A Visit to Germaine’s Luau

By Caroline Wright

No trip to Hawaii would be complete without a Mai Tai, a hula lesson, a plate full of delicious Kalua pork and a magnificent sunset on the beach. Thanks to Germaine’s Luau, an Oahu attraction that has delighted visitors for more than three decades, you can enjoy all of these experiences in a single, unforgettable evening.

This venerable luau takes place in Kapolei near Barber’s Point on the southwestern tip of Oahu, about 27 miles from Waikiki. If you’re driving, you’ll want to leave your hotel early to beat rush-hour traffic, or even spend the day on the North Shore before heading for Kapolei. Germaine’s gates open at 5:15 p.m., so you can claim the best seats in an outdoor theatre area filled with long picnic tables and low luau tables surrounded by tatami mats—perfect for kids!

If you’d rather not drive—or if you’re looking for the full Germaine’s experience—ask about the free shuttle when you make your luau reservations. Germaine’s provides door-to-door service to and from Waikiki hotels. Traffic and the buses’ meandering routes can expand the ride to Kapolei into a two-hour odyssey (the nighttime ride back is much shorter). But it’s a comfy trip, and you’ll be surrounded by like-minded luau-goers and amused by the patter of the tour guide.

Upon arrival, a Germaine’s shutterbug will photograph your group against a lovely natural backdrop of dusky sky, beach and sea. (Photos may be purchased for $20 at the end of the evening.) Belly up to the outdoor bar and redeem one of your three complimentary adult beverage tickets for a Mai-Tai, rum punch, Blue Hawaii, or domestic beer; unlimited soft drinks, coffee and tea are also available.

As the sun begins to set, an emcee introduces the “Royal Court” while a five-piece band plays island standards. Dancers clad in regal crimson and yellow take the stage in a ceremony that provides a brief introduction to ancient Hawaiian protocol. Several good-humored volunteers from the audience are invited to show off their best hula moves in a riotous “contest.” Then, it’s time for the feast!

Germaine’s claims to be one of the few commercial luaus in Hawaii that cooks a pig each day in its traditional imu pit, located just behind its outdoor bar. At about 6:15 each evening, as the crowd watches hungrily, two men clad in bright lava-lavas are charged with opening and unwrapping the imu and retrieving the Kalua pork. Tender, smoky, and succulent, the shredded pork is simply delectable.

The buffet tables are laden with standard luau fare like lomi-lomi salmon, chicken long rice, fried mahi, and poi. Don’t be afraid of the poi! Try it as a condiment with the salmon or Kalua pork. Fried chicken, teriyaki beef, steamed rice, dinner rolls, and a quartet of salads (green, macaroni, coleslaw, and three-bean) are also available, and the dessert tables feature treats like fresh pineapple, haupia (coconut pudding), and chocolate cake.

At about 7, the stage show recommences. Dancers representing Hawaii, New Zealand, Samoa and Tahiti provide spectacular and colorful entertainment, often accompanied by ipu and uli uli (gourd drums and rattles). Highlights include a dramatic Samoan fire-knife dance, a sensual Tahitian couples’ hula, and a Maori dance with glowing “poi balls,” as well as several opportunities for audience participation (and a door prize drawing, too!)

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