Plan and Host an Authentic Hawaiian Luau

An authentic Hawaiian luau is a traditional feasts decorated extravagantly with a plethora of native flora. Foods served are eaten without utensils while seated on the floor. The royalty of the Hawaiian Islands became famous for these grandiose luaus. You can plan and host a luau, too!

authentic hawaiian luau

Deep History of the Authentic Hawaiian Luau

The history of authentic Hawaiian luaus dates back to before the influence of western civilization. The aborigines would gather and eat together to celebrate significant moments. This gathering was called ‘aha ’aina, which means gathering meal. Each aspect of the ‘aha ‘aina represented different characteristics. During these original Hawaiian luaus, the men and women would eat separately.

During the reign of King Kamehameha II, these traditions ended and new traditions began. The most significant change was King Kamehameha II choosing to gather and eat with women. It was during this time that the term “luau” began to replace ‘aha ‘aina. Luau is the name of the taro leaf that is traditionally used in authentic Hawaiian luaus.

Beginning in the 1930s, the Hawaiian Islands began to become a destination vacation due to the introduction of ocean liners. This was the tourists’ introduction to authentic Hawaiian luaus. As Hawaiian tourism increase, so did the desire to experience authentic Hawaiian luau celebrations.

Traditional Dishes served at a Luau

There are many elements to an authentic Hawaiian luau. A key element is the food that is prepared for an authentic Hawaiian luau. There are many traditional dishes to choose from.

Kalua Pua’a

The most notable meal is the Kalua Pua’a. This is the roasted pig that we traditionally think of when envisioning an authentic Hawaiian luau. It is a simply seasoned pig that is roasted in a Hawaiian imu, an underground steam oven.

Huli Huli Chicken

Huli Huli chicken is another traditional dish found at an authentic Hawaiian luau. This chicken dish consists of chicken marinated and cooked with soy sauce, pineapple juice, brown sugar, ginger, and a few other traditional ingredients.

Lua Lua

Lua Lua is a tranditional dish that utilizes chicken, beef, or pork. The key to this dish is the use of the taro leaf, also known as lua, that wraps the meat of choice.

authentic hawaiian luau pig roast

Other foods and drinks for your Hawaiian Luau

There are authentic Hawaiian luau side dishes you should be familiar with if you’re looking to host a traditional-style luau.


Hawaiian Poi is one of the most traditional staples known to the native Hawaiian Islands. Poi is made from boiled taro leaves pounded into a smooth consistency while using water. For many, the add salt, sugar, or soy sauce to flavor their Poi.


Another authentic Hawaiian luau side dish is Poke. Poke is a dish that consists of raw fish cut into bite size pieces and seasoned with sesame oil and other garnishes.

Fresh Fruits

It is important to include fresh fruit in an authentic Hawaiian luau. Fresh fruit such as pineapple, papayas, bananas, lychee and coconuts.

Blended Drinks

Don’t forget traditional beverages that are found at authentic Hawaiian luaus. Many of the authentic beverages found at an authentic Hawaiian luau is comprised of fresh fruit. A banana mango smoothie is a great start to any luau. Bananas and mangoes blended with coconut milk, honey and ice makes a delicious tropical treat.

For the adults at an authentic Hawaiian luau, Lilikoi Champagne is a great choice. This concoction consists of champagne and freshly squeezed lilikoi, also known as passion fruit.

Decorate your Space for an Authentic Hawaiian Luau

The last step to hosting an amazing authentic Hawaiian luau is to decorate your space with authentic Hawaiian decorations. Traditional authentic Hawaiian luau decorations consisted of native flora to create a warm and festive aura. Traditionally lauhala mats were created and used to sit on. Flowers, ferns and other flora are used to create a comfortable atmosphere.

Wooden utensils and handmade decorations

Wooden bowls and cups were used for authentic Hawaiian luaus. To maintain the integrity of an authentic Hawaiian luau, wooden bowls and cups and handmade decorations are an important feature instead of using the cheap plastic products that you see at most Americanized luau-inspired parties.

Floral Leis

An important and iconic authentic Hawaiian luau decoration is the lei. Traditional leis can be made of a variety of elements. Most often leis are created from the beautiful flowers of the Hawaiian Islands but they are not limited to only flowers. Leis can also be made from ferns, shells, and kukui nuts.

authentic hawaiian luau sunset

3 Phases to Planning and Hosting your Authentic Hawaiian Luau

A traditional authentic Hawaiian luau is often divided into three parts.


Part one is the preparation for the gathering. This includes decorating, cooking, and presenting the food. To help with this process, you might seek out a local Hawaiian restaurant like Hula Sauce Company to purchase authentic sauces to help the food preparation process. It is key to not stress during this phase.

Gathering and Eating

The second part of an authentic Hawaiian luau is the gathering and eating. Sit back and enjoy all the hard work that was put into a fun and laid back party that takes you to the tropics.


The last phase of an authentic Hawaiian luau is the entertainment. Here is a chance to listen to the smooth sounds of ukuleles and other traditional Hawaiian music. This is also the opportunity to let go, be brave, and hula dance as a group.

Celebrate your life and accomplishments, Hawaiian-style!

An authentic Hawaiian luau is meant to be a laid back celebration of life and accomplishments. If you’re willing to go through the extra work and take steps to host an authentic Hawaiian luau, you’ll create an experience for yourself and your guests that will never be forgotten!