On Kauai, visitors don’t need to break the bank to experience the art of hula. Instead, thanks to three free hula shows on the island, clients can see prime examples of Hawaii’s famous dance without paying a penny.
These easygoing performances — backed by musicians who strum guitars and sing lilting melodies — take place in central locations, where guests can kick back and relax. From travelers who are on a tight budget to clients who crave all things cultural, the following shows exceed expectations with their outstanding hula — offered on the house.
Set in Kapaa under groves of palms, this east Kauai retail hub draws crowds with its gratis hula entertainment. Coconut Marketplace's one-hour shows feature Kumu Hula Leilani Rivera Low and Halau Hula ʻO Leilani and include traditional Hawaiian music, hula and fire dancing at the marketplace's outdoor amphitheater.
Spectators can slip off their shoes and sit on a piece of lawn or lean against a tree while watching the show, which charms viewers each Wednesday and Friday at 5 p.m. For an added treat, folks can book one of the marketplace's hula classes, held at various times throughout the week. Check out Coconut Marketplace's full schedule of events for specific dates and times.
National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG)
Halau Ka Lei Mokihana O Leinaala — arguably the island’s top hula ensemble — presents a traditional hula show set to live music at the National Tropical Botanical Garden. Embraced by a botanical spread of rare and endangered tropical plants, the weekly performances tell tales of the sacred sites of Kauai. At the same time, they illustrate the unique bond between Hawaii’s people and the Poipu-based gardens. A covered lanai and expansive trees offer shade for guests as they watch the poetry in motion.
Held on Thursdays at 2 p.m., the 45-minute show holds forth at NTBG’s South Shore Visitors Center. Before or afterward, clients can learn about hula’s relationship to the land during a tour of the gardens.
Poipu Shopping Village
At this south shore gathering place, clients have another chance to witness the compelling dancers of Halau Ka Lei Mokihana O Leinaala, who captivate audiences with their award-winning moves. Beneath the rustling banyan trees of the shopping village, the performers step, glide and flow to the strains of popular local musician Keola Worthington.
Guests relax on benches by the stage for a free, close-up look at Tahitian and Hawaiian-inspired footwork, reflecting stories of Polynesia throughout history. The 30-minute show, which takes place every Monday and Thursday at 5 p.m., creates a perfect prelude to dinner at one of Poipu Shopping Village’s fun restaurants.