Local Island Experts

Luau Food


A luau is a feast. More important than serving luau food, however, is the spirit and sense of family (Ohana) present in each luau. Think of any luau as a Hawaiian luau partyto which you have been invited by family or friends to share a multi-cultural experience. A luau on Maui, Oahu, the Hawaii or Kauai exemplifies the fact that Hawaii is a melting pot of cultures from around the world. In one way or another, a luau and luau food in Hawaii always is imbued with influences from the Chinese, Filipino, native Hawaiian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Puerto Rican, Samoan, Thai, Vietnamese and other nationalities and cultures.

The size of a luau doesn’t determine the type of traditional luau food served. The variety of food served at luaus on each island will depend more on the type and history of the event’s sponsor and host facility and also the chef overseeing the menu and luau food preparation. As discussed in the article Hawaii’s Luaus, Oahu has the largest luaus; Maui is known for its traditional Hawaiian-style luaus; Kauai is home to one of the oldest luaus in the state; and one of the luaus on the Big Island is located on the grounds of one of Kamehameha l's seaside residences. 

Each of these luaus has an interesting history and evolution to a Hawaiian luau party from its earliest days in the 19th century. As a tourist attraction, luaus logically found many of their homes in resorts and established tourist destinations like the Polynesian Cultural Center. No matter which type of location, all of the luaus found on Maui, Kauai, Oahu and the Big Island include an Imu to cook a pig and dancers that accompany bountiful luau food.

First and foremost in the luau and luau food experiences is the ritual of sharing food. Some of the food served in buffets will seem familiar and some different and even exotic. As part of the luau’s food sharing experience, at least taste some of the various food choices. The highlight of the ritual of food preparation and sharing is “kalua pork”: a pig prepared in the traditional manner in an underground pit called an "imu." Cooked for about 8 hours on hot river rocks covered with juicy banana stalks and leaves and “Ti” leaves, the tender pork has a uniquely delicious taste. In addition to the pig you will always find included in the feast lomi lomi salmon, chicken long rice, poi, laulau, haupia and other Hawaiian delicacies.

Here are some of our favorite delicacies that await visitors at the luaus on Maui, Oahu, the Big Island and Kauai that you’ll find in our website:

Baked Mahi Mahi…Banana Bread…Banana/Coconut/Guava Cake …Beef or Chicken Teriyaki …Char Siu (spareribs)…Chicken Adobo (national dish of the Philippines)…Chicken Katsu (Japanese style fried chicken) …Chicken Long Rice…Chicken Lu`au (chicken cooked with taro leaves and coconut milk)…Corn Chowder (made with chicken stock, potatoes, onion, celery and creamed corn)…Fried Rice…Haupia (Hawaiian coconut flavored dessert) …Hawaiian Lau Lau (steamed boneless pork, chicken or beef) …Hawaiian Purple Sweet Potatoes…HuliHuli Chicken (BBQ chicken is a special sauce)…Kim Chee …Kulolo (Hawaiian pudding)…Lomi Lomi Salmon…Lu`au (Taro leaves baked in a special sauce) …Pipi Kaula (Hawaiian-style beef jerky) …Poi…Poke…Portuguese Bean Soup…Pupus…Sauteed Mahi Mahi
Shoyu Chicken …Squid Luau…Taro Dinner Rolls…Teriyaki Beef (Chinese or Japanese style)

Luau Food Plus Entertainment & Activities

A Hawaiian luauparty can vary from island to island not just in the kind of food and the way it is prepared but also the ways in which feasts, pre-show activities and entertainment are presented and combined.

At the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay on the Big Island pre-show activities for luau guests include the opportunity to meet and talk story with entertainers before they savor a dinner buffet beneath the stars. 

The cultural journey at the Luau Kalamaku at the Kilohana Plantation on Kauai begins with craft demonstrations and Hawaiian gamesfollowed by the traditional imu ceremony and guests treated to a sumptuous buffet while hula dancers and musicians entertain.

At the Sheraton Kauai Resort’s Auli’I Luautalented dancers and musicians take guests on a journey through Polynesia from Hawaii to New Zealand together with the resort’s culinary offerings of traditional Hawaiian cuisine.

On Maui the Old Lahaina Luau presents an authentic Hawaiian luau combining traditional Hawaiian cuisine, music, cultural dances and island crafts. The Feast at Lele also created by the Old Lahaina Luau is quite different --more like a fine dinner show in which the menu consists of a five-course meal featuring cuisine from Hawaii, Tonga, Tahiti, and Samoa, and each course is followed by dramatic Polynesian entertainment from each island.

The Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa’s Drums of the Pacificon Oahu takes you on a journey through the islands of Polynesia in which the feast is accompanied by authentic dances and music of the old Hawaii, Samoa, Fiji, New Zealand, Tahiti, Tonga, and Rarotonga.

The Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa on Oahu puts on its Waikiki Starlight Luau on the resort's Rooftop Garden where guests are taken on avoyage across the South Seas in a celebration of Polynesian music and dance complemented by a dinner buffet featuring a modern version of traditional luau fare. 

In La’ie on Oahu the Polynesian Cultural Center presents the Ali’I Luau, one of the islands' most authentic Hawaiian luau in which the trip back in time is accompanied by traditional Hawaiian luau food and entertainment.




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The Hawaiian Luau, of all the various activities available in Hawaii, is certainly the most Hawaiian activity of all! The luau in Hawaii can truly only be found in Hawaii and this is the reason the Hawaii luau party has established itself in the hearts of the visitors who come to Hawaii as the quintessential Hawaiian event.

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