Is a Luau Too Cheesy for Me?

Hawaii, for many people, is a far-off destination bursting with exotic sights, sounds and experiences. Whether your dreams are to lie on warm white sand under swaying palm trees or to zipline through a tropical rain forest, Hawaii has something for everyone, and one particularly emblematic aspect of a trip to Hawaii that visitors enjoy is the luau. Oh, we know. You’re far too cool for such a cheesy, touristy activity. Well, wiseguy, we’re here to tell you: that’s the wrong attitude. As with everything in life, your expectations going into the luau play a huge role in how much you enjoy it.

OK, Tell Me More.

Kalua pig is one of the traditional foods found at every luau

Kalua pig is one of the traditional foods found at every luau

Born out of the celebrations of ancient Hawaii, the luau was a cherished ceremonial party, usually celebrated to mark a joyous or special occasion. The ancient Hawaiians took their parties seriously, preparing huge amounts of delectable dishes that were reserved especially for such occasions. Slow-roasted pig, pounded taro root, and mountains of fish were just some of the dishes laid out at luaus. Games were played and, of course, hula was danced. Luaus were kind of like Game of Thrones feasts, only with way less violence and virtually no dragons.

Sounds Cool. What About Today’s Luaus?

Luau Dancers

Luau dancers are happy to see you

We thought you’d never ask. Today, luaus still offer much of the same delicious cuisine and goofy games, but most also have far more refreshing beverages. You know, of the boozy variety. From the mai tai to the Blue Hawaii, luaus are a time for people to let loose and soak in some high-proof island vibes.

Luaus are often held near the beach, so guests can enjoy stunning sunsets (no one, even you, is too cool to enjoy a stunning sunset) with tiki torches and sweet-smelling sea breezes. There’s always relaxing island music with attractive—and we mean really, really attractive—Polynesian dancers swaying their hula hips to the rhythms.

The atmosphere is always casual and the food is usually served buffet style. Besides the games and the singing and traditional Polynesian dances, a fire knife dance often rounds out the show. Seriously. Dudes dancing around twirling flaming blades in their hands. Flaming. Blades. That’s some cool stuff right there.

Whether you’re here with your sweetie or it’s a family affair, luaus are an entertaining way to try some local dishes, sit under the stars and listen to some sweet Hawaiian sounds. Did we mention the dudes with the flaming blades?

So How Do I Choose?

Dudes with flaming blades!

Dudes with flaming blades!

While there are luaus held all over the islands, it should be noted that all luaus are not created equal. Some are heavier on live music, while others emphasize the dancing or the food. Some offer unlimited cocktails, while others are completely alcohol-free. Here’s a handy-dandy comparison chart to help you decide where to get your luau fix. The key to enjoying yourself at a luau is to leave your swagger at the hotel, and just relax and enjoy the evening for what it is: lots of good food, beautiful dancers, and dudes with flaming blades!

So, is a luau too cheesy? Nah, you just need to loosen up and allow yourself to have some fun no matter how cool you are. And since you’ve read this far, we think you’re pretty cool.

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