Kalua pig, fresh tuna, and thick poi, oh my! Kaua`i's best luaus and Hawaiian food can't be missed.
By Jade Eckardt
Big Island, Honolulu, and Kauai Local Expert
Hawaiians are known for a love of food and for great celebrations including dance, entertainment, and of course, food. Luckily for visitors looking for an ono (delicious) meal and awesome entertainment, Kaua`i is home to some wonderful luaus that take place all over the island. Whether you're looking for succulent kalua pig, fresh spiced lomi lomi salmon, thick and fresh poi, or a sweet and firm piece of coconut haupia, Kaua`i will not fail in delivering all of these dishes to your hungry belly.
So if you're trying to find the best Luau in Kaua`i, or even just the best local and Hawaiian food at quaint eateries, 10Best is the place to go. As a life long visitor from a neighboring island, I'm able to direct visitors to the best sources for luaus and other Hawaiian eateries. We direct you to the Luau Kalamaku and Smith's Tropical Paradise Luau, of the best options on the island. We also help you find areas where Luaus are prominent - Kapa'a, for example - so that you not only get terrific dining recommendations, but you also have choices to boot. After all, if you're going to eat, you may as well do it right and take advantage of Kauai's best.
And remember, luaus aren't just about wonderful and very filling food - a night at a Polynesian luau is about entertainment and celebration. Dancing, fire swinging, song, and other celebratory methods are found at each and every luau. A local staple even for birthdays and graduations, the luau is a not to miss activity.
10 Hamura Saimin Stand
This venerable diner entrances everyone who visits, bar none. Its old-school charm, people-watching opportunities, and affordable prices bolster its appeal, and the food isn't too shabby either. Saimin, the Hawaiian broth-and-noodle mainstay, is prepared with aromatic stock and filled with pork, vegetables, egg, and wontons. It's addictive and satisfying. Make sure to accompany a steaming bowl with barbecue sticks (skewered chicken or beef) and a slice of refreshing lilikoi (passionfruit) pie. Lines often form for the fabulous treat, but you won't wait too long before you're slurping away. Ideal for a late-night snack too. (808-245-3271)
9 Koloa Fish Market
This is a local style spot that serves up fresh fish and seafood to take home and cook as well as eat there and take out dishes. Very local and Hawaiian food like lau lau, kalua pig, and other local favorites that can be pretty darn good. There's a good chance you'll be the only visitors in line here, but there's nothing wrong with that. You know the the quality of the seafood is good for locals, it must be good. A great place for a plate lunch to eat on site or take home a slab of fish if you have a kitchenette at the hotel. (808.742.6199)
8 Kilauea Fish Market
There's a whole lot more than fish in store is the market's motto, and they're right! In addition to fresh local fish, they have an ahi fajita burrito, fish tacos, salads, plate lunches and great specials, along with grass fed beef. Seating is outdoor picnic table style, and you'll find a mix of locals and visitors enjoying fish. Price can vary depending on market price, but you can get a great meal for a generally affordable price. Very casual and ideal for lunch or to pick up a fresh slab of fish to cook back at the condo. (1 808.828.6244)
7 Hanalei Taro & Juice Co.
A hit with locals and visitors, the Hanalei Taro & Juice Co. is a spot that all visitors need to stop at and enjoy. Very local style, the restaurant is a local style lunch wagon resting roadside in Hanalei. Serving traditional Hawaiian food, but with a modern twist, this is your best bet to fill up on taro, the root crop that sustained Hawaiians for generations. Here you can find taro and many other healthy ingredients prepared with a modern twist, such as a taro smoothie, Hawaiian plate lunches, taro hummus, taro veggie burgers, and even taro acai bowls- the list goes on. A perfect place for those who enjoy a traditional diet and vegetarians too, the wagon will give you a taste of Hawaii's unique array of food. The lunch wagon run by the same family who runs the historical Haraguchi rice mill and their farms, and the taro and other ingredients are locally grown. Coming into Hanalei, look for it on the right. ((808) 826-1059)
6 Restaurant Kintaro
One of Kauai's most celebrated Asian establishments, Kintaro has built its reputation on sublime cuisine and unobtrusive service. Amid serene Asian decor, folks dive into sushi, sashimi, teppanyaki, tempura, yakitori, and hot pot dishes. Chefs are eminently capable, crafting incredible fare from the freshest fish, vegetables, seafood, and meats. Tatami and table seating are both available, and dinners come with miso soup, pickled vegetables, rice, and tea. The sushi bar makes for a fun hangout, too. You'll want reservations here, but just make sure to stop in at this unassuming roadside restaurant in Kapaa. This is no doubt the best sushi on the island. (808-822-3341)
5 Luau Kalamaku
Luau Kalamaku is an unforgettable experience that is a "must-see" for any visitor to the islands. Your cultural journey begins with craft demonstrations and Hawaiian games followed by the traditional Imu Ceremony. While enjoying your sumptuous buffet, hula dancers and musicians will delight you with an exciting luau show. The skies darken and lights dim as dancers take the stage to share an ancient Hawaiian legend. The legend, Kalamaku, expresses the Polynesians' amazing and dangerous journey from Tahiti to Kauai. (808-245-5247)
4 Surf to Sunset Oceanfront Luau
Partaking of a luau is de rigueur for first-time Hawaii visitors, and this oceanfront extravaganza on Poipu Beach is an ideal introduction to traditional Polynesian food and culture. As guests arrive, they're presented a lei and invited to view artisans at work. Then, the blowing of a conch shell marks the beginning of the festivities, and a royal processional kicks off the spectacle and the entertainment. Of course, the highlight is the food: kalua pig, poi, pineapple, poke and all the other authentic dishes. Plenty of song, dance, and exotic demonstrations also conspire to make the evening an unforgettable event. (808-742-8200, 808-742-1661)
3 Smith's Tropical Paradise Luau
The beautiful gardens surrounding this luau make for a magical setting, and one that you'll want to explore before the night kicks in. When the conch is blown and the roasted pig set out, the feast begins. The buffet ensures that you won't go hungry and includes lomi salmon, mahimahi, chicken, beef, macaroni salad, and plenty of vegetables and desserts. A full bar is available throughout. The dramatic production that follows features a wealth of color, music, dance, and spectacle that represents the whole of the Pacific world. A wonderful environment. (808-821-6895)
2 Pa'ina o Hanalei
From their position along the shores of Hanalei Bay, visitors give themselves over to the charm of this delightful luau. Festivities begin with the call of the conch, at which point the kalua pig is premiered in ceremonial style. It headlines the buffet, which also features grilled fish and chicken, fresh salads, local vegetables and fruits, and great desserts like pineapple cake and coconut pudding. The Polynesian review that succeeds it includes fire dancing, along with music and spectacle based on a variety of Hawaiian traditions. (808-826-9644)
1 Grand Hyatt Kaua'i Luau
This hotel-sponsored luau provides a healthy dose of spectacle, music, and authentic Hawaiian foods. The evening show, Havaiki Nui, begins with a torch-lighting ceremony on the edge of the ocean, heralded by the call of the conch shell. As it progresses, the luau showcases native crafts and costume, along with music and dance performances from cultures throughout the Pacific. The menu includes traditional fare like kalua pig, fresh fish, lomi salmon, and haupia (coconut pudding). (808-742-1234)
About Jade Eckardt
Raised on the Big Island of Hawaii, Jade has traveled the world and doesn't intend to stop, yet the Hawaiian Islands are still her favorite place. She spent seven years living on Oahu and exploring the island. A regular visitor to Kauai, Jade recently authored a full-length Kauai guide book. She is a writer and photographer, whose work has been published in numerous regional and national magazines. When she's not writing, Jade enjoys a good beer, a good surf, and time in her garden with her son.
Read more about Jade Eckardt here.
Connect with Jade via: Google+