I wrote about snorkeling last week, but one of the big highlights of our R&R in Hawaii was attending our first luau, the Island Breeze Luau at the King Kamehameha Hotel (aka the Courtyward Marriott in Kona, where we were staying). I have heard that most luaus are the same in terms of food and entertainment lineup; however our Hawaiian friend here at post recommended the Island Breeze Luau as one of the best in Hawaii. Indeed, it has garnered great ratings and many awards from TripAdvisor, OpenTable and other customer-rated sites. It did not disappoint!Kail practices a Hawaiian performance.I think most luaus must have some sort of pre-show entertainment while people are gathering, milling about and sipping their unlimited mai tais. The Island Breeze Luau was a carefully coordinated 3.5 hours that included hula dancing lessons, arts and crafts, music, face painting and other activities to keep a couple hundred adults and children occupied.My mai tai limit: one. Too sweet.One unique feature of the Island Breeze Luau was that since the King Kamehameha hotel is on Kamakahonu Bay near Ahu’ena, Kamehameha the Great’s former estate, the performance begins before dancers even take the stage, with the arrival of the Royal Court aboard an outrigger canoe (first photo above).Kalua pig!One of my favorite parts was the uncovering of the imu (underground oven), when they unearthed the main dish of the evening: kalua pork. Nom. (Later we were told that the pig in the photo above was just “the show pig” — not used for the pork that was actually on the buffet.)While the pre-show entertainment may vary luau to luau, the Polynesian review is a standard aspect of every luau: traditional performances of the various Polynesian cultures, including Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti and New Zealand. The official name of the Island Breeze Luau show is “He ‘Ohana Kakou,” or “We are family.”From the Island Breeze Luau brochure (which I saved, obv, for my Project Life scrapbook!):
The word “‘ohana” literally means “the offshoots,” referring to the new shoots on our precious staple, the kalo (taro) plant — we are offshoots, forever connected to each other by our common root. Stories and cultural practices were passed down within the family so that today we can honor our ‘ohana and share its beauty with others.
It’s more than just a dance in grass skirts, people. I was very impressed by the performers. There were maybe like 8-10 of them, and it was nonstop performing — greeting, lessons, singing, dancing, costume changes — from the minute the luau gates opened (5 p.m.) until the last guest departed (some time after 8:30 p.m.).I mean, you can’t really afford to be tired or slack off when you’re twirling a couple fire batons.Have you ever been to a luau?