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Article Source: Copyright © 2012 by Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House Inc. All rights reserved.
By October 2010, Hawaii's population was more than 1.3 million with the majority of residents living on Oahu. Nine percent are Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, almost 40% are Asian American, 9% are Latino, and about 25% Caucasian. Nearly a fifth of the population list two or more races, making Hawaii the most diverse state in the United States.
Food in Hawaii is a reflection of the state's diverse cultural makeup and tropical location. Fresh seafood, organic fruits and vegetables, free-range beef, and locally grown products are the hallmarks of Hawaii regional cuisine. Its preparations are drawn from across the Pacific Rim, including Japan, the Philippines, Korea, and Thailand—and "local food" is a cuisine in its own right. Don't miss Hawaiian-grown coffee, either, whether it's smooth Kona from the Big Island or coffee grown on other islands.
Te Au Moana means "ocean tide," which is all you need to know about the simply gorgeous backdrop for this south Maui luau. The evening begins with lei making, local crafts, and an imu (underground oven) ceremony. The tasty buffet serves local staples, including a plethora of desserts like carrot cake, macadamia-nut brownies, and key lime squares. The performance seamlessly intertwines ancient Hawaiian stories and contemporary songs with traditional hula and Polynesian dances, concluding with a jaw-dropping solo fire-knife dance. www.marriotthawaii.com.
Here is one show not to miss—it's serious comedy with amazing sleight of hand. Magician Warren Gibson entices guests into his swank nightclub with red carpets and a gleaming mahogany bar, and plies them with appetizers (coconut shrimp, crab cakes), desserts (chocolate pots de crème, assorted pies and cheesecakes, crème brûlée), and "smoking cocktails." Then he performs table-side magic while his ghostly assistant, Annabelle, tickles the ivories. This is a nightclub, so no one under 21 is allowed. www.hawaiimagic.com.
The Westin Maui Resort and Spa's oceanfront Aloha Pavilion provides a picturesque setting for this family-style dinner. The sit-down meal can be pricey, but it's ideal if you prefer table-side service over buffet lines. Traditional dishes such as pickled ahi tuna, fire-roasted teriyaki beef, and Molokai sweet potato with coconut preceed a delicious dessert spread. The performance features authentic songs and dances from Hawaii, Tahiti, New Zealand, and Samoa, and although the costumes may not be as elaborate as elsewhere, the pulse-raising five-member fire-knife dance is a thrilling highlight. www.westinmaui.com.
These catamarans are modern, spotless, and laid out nicely for dining and lounging. They head back shortly after sunset, which means there's plenty of light to savor dinner and the view. During whale-watching season, the best seats are the corner booths by the stern of the boat. Catered by local fave Pizza Paradiso, the meal outdoes most dinner-cruise spreads, with ratatouille, chipotle-citrus rotisserie chicken, and potato gratin and sun-dried tomatoes. The trip departs from Kaaanapali's Dig Me Beach in front of Leilani's at Whalers Village. www.teralani.net.
Located at Lahaina's 505 Front Street, this place has raised Maui nightlife standards more than a few notches. The space combines a charming oceanfront setting with the island's most progressive musicians. Sleek and cozy white leather couches are perfect for sipping and conversing, and the elevated dance floor will have you on your feet the night away. The upscale club attracts the bigger names in the electronic music scene, giving locals a reason to get dolled up. Co-owner Quinn Ross hosts a Friday weekly with rotating sax players, keyboardists, and vocalists to spice up the set. www.timbamaui.com..
Considered the best luau on Maui, the Old Lahaina Luau is certainly the most traditional. Immerse yourself in making kapa (bark cloth), weaving lauhala (coconut palm fronds), and pounding poi at the various interactive stations. Sitting either at a table or on a lauhala mat, you can dine on all-you-can-eat Hawaiian cuisine, including pork laulau (wrapped with taro sprouts in ti leaves), ahi poke (pickled raw tuna tossed with herbs and seasonings), lomilomi salmon (rubbed with onions and herbs), and haupia (coconut pudding). At sunset, the historical journey touches on the arrival of the Polynesians, the influence of missionaries and, later, the advent of tourism. The talented performers will charm you with their music, chanting, and variety of hula styles, including kahiko, the ancient way of communicating with the gods. You won't see fire dancers here, as they aren't considered traditional. This luau sells out regularly, so make reservations before your trip to Maui. www.oldlahainaluau.com.
This large, sleek catamaran is the setting for a dinner of grilled steak and teriyaki chicken, breaded mahimahi, and sesame-cilantro-tofu stir fry. For dessert try the taro-pineapple bread pudding. The nonprofit organization's boat can hold up to 100 people, so it can get crowded. Note that if the water is choppy and the trade winds are strong, napkins and utensils will fly around. You might just opt for a more relaxing cocktail cruise, where you can fill up on barbecued pulled-pork sandwiches and chicken satay while you enjoy live music. Friday's Island Rhythms sunset cruise features local reggae artist Marty Dread, who will more than likely have you dancing your way back to the harbor. www.pacificwhale.org.
Located at the Historic Iao Theater, this nonprofit theater group stages five shows each season. Productions include shows such as The Wizard of Oz, Rent, and SHOUT! The Mod Musical. Each October, it holds a haunted-theater experience in honor of Halloween. The audience is mostly locals, but visitors are warmly welcomed. www.mauionstage.com.