Aloha! Do we even need to explain this classic greeting in Hawaiian culture? Just the sound of it conjures images of sunsets, iced Mai Tais, and ocean-drenched beaches. Ready to drool? Grab a frothy beverage and take a seat to go on a delicious adventure with me. Here be a 5-part series about cuisine all around the world, from the purple mountains majesties of the U.S. to the crystal blue coasts of Tahiti.
With coronavirus still prevalent, we would never encourage our readers to put themselves in danger if they don’t feel safe enough to travel. But in the meantime let us help you dream of your future vacation.
Can’t go to Hawaii? Bring Hawaii to you!
With this DIY guide to hosting a luau, feel at home in Hawaii — in your very own backyard!
What is a Luau?
A luau is a Hawaiian feast and party. They were traditionally held to celebrate weddings, honored guests, and big events. Once upon a time, women and men ate separately until King Kamehameha II sat to eat dinner with the women, leading to the abolishing of the old ways to make room for the new. Ever since, luaus became a popular part of Hawaiian culture.
For an authentic Hawaiian Luau experience, attend the Old Lahaina Luau on Maui where they show the development of their culture throughout the years, from the traditional versions of the hula dance to modern ones.
Until then, keep reading to bring Hawaii to your home!
Wear an aloha skirt or shirt. Encourage others to wear Hawaiian themed clothing.
Set up your backyard with tiki torches, buffet tables with floral tablecloths, and support local businesses by decorating with fragrant flowers from your hometown florist. Alternatively, if you can’t do that, you can find a nice variety of fake flowers at Walmart or Amazon. We recommend birds of paradise, plumeria, Hawaiian hibiscus, and/or gardenias to make it pop.
Decorate tables with leis, flowers, and Hawaiian-scented candles (great varieties include coconut, pineapple or hibiscus).
Hold a contest for whoever can make the best grass skirt or coconut bra. We recommend having all the supplies ready (coconuts shaved and halved, etc) and displayed on a table. You could even offer a Hawaiian-scented candle as a prize.
Set up a projector (projector screen here) and play this watchlist of Hawaiian hula dances, both modern and traditional ones, and how-to videos. Play without ads if you’re signed up for YouTube Red! At the end of the night you could hold a show to see how many people mastered the moves.
Put together a Tiki Bar.
Decorate with long grass and fake flowers.
Have mason jars ready with mini umbrellas, maraschino cherries, and pineapple wedges for garnish.
Don’t forget to have a pitcher of ice-cold water readily available.
And now for the main event! Pick 1-3 of each option to serve an envy-inducing spread.
Here is a tasty recipe for banana bread.
Island Crab Salad – Perfect for seafood lovers everywhere, this cool and crunchy side goes great between buns. This recipe includes Hawaiian rolls, but you could even put it on the taro rolls above.
Poi – Poi is pounded taro root and has the basic consistency of mashed potatoes or grits. Poi is served as a side for everything due to its bland flavor. Sub sweet potatoes if you can’t find taro.
Chicken Long Rice – This isn’t what most Americans think of as rice. Chicken Long Rice uses cellophane noodles cooked in chicken broth and mixed with soy sauce, garlic, sugar, and — you guessed it — chicken. It’s an island favorite.
Stir Fry Vegetables – Cut up red bell pepper, red onion, bamboo shoots, pineapple, and broccoli florets, and stir fry at high heat with soy sauce and pineapple juice to glaze the veggies. Yum!
Fresh Fruit – A classic for a reason. To get that nice Hawaiian flare, include pineapples, coconuts, watermelons, mangoes, and/or bananas. If you have access to them, you could also include harder-to-find fruit like guava, passion fruit, papaya, or starfruit.
Kalua Pig – This is the obvious one! Traditionally wrapped in leaves and prepared in an underground oven called an imu, this is the usual main dish served at a luau. This pork recipe will leave your meat tender with a mouthwatering smoky flavor.
Laulau – Meat (traditionally pork) wrapped in taro leaves and steamed.
Poke – This dish translates as “to slice”. It is diced raw fish (typically tuna) served with sea salt, candlenut, and limu (seaweed). This is more popularly known in the States (outside of Hawaii) as “poke bowl”, where poke is served on a bed of rice with other vegetables. However in a Hawaiian luau, it isn’t always served with rice.
Haupia – An exquisite coconut pudding that can be used to frost or top cakes.
Kulolo – A.K.A. Taro pudding, this delicious dessert is traditionally baked for hours in an imu oven — but can be made in just a few hours today with an insta-pot. It combines taro, coconut milk, and sugar in a mouthwatering combination. And it’s purple!
Malasada – These tasty donuts are light, fluffy and to die for!
Congrats, you are now a DIY Luau pro! Well — okay. We all know nothing really beats watching the sunset against a backdrop of ocean waves crashing onto a sandy shore, as literal piles of mouthwatering food await you and hula dancers entertain from a stage. But we hope this guide will tide you over until time comes for your Hawaiian escape!
So I turn it back to you — have you ever been to Hawaii? What was your fav part? Did you go to a luau?
And if you haven’t, tell us about the time you ate way too much at a buffet, banquet or feast!
Who’s ready to drool?
(Me. It’s me. Just me.)
Ready for bliss?
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Wishing you bliss,
—Lindsey, the Sun Bliss Luxury Blogger
Ia Orana! My name is Lindsey and I am a luxury travel specialist from Minnesota.
I have trudged through blinding white winters, trekked through state fairs during horrid humidity, and come out the other end looking for a more blissful day in the sun. My agency is Sun Bliss Travel, which uses its industry connections and specialized knowledge to design magical luxury vacations for travelers who want unforgettable VIP experiences.
But I am not just an agent or a (woman-led) small business owner — I’m an avid traveler myself who loves sunsets, cats, coffee and cooking. I live in Minnesota with my adorable fiance and together we’ve built a life full of love, fun and bliss.