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May 11, 2008 08:53 AM

Polynesian Lu’au on the Big Island

I have not had a lot of time to research locations and didn't want to make reservations with out some chow hound help. The only one that has come up is at the Kona Village Resort, for $100 pp, says it is the oldest running Luau on the island. Is it worth the money, or is there a bettter one that you would recommend.

Here is what we are looking for: good entertainment, but more so good food and decent drinks. Unfortunately when I went to Oahu years ago I got advice from some booze heads who recommended one that was unlimited alcohal and the food sucked.


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  1. What I've always heard is that the best luau in West Hawaii is at the Royal Kona Resort in Kailua town but Kona Village is a 5-star resort make the call.

    1. Really people, no other Hawaiians have any input on the Lu'au on the Bid Island? I really thought there would be more chatter, but thank you S Marquis for your response.

      4 Replies
      1. re: LunasMom

        most local people don't go to commercial luau's. they are all pretty much the same, pretty much touristy, and the food is not all that great. as discussed in previous threads most tourists are not fond of eating poke (raw fish) or sea urchin. if adventurous they might try poi. a few even like it. squid luau which could best be imagined as squid in a slurry of taro leaf puree is also something they tend to turn their noses up at. Chicken long-rice (chicken with celophane noodles in broth) is common at luau's, but not really hawaiian, nor is lomi salmon. most tourists will pick out the meat in a lau-lau, and leave the taro leaf behind (the inner greens, not the outer wrapper of ti leaf, which is inedible). that pretty much leaves the kalua pork, although i can't tell you the number of times i have heard people comment that they couldn't taste the kahlua in kalua pork (yes, really).

        in essence, a commercial luau is not really hawaiian, and if it were, it would go broke.

          1. re: KaimukiMan

            Exactly KaimukiMan!

            I found my own personal luau on the shrimp trucks with some of the most wonderful Hawaiians & tourists..

            1. re: KaimukiMan

              I agree. Most local folk go to family lu`aus, or similar, non-commercial ones, sponsored by a church, or fraternal organization. Over the years, I have begged on one of the Hawai`i Usenet groups for some help for the tourists, but most local folk have even less experience, than we Mainlanders. One suggestion, that has been offered, is to look in the classified section of most "local" papers, for ads for lu`aus (not the tourist magazines found everywhere). Many of these are "open" to tourists and the cost is usually minimal. In no time, even an outsider might well be considered 'ohana (family). Do not expect a lot of entertainment, but the food and the cultural aspects are great. Rather than a bevy of Polynesian dancers, the event is more likely to end with an entertaining session of "talk story." Listen, smile and say "mahalo" as much as you can. These people will be sharing much more than their table with you.

              Also, the food items will be more "authentic" to the sponsoring family's traditions. You should find that there is little resemblance between fresh poi, and the stuff from cans elsewhere - except that each was once taro growing in a flooded field. Be open to the food, and try everything, though maybe in small quantities. You would never wish to offend your host/hostess, with a lot of uneaten portions.


          2. Let me couch this with the fact I hate luaus. Having said that... Kona Village Resort's is the best by miles. Food is excellent and I hear pretty authentic (a local was going on & on about a seaweed dish that's super-expensive & a rare delicacy, and they offer unlimited portions here - sorry, can't remember name - I want to say limu, but think those are little sea creatures...), and the entertainment is bearable. KVR is a 5 star in price and wonderful amenities (ie. private ocean front hales) alone - DEFINITELY not in snootiness at all.