Monday, February 06, 2012

Maui: Old Lahaina Luau

You can't visit Hawaii for the first time and not attend a luau. We made reservations at the Old Lahaina Luau, which had the best reviews on Yelp, TripAdvisor, About.com, and many more sites. It's $98+tax for adults and $68+tax for children and seating is on a first come, first served basis so the earlier you make your reservations, the closer your seats will be to the stage. The seats closest to the stage have low tables and you sit on cushions on the ground (Japanese-style) and you can specifically request those seats if you'd like as well.

We spent the afternoon in Lahaina (getting shave ice at Ululani's) before heading to the luau. The town is so sweet and cute. There are plenty of restaurants and souvenir shops.

We were supposed to show up, park our car, and get ready to enter the luau area by 5:15 (which is the entrance time from October to March but it's 5:30 from April to September). We were greeted by friendly smiling staff members who gave us kukui nut leis (which I prefer to a fresh flower lei because you can keep this one forever) and handed out mai tais to everyone who was of age and iced teas to the younger attendees. There's an open bar (whoo!) and an extensive list of specialty cocktails and a few types of beer and wine.
mai tai

Once we were brought to our table, our waitress told us that the kalua pig would be unearthed at 5:50 and then the buffet dinner would be ready at 6. And in the meantime, we could imbibe and walk around to see the Hawaiian crafts and actually go and see the pig. So my sister and I walked around, snapping photos.
trying to choose our seats
our fun and feisty server, Angel
The wood carving crafts were really amazing and there were guys sitting on stools carving them right in front of your eyes. You could buy a souvenir for yourself and for a little extra cash, you could even get your name carved in the bottom of the piece.
The kalua pig buried in the imu (underground oven) was pretty cool. And at 5:50, the crowd gathered around to watch as two guys with shovels started to dig out the pig. One of the guys walked around explaining how at 6 in the morning, they dig the hole in the ground, fill it with hot porous rocks, place the pig on top, cover it with wet leaves (to help steam the pork), add heavy insulating blankets to hold in the heat, and then fill up the rest of the hole with sand.
So after the pig was unearthed, we sat down at our tables. The servers come by and let you know when your table is allowed to go up to the buffet so while we waited, we watched the sun start to set, snacked on our appetizers (pupus), and worked on some drinks.
aunt & sister

lava flow

my uncle and aunt with a blue hawaii & a lava flow
pupus (appetizers)
banana bread and pineapple
The buffet has 19 different items (which are all explained on the menu). I'm including a photo even though it isn't that flattering. Flash ruins the way food looks in photos. The food was a little salty for my taste (but I'm salt intolerant) but delicious and there's definitely a little something there for everyone (seafood, chicken, pork, steak, vegetables, noodles, rice). We all agreed that the purple sweet potatoes were incredible and there was this glass noodle dish that I loved. It was fun to try the kalua pig we'd just seen get pulled out of the ground. It was really tender and yummy. And afterwards they brought out a dessert plate (which I didn't take a photo of because it was way too dark).
A little while later, the show started. The show wasn't only fun but it was educational. There was a narrator who incorporated a little Hawaiian folklore and transitioned into the history of Hawaii. They even had some dancers come out and do the "suppressed hula" (which is what I call it, not what it's officially called) while wearing these weird long-sleeved turtleneck shirts and long skirts, which is what happened after missionaries came and conservative-ified the islands. And someone sang "Aloha Oe" which was really fun. It was difficult to take photos of the dancing because it was so dark in the audience area and scary bright on the stage and hips were swaying so fast but here are a few attempts.
Afterwards, we tried hula-ing ourselves and laughed with the servers as they helped escort everyone out. I have to say that everyone that worked the luau was so nice, smiley, and friendly, it really upped the experience.

Aloha!

3 comments:

  1. Awesome! I attended a luau when I was 3 but I don't remember anything of it. Have to say when I first read $98+ I was put off but your account of the experience makes me think it's definitely worth the price!! It looks fabulous and fun (& I love your Lacey top) :)

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  2. It IS pricey but I thought it was definitely worth it as a first time experience thing (but I don't know that I'd pay to do it a second time). But yeah, it's dinner (all you can eat), open bar, AND a show with a gorgeous sunset on a tropical island so it is worthwhile.

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  3. We did a bunch of other amazing things during our trip to Hawaii, but I really wanted to share this experience as a must do! Here’s a link to there website http://www.oldlahainaluau.com I’m making a list of the other fun activities we did, so feel free to hit me up for ideas : ) If you are looking for what to do in Maui this is highly recommended. Enjoy your trip!"

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