Hello Waikiki, there is a new luau on the block who is big and bold enough to take on the challenge.

The Pacific Beach Hotel recently premiered their new show, Te Moana Nui (Tales of the Pacific)

Action packed with dance, food, music, fun, culture, and drinks, the traditional luau is on most tourist’s list of things to do on their vacation. The luau is a very old tradition to celebrate an auspicious event with food, dance and song. It was a way to bring together family and neighbors to share in the prosperity.

It got its modern name from the young, edible taro plant, in which food was wrapped when placed in the underground imu to cook. Luaus were private gatherings and not open to the public until the early hotels realized it could be a hit among tourists and travelers.

Some Tiki Candles on display

Currently on Oahu there are about a half dozen places to choose from, but choices right in Waikiki are few. There is one at the Hawaiian Hilton Village, (I’ve been to that one), the Royal Hawaiian offers the most expensive version, and now the Pacific Beach Hotel has a luau that plans to rise to the top of the list with two price options and a memorable show. The Hotel is already known for its indoor Oceanarium Restaurant with the nightly Live Mermaid Show. An aside I have to share, the manager herself told me you do not have to eat at the restaurant to see the show. She said many people gather on the circular stair case every night to watch.

The success of any luau falls on its food and showmanship. I can wholeheartedly recommend this production on both counts. The company responsible for the show is Tihati Productions. Very respected in the business, they were recommended by Oprah to the White House who used them for their 2009 Luau on the lawn. Its location is the 5th floor ballroom, which can hold about 300 people.

The pacific Beach Hotel Dining room filled with guests

Upon check in, you get a souvenir necklace, a beverage, and pictures taken with some performers. In the first hour guests are invited to visit cultural stations around the room to experience flower crafting, tattoo art, and others. These lines are a little long, so I doubt you can do all they offer, but they are fun and good for the kids. The second hour is dinner, served from a 4 line buffet, which runs surprisingly swiftly.

Chef at a meat carving station

The food is very good. Their website lists the entire menu which is part Hawaiian luau specialties, and standard fare. Although produced in quantity, I was impressed with the freshness, lower salt flavor, and variety. There is a roast beef carving station at the end of the line. The deserts are made on premise by their own pastry chef and the coconut macaroons are heaven.

The star of course, is the show. It was terrific. It was the best I’ve seen at a luau. The music was beautiful and I loved it so much, I would have bought the soundtrack if they’d had one. There are three different raised stages, so all parts of the room get a good view. The dancing and costuming is first rate, and the story they tell is about the voyagers of the South Pacific and their different cultures.

I was impressed with how many male dancers this production had and especially the end when they performed an eye opening Haka (war dance) right before the Samoan fire knife dance finale, which was extremely entertaining and wild. This production takes advantage of technology and is the only one with a large screen behind the main stage that projects pictures and video that enhances the story and dance. I really enjoyed that extra touch.

If I had any complaint at all, it would be the bar prices. They are probably standard for Waikiki, but since drinks are not included in the price ($115 dinner show, $68 cocktail package; kids pay less) it is going to add to overall cost, especially over a three hour period. But that is not enough for me to give it a lower recommendation. I’ve seen enough dancing and singing around Waikiki for me to feel confident in my own judgment, so accept my two thumbs up and give the new guy a chance. You’ll sing all the way back to your car.

Posted By Katherine Finch

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