It’s all in the hips
If you’re in Honolulu, you’re going to want to experience a luau. Let’s face it, it’s a must. Like steel drums in a Caribbean nation, the luau and the hula dance introduce visitors to the Polynesian heritage that makes Hawaii’s history and traditions so remarkably diverse. The traditional luau begins with Polynesian music and a cocktail hour during which guests often can watch and learn how leis are made. As sunset nears, the whole hog (now you know where the phrase comes from) prepared for the luau feast is unearthed from the traditional underground oven, an imu, in an elaborate ceremony as guests look on. The typical luau feast includes a bounty of meats and amazingly fresh seafood in addition to the hog, along with plenty of pineapple, papaya and other fresh fruit, and, yes, poi – that curious concoction of taro root puree about which you’ve heard so much. If you like hummus, it’s reasonable to assume that you’ll be just fine with poi. Finally, as twilight settles in, the musicians and hula dancers take their guests on a mesmerizing journey through dance and tribal music that illustrate the cultures of all the Polynesian islands that helped form Hawaiian culture. Many luaus also include a traditional fire knife ceremony, easily a favorite with the kids, along with basic hula steps that guests are invited, or recruited, to try. It’s hard – truly difficult – to go wrong with a luau. At the nightly Kuhio Beach Torch Lighting ceremony at sunset, the hula show is free.