Dining & Entertainment
Go to a Lu‘au
Loosely translated, a lu‘au is a big feast with a lot of singing, dancing and fun. Lu‘au often feature homegrown entertainment, complete with traditional hula and Polynesian festivities. Served with that is a main course of kalua pig—tender, shredded pork cooked in an imu (underground oven)—and typical Hawaiian sides of poi, sweet potatoes, lomilomi salmon and haupia. It’s the perfect celebration of culture and camaraderie.
The Sunset Luau at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa treats guests are treated to an imu ceremony, where the pig is brought out of the underground oven, traditional dances from around Polynesia and a selection of contemporary and Hawaiian fare—all as the sun sets over ‘Anaeho‘omalu Bay.
• Hawai‘i Savers (808) 937-3737 or (888) 283-8818 • Island Breeze Lu‘au (808) 326-4969 • The Sunset Luau at the Waikiki Beach Marriott
Resort & Spa (808) 866-6789
Absorb the Spirit of Hula
In its authentic form, hula is the most powerful expression of indigenous Hawaiian culture that exists. The chants and dance comprise an oral history of Hawai‘i’s native people, passed down from a kumu hula (teacher) to each generation.
Hula performances also abound at shopping centers and schools around the island. If you’d like to learn the art of the dance yourself, look into taking a class at various resorts.
If you want to absorb the history and culture of Hawai‘I, head to a nearby slack key guitar performance, a musical style unique to these Islands.
In the 1800s, paniola (Hawaiian cowboys) learned roping from Mexican cowboys brought to the island by King Kamehameha III. These mainland cowboys brought with them their style of guitar playing. The Hawaiian paniola began
Discover Slack Key and Listen
loosening the strings, adapting the sound to local music. Slack key was born.
If you’re not lucky enough to stumble across any backyard kani ka pila (Hawaiian for “play music”), you can check out the sound at the following places, among others: Four Seasons Hualalai Resort’s Lava Lounge, KailuaKona; nightly, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. (808) 325-8000 Centerstage at King’s Shops, Waikoloa, Tuesdays, 6 to 7 p.m. Bamboo Restaurant, Hawi, monthly (808) 889-5555 Red Water Café, Waimea, typically on Sundays, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. (808) 885-9299
Enter the Shave Ice Debate
Shave ice—it’s not your average snow cone. Debates rage over which shack, shop or stand has the most finely shaven ice or perfectly crafted syrup. From haupia (coconut) to li hing mui (a salty, dried plum) to strawberry, shave ice flavors can be selected to fit anyone’s taste buds, the perfect ending to a sunny day at the beach.
On top of all of the delicious flavors available, local shave ice is often accompanied by ice cream, condensed milk, or azuki beans. To try it local-style, add all three.
There are numerous options throughout the island: In Kona, try Scandinavian Shave Ice on the corner of Ali‘i Dr. and Likana Ln. In Kamuela, visit Anuenue Shave Ice at the Kawaihae Harbor Shopping Center. Or for Hilo, check out Itsu’s Fishing Supplies, 810 Pi‘ilani St.
Get Fish as Fresh as It Comes
You’ve seen locals digging into a dish that resembles cubes of raw fish—this is poke (“poh-keh”), arguably the best way to eat freshly caught ‘ahi (tuna) or tako (octopus). Poke can be raw or smoked, and tossed in a variety of sauces, from simple shoyu (soy sauce) to original flavors like wasabi or sesame.
You can pick this dish up at local grocery stores such as KTA, Foodland, Sack N Save or fish markets like Da Poke Shack in Kailua-Kona or Suisan in Hilo. If you want, you can also get a side of white or brown rice.
Visit Poke Shack at 76-6246 Alii Dr. in Kailua-Kona or Suisan at 1965 Kamehameha Ave in Hilo.
Try the Island Take on Fine Dining
Fine dining in Hawai‘i is an elegant meal that is the direct result of a chef working from fresh-off-the-farm produce. Here, that combination is known as Hawaii Regional Cuisine, which combines the classic techniques of Europe, the savvy style and sophistication of American Regional Cuisine, and the exotic ingredients of the Pacific Rim. Peter Merriman, owner of
Merriman’s restaurant in Waimea, was among the original chefs involved in developing Hawaii Regional Cuisine.
At Kawaihae Harbor, Café Pesto and Kawaihae Harbor Grill and Seafood Bar serve great food in fun settings, as do Blue Dragon Coastal Cuisine and Musiquarium, which serves produce from Hawi farms and fish from just across the street in Kawaihae Bay.
The plate lunch is a quintessential part of Hawaiian cuisine. Two-parts rice, one-part mac salad and one-part meat, these large meals cover the basics and sometimes even all three daily meals. Even better, their prices rival those of any typical fast-food joint found on Hawai‘i. Just pick up a plate lunch, plop down on a beach, and enjoy what life has dished you up.
Some typical and authentic Hawaiian plate lunches are: loco moco, a hamburger steak served over rice and topped with an egg and gravy; Kalua pork, traditionally pork that has been slow-cooked in an imu and served with cabbage; and chicken katsu, which is a Japanese-style chicken cutlet. Korean plate lunches feature items such as kalbi and bi bim bap.
Plate lunches can be found at lunch wagons, drive-ins, and small markets around the island—you’ll be surprised at the places you’ll stumble upon them.
SeeChocolate Made from Bean to Bar
Ever wondered what goes into making that magical treat called chocolate? Lucky for visitors to the Big Island, Kona boasts not only coffee farms but also a one-stop field-to-bar experience, The Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory.
While cacao isn’t endemic to Hawai‘i, the same Kona slopes that are ideal for coffee growing are perfect harvesting cacao. On South Kona’s Mt. Hualalai, The Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory not only farms cacao beans, but also handpicks, sun dries, and process the beans.
The company also takes it the final step, turning the processed beans into authentic Hawaiian chocolate bars. So with a single visit to the farm, guests get to see the entire chocolate process in action.
Tours run every Wednesday at 9 a.m. and Friday at 9:30 a.m. by phone appointment. Call (888) 447-2626.