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On Kauai, visitors don’t need to break the bank to experience a hula show. Instead, thanks to four free venues 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.
Coconut MarketplaceSet in Kapaa under groves of palms, this east Kauai retail hub draws crowds with its gratis hula entertainment. Its one-hour shows are presented by Leilani Rivera Low, a revered composer, recording artist and hula guru, whose talented troupe of dancers swing and sway on an outdoor stage.
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 at 5 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m. For an added treat, folks can stop by Coconut Marketplace on Fridays at 5 p.m., when Low’s well-loved father — Larry Rivera — shares Hawaiian songs for free.
Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & SpaThere are several reasons to see the free hula show at Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa. First, there’s the remarkable setting of the open-air Seaview Terrace, with its hypnotic ocean vistas and 35-foot-high ceiling. Then there’s the bar, which sells cocktails such as the signature Red Dirt Margarita made with Sauza Gold tequila, li hing mui (salty dried plum) and mango puree.
But the biggest lures are the hula dancers, whose traditional choreography honors the luxury resort’s bayside location. Shows are featured nightly from 5 to 7 p.m., followed by musicians playing contemporary live tunes. Clients savor the spectacle from the terrace’s comfy chairs, benches and sofas, all arranged to maximize the view.
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. 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 VillageAt 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 the village’s fun restaurants.