Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Hawaii >
Jul 8, 2012 12:31 PM

Summer Lu'aus on O'ahu

Several church-sponsored lu'au are scheduled in the coming weeks. The first two are well-known typical local church lu'au, held at the church, with food prepared by members, and entertainment likely from church members who donate their time, but are probably otherwise professional musicians and dancers.

July 21- Kaumakapili Church, 766 N. King St., 845-0908, near downtown Honolulu. The 41st annual luau fundraiser, offering homemade Hawaiian food, will be held July 21, with takeout box meals available from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for $20; pick up on Kanoa Street, one block mauka of North King, off Palama Street. The sit-down all-you-can-eat feast and entertainment starts at 5 p.m. for $30. To purchase tickets, call the church office.

Aug 4 - Liliuokalani Protestant Church, 66-090 Kamehameha Highway, 637-9364, O'ahu North Shore. The Hale­iwa church is selling tickets to its 36th annual benefit luau, offering authentic Hawaiian food, starting at 1 p.m. Aug. 4 with live entertainment. Tickets are $17.50 for takeout orders from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; for sit-down meals under the big tent, $20 from 1 to 4 p.m. Call the church office for tickets.

Also on August 4 - Bishop's Lu'au at the Bishop Museum, near downtown Honolulu. This one is quite different - honoring the visiting Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and at $75 much more expensive than a typical church event. Food is probably catered, rather than prepared by church ladies, and is apparently part of a series of fundraising events for the Desmond Tutu Outreach Fund. Entertainment may feature more prominent professionals.

or call 524-2822, x577

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Thanks! What a great post especially for folks who are visiting and want the real thing!

    1. Mahalo nui!

      I have been begging for similar, here and elsewhere, for about 15 years. Yours is the first such post that I can recall, and you should be recognized for that. You have my utmost respect.

      Please keep those recs. coming!

      Mahalo, and much aloha,


      3 Replies
      1. re: Bill Hunt

        Thanks for your kind words, and ditto to Manomin. Visitors should understand that a local lu'au will bear little resemblance to the commercial variety. The menu will be geared to local tastes, with real servings of poi, not just a thimbleful expecting the visitor to dislike it. Also you should expect a delicious lau lau...pork and salt fish wrapped in lu'au leaf (hence the name) which is the cooked taro leaf, much like spinach, inside a ti leaf wrapper which is not edible and is only used to protect the lau lau in the imu (earth oven). Then there should be lomi-lomi salmon, a salad of salted salmon flaked with tomato and green onion and seasoned with lemon juice. Chicken long-rice would likely be included, a soupy stew of chicken with bean thread cellophane noodles, flavored with ginger. Finally, dessert would require haupia, a sweet coconut pudding thick enough to pick up in your hands. Since many of the churches promote abstinence from alcohol, don't expect mai-tais or anything more powerful than a version of overly sweet kool-aid or canned soda. Wise to bring a water bottle just in case.

        However, the liveliness of the church congregation, local entertainment, and genuine aloha spirit makes up for any disappointment that may come from expecting gourmet cuisine or a big buffet with numerous choices geared to Mainland tastes..this is at heart a church supper with an extremely time-consuming preparation, done by and for the community, not for outsiders. It is also partly an annual homecoming for former church members and families that may have moved out of the neighborhood but return each year for the festive reunion. That doesn't mean you won't be welcomed, quite the contrary, but keep in mind that you are entering their world and sharing their custom, so enjoy it for the authentic experience it is.

        The Bishop's Lu'au, as I said, will probably be less of a by-and-for the congregation event, given the location,theme, and price, but should be quite interesting and enjoyable, and probably more of a hybrid between a commercial event for tourists only and an eagerly awaited annual neighborhood occasion.

        1. re: macaraca

          I agree with you, considering what a traveler might expect, and what they might, or might not, enjoy.

          We have been fortunate to do some "local" lu`aus, some really special "commercial" lu`uas, and then Chef Alan Wong's "New Wave Lu`au" a couple of times. Though we have been traveling to the Islands for many decades, we will both admit to liking some dishes, over others, but that is just personal taste. If one has never done a non-commercial lu`au, and they really care about the foods of Hawai`i, then I very strongly recommend that they do. It is about the food, and the comradery. If one is very respectful, they might be accepted as `ohana. There is nothing better.

          The "entertainment" is usually great, though without the "show" of the commercial events. Still, it comes from the heart, and is not so heavily choreographed. Again, from the heart.

          Again, mahalo nui for your post. Others will greatly benefit from it, and that is the spirit of aloha - the REAL spirit of aloha. I hope that all serious travelers will find it, and use the info on their trip. Hawai`i has so very much to offer, beyond shopping at Prada and Ferragamo, or dining at a buffet.


          1. re: macaraca

            Don't know if the Desmond Tutu luau will be catered by the operator of the cafe at Bishop Museum, but the Hawaiian plate at the Museum cafe is quite good, even if rice is served in place of the much more expensive poi. To my mind, $75 is reasonable when compared to tickets to Germaine's Luau.

        2. Aloha macaraca and thank you for your post!

          1. Do you know of any lu'aus and/or food events going on 8/23 - 9/4?

            1 Reply
            1. re: letsindulge

              Don't know of anything yet, but will be sure to post when events and dates are announced.

              Monthly Eat The Street food truck event is usually the last Friday of the month in downtown Honolulu, and occasionally other neighborhoods on O'ahu (last night in Kapolei, for example). One is coming up in August in Kailua, but not sure of the date. Should be one during your visit.

              Best way to follow this is to get on the mail list at
              if their web system will allow it.

            2. Another church luau (takeout) Aug 18. United Church of Christ, 467 N. Judd St., Honolulu.

              United Church of Christ is holding its 56th annual "Takeout Luau" Aug. 18 from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Cost is $24 ($6 tax-deductible) for an 11-course meal with kalua pig, lomi salmon, chicken long rice, poi, raw fish, opihi, ogo, sweet potato, pineapple, haupia and kulolo. For ticket information, call the church at 536-8418.