Attending an authentic Hawaiian luau can be a truly amazing experience, allowing you to experience a part of the Hawaiian culture that you’ve likely only seen before in movies and on television shows.
In fact, it’s part of the must see list for anyone enjoying a Hawaiian vacation. Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawai‘i takes the entire experience to another level, and would you expect anything less from a Disney Resort?
Before the show begins, soak in the atmosphere with some traditional arts such as kapa printing (traditional cloth), flower arranging, temporary kakau tattoos and paʻi ai taro pounding (a traditional food).
Of course it wouldn’t be a luau without some traditional foods, so be sure to load up your plate before the performance begins. You’ll find a variety of options for everyone: suckling pig and prime rib, fresh local seafood, and authentic island fare, plus family-friendly offerings, like shaka macaroni and cheese, chicken tenders, Mickey-shaped pastas and a decadent dessert bar.
Then it’s time for a show unlike any other you’ll find in Hawaii. At Aulani Resort you won’t just see a variety of traditional dances, you’ll be taken on a journey through a story told by Noa via a journey through time with “ka wa‘a” or “the canoe.”
Here are a few more fun facts to know before the show:
Today the term “luau” is pretty much synonymous with a large gathering or “party”, but its literal translation is quite different.
Specifically, the term “luau” refers to the leaf of the taro plant, which is commonly served at luaus and is similar in taste and texture to the potato. In fact, the Hawaiian word that literally translates to “party” or “gathering” is actually “paina.”
The specific dish that gave the luau its name was a chicken dish baked in coconut milk and combined with taro leaves. If you attend an authentic luau, you’ll probably get to sample this delicious food for yourself!
There are many special occasions that are commonly celebrated with a luau in Hawaiian culture; these include the standard birthdays, weddings, and even graduations.
However, one less-known cause for a celebratory luau is a baby’s first birthday.
Historically, a luau used to be held on a baby’s first birthday, at which point he or she was officially named.
This was thought to give parents and relatives time to come up with a name that truly fit the baby’s personality and life mission. Today, luaus are still commonly held on a baby’s first birthday, but most are done without the naming ceremony.
When most people think of luaus, they think first of delicious food: roasted pigs, fish, crabs, and much more. The second thought that usually comes to mind is luau or hula dancing. However, you may be surprised to learn that, while all luaus include a celebratory feast, not all luaus include dancing.
In fact, in 1819, Queen Ka’ahumanu decided to ban hula dancing altogether on the islands because it was believed to be too taboo. Today, hula dancing has been revived, but it’s still not performed at every luau.
What many people fail to realize is just how much work and dedication goes into learning how to hula dance.
In fact, most hula dancers train for years at schools known as halau; at these training institutions, strict rules and rigorous practice schedules are enforced.
Another example of the dedication involved in becoming a hula dancer can be seen in the tattoos found on many hula dancers’ faces.
You may specifically notice these tattoos on the faces of male hula dancers during the luau you attend. These tattoos actually have a name–moko–and are very symbolic. In fact, moko often symbolize that luau dancer’s genealogy, personal identity, and family history.
As you can see, there’s so much more to these shows than a dance. There’s history, culture and tradition being passed down with every movement.