My family is going to Kauai the week of Feb 23-Mar 2 and wants to attend a luau. Obviously there are several to chose from, but we really want to get to one that is more authentic and cultural rather than a touristy show. Any suggestions? A church or local fundraiser would be great. (We also have one VEGAN in the group)
I would fire up the news reader and point it toward soc.culture.hawaii. Post your question there and hope that "Auntie Maria" sees it and responds. She is the cultural spokesperson for the island of Kaua`i and knows almost everything (from either a cultural or musical standpoint), that occurs. You might even put "<PING> Auntie Maria" (without the "s) in the Subject Line Header. I have not attended any on Kaua`i, so cannot offer advice. The few that I have seen appear to be the standard commercial/touristy version, such as the one at the Sheraton Kaua`i Resort. It appeared to be nice (viewed from my lanai), but we dined off the property, so we missed most of the show, etc. Cannot comment on the food, though it appeared that they did have a crowd and copious amounts of spread on the tables. Anyway, Auntie Maria can give you all the recs. and will know of family/local ones. As for the vegan, not sure what might be on the menu, besides poi.
Since the OP did not post to the Usenet news group, I just posted to soc.culture.hawaii, so I should have an answer rather quickly, as Auntie Maria is very good about answering a PING. It might not be in time to help the OP, but I also asked for any URL that might prove valuable for this info in the future. I'll post the responses ASAP.
re: Bill Hunt
OK, this is "hot off the press," from Auntie Maria on the beautiful island of Kaua`i:
"All of the regularly-scheduled lu`au on Kaua`i are geared for the
tourist crowd -- and tend to be filled with music and dance from
throughout Polynesia, as opposed to only representing the music
and dances of Hawai`i. Some will argue that because Hawai`i is
a melting pot (true), the dances of Tahiti, Samoa, etc. should be
included at every professional lu`au. But I long to find a lu`au
which focuses exclusively on the rich history and traditions of
the kanaka maoli -- the native Hawaiians.
But that's just me...
So the only difference remaining between all the lu`au here on
Kaua`i, is the food and the price. Prices tend to be the same
for all lu`au; the larger the hotel, the pricier the lu`au. So
Smith's Tropical Garden (alongside the Wailua River near Kapa`a),
is probably the lu`au with the lowest price. Food offerings at
a lu`au are pretty standard -- and I've yet to find a professional
lu`au with bad food. Unfortunately, vegans and vegetarians will
have difficulty with the lu`au food -- but there's always steamed
rice (white), poi, steamed taro, veggies and salad.
You mention the possibility of attending a lu`au hosted by a
church, canoe club, etc. These are the REAL lu`au -- hosted by,
and given _for_, island residents. Lucky the island visitor who
happens on one of these!! Check the event calendar of any island
newspaper for a local kine lu`au. The season for those -- because
they are usually held outdoors -- tends to be March/April through
Sept/Oct. While the professional lu`au charge $60-$100 per person,
a local lu`au will typically run under $20. Visitors are always
welcome -- and quickly made to feel part of the `ohana (family).
Come as you are -- no fancy attire required!"
I hope that this info helps those, who are heading to Kaua`i for a vacation and would like to take in a lu`au. I had hoped that she might have a URL for "local" events, but then, maybe a little research will yield such a site. I correspond with a gent in Hawai`i, who does have a site, and maybe he can offer a space for the organizations, that might host such events. If he has, or wishes to add such a service, I'll post a link, though only in the thought of great lu`au food, since that is what we're here for.
Really agree with Bill. Was on Kauai a few years ago and my mom wanted to go to a lu`au. We went to one and it was, quite frankly, awful. It was sad and it seemed more like a Las Vegas act than a lu`au. Just went to the Old Lahaina Lu`au on Maui again and it's always wonderful. I hope you are able to find a local one. It would be worth your search!
The Old Lahaina is one of only two (other than the one at Polynesian Cultural Center), that I have ever attended. It was very nice and intimate. The other was a special production for an international sales meeting at Sea Life Park (probably crew from PCC), and it was spectacular, but more like a well-polished LV extravaganza. Good, but over-the-top. Of these, the only one that I could give a rec. for, would be Old Lahaina, so I'm glad to see that it's still going and is enjoyable.
Just as a casual observer (looking down on the event), the one at the Sheraton Kaua`i looked tired, with the performers just going through the motions.
Thanks for the good input. We did go to Hiva Pacifika (sp?) at the ResortQuest Hotel. It was definitely geared toward tourists. The price was decent at $50/person with the advanced internet deal. The meat was very tasty! The rest of the food was good as well. The vegans of the group were able to get show passes only and "exit stage left" when the meat was presented, and come back later. They picnicked on the beach by the hotel. The music was decent, and the dancing was entertaining. Several times they would bring people from the audience on stage to hula, which although funny, wasn't the show we were looking for. All-in-all, it was a fun show, good food. We did enjoy ourselves and that's what counts. It certainly wasn't the authentic feel we were looking for though, definitely for the tourist. Another side note, my wife and I stayed a few nights on the big island and from our hotel room one night we overheard the beginning of the luau at the Royal Kona Resort. The music was better, and they seemed to explain more about the meaning and the process of cooking, etc... The setting was not as pleasing, since they were just by the pool, then again that's right by the ocean too.
Thank you for the update and review. I am not at all familiar with the ResortQuest Hotel, so this is a new one, for me.
For music and dance, I strongly recommend the Maka`hina [SP?] Festival, held on the North Shore of O`ahu in early October. It is a weekend-long contest of hula and very entertaining. I have attended it at Waimea Falls Park, but the site might have moved. The Aloha Festival, which is held across several Islands about the same time, is great for the music, the culture and just the experience. http://www.gohawaii.com/ normally has a list of the sites and the events. Also, the Usenet NG, soc.culture.hawaii has listings of many more local events on most Islands.
Glad that the food was OK, as that is why we're all here, and that the vegans were satisfied. In another thread on lu`au, several gave a nod to the Old Lahiana Lu`au on Maui. I had been many years back, and it was quite good. The best food, that I have had at a lu`au has been a special event at Sea Life Park, but it was arranged for an international sales meeting, and I do not know who catered it - my guess is that it was the Polynesian Cultural Center, as most of the entertainment was from there, but it was head-n-shoulders above the lu`au at the Cultural Center, as far as the food goes.
Something to think about next trip - Alan Wong (O`ahu and Big Island) did a "New Wave Lu`au," last Sept. at his Pineapple Room, Ala Moana Center. It was over-the-top, regarding food. Little music, and less dancing, but the food was great - maybe 40 courses! If you are heading back to the Islands, you might want to check in with the AW Web site, http://www.alanwongs.com/, to see if he's doing it again.