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Get to know the history of the Hawaiian Luau (Infographic)


Culture is an essential aspect of every community or nation. It is a reflection and a determining factor of how one community reacts, responds, and grows. In addition, culture plays a significant role in the lives of everyone in society as it gives a sense of belonging. When it comes to culture, Hawaii is one of the best places actively practicing its culture to this day.

Apart from the countless beaches and dishes, the colorful culture of Hawaii is also part of the reason why tourists love to flock to this paradise. Almost every tourist spot in Hawaii is enveloped with rich history, and many Hawaii excursions can take you to various history-filled destinations. 

So if you want to experience an authentic Hawaiian vacation, start preparing yourself to travel to the past. After all, wouldn’t it be nice to know the origins of the place you want to visit? That being said, let us take a look at the history of one of the most popular Hawaiian traditions that is still being practiced today – Luau.


The History of Hawaiian Luau

Between beach-hopping, mountain climbing, wave surfing, and everything else the beautiful islands of Hawaii have to offer, never miss the opportunity of attending a traditional Hawaiian luau. 

A luau, or young taro tops in Hawaiian, is a tradition that is over two centuries old and is deeply rooted in Hawaiian and Polynesian history. This refers to the feast wherein friends and family gather together over delicious food, lively music, and dancing.

In ancient Hawaii, their society was ruled by a system of ritual laws called kapu. Among these laws is the aikapu, or sacred eating. This law required men and women to eat their meals separately. In addition, this ritual law also prohibits women from eating some of the food items, specifically those that are symbolically associated with male deities. This is because women were believed to have a haumia (traditionally translated as defiling) effect on male manifestations of the divine. 

However, this changed in 1819 when King Kamehameha II abolished the traditional religious practices. Instead, he started a feast and ate with women, which became the symbolic act that ended the Hawaiian religious taboo. This was the time luau was born. 

The traditional luau feast was eaten on the floor where lauhala mats were rolled out. A beautiful centerpiece made of ti leaves, ferns, and native flowers about three feet wide is laid over the mat for the decorations. 

For the dishes, the most common food that is served is poi. This Hawaiian staple is made from pounded taro root and served with platters of meat and dry foods, such as sweet potatoes, salt, or dried fish. Utensils were never used at a luau. Instead, everything was eaten with fingers. 

In 1847, the largest recorded luau was hosted by Kamehameha III. The list of dishes includes 271 hogs, 482 larges calabashes of poi, 3,135  salt fish, 1,820 fresh fish, 2,245 coconuts, 4,000 taro plants, and more delicacies.

On the other hand, King Kalakaua, known as the Merry Monarch, invited over 1,500 guests during his 50th birthday luau. 

Common luau dishes

Since luaus are a feast, expect your tummy to be full of delectable and authentic Hawaiian dishes. Below is a list of some of the most common dishes served in luaus.

  • Poi

As mentioned, Poi is one of Hawaii’s staple dishes. It is a cornerstone of ancient Hawaiian meals. It is a starchy Polynesian food paste made out of pounded taro roots. The result is a thick grayish paste. According to some non-Hawaiians, Poi is an acquired taste. This dish is typically served with meat or fish. 

  • Chicken Long Rice

Chicken long rice is another Hawaiian dish typically served at luaus. It is a noodle dish made from vermicelli, chicken thighs, fresh ginger, and green onions that usually come with a cup of white rice. This dish is well-loved due to its cozy and comforting taste. Chicken long rice is commonly served as a side dish, but it can also work as a simple entree. 

  • Kalua Pig

Kalua pig is the most common partner of Poi. The word Kalua came from the method of cooking done to prepare this dish. The hog is roasted in an imu or an underground oven. Its flavor is oozing with smokiness. What makes this dish extra unique is its earthy flavor that came from the soil and banana or ti leaves. Kalua pig is served shredded and is eaten with a bowl of Poi. 

  • Lomi Lomi Salmon

Another side dish served in luaus is Lomi Lomi Salmon. It is made out of fresh tomatoes and salmon salad. The salted and shredded salmon is mixed with tomatoes and sweet onions to prepare. Others add scallions. This is usually served cold. So if the Lomi Lomi Salmon is not refrigerated, it is common to see it served with crushed ice. 

  • Poke

Poke is a luau dish served either as an appetizer or main course. It is traditionally made from ahi tuna or octopus (tako). The fish or tako is cut into bite-sized pieces and eaten with sea salt, seaweed, and crushed kukui nuts. Some alterations of this dish include using soy sauce, sesame oil, kimchi, wasabi, and other enhancements. 


Where to enjoy luau?

Luaus can be enjoyed in many places during your Hawaiian vacation. However, if you are in Aloha State’s Gathering Place – Oahu – you can check Go Tours Hawaii for Oahu Tours. They offer three different types of luaus: classic, splash, and celebrity. Here are the inclusions of Go Tours Hawaii Luau excursion.

Classic Splash Celebrity
  • Shell Lei
  • 1 Drink Ticket
  • Moana Classic Luau
  • Admission to Sea Life     Park ($40 Value)
  • Shell Lei
  • 2 Drink Tickets
  • Moana Splash Luau
  • Buffet Dinner
  • Admission to Sea Life Park ($40 Value)
  • Fresh Flower Lei
  • Mai Tai Greeting
  • 2 Drink Tickets
  • First in Line for Buffet
  • Souvenir Photo
  • Admission to Sea Life Park ($40 value)


By booking an Oahu tour with us, we can take you to experience breathtaking sceneries, incredible music, and more. Furthermore, you can watch hula girls and fire knife dancers as they perform while letting you indulge in a feast like no other.

For more information, you can visit the Go Tours Hawaii website at

Have fun in Hawaii with Go Tours Hawaii

Going on a Hawaiian vacation should be fun and exciting, not filled with anxieties and hassles. So if you are looking for a way to achieve a relaxing getaway, try checking out Go Tours Hawaii.


We are a local Hawaii tour operator specializing in Oahu Hawaii tours. Let us take you on an unforgettable Oahu vacation you will remember for a lifetime. For more information about us, what we do, and the list of our tours, you can visit our website at