A Hawaiian Luau on the Island of Maui

Welcome to the 507th Tablescape Thursday!

Last night I attended the Luau they host every Wednesday night at the resort where I’m staying in Maui. Every chair you see below was filled once the party got underway.

Tables Set Up for Luau


As we arrived we were greeted with a Mai Tai drink. Have you ever had a Mai Tai before? I had not. This one was very low on alcohol and super sweet. Not sure if they are always that way or not. I didn’t get a second one and just drank water the rest of the night.

Mai Tai Drink at Luau


In case you were wondering (as I was) what’s in a Mai Tai, per Wikipedia:

The Mai Tai is a cocktail based on rum, Curaçao liqueur, orgeat syrup, and lime juice, associated with Polynesian-style settings. “Maita’i” is the Tahitian word for “good”; but the drink is spelled as two words, sometimes hyphenated or capitalized.

The Mai Tai became such a popular cocktail in the 1950s–60s that many restaurants, particularly tiki-themed restaurants or bars, served them. The Mai Tai was also prominently featured in the Elvis Presley film Blue Hawaii. Today, the Mai Tai is synonymous with Tiki culture both past and present.


For a while, it looked as if our Luau would be rained out. The wind really picked up but luckily the dark clouds passed us on by.

Entertainment at Luau, Maui Hawaii 01


A Luau is a traditional Hawaiian party or celebration with food and entertainment. Per Wikipedia, the typical food that would be served during a Luau are poi, Kalua pig, poke, lomi, salmon, opihi, haupia and beer.

Wikipedia states:

In ancient Hawaiʻi, men and women ate their meals separately; also women and the rest of society were not allowed to eat foods that were not common or foods that were only served during special occasions. However, in 1819, King Kamehameha II removed all the religious laws that were practiced. King Kamehameha II performed a symbolic act by eating with the women, thus ending the Hawaiian religious taboos. This is when the lūʻau parties were first created.

After everyone had arrived, the story of how a pig is normally roasted for a Luau was shared. The pulled pork that was served on our buffet that evening had been prepared in advance, but the couple who were sitting across from me had visited Maui seven years before, and when they attended a luau during that trip, the pig that was roasted was actually served that evening.

There are several Luau parties that take place at various locations around Maui. Some are very well known and require advance reservations…something to keep in mind if you visit Maui one day.

Entertainment at Luau, Maui Hawaii 02


This was how the food was served for our large group: two tables were set up with food and we lined up down either side to serve ourselves.


The food was okay, about what you would expect at a large-group buffet. I didn’t bother to take a photo of the dessert which consisted of three large pans of “scoop and dip” type cake substances. They all three reminded me of desserts like Watergate Salad or 7-up Salad, only in cake form. Again, this was the typical “commercialized” meal you would have at a large buffet…not my favorite.


I’m not the most patient person in the world. The entertainment was taking forever to get going so I got bored and said my goodnights to those around me and decided I would watch the show from my balcony. The following photos were taken from the balcony of my room.


The desk in my room where I sat sorting through photos is literally right beside the door to my balcony, so I could work, watch the show and hop up to take photos when a new group would take the stage.







The highlight of the show was the flame thrower…is that what he’s called?



A second flaming stick was brought out later in the show, so he was twirling and tossing two at once before the show ended.


Have you ever attended a Luau? I noticed a lot of folks were swimming and enjoying the pool just on the other side of the fence, so apparently after you’ve attended one Luau, you don’t necessarily feel compelled to attend future ones. It was a fun and interesting experience, so I’m glad I went. Can’t come all the way to Hawaii and not attend at least one Luau, right?!


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  1. Mary Kohls says

    I hope you are enjoying your stay on Maui, it’s one of our favorite islands! This looks like the same luau we attended several years go. We stayed at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel which is nearby if I’m correct on the location of the luau.

    • There’s a Kaanapali Beach Hotel nearby, I accidentally turned into their driveway on my way back from doing some shopping, but it’s a different place from where I’m staying.

  2. How fun you could see it from your room too! Too bad the food was disappointing, but I bet it was fun anyway…did you try the poi? I never can figure out why they think that stuff is so great!! Thanks for continuing the party even on vacation!

    • The friend who was supposed to come on this trip and couldn’t come (thus gave the room to me) told me that Poi tastes like wallpaper paste, so I put a very tiny bit on my plate just so I could taste it. He was right, it was pretty yucky. lol I noticed the sign on the table underneath it said, “Poi: Mashed Taro, Traditional Palate Cleanser.”

  3. Yes, the traditional Luau Food is pretty bland – it is traditional. And yes, those desserts are traditional too. We have close Hawaiian friends who own a Hawaiian restaurant and that is what they always serve. And yes, poi tastes like wallpaper paste, but it was their staple starch. After having gone once, I have always gone back for the dancing not the food. Hubby doesn’t even want to go back for the dancing, but I love it.
    Have such a great time. Maui is our favorite island.

  4. Sounds like you are having fun Susan. I am not a fan of buffet’s either. One thing I usually always over eat and another—-I sorta, kinda, feel like we all are slopping out of the same pot! Oh, that sounded horrible I know. Can’t wait to hear more. Hugs and blessings, Cindy

  5. Hi susan! I have been to Oahu twice and have attended 3 different luau’s. they all had the traditional foods but all had a different flair to them! I’d say its definitely a hawaiin tradition not to miss! My favorite was at the military hotel in Waikiki!! Enjoy the rest of your trip!!!

  6. Happy you are having a great trip and experiencing all that the islands have to offer. I went to Hawaii with a group of girl friends back in the 1970s. I suspect much has changed, but the Luau looks much the same. When in Rome…

  7. So sorry your luau was disappointing! We did the OldLahaina Luau which was fabulous — the setting, entertainment and food. Was pricey though but well worth!

    While u r in Maui, I held my 4th annual My Favorite Things Party. Quess that’s why u weren’t here LOL?! It had an Alice in Wonderland theme for my big-0 Unbirthday. I’ve linked up to it on Tablescape Thursday.

  8. Susan, now I know why I’ve missed some of your posts, lately: when I call up your blog it doesn’t show up your latest post (as it used to do in the past), but old posts, only, and clicking on “Home” or on your blog header doesn’t help either. For example, today I can only read until your post from Monday. I had begun to worry about you and why you weren’t posting anymore! Arghhh!
    I don’t know why this is happening and if it’s happening only to me?!
    (I’ve found your today’s post through another blog whose owner also follows you.)
    PS: And I noticed that when I try lo leave a comment it doesn’t say anymore “Your comment is awaiting moderation”? Sorry, Susan!

    • Cecilia, I’m not sure why that’s happening. Try clearing your cache…if you’re not sure how, just goolge “How to clear cache for XXX” filling in the XXX with the name of the browser that you’re using. I don’t know why the comment form is doing that…I had someone else mention it too. I think the plug in may be out of date…may have to find a new comment plugin if my current one is working correctly.

    • Cecilia, they’ve been looking into this issue today and they think they know what the problem is. Hopefully, they have fixed it. Would you please let me know if it continues to happen. I’m hoping it’s fixed now. Thanks so much for letting me know. Now I just need to figure out the comment issue.

      • Susan,
        I am sorry to say that the issue still persists. 🙁
        When I called up your blog via Firefox a few minutes ago, it showed up your yesterday’s post (finally!) and it said that there were 37 comments left, but as I clicked on “Continue reading…” there were only 8 comments?
        I know, I should clear my cache but of course I don’t know how, so I’ll wait till my son comes visit us next week. Nevertheless he just suggested to try to read your blog via Explorer and…VOILÀ! Everything was okay! 🙂
        Why didn’t I think of that? Arghhhh! Sorry, Susan! I hope your are enjoying your stay in Maui! I am happy, now! 🙂

        • They asked me to write another post to see if it works…so once another post goes up, hopefully we will have a better idea. Thanks for letting me know, Cecilia. I’ll write another post later today after the helicopter ride and I’ll leave a comment for you when I do. Appreciate if you let me know what happens after that new post goes up. We WILL find a solution to this, I promise!

  9. Susan, your beautiful pictures brought back many wonderful memories! Some of the food was different but over all Very good. That pig was something to see and the dancers were wonderful. Just a very Beautiful place to stay. I would go back again.

  10. Loved that this is your Tablescape Thursday entry. Good for you getting out there and trying and tasting new things! Roasted pork is so good, but I do not like being reminded that my food had a face. Pigs are smart and sociable so it probably had personality too. 🙁 So nice you could watch from your room, and I liked seeing nightfall coming in the photos. It looks like you are really making each day count. aloha

  11. I think your favorite dancer was the Fire Dancer. I’ve been to Hawaii twice and have never really enjoyed the food except for the fresh fruits and the Pig. The entertainment is always fun. My favorite placees to visit are both on Oahu…Pearl Harbor (of course) and The Polynesian Cultural Center. I did go to Maui and even the Road to Hana. However when I was there, there was a terrible drought and no waterfalls at all. Your pictures are much more beautiful than mine. I do hope that you enjoy the rest of your trip.

  12. I have been to Oahu, Kauai and have lived on the big island but never Maui. I’ve been to one luau and that suited me fine. I don’t need to go to another. Sounds like you had all traditional foods and drinks. If served right, those drinks can sneak up on you. Have fun in Maui.

  13. Tell us about the leis, please.

  14. Cynthia Blaylock says

    Luaus are highly overrated for the very reasons you give: mediocre food and weak drinks. I think you are close to Whalers Village – if so and you want to try another Mai Tai, you can walk over to Leilani’s. It’s right on the boardwalk and has a view of the ocean. All of their tropical drinks are good and they have wonderful fish tacos.

    • I am close by, I think. I drove to there the other day and it seemed far away, but a friend said it’s with walking distance. I may do that tomorrow, I found the cutest dress there the other day! 🙂

  15. I love Hawaii. I found it beautiful, entertaining, and relaxing. The luau was nice although I was not amused with the cooked pig. I was one of the audience members who was able to go up stage and performed with the dancers. It was fun. Would do it again and again. The island is just beautiful

  16. My husband and I have done four luaus on Maui. The last two were the Old Lahaina Luau. Fabulous food and entertainment! So worth it to do. They sell out usually but sometimes they have cancellations so you could always show up and see if you could get in. We usually like to do a luau early in the trip because it really gets you in the Hawaiian mood for the rest of the trip. Another thing that is amazing to do is a trilogy catamaran sunset sail. Did that for our 30th anniversary last September. Delicious food and drink, views of the island that are fantastic and as always the Maui sunsets are spectacular!

  17. My sister and I stayed at the Westin Ka’anapali ocean resort villas. They had enin the evening on the beach. The wine tasting there was fun. We looked up all the award winning restaurants and ate at a different one every night we even found the best fish taco restaurant and yes it was. I hope you get to see the sunrise from the mountain we also snorkled in a volcano and took an outrigger tour in the early morning.

  18. Snowflake281 says

    Oh Susan, I’m so upset that your Hawaiian Luau experience wasn’t more of an enjoyable experience for you. When one travels such a great distance to a place that is toted to be paradise, and I do think it is, you really want every new experience to be extra special. When my husband & I traveled to the 4 major islands on our honeymoon 41 years ago, we hooked up with another newlywed couple and had so much fun at the Luau we attended. The host of the event asked for volunteers from the crowd to make the first dig of the pig and before I knew what was happening, my new husband and my new friend’s husband had raised our hands in the air. So she & I, donned in our muumuus, got into the pit, were handed a shovel and proceeded to make the first dig. Well there goes my wedding shoes! We also got the first taste of the pig and it was so delicious. We had blast, but honestly I do think that some Luaus are better than others. I had also heard that the one in the town of Lahaina was a good one but have never been to it. Hope you enjoy the remaining days of this impromptu excursion!

  19. I haven’t been to Hawaii, but I do hope to go. I have enjoyed your post dear Susan.
    That roasted Luau pig looks amazing and all that great looking food, wow ! I’m so happy for you, enjoy it to the foolest ! Thanks for sharing your trip with us.
    Thanks again for hosting.
    Have fun !

  20. Oh, Susan, I hope you are enjoying your time in Hawaii! My husband and I went there on our honeymoon, that was 32 years ago today, but we stayed on Oahu and Kauai islands. We went to a luau, and I don’t think I was impressed by it either, but it was on a beach and that part was nice. Poi, er…yuk is my memory of that! Maybe it’s an acquired taste. We saw Polynesian Cultural Center, Pearl Harbor, which was very touching but I think is closed right now, Punchbowl Cemetery? and a lot of beautiful places on Kauai, the garden isle. Taking tours is the best way to go. I think the natural beauty there with the ocean, exotic plants and flowers make it worth going.

  21. Glad you are enjoying your Hawaiian experience!!
    We’ve been years ago to Hawaii and really enjoyed everything Luau included!!

  22. I’m not big on luau food, and luaus are expensive, almost $100 per person. I went to one luau on the island of Kuai. It was well done, but one luau in a lifetime is enough for me. I can’t stand poi and lomi lomi salmon, the roast pork was actually pretty good. Maui is beautiful, isn’t it?

  23. I went to a Luau on Oahu when I was there. It was a big production but fun. My husband and I got married on the beach in Maui in 1992, so it has been quite awhile since I was there. I don’t know where your hotel/resort is. We stayed in the Grand Wailea which at that time was under different ownership than now. If it is close to where you are, you might enjoy walking through the lobby and grounds…so much artwork. Simply gorgeous. So glad you are enjoying your trip!

  24. I’m enjoying hearing about your trip. You mentioned how the air feels so gentle on your skin when you arrived. It’s so true for me too. I been fortunate to visit the islands several times and remember that feeling.
    Some luaus have been more delightful than others.
    Hopefully you can get out of the resort and check out some areas the locals enjoy. I believe the Kaanapali Resort is the one owned and staffed by local residents and not big hotel chains. You might walk around the grounds there for a look at some of the displays. Did your guidebooks arrive?
    Since you’re there, in the state, I hope you can take a couple of days to visit Pearl Harbor and the Polynesian Cultural Center on the island of Oahu. I think you will be very very glad if you can arrange it.
    Flights between the islands are more reasonable than we expected.
    Best wishes.

  25. Lori Hojnicki MacKenzie says

    Yes, the view from your room looks much more appealing! Lovely from up there. My only Laua was while in Disney World. Susan enjoy the rest of your time in a paradise!

  26. Jill from Southern NH says

    It looks like you had the best spot of the night to take the photos of the performers – and from the privacy + comfort of your balcony, too! Love the blue light in one of them! Our friends up here enjoy the Mai Tais at a local restaurant but my husband and I don’t like them. Usually they are served with lots of dark rum that’s the predominant taste – not refreshing like the white/light rum that’s in piña coladas and daiquiris. My husband does enjoy dark rum but doesn’t like the mai tai combo. My sister took me to a very special small group ‘progressive’ dinner at Disney last year (hopping the monorail to different surprise locations where we would have a different stage of the meal) but the mai tais at the Polynesian were so bitter we gave them to other grateful diners in our group, along with the sushi ; )

  27. Time’s a flying by!! Are you doing Haleakala?? We did the horseback tour and they take you inside the crater. It’s rocky and steep but the horses are pros and you just let them “have their head.” Aloha!! franki

    • That sounds like a fun way to do it. Not sure if I’ll have time…thanks for telling me about the horseback riding way to do it.

  28. Elena M. says

    I cracked up reading your post – you have the most amazing way of expressing your opinions on something you don’t like or are disappointed in but in such a way as to not insult or be rude or sound negative! It’s a good talent to have in blogland. I did not give my opinion when you asked about taking this trip – but I personally think Hawaii is a place to go with another person, be it friend, husband, significant other, etc. I think it can tend to get a little boring and “commercialized” if you can’t share the experience of being there with another person you know – I went on my honeymoon 28 years ago, and we had a blast but it was my honeymoon – I would of had a good time anywhere! I was also not impressed with our Luau; I was expecting the Elvis movies luau where you sit on the palm fronds on the grass like a picnic – not the buffet lines and subpar food. But hey, you are a happy, positive person – enjoy your time there and you can cross it off your travel map when you get home!!!

    • I have to disagree with you on that. There’s really no place in this world that I feel is a place that is “a place to go with another person.” If you enjoy your own company and love travel, you can go anywhere alone. You’re also never really alone, no matter where you are. I won’t be alone in the helicopter ride I’m taking today. I have a feeling the helicopter ride, the trip to Hana and the Roberto Coin sun necklace I bought yesterday are going to be my favorite memories of this trip. 🙂

      I’ve met so many nice people while I’ve been here. The couple I sat with during the Luau was lovely. They were here with their two children who are the same ages as my grandchildren. We had a lot of fun trying to convince their 2 year old daughter to try jello for the first time.

      Yeah, I think movies have given us different expectations about Luaus. I thought it would be a bit more spontaneous, more of a party atmosphere. The entertainment was definitely the best part.

      It’s so funny that everyone connects Hawaii with the place to get married and/or honeymoon. I’ve seen very few couples at this resort. I’ve mostly seen families here with young children and/or teenagers and older couples, my age or older, who are using their Diamond Resort points to stay here.

      My friend has already offered me a trip back next year for a 2 bedroom place so I can bring a friend. I declined. I’m glad I’ve seen Hawaii, but I have no desire to come back. I’m just not a beach/water person, and there are way too many other places I still want to see.

  29. Sorry you didn’t especially like the hula dancing. I was a hula dancer for 6 years It is beautiful and has so much meaning. Luau food is different–different culture, different food. It’s more about the experience.

    • I didn’t say I didn’t like it, I just watched it from my balcony because the show took so long to get started. I enjoyed watching it once it got underway.
      Unfortunately, I think the food we had was the commercialized/watered down version since they were feeding a large group that included a lot of young children. I’m sure real Hawaiian food is probably a lot more flavorful and better quality.

  30. Teresa M says

    The beautiful setting looks absolutely lush and tropical. Leaving the event early got you out of the requisite of getting up on stage to try to swing your hips the way they do.

    Over the years I’ve enjoyed dozens of Luas with the hula dancers, flame throwers, band etc. So nice to enjoy from the comfort of your balcony with a spectacular view. I’m sure you could hear the music.

    On my recent trip to Guam, there was one every night at the Hilton. The talent of the dancers, the stories shared in the dances is all just memorizing to me. Unlike country music with sad songs, the beautiful Hawaiian tunes are all about love, spirit, longing and of course some warrior moves too. I enjoy the UKULELE sounds as cheerful, joyful and upbeat. Some dance troupes and costumes are better than others. Looks like the Diamond Resort one was a good one.

    The slow roasted pig is my food highlight and I’m sure it was delicious. Nothing like the crispy skin after its been cooking for 18 hours or more – YUM i’m getting hungry. Thanks for sharing!! Can’t wait to hear more.

  31. Hi Susan, Thinking of you and hope you’re having a wonderful time, which it sounds like you’re doing! Enjoying your beautiful pics and waterfall videos. We don’t travel much these days, but I would love to visit Hawaii (hubby’s already been, on a business trip many years ago — lucky guy…) Funny — the luau show reminded me of our honeymoon in Barbados! Can’t beat all-inclusive tropical resorts. Enjoy the rest of your time there, and safe travels home!

  32. P.S. Poor piggy …………..

  33. Alycia Nichols says

    Ugh! You had me turning up my nose at “low alcohol”!!! Syrupy sweet is bad enough, but they could at least load it up with booze!!! I’m a booze hound, of course, but still…! I’m glad you had a chance to attend a luau, though, because it’s one of those events that is probably on a lot of bucket lists! I’ve had freshly roasted pig before, and it’s good stuff! Have fun and don’t throw your back out with all that hula dancing!

  34. Cyndi Raines says

    What an awesome view from your balcony. Bet the music was delightful also. I love a good Pork Roast and my family has roasted a pig at family gatherings in the past, so I know I would have enjoyed that along with some salmon and lots of fruit! Yum! Don’t care much for bland food, would have had to ak for some hot sauce, haha! Love seeing the pictures of the ocean, makes me want to get in and jump the waves. Not sure if I would have the courage to do a helicopter ride, but sure would want to see the sunrise so many have mentioned. What an experience, thanks for sharing, brings back great memories of my trip to Jamaica. (P.s. Fyi- my comments still see not showing until the next day also, and therefore don’t have the message “awaiting moderation” either.) But glad I still am getting your posts. Love ya, Susan!

  35. Yep, one luau was enough for me. They are fairly standard, although your meal looked less than impressive. As I remember, the luau’s of years ago were never served to such huge groups. That has to be the reason for the luau cafeteria style. Maybe some research would uncover a more personal luau opportunity somewhere in the islands. Hey, I loved the pics from your balcony. They probably captured the feeling of the evening better that would have been possible from your chair. I also think it’s somewhat harder to party at a huge party like that when you don’t have your own party to bring with you to the table. Anyway, it would be for me, maybe not for you. Thanks for sharing your surprise adventure with us. Cherry Kay

  36. I enjoyed seeing the luau, good idea to take pictures from the balcony! Yes, I think all luau s are the same! 😉

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