Picture yourself standing on the pristine shores of Maui with your toes sinking into the warm sand. As the sunset begins, the sky is painted in brilliant hues of pink, orange, and gold. The colors reflect off the gentle waves that lap at your feet. Finally, as the sun approaches the horizon, it casts a final burst of color — an intense flash of emerald green, like something out of science fiction or fantasy, the sight leaves you and your family in awe. 

This enchanting spectacle is real, and it’s known as the "Green Flash” at sunset. It’s a rare phenomenon that adds an extra touch of magic to Maui's already breathtaking sunsets. 

In this article, we invite you to explore the beauty and fascinating science behind the elusive Green Flash. We’ll also let you know about the very best locations to witness it during your visit to Maui. From the sunny shores of Ka'anapali Beach to a lovely Hawaiian Luau, let us guide you on this fantastic journey. Together, we’ll capture an extraordinary moment and create an unforgettable memory for your time in paradise.

What is the Green Flash at Sunset?

The Green Flash on Maui is a scientific phenomenon and a result of something called atmospheric refraction. As sunlight passes through Earth's atmosphere, the light is bent or refracted. This happens at different angles based on the wavelength. Shorter wavelengths, like blue and violet light, are refracted more than longer wavelengths, like red and orange light.

During a sunset, the sun's rays travel through more of Earth's atmosphere than when the sun is higher in the sky. As a result, the blue and violet light is scattered away, leaving the longer wavelengths visible. This is why sunsets typically appear reddish-orange. 

However, under specific atmospheric conditions, the green light becomes visible. Green rests between blue and red in the spectrum and becomes momentarily visible just before the sun disappears below the horizon. The science may seem complicated, but the rarity of the event and its magic is nothing short of remarkable. 

Maui's Unique Atmosphere & Location

Maui's unique location and atmospheric conditions make the Green Flash at sunset possible. The island's clear skies and low levels of air pollution allow for better views! To add to that, its position in the Pacific Ocean makes the horizon even more vibrant. This combination increases the chances of witnessing the green flash during a Maui sunset.

However, to maximize your chances of witnessing the green flash, it's essential to know the Maui sunset time. During your visit, check local sources or websites for the precise sunset time each day. Most of us might even be able to check the time on our smartphone’s weather app! Even so, arrive at your chosen viewing location well in advance. This gives you the best chance to find a good spot and enjoy the green magic as the sun sets!

Best Spots to View the Green Flash in Maui

The island of Maui, part of the Hawaiian archipelago, is already renowned for its breathtaking sunsets. Because of that, there are countless spots across the island dedicated to the view. That being said, the Green Flash at sunset is still something special. 

While the green flash can be seen from many places in Maui, some spots provide better vantage points than others:

Ka'anapali Beach

This popular beach on Maui's west coast offers spectacular sunset views and is an excellent spot to catch the green flash.

Lahaina Historic District

The historic town of Lahaina is another great location to watch the sunset, with its picturesque waterfront and charming ambiance.

 

Haleakala National Park

The summit of Haleakala offers an unobstructed view of the horizon, increasing your chances of catching the green flash.

The Green Flash at sunset is a rare moment that adds an extra touch of magic to Maui's already stunning sunsets. And so, we’ll end our journey with one of the best sights to witness it…

 

The Old Lāhainā Lūʻau

As you plan your Maui vacation, be sure to add The Old Lāhainā Lūʻau to your itinerary. It not only provides an amazing opportunity to see the Green Flash but also immerses you in Hawaiian culture. Our luau offers a ton of exciting activities for the whole family to make your evening unforgettable.

At The Old Lāhainā Lūʻau, you'll be treated to a traditional Hawaiian feast. One that features mouthwatering dishes like Kalua pig, Lomilomi salmon, and haupia. As you keep an eye out for the Green Flash, you'll also enjoy authentic luau entertainment. 

These artists take to the stage and showcase the ancient art of hula, fire knife dancing, and melodic Hawaiian songs. It's a perfect combination of visual splendor and delicious food that will create lasting memories of your time in Maui.

Don't miss the chance to see the breathtaking Green Flash at sunset to perfectly bookend your  marvelous Maui experience. Book your tickets for The Old Lāhainā Lūʻau today and immerse yourself in the island's enchanting beauty and fascinating culture. The elusive green flash phenomenon has captivated the hearts and imaginations of Maui's visitors for generations – let it captivate yours next!

It’s nearly impossible to imagine a Hawaiian Luau without a traditional Hula Dance. They go together like the ocean and the sand. Like sunsets and tiki torches. That’s because the Hawaiian Hula Dance has become synonymous with Hawaiian culture. It’s a staple of Hawaiian luaus and its people. 

The Hawaiian Hula Dance is also a breathtaking art form. One that combines energetic music and dance. More than that, it’s a dance that tells a story. It captures the history of the islands and the essence of its people. This makes hula something more than an exciting performance. 

It is also a genuine display of Hawaiian culture and history. A magical retelling expressed through frenetic rhythms and unique dances. Let’s see where the magic of Hula all began. 

Hula Dancing History & Myth

Hula is a tradition nearly as old as the Hawaiian people. Because of that, its origins are somewhat mysterious. Some legends say the navigator goddess Laka first invented the hula dance. Others say the goddess Hi’iaka created the dance for her sister Pele. 

Pele herself was the goddess of volcano and fire. Some versions say it was she who created the hula. The hula honored her escape from her sister Namakaokaha’i, the goddess of the oceans. 

Another theory is that hula comes from the Hawaiian creation myth – the Kumulipo. In this story, the gods perform a chant along with arm and leg movements. Historians theorize that this could be a reference to the first hula dances. 

There are nearly as many legends as there are Hawaiian regions. Traditional hula can vary just as much based on location. Before the 1800s, the Hawaiian people did not have a written language. Hula served as one way to pass down knowledge through generations. Early hula was more than artistic expression. It was a way for stories to be told and wisdom to be imparted. 

Hula & the Hawaiian Luau  

The Hawaiian Hula dance goes hand-in-hand with Hawaii today. However, there was a time when its future on the islands was in question. In the 1800s, Christianity came to Hawaii. Many traditional ways of life were eyed with suspicion by those who converted. Many Christian Hawaiians began to see hula as immoral. They thought it expressed pre-Christian beliefs. That was something that couldn’t stand.

In 1830, Christian Queen Ka'ahumanu made it illegal to perform the hula publicly. However, this ban didn’t last long. After her death in 1832, the hula quickly re-entered public life. 

Ultimately, there was never lasting success at suppressing hula. It also found its way through passed down Hawaiian traditions. The dance did change over the 19th century, however. 

The chants accompanying the dances shifted in tone. They become more melodic and song-like. The subject of hula also began to shift. Hula had traditionally told ancient stories of golden gods and the islands’ birth. This new hula focused instead on the present. It glorified the king and queen and described the beauty of Hawaiian nature. 

This era of hula would soon come to a close as well. In 1893, the monarchy ended in Hawaii. In 1900, the island officially became a United States territory. As Hawaii was integrated into the United States, many traditions were pushed to the wayside. For a time, American culture was widely adopted. 

Luckily, this proved to be only a brief period in Hawaii’s history. As we mentioned, the hula was an enduring tradition. By the 1960s and 1970s, traditional Hawaiian culture experienced a renaissance

Traditional Hula Dance

Many types of hula have existed throughout Hawaii’s history. Nowadays, there are typically two distinct styles we’ll see. One is called Hula Kahiko – often referred to as traditional hula. The other is Hula Auana – also called modern hula. 

Hula Kahiko is performed in the style that existed before the monarchy’s end. This means the subject of the dance relates to praising chiefs and honoring old gods. This is a more traditional approach to hula. A story is told, and knowledge is passed down. 

This kind of hula is also distinct in its presentation. Modern instruments aren’t used. Instead, it relies on rhythm sticks and traditional drums or rattles. Hula Kahiko also relies on chants called oli rather than songs to tell its stories. Some of these oli are very old, passed down through the generations. Others are new, expressing recent tales about the Hawaiian people. Hula Kahiko is steeped in tradition and history. However, it continues to develop and grow to this day. 

On the other hand, Hula Auana is what tourists and Hawaiian travelers are most familiar with. This hula was developed during Hawaii’s integration into the Western world. Auana is less formal than Kahiko and isn’t used for ceremonial purposes. This hula still tells stories about Hawaii and its people. However, it is more curated for a foreign audience. 

The hula Auana made popular the iconic grass skirts used by dancers. The method of storytelling also changed. Oli chants are forgone in favor of a mele or song. The accompanying instruments are typically ukuleles, guitars, bass, and (if you are lucky) the steel guitar. Although, traditional drums and rattles may still be used. 

Entertainment is core to the hula Auana experience. Dancers often interact with the crowd and employ the dance as a method of cultural exchange. Other dances, such as the Samoan Fire Knife Dance, often accompany these shows. Though not traditionally from Hawaii, the Samoan Fire Knife Dance is an exciting visual experience, for this reason, the fire dance is not presented at the Old Lāhainā Lūʻau.

Join Us at Old Lāhainā Lūʻau!

These traditional hula dances are just a few of many wonders to be found at a traditional Hawaiian luau.

We invite you to celebrate Hawaiian culture at the Old Lāhainā Lūʻau. We offer the ultimate Maui-style entertainment and onolicious cuisine with luau Maui tickets available on our website. We also pride ourselves on keeping a strong focus on Hawaiian history and culture. 

At Old Lāhainā Lūʻau, our luaus are held daily during sunset hours. This makes for a stunning show, breathtaking photo opportunities, and food cooked to perfection in traditional imu pits. We welcome you to the next one! If you’d like more information, check out our information page here. 

Book your luau Maui tickets today! 

One of the first things you hear at any Hawaiian luau is the iconic aloha greeting. Just the word has come to define the welcoming and kind-hearted nature of the Hawaiian people. 

In fact, it’s become synonymous with the islands. Hearing aloha conjures images of idyllic beaches and warm sands. The sound makes you feel a gentle sea breeze through palm trees, evoking a tropical paradise. 

That’s how powerful a simple greeting can be. It also represents the beauty of the Hawaiian language. When you say aloha, you take your first step toward an ancient dialect. 

More than a synonym for hello or goodbye, aloha is an invitation for cultural exchange. It also helped this beautiful language live on when it was almost lost less than a century ago. 

Aloha is just the start. Picking up some Hawaiian language basics can make your trip to the islands even more enriching. It opens doors to exciting and unique conversations. 

It also allows you to play a small role in preserving a beautiful language. A language with a history that stretches back over a thousand years. 

History of the Hawaiian Language 

Hawaiian is a language defined by its geography and history. It is a part of the Polynesian language group, which is part of the Austronesian language family.  

People from the Marquesas islands first settled in Hawaii over 1,500 years ago. These first settlers were joined by explorers and traders from Tahiti and Samoa. 

Over time, trade between these islands slowed down, and the first settlers were left alone. At that point, the different cultures of the islands came together. Eventually, they evolved into the Hawaiian language and culture. 

Europeans arrived in Hawaii in 1778. At that time, over half a million people lived on the islands. Most spoke the language they referred to as Olelo Hawai'i. However, when the Westerners arrived, they brought change to the Hawaiian language.

In the early 1800s, Calvinist missionaries transcribed the Hawaiian language. To do so, they assigned Latin characters as a means of easier translation.  

As a result, Hawaiian contains eight consonants and five vowels. That makes a total of thirteen letters. As you might notice, that’s half of the English alphabet. However, special symbols and contextual signifiers make Hawaiian’s written language as expressive as any other. 

Through the 1800s, native Hawaiians adopted English words into their vocabulary. Words like book, January, and telephone became puke, Ianuali, and kelepona. However, many Westerners wanted English to be the only language and sought to control the islands. Language was one method of doing so.

In 1893, the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown with the support of the United States. In 1896, the new leaders banned the education of Hawaiian language. English became the official language of schools and the government, causing the Hawaiian language to nearly be lost. 

Preserving the Hawaiian Language 

Hawaiian language fell out of use after the 1896 decision. US immigration, intermarriage, and the teaching of English in schools all made it difficult to preserve the Hawaiian language. All that could not eliminate the native Hawaiian language from common vernacular.

Hawaiian tradition and culture are as resilient as they are beautiful. A new dialect of English, called Hawaiian Pidgin, soon developed in Hawaii. Although it was based on English, it was entirely unique. It used native Hawaiian words and words from Chinese and Japanese traders. 

Although it is called Hawaiian Pidgin, this variety of English is Creole. The line between Pidgin and Creole can seem quite blurry. 

Creole language is spoken natively rather than as a second language. The status of Hawaiian Pidgin as a Creole language was further cemented in 2015. The U.S. Census Bureau added Hawaiian Pidgin as an official language in the State of Hawaii. 

Thankfully, the Native Hawaiian language is being more commonly used today. In the 1970s, the Hawaiian Renaissance saw a revival of traditional Hawaiian culture and language. In 1978, the Hawaiian state government officially made Hawaiian a language. Once more, Hawaiian was taught in schools, and today, this language enjoys a warm resurgence in the everyday life of Hawaiians. 

Common Phrases or Greetings 

The Hawaiian language hasn’t replaced English across the islands. However, its use by the local culture grows each day. Before your next trip, it can be fun to practice a few Hawaiian words and phrases. This will help you engage with the culture and get to know the locals. 

With that, here are some basic Hawaiian words and phrases:

Aloha: (a-lo-ha)
The traditional hello and goodbye of Hawaii. This word also shows kindness, positive intentions, and respect. Not to mention, it’s the perfect luau greeting! 

Aloha kakahiaka: (a-lo-ha kah-kah-hee-yah-kah)
Good Morning 

Aloha 'auinalā: (a-loh-ha ah-wee-na-lah)
Good Afternoon

Aloha ahiahi: (a-loh-ha a-hee-yah-hee)
Good Evening 

Mahalo: Pronounced (mah-hah-loh) 
This means thank you. To express added gratitude, you can say mahalo nui loa (pronounced mah-hah-loh noo-ee). This is roughly the equivalent of ‘’thank you very much.’’

'A'ole pilikia: (ah-oh-leh pee-lee-kee-yah)
Means “no problem” and used as a form of “you’re welcome” in Hawaiian. A certain Disney representation of Hawaiian culture will be happy you learn this one!

Lū'au: (loo-ah-oo)
This is a contender for the most well-known Hawaiian word after Aloha. A luau, or a traditional Hawaiian party/feast, is among the greatest modern representations of Hawaiian culture. A Hawaiian luau should be at the top of your activity list if you plan to visit any Hawaiian Islands. 

A hui hou: (ah-hoo-wee-ho-oo-uu) 
This phrase roughly translates to, ‘’until we meet again.” It is commonly used as ‘’see you soon.” 

A 'o ia!: (ah-oy-yah)
This phrase is similar to ‘’there you have it’’ in English. It’s a great way to cheer on a friend doing something exciting or successful. An example could be catching a choice wave surfing or joining a hula.

E kala mai: (eh kah-lah mah-yee)
A phrase that roughly translates to “excuse me.” Bump into somebody at the grocery store or trip over somebody on the dance floor? This is a very traditional way to express “pardon me.”  

Join us at Old Lāhainā Lūʻau

The best way to practice your Hawaiian language is at an authentic Maui luau. That’s why we invite you to experience firsthand the Old Lāhainā Lūʻau. We offer the ultimate Maui-style entertainment and onolicious cuisine. We also pride ourselves on keeping a strong focus on Hawaiian history and culture. 

At Old Lāhainā Lūʻau, our luaus are held daily during sunset hours. This makes for a stunning show, breathtaking photo opportunities, and food cooked to perfection in traditional imu pits. We welcome you to the next one! If you’d like more information, check out our information page here.

The traditional Hawaiian lei is a symbol of aloha, which means love, affection, peace, compassion, and mercy. The lei is given to someone as a sign of welcome, congratulations, or as a sign of thanks. It’s also one of Hawaii’s most iconic accessories. An accessory that has been a part of Hawaiian culture for centuries and is still an important part of Hawaiian life today. 

There are many different types of leis – made from different materials such as flowers, shells, feathers, and even candy. Floral leis are the most common and the first that many of us think of when we hear “lei.” They are made from a variety of flowers, such as roses, orchids, carnations, and plumeria. 

Kukui nut leis are another popular type of lei and are said to bring good luck. And finally, Maile leaf leis are considered to be the most traditional Hawaiian leis and often used in Hawaiian ceremonies and dances.

The traditional Hawaiian lei is often given as a gesture of welcome to visitors, worn at festive luaus, and used to adorn everything from hula dancers to surfboards. But the lei is so much more than just a pretty necklace. Hawaiian leis are a beautiful and meaningful way to show your love and appreciation for someone special. They are also a key part of Hawaii’s rich culture with a long and fascinating history.

Ancient Origins

The first leis were made not of flowers but of feathers, shells, bones, and even teeth. These “lei hulu” or “feather leis” were reserved for only the most high-ranking Hawaiian chiefs and royalty. The most prized lei were those made with the yellow feathers of the now-extinct Hawaiian bird, the mamo.

Other early leis were made with the bright red feathers of the ‘I‘iwi bird and the green feathers of the ‘Akiapola‘au. These birds were so revered that they were considered ‘aumakua or family gods and were protected by Hawaiian law.

The first floral leis are thought to have originated in the Tuamotu Islands, east of Tahiti. These early leis were made with the tiare flower, which is still used in leis today. As an added bit of history, the word “lei” (pronounced lay) comes from the Tahitian word for “flower garland.”

The art of lei-making was brought to Hawaii by Polynesian settlers around the 4th century A.D. These early leis were made with local materials like shells, feathers, seeds, and bark.

As the settlers began to intermarry with the Native Hawaiians, the lei became a symbol of love and affection. It was not uncommon for young Hawaiian men and women to exchange leis on special occasions like birthdays and weddings.

Hawaiian Lei Types

Today, there are many different types of leis made with a wide variety of materials. The most common leis are made with fresh flowers, but you’ll also find leis made with everything from leaves and nuts to shells and feathers. Here are a few types of traditional Hawaiian leis you might see around the islands:

  • Flower leis are by far the most popular type of lei in Hawaii. The most common flowers used in leis are plumeria, gardenia, and roses. But almost any type of flower can be used, including orchids, daisies, and carnations.
  • Kukui nut leis are another popular type of lei in Hawaii. The kukui nut, also known as the “candlenut,” is the state nut of Hawaii. These leis are often worn by graduates and are said to bring good luck.
  • Maile leaf leis are traditional Hawaiian leis that are made with the leaves of the maile vineThese leis are often worn by Hawaiian royalty and are often used in religious ceremonies. However, Hawaiian weddings leis have proved to be a mix of all kinds. 

Hawaiian Luaus & Events for Leis

It’s nearly impossible to imagine a Hawaiian Luau without leis. The Hawaiian luau is a feast that is traditionally held to celebrate special occasions like birthdays, weddings, and graduations. What better way to celebrate than with a traditional Hawaiian lei to mark the occasion?

The word “luau” (pronounced loo-ow) comes from the Hawaiian word for “taro leaf,” which was a traditional ingredient in the luau dish. The first luau was held in 1819 hosted by King Kamehameha II. It quickly became a popular social event and was often used to honor special guests. 

Traditionally, the luau feast is cooked in an underground oven called an “imu.” The imu was lined with hot rocks and then covered with dirt and wet banana leaves. The food is placed on the banana leaves and then covered with more leaves and dirt. 

The imu is then left to cook for several hours. When the food is ready, it is unearthed and served on large platters. The most popular dishes served at the luau are pig, chicken, sweet potatoes, and taro. And at any traditional luau, leis are abundant. 

In addition to the feast, the luau also includes traditional entertainment, such as hula dancing and live music. The Hawaiian hula is a dance that tells a story through hand gestures and body movement. You’ve no doubt seen many hula dancers sporting leis when they take the stage, this has become an integral part of Hawaiian culture.

The Hawaiian Lei & Luaus Today

Luaus today are not so different from the traditional luaus of the past. The modern luau is often held outdoors with a buffet-style meal that includes a variety of Hawaiian and mainland dishes. Entertainment at the luau often includes hula dancing and live music, but you’ll also find a variety of other activities Hawaiian bowling and coconut husking.

The modern luau is a fun and festive event that is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. If you’re ever in Hawaii, be sure to attend a luau and don’t forget to wear a lei!

Join us at Old Lāhainā Lūʻau

We invite you to try on your very first authentic Hawaiian lei at the Old Lāhainā Lūʻau. Here you’ll experience a true Hawaiian luau offering the ultimate Maui-style entertainment and onolicious cuisine. We also pride ourselves on keeping a strong focus on Hawaiian history and culture. 

At Old Lāhainā Lūʻau, our luaus are held daily during sunset hours. This makes for a stunning show, breathtaking photo opportunities, and food cooked to perfection in traditional imu pits. We welcome you to the next one! If you’d like more information, check out our information page.

If you plan to visit Hawaii, attending an authentic Hawaiian Luau is an absolute must and offer delicious cuisine, exhilarating dances, and an experience like no other. Luaus are also core to the traditional culture of native Hawaiians. That makes them central to the true Hawaiian vacation experience. If you are visiting Maui, here’s why a luau needs to be at the top of your list. 

Ancient Traditions Brought to Life

Before the luau we know today, a different festival was practiced in Hawaii called the aha‘aina. This name translates to “gathering meal.” While we still gather for meals at luaus, the celebration has changed significantly. 

These traditional gatherings centered on a feast of sought-after meals and live entertainment. However, the extreme social inequality made them different from modern luau’s. Certain meals were reserved for the king and influential men of society, while common people could only eat certain foods. Meanwhile, men and women were entirely separated by gender for the feast. 

In 1819, Hawaiian king Kamehameha II ended the aha‘aina. In wanting to end the strict traditions that divided the Hawaiian people along lines of gender and social status, he held a feast where he ate alongside women. This simple act meant monumental changes as Hawaiian society became less stratified by gender and class. From this moment, the luau was born. 

Authentic Hawaiian Luau vs Modern Luau Celebrations 

Luaus today follow many of the traditions that came before. The name itself, luau, is a prime example as it refers to a meal of taro leaves and chicken cooked in coconut milk. These were staple dishes of the aha’aina too. 

The ceremony is often initiated with the blowing of a conch shell. This was once used to signal the arrival of ships and the beginning and ending of ceremonies. Now, it’s commonly the beginning of luaus. 

The sitting arrangements of traditional luaus include mats made of ti and Hala leaves, which are native to the islands. Modern luaus also accommodate table and chair seating. However, more traditional options include pillow mats and low tables. To provide a more authentic Hawaiian luau experience, some luaus make these available. 

One ironic difference between modern and past luaus is hula dancing, as today Hula is almost synonymous with luaus. However, hula was actually banned in 1830 by Queen Ka’ahumanu since she viewed the activity as too taboo for Hawaiians. This was an interesting contrast to the taboo-breaking of King Kamehameha II. Luckily, that ban has long since passed. 

Modern guests can happily enjoy hula at modern luaus. The Samoan fire knife dance is performed at most luaus nowadays, but not all. Please verify this if a fire knife dance is a must for you. At the Old Lāhainā Lūʻau, the fire knife dance is not in the show as it is not an authentic dance of Hawaii.

Imu Presentation & Fine Cuisine 

Core to most luau experiences is the imu pit. An imu is an underground oven used to slow cook a lot of the food served at a luau. As luaus are famous for their feasting, the imu is rarely absent. 

If you arrive at a luau on time, you’ll likely see an imu already cooking your food. Imus are built hours before the luau. They are constructed by digging a deep hole and covering it in rocks and leaves. These materials hold in the heat of the fire. 

However, it’s the steam that cooks the meal. The steam also provides some flavor to the food. Whether succulent meat or vegetables, it’s all guaranteed to be cooked to perfection. 

The most popular imu food is the kalua pig, a whole pig placed within the imu. It is then smoked with salt, banana leaves, and various wood for flavor. After cooking for most of the day, the kalua pig will emerge tender and delicious. The secret is soaking up the flavor of the food and plants it is cooked alongside. 

For those interested in alternatives to pork, another popular dish is Lomi Lomi. This is a traditional dish of salmon cured with salt, tomatoes, and onions. For those with dietary restrictions, gluten-free luaus in Maui are available. To add to that, there are also plenty of vegetarian options. 

The Brilliant Maui Sunset

In Maui, no luau is complete without taking in a beautiful island sunset. The west side of Maui offers the best Hawaiian sunset views. 

As the sun sets, you can take epic photos of the gorgeous oranges, reds, and pinks dancing across the water. The silhouettes of palm trees also form a perfect backdrop to your adventure. When the sun sinks below the horizon, tiki torches are lit, and the feast begins. To accommodate a balance of food and entertainment, look no further than Old Lahaina Luau. 

Feel the beat of traditional Hawaiian pahu drums as the story of the islands is told through dance. Learn about the Hawaiian people’s early migration to the islands. Discover their relationship with the gods as well as their contact with foreign missionaries. Unravel the modern wave of tourism and immigration to the islands. 

All of this is told through a variety of traditional hula and chants. This amazing Hawaiian show and dinner provide a unique blend of tradition, history, and performance. 

Join Us at Old Lāhainā Lūʻau!

These fantastic sights and experiences are just a few of many to be found at a traditional Hawaiian luau. 

We invite you to celebrate Hawaiian culture at the Old Lāhainā Lūʻau. With luau Maui tickets available on our website, we offer the ultimate Maui-style entertainment and onolicious cuisine. We also pride ourselves on keeping a strong focus on Hawaiian history and culture. 

At Old Lāhainā Lūʻau, our luaus are held daily during sunset hours. This makes for a stunning show, breathtaking photo opportunities, and food cooked to perfection in traditional imu pits. We welcome you to the next one! If you’d like more information, check out our information page

Book your luau Maui tickets today! 

When it comes to any traditional Hawaiian luau party, the right food is essential. Luau food is made to be as beautiful as the celebration it accompanies. While the heart-stopping entertainment celebrates Hawaii’s rich culture, luau food celebrates the islands. It commemorates the bountiful nature of this tropical paradise and all its unique crops.

From coconut, breadfruit, taro, and sweet potato to succulent kalua pork – Hawaiian luaus are, first and foremost, feasts. They invite guests to share in the cuisine they can’t get anywhere else. But what makes traditional Hawaiian luau food so unique? Well, it starts with preparation. 

Traditional Hawaiian Luau Food

Before the luau begins, the first planners of the party are the islands themselves. Hawaii’s rich soil and pristine saltwater homes crops and fish you can’t get anywhere else. 

You know how they say it’s the water in New York that makes their pizza so good? The same rules apply here. The nutrients native to island plants and feeding its animals give Hawaii something truly unique.

However, that’s only the beginning. What comes after are dishes passed down for generations. One of the most famous among them:

Kalua Pork
The centerpiece of many aha’aina and pai’ina luaus, kalua pig is an entrée to fly in for. Kalua is the Hawaiian method of cooking a pig in an imu pit. An imu is an underground oven covered with various foliage to keep the steam. Look at our deep dive into what is a luau to make sure you get the perfect imu pit dug.

The cooking takes a long time, but once the pig is ready, there’s nothing like it. Served much like pulled pork, it’s shredded, salty, and succulent. It also pairs especially well with:

Hawaiian Poi
In ancient Hawaii, poi was a staple of the luau. Today, it’s a staple starch for almost all Hawaiians similar to rice in Asia or potatoes in the US. It’s created by mashing the cooked corms of taro roots. This turns into a greyish sauce with nearly the consistency of hummus. 

Across Hawaiian history, Poi has been revered and is an absolute must-try for any visit to the islands. 

Lomilomi 
What would an island luau be without saltwater fish? 

In addition to Ahi Tuna, Lomilomi is another staple of Hawaiian luaus. Interestingly, this dish also shows how Hawaiian culture has evolved throughout history. 

Salmon was introduced to the islands by sailors stopping in Hawaii on their return from discovery expeditions. Foods on long voyages were preserved with an abundance of sea salt. When Hawaiians received the salmon, they needed to lomilomi (massage) the salt out of the salmon before preparing; which is how Lomilomi Salmon got its name. Another interpretation of the Lomilomi Salmon is that the flesh was massaged off the bone of the fish itself!

This shredded meat was then mixed with the other ingredients. Onions were also introduced to the islands in 1778 by Captain Cook, making Lomilomi a world of influences on your plate. Whether shredded, served cold, or dashed with fresh sea salt, Lomilomi definitely massages the taste buds. 

Laulau
Sometimes presentation is key. Nothing feels more authentic to a traditional Hawaiian luau than having your pork, chicken, or fish served in taro leaves. These vibrant greens not only add to the beauty of your plate, but the taste. Although inedible themselves, taro leaves seep a wonderful flavor all their own.

Ideas for At-Home Luau Party

Venturing to the islands for an authentic Hawaiian luau is always wonderful. However, even if we don’t live close by, we can bring the luau magic home. While we recommend every food, we’ve already mentioned for your at-home luau, crafting your own imu pit can be challenging. 

With that in mind, here are some ideas for luau party food. Starting with:

Huli Huli Chicken 
Bursting with tropical flavors, Huli Huli chicken is a must-have Hawaiian luau food. If you stop at a roadside stand, there’s a good chance they’ve got this on the menu. 

Coined in 1955 by Ernest Morgado, “huli” in Hawaii means “turn.” Morgado barbequed the chicken with an array of sauces between two grills. The consistent turning gives a wonderful chargrilled sumptuousness. 

You can also find the special Huli Huli sauce and marinade at various locations around the islands! 

Macaroni Salad
Although far from a traditional Hawaiian delicacy, macaroni salad can be found at almost any modern luau. Elbow macaroni served with mayonnaise and sometimes pickle relish, celery, or carrots – it’s a fantastic fixing. 

Molokai Sweet Potatoes
For something a little more traditional and colorful, check your local grocery store for Molokai sweet potatoes. These distinctive purple potatoes have a long and storied history in Hawaii

They were planted during times of famine, and the leaves’ milky sap was used as a natural balm. When roasted or baked, a sprinkle of shredded coconut brings the flavor of the islands home. 

Chicken Long Rice
Although a derivative of a Chinese dish, chicken long rice is served at most modern luaus. It’s often a mixture of delicious ingredients like chicken, onions, ginger, garlic, and long rice. With tons of variations, chicken long rice is a staple of Hawaiian luau food. Once combined and cooked, this Hawaiian luau food is sure to be a memorable dish for your next party!

Hawaiian Style Drinks

To give the perfect accent to all these amazing dishes, you need the right beverage. Some pineapple juice, coconut milk, and rum variations are vital at any Hawaiian luau. While we love the rich sweetness of anything pineapple, we’d love to draw your attention to this local favorite:

The Original Mai Tai Recipe – A Waikiki Cocktail 

In 1944, “Trader Vic” Bergeron created the original Mai Tai cocktail. It was then brought to the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in 1953. Many have tried to claim the throne of Hawaiian cocktail, but this original recipe still reigns. Sip the perfect blend of sweet and savory at your next Hawaiian luau. 

To prepare, mix these in a shaker with ice:

  • 1oz Old Lahaina Light Rum
  • 1oz Old Lahaina Dark Rum
  • ½oz Orange Curacao
  • ½oz Orgeat
  • 2oz Pineapple Juice
  • 1oz Orange Juice
Enjoy a Traditional Hawaiian Luau Feast with Us!

These remarkable dishes are some of many to be found at our traditional Hawaiian luau

We invite you to sample the culture and taste the bounty of the Hawaiian islands. With the ultimate in Maui-style entertainment and onolicious cuisine, join us at Old Lāhainā Lūʻau. We pride ourselves on keeping a focus on Hawaiian history and culture. 

At Old Lāhainā Lūʻau, our luaus are held daily during sunset hours. This makes for a stunning show, breathtaking photo opportunities, and food cooked to perfection in traditional imu pits. Your traditional Hawaiian luau experience is just a few clicks away. If you would like to learn more about our show, then check out our detailed show information page.

When you step into a Hawaiian luau, you are stepping into hundreds of years of history coming to life. It is a celebration rife with culture and tradition. A celebration that connects us to the past by bringing it to life. As a bonus, a luau is accompanied by food and dazzling entertainment!

The history of Hawaii spans multiple generations. It begins with the Polynesian settlers navigating by stars to arrive on its beautiful shores 1,500 years ago. That history culminates in the unified tropical islands we know today. Understanding the history not only outlines the rich tapestry of its people but emphasizes the true ingenuity of its culture.  

Although the history of Hawaii began over a thousand years ago, we will be focusing on its unification. In 1820, the Kingdom of Hawaii entered the world stage. It established its first official capital Lahaina, on the beautiful island of Maui. Let’s investigate the events leading to this event.

Captain Cook, King Kamehameha, & the Hawaiian Kingdom 

The original Polynesian settlers navigated the Pacific in dugout canoes large enough to hold 80 people. They carried only the essentials for the voyage like water, tools, and animals. They also brought twelve plants, known as canoe crops. 

Upon arrival on the main island, they named it Havaiki. This name was sacred to the Polynesian people. It meant the land they came from and would return to after death. 

Tahitian settlers from the Marquesas and Society Islands migrated here and lived alone on the Hawaiian Islands. Constant wars between villages and later between island Kings occurred. Through that, Hawaii started to develop an identity of its own. An identity that became stronger with the arrival of British Captain James Cook in 1778

With the arrival of Cook, the people of Hawaii were introduced to something new. Some islanders mistook Cook for Lono, the God of Fertility, Agriculture, and Peace. This happened because his arrival coincided with the sacred Makahiki festival. As a deity, they thought he and his crew to be immortal. 

Upon Captain Cook’s third return to the islands, he attempted to kidnap Kalaniʻōpuʻu. Kalaniʻōpuʻu was the ruling chief of the island of Hawaii in Kealakekua. The decision to hold him in exchange for a stolen longboat was the fatal error of Cook's final voyage. The Hawaiian people attacked him and his crew, killing Cook on February 14th, 1779

This realization of a world beyond the islands and centuries of conflict within, compelled a Hawaiian chief named Kamehameha to act. His goal was something that had never been done before, a united Hawaiian Kingdom. This began with the centrepiece of his new kingdom – Lahaina Maui. 

Lahaina Hawaii - Capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii

The dream of a united Hawaii was not without conflict. King Kamehameha fought for years across the islands with numerous chiefs and chiefesses to achieve this goal. In 1790, the Battle of Kepaniwai took place when King Kamehameha stormed the shores of north Maui. He used Western weapons introduced by Cook to seize the land while its Chief Kahekili was away in Oahu. 

With a sure-fire defeat, the many leaders of Maui surrendered to Kamehameha’s fleet. The chiefs and chiefesses who lived through the invasion also helped form the basis for a unified Hawaii. In fact, Chiefess Kalola accepted Kamehameha’s protection after the battle and promised her daughter to him as a future wife. 

The only Maui chief resistant to the new order was Kahekili. He returned in 1794 to conquer the island but was ultimately defeated by Kamehameha’s troops. In 1795, Kamehameha defeated King Kalanikupule in the Battle of Nu’uanu. This allowed Kamehameha to take control of O’ahu.

There was still resistance to the Kingdom, most notably from King Kaumalii of Kauai. He wouldn’t peacefully agree to be a tributary kingdom until 1810. This helped mark an official beginning of the Kamehameha dynasty and a united Hawaii. 

Remember the High Chiefess who promised her daughter to Kamehameha? Her high-ranking daughter, Keopuolani, was married to Kamehameha. She gave birth to 3 children; Liholiho was their eldest and became Kamehameha II. Kauikeauoli, their second-born becoming Kamehameha III and their youngest was Princess Nahi’ena’ena. 

Kamehameha the Great was from Hawai’i Island, after uniting all the islands, that is where he returned. He lived and ruled the kingdom from Kona until his death in 1819. Upon his death, his wife, Keopuolani moved to Lahaina with her teenage children including the young Kamehameha II. It was then in 1820 that Lahaina was named the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom.  

In Lahaina Hawaii, Kamehameha II moved into the brick palace his father built in 1800. He also built other royal residences for the many chiefs and chiefesses. This helped establish Lahaina as the centre of Hawaii’s new legal system and government. A government that levied taxes to encourage trade with Europe and America. 

Lahaina was a hub of trade and cultural exchange.  It remained the capital until 1845 when it would move to Honolulu.  

Historic Front Street Lahaina 

Over the course of 25 years that Lahaina served as Hawaii’s capital, it underwent numerous changes still visible today. Although King Kamehameha died of illness in 1819, his impact as “Hawaii’s Greatest King” would last forever. June 11th is still widely celebrated as Kamehameha Day. Nowhere is that celebration more prominent than the historic Front Street Lahaina. 

This modern marvel of Maui’s past is a way to walk through Hawaiian history. On Front Street , you can still see how the whaling and fishing industries took off. Under the rule of Kamehameha’s son, Kauikeauoli, the city thrived. Lahaina became a sailor's oasis with as many as 400 ships docked at the harbor

In the early-to-mid 1800s, Lahaina welcomed missionaries to the island. These visitors brought a very different lifestyle than the much more raucous sailors. They also introduced the printing press, Lahainaluna high school, and the first-ever written form of the Hawaiian language.

Historic Lahaina exemplifies all this fascinating history and holds many mementos of the era.  The Baldwin Home and Lahaina Lighthouse can both be found on historic Front Street . 

The Baldwin Home, built by Reverend Ephraim Spaulding, is now the oldest standing house in Maui. In the 1800s, it was home to Lahaina’s many missionaries. The Lahaina Lighthouse was lit with whale oil in 1840 and was originally nine feet tall. This signalled the incoming sailors who sought safe harbor.

Join us at Old Lāhainā Lūʻau

These fantastic sights are just a few of many to be found in historic Lahaina. 

We invite you to walk the beautiful streets and explore their history. We also invite you to celebrate Hawaiian culture at the Old Lāhainā Lūʻau. We offer the ultimate Maui-style entertainment and onolicious cuisine. We pride ourselves on keeping a strong focus on Hawaiian history and culture. 

At Old Lāhainā Lūʻau, our luau is held daily during sunset hours. This makes for a stunning show, breathtaking photo opportunities, and food cooked to perfection in a traditional imu pit. Your traditional Hawaiian luau experience is just a few clicks away. If you would like to learn more about our show, then check out our detailed show information page.

There is no celebration in the world quite like a traditional Hawaiian luau. The people of Polynesia have a rich history spanning thousands of years emphasizing that the consumption of food is a sacred event. The Hawaiian culture delights in sharing that unique history with its guests. For those reasons, a Hawaiian luau isn’t just any celebration.

A modern luau seamlessly melds the precise preparation of staple Hawaiian dishes like Kalua pork and laulau. But it also adds the exciting spectacle of Hula dancers and live music. This creates a communal celebration where all are welcome. However, the key to an authentic Hawaiian luau lies in the preparation. 

To provide the luau feast requires a special method. To cook all the food at a luau to perfection, Hawaiians use the underground oven called the imu.

What is an Imu? 

Kalua, as in kalua pork, can be translated to ka meaning ‘the’, and lua, meaning ‘pit’. It is the process of cooking in an earthen oven, and that’s exactly what the imu is. 

Throughout Polynesia, Micronesia, Melanesia, and parts of North and South America, underground ovens have been used. Whatever the dish, they’re made to cook and steam cuisines to perfection. The Hawaiian people utilize the imu for this very reason. The underground oven carefully cooks whole pigs, bananas, sweet potatoes, taro, chicken, fish, and breadfruit.

These dishes are essential in making the Hawaiian luau what it is. 

All the Harvesting Materials You Need

The imu and in turn the Hawaiian luau are distinct to Hawaii. The reason being, some of the items and materials necessary can only be found on the islands. The imu pit doesn’t use dry heat to cook, instead, it uses green plant materials to create steam. 

To create that steam, the Hawaiian people have always used a variety of grasses and leaves. Banana stumps, banana leaves, hohono grass, ti leaves, and famously coconut palm leaves are all used. They become the hali’i – or the vegetation “spread like the mat covering the floor” of the imu. 

For those not in Hawaii, there are vegetation alternatives to create an imu. Corn husks, cabbage leaves, thistle, lettuce, and watercress can all be used. However, the natural nutrients and tropical climate fueling Hawaiian vegetation is why imitations outside the islands can’t quite live up. 

Preparing the Imu Pit

Once you have the food and green plants for steaming, it’s time to prepare the imu pit. The wonderful thing about imu pits is that they are designed to fit the celebration. 

You dig it as big or as small as necessary to fit the food you wish to prepare. An average imu pit is around 2 to 4 feet deep and they are all rounded holes with sloping sides. The diameter is determined by the amount of food. However, it also has to be large enough to accommodate the rocks and hali’i. 

Some things to keep in mind when building your imu:

  • Keep the imu as compact as possible. Place any excavated dirt nearby. It will later be used to cover the pit or fill it in, to size properly
  • Use kindling material such as twigs, small branches, or combustible tinder and place in the bottom center to spread evenly.
  • Larger wood pieces are placed around the kindling. Hardwood and Kiawe (Hawaiian mesquite wood) are recommended as they don’t impart any unwanted flavors
  • Stones, preferably rounded lava rocks or vesicular basalt stones, are then placed on top of the larger wood. These stones should not be much larger than your fist

After the imu is built, ignite the kindling engulfing the larger wood pieces in a blaze to heat the stones. In about 1 to 3 hours, depending on the size of the imu, the wood will turn to charcoal causing the stones to drop inward in the pit. At this point the rocks, are likely to be at their maximum heat and can be levelled out making them even for the double-layered hali’i necessary to create steam.

Wrapping the Pig & the Cooking Process

For the biggest Hawaiian luaus, a Kalua pig is the showcase delicacy and planning is of the utmost importance. The first step is in finding the whole pig. On average, a 100-pound pig will feed 100 people. Although a local butcher shop will sell you a whole pig, a local heritage or natural farmer may be a better option.

Once you have the pig, prepping and wrapping it is key to getting the flavor right. 

To start, place the pig on chicken wire as it’ll be easier to remove afterward. You can also add ti leaves below the grate so that the flavor rises. After that, some of the hot stones should be added to the inner carcass. This ensures the Kalua pig cooks thoroughly inside and out. 

This is also a good time to add any desired seasonings and even more ti leaves. Ti leaves are especially popular in Hawaiian luaus for their rich flavor. 

Banana stumps are peeled in layers like an onion or crushed and placed directly on the hot rocks. This is to protect the food from burning. The pig and other food items are then placed on the layers of banana stumps.

Everything is then covered with banana leaves to seal in the steam or, optionally, wrapped closed with chicken wire. Once the leaves are layered in a criss-cross pattern, a burlap tarp is layered over, followed by even more leaves. This ensures that absolutely no steam escapes. 

Allow to steam and cook for anywhere from 6 to 8 hours. It could also take upwards of 10, depending on the size of the pig. Afterward, the succulent kalua pork will be cooked to perfection. You’ll know because the meat shreds apart easily with a juicy fall-off-the-bone freshness and smoky richness. 

Hawaiian Luau Party

It takes time to create something as special as a Hawaiian luau. Whether the years of training to become a professional Hula dancer, the days of harvesting the different plants and food items for the event, or the hours of setting up the Imu pit – it’s well worth the wait. 

Authentic Hawaiian foods for luaus are made to be shared. In that way, the Hawaiian luau party is a celebration of culture. It’s where people from all backgrounds can gather to enjoy delicacies not found anywhere else in the world.

Old Lāhainā Lūʻau prides itself on Maui-style entertainment and onolicious cuisine while keeping a strong focus on Hawaiian culture. At Old Lāhainā Lūʻau, our luaus are held daily during sunset hours. This makes for a stunning show, breathtaking photo opportunities, and food cooked to perfection in traditional imu pits. Join us for the next one! 

We are so excited to host you and your family for a night you won’t soon forget.

The Samoan Fire Knife Dance is a breathtaking performance that visitors often look forward to when attending a luau. However, there is a lot more to this ritual than just a spectacular dance as it comes from centuries of tradition and is infused with lots of old-time lore and even personalization by performers.

It’s important to mention, though, that the fire knife dance is not at all a Hawaiian dance, and therefore is NOT showcased at the Old Lāhainā Lūʻau because we’re committed to keeping our shows truly traditional and accurate to our culture.

Where is the Fire Knife Dance from?

The Samoan fire knife dance originated in the South Pacific Island of Samoa and it was originally a war dance. The knife used in its performance even today is a traditional implementation of the ceremonial dances that came into prominence somewhere between 900 and 1200 AD, according to most Polynesian historians. 

In ancient times, the dance consisted of warrior gestures of victory in battle being displayed using a nifo oti (translated as “deadly tooth”), which was a wooden hand-held sword or club with boar tusks or shark teeth used to maim or injure enemies. 

The origin of the fire knife dance known today goes back to the ailao, which eventually became a traditional way for Samoan warriors to demonstrate their battle prowess with the performance of artful and complex movements. In its earliest days, this choreography was performed with a war club called anava, and some women —such as daughters of high chiefs— have been said to have taken part at some point. 

As warfare faded and became history, the Samoan war dance survived and the nifo oti became an important element in the Samoan Taʻalolo or gift-giving procession that honors special guests. Custom now demands in most formal occasions that the ornately decorated manaia (or prince) and Taupo (or princess) should lead taʻalolo processions, each carrying and twirling the nifo oti. This all keeps the tradition alive.

The Samoan Knife Dance Today

Back in the day, the fire dance was also performed to rhythmic chants or songs, but today that tradition has been mostly replaced with vigorous drumming on a variety of ancient and modern instruments which contribute to its popularity with most modern travelers. It is an energizing spectacle to witness, especially when there are more risky variations added to the dance by each of the performers.

The knife dance as it is best known nowadays —also called Siva Afi (siva means dance and afi means fire) or Ailao Afi— combines complicated acrobatics with twirling metal knives covered with cotton towels that are set on fire during the performance. 

Not many know that it was Uluao Letuli, a performer from American Samoa, who in 1946 added fire to the nifo oti. He is considered the father of the modern fire knife dance. He was also given the nickname “Freddie” because he could dance like Fred Astaire, so he had the skills needed to handle this new addition while keeping up the rest of the show. This revitalized the tradition and raised the bar for future performers.

The idea is said to have come to him while he was people-watching in San Francisco. Freddie was inspired by a Hindu fire eater and his baton-twirling daughter and decided to add fire to the knife dance routine. This dramatically increased the level of courage and skill required to perform an already difficult dance, making it even more impressive and compelling to watch. This new and exciting dance was an immediate hit, so Chief Letuli went on to perform it for many years after that. 

Nowadays, the expectation of seeing fire knife dances in luaus comes from the close familial ties between Polynesian and Samoan tribes and some homogenization of these dances as part of many islands’ cultures, but that does not mean they are part of all of our authentic traditions.

Where Can Fire Knife Dances Be Enjoyed?

Fire knife dance is usually reserved for the spectacular finale of those luaus where they’re performed. It’s considered to add some sizzle to celebrations and because the tradition has been passed down for generations, it’s rare to see a dance performance that’s the same as another, keeping things interesting, no matter how many luaus someone attends.

There’s something about the combination of music, athletic skills, and the dance of fire that’s mesmerizing to most. And in some shows, they even add extra props to keep the audience on their toes.

We will be forever thankful to Freddie Letuli for his immense contribution to the exciting Samoan Fire knife dance tradition which can be enjoyed in other Polynesian shows while our maui luau continues its own tradition of presenting only an authentic Hawaiian luau for all visitors to enjoy.

Is There a Hawaiian Fire Knife Dance At All?

No, although the traditional Hawaiian Hula dance is often performed along with fire knife dances during tourist shows, fueling the confusion.

Both dances are significantly different, even more than most people expect, not only because of the movements and music, but also due to the very distinct origins and meanings.

While the fire knife dance is a war dance, the traditional Hula dance is believed to have begun as a worship ritual dance to recognize genealogy, honor ruling chiefs, and honor gods like Pelé, the goddess of fire. It is said that the goddess Laka is the keeper of the dance now and that explains why this is the name most often heard when speaking about modern Hula dancing, if you’ve heard about the history of tradition.

However, the definitive origins of the traditional hula dance are somewhat still disputed as there are several local legends depicting possible different origins. One thing is certain, though: They are all magical stories, just like the dance itself!

Hula wasn’t originally performed to entertain, but to preserve culture and stories. For this reason, unlike fire knife dancing, hula variations and modifications were discouraged and dancers were expected to teach it in the same way they had learned it themselves.

Additionally, not all Hula dances are created equal nowadays. There are two main types of Hula dance still performed today, which are the hula kahiko (the ancient) and the hula auana (the modern), and while they are very different, they are both stunningly beautiful and unique.

What are the traditional dances performed at Old Lahainā Lūʻau?

The Old Lahainā Lūʻau show includes traditional hula dance (kahiko), modern hula dance (auana), and Tahitian dances. There are usually multiple performances throughout the evening, so visitors can enjoy different styles, costumes, and stories told through dance. The Tahitian dance in the show recognizes the migration of the first Hawaiian settlers who came from the Marquesas and Society Islands. If it's at the top of your list to see a fire knife dance show, be sure to confirm it will appear in the luau you are attending.

You want to wear the right combination of confidence and comfort.

Maui luaus are special events for people of all ages and cultures, which means that you want to dress comfortably and appropriately for the occasion. There is no one right way to dress at luaus; rather, it's about wearing clothes that represent the Hawaiian culture while also being appropriate for the event (leave the malo and pa’u to the dancers). There aren’t a lot of clothing choices when it comes to these parties, so just make sure you’re comfortable enough to have a good time in and that your outfit will look great against a sunset.

Hawaiian attire is always the way to go, which usually includes muumuu dresses, skirts, leis (which you’ll get as you enter most Maui luaus), aloha shirts, shorts, and slippahs (or flip-flops). Any of these choices represents the islands well! Some men like to wear souvenir shirts from Maui if there aren't a lot of aloha shirts available. The only thing we recommend avoiding would be beach clothes (swimsuits are meant for the daytime).

Traditional Attire

What would people wear to a luau back in the day?

Traditional luau parties in ancient Hawaii were attended only by men, as men and women did not eat together. At these traditional feasts, the attire was a malo (loin cloth) made from kapa adorned with other items from nature to represent their rich culture. 

With the introduction of clothing, as we know today, in 1776 when Captain Cook arrived at these islands, modern styles of clothing were introduced and worn to luaus. 

At Old Lāhainā Lūʻau, traditional Hawaiian luau outfits are worn by our staff and hula dancers to provide authenticity to Hawaiian traditions. These stunning outfits represent what ancient Hawaiians wore throughout history. 

Luau Outfits for Guys

Get buttoned up in a nice new aloha shirt or flaunt a local tee.

Guys tend to dress up a little more than the ladies at a luau, which feels like the opposite of the usual. At Maui luaus, a guy’s clothing can be anything from khakis and a polo to Bermuda shorts and an Aloha, or Hawaiian shirt. Everyone knows that Hawaii is HOT and pants are not a requirement for this event, though some Maui luaus have a more formal vibe.

Even long board shorts and a Maui t-shirt are acceptable to wear for an informal and fun evening by the ocean. Don’t forget to wear your “slippahs,” too! Olukai and other brands offer some comfy leather options with great arch support. A lot of people on-island call these their “going-out slippahs” and don’t wear them to the beach.

If you want to accessorize, puka shell or Maui hook necklaces are popular jewelry choices for men. You can find beautiful pieces carved from cow bone or whalebone on Front Street in Lahaina.

Shopping Options: Just wander through any clothing store and you’re bound to find an aloha shirt you like. For a bargain hunt, check out the used shirts at a local thrift shop or the Maui Swap Meet that happens every Saturday morning.

Luau Outfit for Ladies 

Rock a dress, shorts or skirt and shirt or whatever makes you feel good.

The traditional luau outfit for ladies includes a dress with beautiful Hawaiian patterns – from flowers to palm trees, or more simple designs. For ladies, strapless dresses or shirts with skirts are appropriate attire for a regular luau. For a more formal luau, a more fitted dress with sleeves and more traditional patterns is an ideal choice.

You’ll be adorned with a beautiful, fresh flower lei when you get here, but know that it’s also common to wear a flower behind your ear. If you wear the flower on the right side, it means you’re looking and if you wear it on the left, it means you’re taken. It’s a great way to show you’re single and ready to mingle without shouting it to the world!

When it comes to shoes – use comfort as your tool to make your choice! Stilettos are a no-no since most Hawaiian luau parties take place on grass, sand, or dirt. Wear your flip-flops (“slippahs”) or some cute flat sandal or wedges. You’ll be especially grateful you wore sturdy shoes after a couple of fruity drinks.

Shopping Options: A great resource to find these clothes would be Mahina in Paia (which also has Luau outfits for kids). Other shopping options are Maui’s Best in Lahaina and Ross.

Luau Outfits for Kids

Cute matchy-matchy or comfy-comfy?

The number one rule for kids is to make sure they are comfortable. You don’t want to be fussing all night with your child’s clothes that are “too ugly/tight/stiff/etc.” Too loose is an issue, too, because they could get caught by a stray palm tree or bush. Be sure to have your kids try their outfits on ahead of time to ensure there won’t be any complaints.

One of the sweetest options we see is a whole family wearing matching aloha print outfits. Dad in a shirt, mom in a dress, and the kids beaming right beside in the same print. And, bonus, you can use your Hawaiian luau photo as your holiday card!

At Maui luaus, little boys usually wear t-shirts or aloha printed shirts, shorts, and sandals to complement their outfits. You can find any of these kid’s clothing at any store on the island that sells clothes, like Walmart, Target, and Ross.

How dressed up do you want to get?

Nobody likes to feel over—or underdressed for a party.

Not sure how formal your Hawaiian luau is? Check out photos of previous guests on the luau Yelp page, website, or social media. You can usually find photos of people having a great time and usually wearing bright, cheerful prints. There are some more formal events, however, so if you’re not sure, you can always call them up and ask how formal the luau is.

CASUAL

The more low-key Maui luaus tend to be ok with bikini tops and board shorts. Strapless or sleeveless dresses are always welcome, and slippahs are a requirement (well, not really, but they’re very common)! Even the most formal luaus won’t be stiletto-friendly!

SEMI-FORMAL

A slightly more dressed-up version of a luau outfit for ladies would be a dress with sleeves, a skirt and top combo, or for a postcard-worthy picture, you can wear matching outfits for the whole family. There’s no such thing as a “formal” Hawaiian luau since it’s really just one big party. Try not to stress about the way you dress and just have fun!

We hope you found this guide helpful in planning your perfect outfit for a night of eating Hawaiian food, listening to soothing music, and watching the history of the islands take place on stage. At Old Lāhainā Lūʻau, our luaus are usually held daily during sunset hours, making for a stunning show and breathtaking photo opportunities for the whole family in their Hawaiian luau outfits. We are excited to host you and your family for a night you won’t soon forget. Old Lāhainā Lūʻau prides itself on Maui-style entertainment and onolicious (delicious) cuisine while keeping a strong focus on Hawaiian culture.