A fire knife dance ends the Sheraton Kona luau experience in dazzling fashion. // © 2016 Island Breeze Productions
Feature image (above): Hilton Waikoloa Village's luau captivates crowds three night each week. // © 2016 Hilton Waikoloa Village
As the largest island in the Aloha State, Hawaii Island goes big when it throws a luau. From opening festivities with tropical drinks and cultural activities to fresh takes on traditional food and entertainment, it immerses guests in the joys of Hawaii’s most beloved outdoor party.
The following five Hawaii Island resorts do an especially good job of sharing their luau love with visitors.
Gathering of the Kings, Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii
At this distinctive luau, guests travel through Polynesia in several ways. They learn about various island traditions through arts, crafts and dance lessons. They taste Pacific-inspired dishes such as Samoan crispy plantains; New Zealand-style pan-seared calamari; and shredded Hawaiian Kalua pork. Continuing the journey is a live stage production that dramatizes how kings of different cultures unified their people. Entertainment highlights include a 10-foot-tall warrior on stilts and a Tahitian fire belt.
Haleo-the Voice of Life, Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay
Haleo takes place in a destination full of impressive tales, from the birth of King Kamehameha III to the surfers who have ridden its waves over the centuries. Clients explore that history during preliminary talk-story sessions and lessons such as lauhala weaving and coconut husking. They savor traditional lomi lomi salmon and modern pineapple-soy glazed beef and Kona coffee chocolate cake. During the show, legends and lore come to life, linking past and present in entertaining fashion.
Legends of Hawaii - Our Big Island Story, Hilton Waikoloa Village
For many reasons, this luau packs the house three nights each week. For starters, guests can get a temporary tattoo, learn Hawaii’s hukilau dance and browse and buy local artworks. They can sip a tropical drink straight out of a fresh-cut pineapple. At several food stations, they can load up on the likes of huli-huli chicken, kiawe-smoked brisket and kalua pork. Then there’s the show, a major production focusing on Hawaii’s songs, dances, history and culture, which crescendos when two fire dancers perform simultaneously.
Oceanfront Luau, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel
The award-winning Lim family has entertained here for 50 years, and their show always earns rave reviews. Early on, clients can watch the unveiling of the imu (underground oven), where the pig has been roasting all day. Arts, crafts and stories are followed by buffet temptations such as grilled fresh catch, teriyaki ribs and lilikoi (passion fruit) cheesecake. Under a canopy of trees, musicians, singers and dancers put their special spin on Hawaiian music and stories, ending with a mesmerizing fire dance by the sea.
Sunset Luau, Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa
Views of the ocean, sunset and ancient fishponds captivate clients at this twice-weekly bash. Guests sit at round tables inviting cheerful conversation with friends old and new. Pre-meal fun includes Hawaiian games and conch shell blowing contests. Dinner features fresh, local ingredients such as Waipio Valley poi and Keahole shrimp. Songs and dances of Tahiti, New Zealand, Hawaii and Samoa are interspersed with good-natured audience participation during this memorable luau on Hawaii Island.