5 Misconceptions About Luaus

MISCONCEPTION #1: Luau has always had Hula dancers.

Contrary to popular belief, Luau did not originally include the hula dancing or fire-knife dancing seen at Kauai luau today – these traditions were incorporated later. Ancient luau feasts were focused on abundant cuisine and beautiful decorations. In fact, the first luau in recorded history had a purpose much bigger than entertainment – social reform. Prior to King Kamehameha II’s 1819 luau, men and women were forbidden to eat together, and women were restricted from eating certain dishes reserved for kings and warriors. When Kamehameha II allowed himself to be seen dining with women and commoners, the shift in social mores took hold and luaus continued. As the custom evolved over generations of Kauai luau, entertainments became a part of the celebration and the Hawaii luau we see today were born.

MISCONCEPTION #2: All luau lasts one hour.

It is often thought that luaus last an hour, but most luau lasts anywhere from two to three hours. Depending on which Kauai luau you attend, the length of the festivities can vary depending on how many aspects of Hawaiian luau culture are showcased. When attending a Kauai luau, plan to relax and enjoy every moment from the gift of lei to the heart-stopping fire knife dances. Ancient royal Hawaiian luau were famous for an abundance of food, festivities, and guests where no one checked the clock until the last bowl of poi sat empty. King Kamehameha III threw one of the largest and quite possibly longest Hawaiian luaus in history in 1847. We may never know how long it took to eat 271 hogs, 482 large bowls of poi, 3,125 salt fish, 1,820 fresh fish, 2,245b coconuts, and 4,000 taro plants, but I’m pretty sure it took longer than an hour! However, you should be safe if you plan on about three to four hours to enjoy a Kauai luau.

MISCONCEPTION #3: The show at a Kauai luau is only for entertainment.

Hawaiian luau aren’t shows as much as they are stories about the history of Hawaii and its diverse population. The amazing shows at today’s Kauai luau are incredible to watch, with spectacular costumes, jaw-dropping choreography, and unique Hawaiian and Polynesian cultural elements. However, the intricate movements and elaborate costumes seen at Hawaiian luau are not only designed to delight the eyes – they also tell stories. When you attend the after-dinner show at a Kauai luau you will see different Hawaiian, Samoan, Tahitian, and Maori dances. The most famous Hawaiian dance is the hula, which has been described as Hawaii’s soul in motion. The hula’s entire purpose is to tell a story, and each movement of a dancer’s hand has meaning and represents a concept. At many luaus in Kauai, different Polynesian dance techniques will be displayed as part of a show with a cohesive story. Some Kauai luau shows may tell stories of young warriors, how the first Polynesian settlers came to Hawaii, or even how the gift of fire came to the Pacific islands. It is these stories that transform the experience of a Kauai luau to give it meaning beyond the delicious food and fruity beverages.

MISCONCEPTION #4: Every luau invites guests to join the hukilau.

A luau in Kauai is about a lot more than food. There are a lot of different things to see, do and experience at every Kauai luau. One Hawaii luau activity that visitors often enjoy is learning to do the hukilau, a Hawaiian dance that represents an ancient way of fishing using a net lined with leaves. Like many traditional Polynesian dances, including the hula, the hukilau tells a story. Participating in a hukilau class can really give guests at a Kauai luau the chance to feel a part of the Hawaiian luau culture. Although several Hawaiian luau invite guests to join the hukilau and even offer instruction, many luaus in Kauai do not include an opportunity for audience participation. Having said that, don’t be disappointed if you find yourself attending a luau where the entertainment is presented as a tightly choreographed stage show with no audience participation. The creators of the after-dinner shows at Kauai luau are some of the most famous and respected entertainers in the world, and you are guaranteed an unforgettable experience. And, of course, many Hawaiian luau will offer both a pre-dinner hukilau presentation and an after dinner show. The best way to find out beforehand if the Kauai luau you are attending allows audience participation in the hukilau is to book your Hawaiian luau through Boss Frog’s, where experts can give you detailed information and help you decide which experience is right for you.

MISCONCEPTION #5: Luau guests are always greeted with fresh flower leis upon arrival.

Sometimes people planning to attend a Kauai luau have certain expectations. Often, one of these expectations is to be greeted with a Hawaiian style fresh-flower lei. The reality is that all Hawaiian luau are different, and that even the same luau can have differently priced packages that include some things and not others. Some Kauai luau may greet you with a shell lei, or no lei at all. When you are getting ready to book your luau, think about which of the different elements of a modern Kauai luau are most important to you, versus those you could miss out on and still have a positive experience. Once you know what you are looking for, call a local place like Boss Frog’s where a professional can help you make sure you have selected the right Kauai luau before any tickets are purchased. If you make a well-informed decision, you can avoid either paying extra to be greeted with an orchid or plumeria lei that you don’t want, or being disappointed by a shell lei or no lei at all.

BONUS MISCONCEPTION: I have to find the best luau for the best price all by myself.

Kauai offers many different luaus, and the best way to ensure a memorable evening at a Hawaii luau is to call Boss Frog’s and let our experts know what you are looking for. We have up-to-date info on the food, festivities, and other important aspects of the different luaus on Kauai and can help you find good deals. We believe everyone who visits Kauai deserves to make the most of what the island has to offer. Let us show you how!