Something About Maui

A luau is much more than food. Even French cooking can’t hold a candle to the rigors of luau preparation. The Hawaiians of old spent days in the ritual of gathering: spearing fish, harvesting seaweed, picking flowers and fruit, and, always, preparing their musical offerings for the dancing and partying that followed. Here on Maui, these customs have a modern twist

At the award-winning Old Lahaina Luau, the island’s most accomplished hula dancers are a match for a peerless ambience: oceanfront, with views of Lanai and Molokai. The sunsets? Brighter than Mai Tais. The greeting? Try a flower lei and a Mai Tai. The food? A buffet table groaning with abundance. Pre-contact Hawaiian staples (laulau, poi, raw tuna, sweet potato) appear with the lomi salmon, chicken long rice, tenderloin steak and other foods introduced by later arrivals. The entertainment is all Hawaiian, well-researched and superbly performed, and there’s a premium open bar throughout. $92. At 1251 Front St., 808.667.1998.

The Westin Maui Resort goes all out with its fire-knife show and waterfalls, and dinner here is family-style—all the better for observing the extreme sport of Polynesia, fire-knife dancing, choreographed here by Fijian and Maori chiefs. The dances of Hawai‘i, Tahiti, Samoa and New Zealand are performed outdoors around a four-course dinner of Polynesian and western staples. $105. At 2365 Kaanapali Parkway, 808.661.2992.

Next door, the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa injects some Las Vegas sizzle to the mix, adding some high-flying acrobatics, aerials and balancing acts, Cirque-style, with a dose of Polynesia. Cirque Polynesia dazzles with the harrowing stunts and body-bending theatrics that merge with tribal drama from the Pacific Rim. Like the entertainment, the dinner menu blends regional elements with mostly western fare, such as prime rib, mahimahi and contemporary American dishes. It’s held outdoors in the Maui Moon Theater. $109-$119 dinner and show. At 200 Nohea Kai Dr., 808.667.4540.

In South Maui, Honua‘ula at the Grand Wailea blends tales from traditional Hawaiian mythology into its dynamic evening luau show. Chants and hula weave stories about gods and goddesses, such as Kananaka, the mermaid of Maui, and Pele, the volcano goddess, and the history of Maui unfolds in a pageant of song and dance. You can also learn how to make a lei, play Hawaiian games and get your own faux, Polynesian-style tattoo. $96. At the Grand Wailea, 3850 Wailea Alanui Dr., 808.875.7710.