One of the best parties I ever attended was a lū‘au that friends threw to celebrate their son’s high school graduation. They set up a tent with seating for 300 in their sprawling West O‘ahu backyard overlooking the ocean. A band played Hawaiian music as guests piled poi, laulau, kālua pig, lomi salmon, chicken long rice, ‘opihi, pipikaula, and more on their plates.
As we ate, the honoree’s ‘ohana—Mom, Dad, siblings, aunties, uncles, and cousins—kicked off their shoes and took the stage, performing hula numbers in groups of as many as 20. All around the tent, guests jumped up and joined in, singing and swaying at their tables.
And so it went until late in the evening: bountiful food, music, dance, “talk story,” and aloha. Waves provided background rhythm, and a full moon and countless stars lit up the sky. In Hawai‘i, kama‘āina observe many such happy occasions with a lū‘au, but it’s a great outing any time. Here are 5 can’t-miss lū‘au experiences on Hawai‘i Island, Kaua‘i, and O‘ahu.