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Attend A Luau in Maui. It Had to be Done.

Who travels to Hawaii without attending the quintessential luau? Surely there is somebody out there, it just isn't me.

A luau is a Hawaiian feast that is traditionally held as a celebration for life events. Or to appease tourists.

After much research, deliberation and head wall banging, I selected the Feast at Lele for my West Maui luau experience instead of the more popular Old Lahaina Luau. Why? There were two reasons that Influenced my decision. No, one of them was not too much wine.

Firstly, the Feast at Lele is one of the few luaus in Maui that is not a buffet, it is a 5-course fully-serviced sit down meal. Buffets remind me of Circus Circus in Las Vegas.

Secondly, the chef, James McDonald has been featured on the Travel Channel, as well as in numerous magazines, talking about his Farm to Table approach to cooking. Sold.
Feast at Lele

Warning: Cliche jokes are not off limits on this blog.

We arrived at the feast and immediately got lei'd, that was quickly followed up with a Mai Tai. Would a cigarette may have been more appropriate? 

Though I had always envisioned my first lei would be with fresh orchids, these were made of Kukui tree nuts. At least they would make for lasting souvenirs.
Drinks at Feast at Lele

Our seats were fairly close to the stage, though with the stunning panoramic views every seat is a winner. The first order of business was to get cozy with our server, he brings the bottomless cocktails.
Server at the Luau

The Feast at Lele takes you through four Polynesian lands through dance, culture and food.

The show started, coordinating the feast dishes and dances with the Polynesian land it represented; Hawaii, New Zealand, Tahiti or Samoa.

HAWAII
The dance: The hula is the traditional dance of Hawaii and tells the story of traditions and culture. It is an elegant motion accompanied by chant and song.  
Dancer at the Luau
Hula at the LuauDancer at the Luau

The Hawaiian dishes: Kalu'a Pork, Poi, Seared Island Catch with Mango Sauce, Pehole Fern with Heart of Palm Salad
Food at Feast of Lele Luau
 

NEW ZEALAND
The dance:
The men of New Zealand traditionally dance the Haka, an ancient Maori war dance. Meanwhile the the women perform using poi, tethered balls that are rhythmically swung.
Dancer at the Luau
Poi Ball Dance at Luau

The New Zealand dishes: Green Duck Salad with Poha Berry Dressing, Harore Kumara, Kuku Patties
Food at the Luau
 

Tahiti
The dance: Tahitian dance is a sensual swing of the hips and the traditional or'i chant.
Tahitian Dance at the Luau

The Tahitian dishes: E'iota, Scallops on a Shell, Fafa (steamed chicken in taro leaf with coconut milk)
Tahitian Meal at Luau

Samoa
The dance: The Sasa dance is a rhythmic clapping of the hands and slapping of parts of the body.
Samoan Dance at the LuauSamoan Dance at the Luau

The Samoan dishes: Palusami (taro leaf and coconut milk with breadfruit), Supasui (grilled steak), Shrimp and Advocado with Passion Fruit
Samoan Meal at the Luau

…and, for the ultimate finale, Samoa also performs the famed fire knife dance. I just thought of a third reason to choose Feast at Lele.
Fire Throwers at the Luau
Fire Throwers at the Luau

Shortly after seeing the incredible bodies of these passionate dancers, I decided that learning the hula was a must. But, not now. There was dessert.
Dessert at Feast of Lele

Have you been to a luau? Have you ever done the hula?

8 Comments

  1. You're not the only one that had to go to a luau in Hawaii.  I went to the Disneyland of Luau's in Oahu.  I enjoyed it, despite the touristy-ness.  I liked how they had food from different cultures at your luau.  Love the fire dance, I can barely light a match.

  2. I did like how they paired the food and dance with is land. It was easier to get the vibe of the culture. But, next time I need to travel to Polynesia to see it all first hand :)

  3. This is on my bucket list now, too. And since you've done the leg work, I don't have to figure out which one to go to. :)
    I've been enchanted by hula girls since I was a little girl. My parents went to Hawaii and sent me a postcard with a hula dancer on the front and then brought me back a fake grass skirt. I was a hula dancer every Halloween that it fit, though I always had to wear a coat over it because October in Ohio is cold.
    I can't believe I haven't seen the real thing yet, but can't wait to go. Great post!

  4. Love the hula dancer postcard story! I hope you get the chance to see a real luau, maybe they will pull you on stage so you can do a little dance :)

  5. How awesome! I haven't been to a real luau (yet), but friends of ours throw a big luau party here in Texas that's pretty close – even including a whole pig that is roasted under the ground wrapped in banana leaves :)

  6. This luau didn’t do the whole roasting of a pig thing, so I might have to go to one more :)

  7. Cool photos of the luau! I haven't been to one of these in years, but they usually don't disappoint. 

  8. Thank you. The luau was definitely a great Hawaii experience that I am happy to not have missed!

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  5. The 6 Day Chiang Mai Itinerary. The Thailand Plan. - […] we are partaking in this dinner and dance show. Do you think it will be similar to attending a …

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