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Hawaii (Big) Island
Article Source: Copyright © 2012 by Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House Inc. All rights reserved.
On the graceful grounds of the Sheraton Keauhou Bay, this luau takes you on a journey of song and dance, highlighted by a dramatic fire-knife finale. Before the show, you can participate in workshops on topics ranging from coconut-frond weaving to poi ball techniques. The excellent buffet features a feast of local favorites like kalua pig, poi, and ahi poke. Generous refills on the mai tais don't hurt, either. www.sheratonkeauhou.com.
This resort lights its torches for a spectacular show and an oceanfront buffet four times a week. It's also one of a handful of luaus on the island that features food cooked in a traditional underground imu (oven). A fire-knife dancer caps off the show. Prices are cheaper if you book ahead. www.royalkona.com.
The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel's weekly clambake features an extensive menu that includes oysters on the half shell, Manila clams, Dungeness crab legs, and Keahole lobster sashimi. There's even prime rib for meat lovers. Live Hawaiian music is often accompanied by a graceful hula dancer. www.maunakeabeachhotel.com.
The mother of all Big Island festivals, the Merrie Monarch celebrates all things hula and completely overtakes Hilo for one fantastic weekend a year. The largest event of its kind in the world honors the legacy of King David Kalakaua, the man responsible for reviving fading Hawaiian traditions like the hula. The festival is staged at the spacious Edith Kanakaole Tennis Stadium during the first week following Easter Sunday. Hula halau (schools) compete in kahiko (ancient) and auana (modern) dance styles. You need to reserve accommodations and tickets up to a year in advance. www.merriemonarchfestival.org.
On the oceanfront North Pointe Luau Grounds of the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, you can sample the best of island cuisine while listening to the music and hula of the renowned Lim family. Held every Tuesday and Friday, it includes an amazing fire-knife dance, spirited chanting, and traditional hula. You can relax under the stars and enjoy a traditional feast of kalua pig roasted in an underground oven. www.maunakeabeachhotel.com.
This venue seats 400 people outdoors at the Kamehameha Court, where it presents the "Legends of the Pacific" review. A buffet dinner provides samplings of Hawaiian food as well as fish, beef, and chicken dishes that appeal to all tastes. www.hiltonwaikoloavillage.com.
The Fairmont's "Gathering of the Kings Polynesian Feast" offers the most bang for your buck. The show is slickly produced and well choreographed, incorporating both traditional and modern dance and an array of beautiful costumes. The meal offers the most variety of any island luau, with four buffet tables representing New Zealand, Hawaii, Tahiti, and Samoa. www.fairmont.com/orchid.
Witness a dramatic fire-knife performance at the Island Breeze Lu'au, an oceanfront event that features live music and a bounty of food that includes kalua pig cooked in an authentic underground imu.www.islandbreezeluau.com.
To experience island history first-hand, take a seat at one of Hawaii's ubiquitous "plate lunch" eateries, and order a segmented Styrofoam plate piled with rice, macaroni salad, and maybe some fiery pickled vegetable condiment. On the sugar plantations, native Hawaiians and immigrant workers from many different countries ate together in the fields, sharing food from their kaukau kits, the utilitarian version of the Japanese bento lunchbox. From this melting pot came the vibrant language of pidgin and its equivalent in food: the plate lunch.
Hawaiian music and dance, as well as theater performances, are hosted by this local art center. Locals drive here from all over the island for the concerts. www.volcanoartcenter.org.
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