Common Luau Terms for Your Oahu Luau

Upon your arrival at your Oahu luau, you will be met with smiling faces, a warm welcome, and in many cases, a refreshing tropical cocktail. Picture it in your head: you are holding a refreshing cocktail while staring out at an amazing view, when the Kahuna signals the beginning of your luau. Your shoulders are draped with a fresh flower lei, and you might be taking part in the hula. The smell from the Imu is divine, and you are eagerly anticipating the kau kau, following a day of fun. The only thing you need to know is what all of these unfamiliar words mean?!? Before your Oahu luau kicks off, take some time to learn the lingo of the luau.

Oahu Luau Terms:
Luau – a great place to start, a luau is Hawaiian for party. Luaus come in all many different forms, and are how Hawaiians celebrate important occasions and meaningful events, even if that event is just getting the family together.

Hula – a common term that you are probably familiar with, hula is the traditional Hawaiian dance that is featured prominently throughout the evening’s entertainment.

Ukulele – the unofficial instrument of the luau, ukulele music is the sound of Hawaii and you will hear it throughout your trip.

Fire knife dance – get ready for a show. Fire knife dancing is part of most luaus and is a highly skilled, incredibly impressive performance. If you’re unsure of what it is, it’s exactly as it sounds: lighting knives on fire, throwing them in the air, and then catching them.

Lei – made of string and fresh flowers or nuts, the lei is the traditional Hawaiian welcome that is part of every luau.

Kalua Pork – succulent and delicious, the pig that is placed in the Imu produces Kalua Pork, expertly prepared with a very specific method.

Imu – an underground oven where the pig is roasted to create Kalua Pork, Imu use dates back to ancient Hawaii, and is created by digging a hole, lining it with burlap, hot rocks, banana leaves, and the pig, cooking for many hours to create the main dish of the luau.

Kau kau – the food of the luau.

Lomi Lomi - simply meaning “massaged, Lomi Lomi Salmon is a side dish made from diced tomatoes and onions.

Mahalo – thank you. Use as often as you can, and always say it with a smile.

Ono – use this often too. It means “delicious”.

Poi – one of the most famous dishes in Hawaii, Poi is a purple paste that is made from the taro root, mashed and combined with water to create the perfect consistency.

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