days of the ancient lu'au. Women and men are allowed to eat together, which was forbidden in Hawai'i before the Hawaiian culture's system of kapu (taboos) was eliminated in 1819. Women are also allowed to eat foods that were once denied them, such as bananas, coconuts, pork, turtle and several types of fish.

Dance
The lyrical hula dance — now referred to as the ancient, or kahiko, style of hula — was once accompanied with chants (mele) to honor the gods. Today it is performed for entertainment and to remember the ways of old. A more modern style, called 'auana, has become popular since the 1970s, when a renaissance of native Hawaiian culture began. Both styles are performed at lu'au, and commercial events often showcase Tahitian and Samoan dance styles as well. Tahiti and Samoa are believed to be ancestral homelands of the Hawaiians.

Food
Although some lu'au menus have evolved to include sushi, teriyaki chicken, Chinese manapua buns and the ubiquitous macaroni salad, traditional lu'au food is served at many events. Authentic dishes include:

  • kalua pork (an entire pig roasted underground in a handmade pit called an imu oven)
  • lomi lomi salmon (diced with tomatoes and onions, like a salsa)
  • chicken long rice (transparent noodles)
  • huli-huli (barbequed) chicken
  • haupia (coconut custard)
  • laulau (pork, chicken or fish wrapped and steamed in ti leaves)
  • poi (taro root mashed with water into a pale purple paste)


Contemporary celebration
As Christianity swept through Hawai'i in the 19th century, the lu'au lost its pagan roots and became more commonly a chance to relax and enjoy family and friends with good food and music. This spirit prevails in nearly every aspect of life in Hawai'i. One of the most dutifully observed local rituals is the "baby lu'au," a grand celebration staged on a child's first birthday. Lu'au are also held for graduations, class reunions, and other important events.

Articles Related to This One
Shop for
Package type:
Departing from:
Depart:
 
Going to:
Return:
 
Adults:
Seniors:
Children:
Search for packages
More package search options from Expedia
Going to:
Arrive:  
Return:  
Adults:
Seniors:
Children:
Search for packages
More Package search options from Expedia
Departing from:
Depart:
 
Going to:
Return:
 
Adults:
Seniors:
Children:
Search for flights
More flight search options from Expedia
Search for hotels in:
Check-in: Check-out:
Rooms:
Adults:
Children:
  Adults:
Children:
  Adults:
Children:
Search for hotels
More hotel search options from Expedia
Pick-up location:
Pick-up:
Drop-off:
Car class:
Search for cars
More car search options from Expedia
Select a top destination:
Departing in:
Cruise length:
Search for cruises
More cruise search options from Expedia
Destination:
Start date:
End date:
Search for activities
More activity search options from Expedia
Current Specials - Maui
  • Kaanapali Beach Hotel - 4 night Best of the Beach package just $1385
  • Guaranteed cheap car rental rates with national rental companies
  • Luau, dinner cruise, snorkel and more! Book all your activities in one place
  • From $945 - Oahu & Maui Island Hopping 6 Nights Incl. Air, Transfers & Daily Breakfast. Choose your favorite hotel for your stay!
  • Escape the ordinary at the luxurious Hotel Wailea Maui
  • Kaanapali Beach Hotel - 5 night Romance Package just $1709
  • Save 25% when you add breakfast to your stay at Royal Lahaina Resort
  • $855+ Makena Beach & Golf Resort: 3 nights w/air. Kids 17 & under stay FREE. Includes FREE Hertz mid-size rental, room upgrade, credits and more!
  • $785+ The Westin Maui Resort & Spa: 3 Nights with Air. Includes FREE Midsize Hertz rental, breakfast for 2, resort credits & more!
  • Hilton Hawaii Deals - starting at just $169
More of our Current Specials on Maui
Packages

Hawaiian Airlines: Special Offers
Hot Clicks - All Islands
  • Hilton Hawaii Deals - starting at just $169
  • $565+ Hawaii 3-Night Vacations with Air – FREE Hertz mid-size rental!
  • Volcano Value Rates at Royal Kona Resort from $129