For a fun and unique experience to enjoy in Maui, you need to go to a luau on the island. But with many different luau to choose in Maui, you’ll have a tough time to decide. To make it easier here are you options below on the best luau to choose in Maui.
Many of the Maui luau celebrate the early ancient Polynesian settlers to Maui, Polynesian lifestyle and culture and transition to more local celebrations, culture and tradition featuring the demigod Maui, an ancient god. Along with Polynesian dance, song and music, Hawaiian dance and music is also featured and predominant in most of the luau on the island.
Check out these different luau in Maui
Aha’aina – The Grand Wailea luau
This wonderful Luau held on the grounds of The Grand Wailea grounds which is a lux experience in Wailea. The four hour production is elaborate and beautiful to experience with fantastic local Hawaiian and local foods to try in this luau.
The luau celebrates the early voyagers to the island and shares the history and culture of the early Hawaiians on the island along with sharing the traditional Hawaiian foods like Kalua pork and poi, macadamia crusted mahi mahi, and other local favorite foods. Along with the elaborate show, you can also participate in doing some local games, crafts and even learn to hula dance.
Details to participating in the show
This luau is popular and does book up early so do plan ahead
This is open seating dining at the luau and show
The luau is family friendly
The event is held at the Grand Wailea Grand Astoria Resort
Located at the Marriott Wailea, this fabulous luau translates into “the Ocean Tide” and early Hawaiians living aloha and love of the “Aina” or land they lived in. The luau located on the coastline on grassy lawn with spectacular views along with a dynamic show and dining experience. Prior to dinner you get to see and participate in various traditional Hawaiian rituals like tapa making, coconut husking, making leis, other crafts and showcasing weaponry and fishing demonstrations in this best of Maui Luau.
Dinner service includes local and traditional fare including Molokai sweet potatoes, Grilled teriyaki steak and kalua pork, pineapple coleslaw and seafood pasta along with other local favorites.
Details to participating at the Marriott Wailea Luau
Shows happen on Mondays, Thursdays, Friday and Saturday
Cultural interaction and participation is family friendly
A gorgeous oceanfront luau at the Royal Lahaina Resort at Ka’anapali beach starting with a lovely luau lei greeting. The luau offers an authentic luau experience with an presentation with a pig imu unearthing or pua’a, exotic tropical drinks like mai tais and delicious buffet cuisine of traditional and local favorites from the island.
The nights entertainment presents the best of Polynesian music, dance and storytelling combining both Hawaiian and Polynesian cultures and traditional dance.
More details to the Myths of Maui
This is a family friendly luau experience.
Seating is pre-assigned depending on early booking, for the best seats consider the VIP bookings that will allow up front seating.
Shows occur daily and starts at 6pm for general seating
A conch shell and beating drums followed by Hawaiian chants start the beginning to this wonderful luau along with a torch lighting ceremony. You get all the nice touches of a luau including lei greeting, exotic mai tais, an authentic imu ceremony (steamed pig unearthing), and traditional arts and crafts demonstrations. Along with wonderful Hawaiian music, there’s a unique Polynesian fashion show with creative and unique tropical styles of dress.
This is followed by a buffet feast with traditional favorites including huli huli chicken, Kalua pork, lomi lomi salmon, grilled fish, ahi poke, poi and many other local favorite dishes to try.
Next is an all tribute Polynesian show experience of the Drums of the Pacific showcasing the traditional music and dance of the region. This includes Hawaii, Samoa, Fiji, Tahiti, Tonga, New Zealand and Rarotonga’s best music and dance.
Details to attending the luau Drums of the Pacific
Open bar with beer, wine, mixed drinks and tropical punch
An elaborate dessert bar is also featured with the buffet portion of the meal.
The luau event happens every day and starts at 5:30pm
The Old Lahaina Luau only showcases the best of Hawaiian culture, history, music and dance which sets it apart of the other Luau’s that features a pan Polnesian experience. Held on ocean front grounds with breath taking views of old town Lahaina and coastline. The luau offers fascinating imu pig unearthing, story telling and cultural demonstrations and island crafts.
The buffet also sets the food apart with an elaborate menu that features local favorites like Kalua pork, island chicken, Maui style Mahi Mahi, Ko’ala steak, lomi lomi salmon and poke, poi and assorted island desserts.
The entertainment portion Hawaiian production shares the best of Hawaii centric tradition, history and culture. Starting with migration from Polynesia to Hawaii, encompassing traditional chants, dance and ancient hula performed for respected family and guests. This follows with the entry of the missionaries and Merrie Monarch revival of the hula and into contemporary Auana style dance and music.
Details to attending the Old Lahaina Luau
Luau events happen daily and advanced reservations are required.
Guests may choose from our Traditional Hawaiian Mat seating, or our regular Conventional Tables and Chairs
Luau hosts greet you and guide you to reserved seating tables and acquaint them to the grounds features
There are premium open bar available during the entire event
Professional photographers are available with no purchase necessary
An oceanfront ocean front luau in Lahaina, the Feast of Lele is the ancient name of Lahaina and celebrates Polynesian culture, music, dance through Hawaii, Tahiti, Samoa and Aotearoa.
The feast features a sit-down dinner showcasing five epicurean courses from the Pacific island nations of Aotearoa, Tahiti, Samoa, and Hawaiʻi that you can choose from a set menu. There is also an open bar of exotic drinks, beers, wine and other local favorites for the entire show.
Details to attending the Feast of Lele
Open daily from 6:30 to 9:30 pm
Photographers are on sight to take sunset and luau photographs with no obligation
Fine dining style with reserved and private tables – no buffet service
Location: Along the beach in historic Lahaina Town 505 Front Street, Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii 96761
Located ocean front at the Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa – the luau is a tribute to Maui and Kaanapali history, culture and folklore along with a Pan Pacific event. You’ll enjoy a traditional lei and cocktail greeting with casual craft demonstrations, hula basics and other Hawaiian games right when you enter the grounds. The highlight at the start is the unearthing of the Kalua pig from an imu (underground steaming pit) and is unearth from all the covered dirt and banana leaf. The torch lights are lit and the actual buffet gets started.
The grand buffet covers local favorite foods like Kalua pork, lomi lomi salmon, Molokai sweet potato, BBQ chicken, steamed opakaka and so many other delicious foods from the island.
Details to the Maui Nui Loa Luau
Happens on Mondays, Wednesday and some Fridays starting at 5pm
Family friendly venue with crafting classes, temporary tatoos and Hawaiian games
You can opt for just a drink option and show without food
A luxury luau experience with only 150 guest seating for this limited luau event at the Andaz is stylish and refined dining. Greetings start with green and gold shell necklaces and escorted to private dining seats. A gourmet three course menu is served at the table along with craft signature drinks served.
In the entertainment segment, you get a beautiful show with live ukelele performances, singing, beautiful hula to Tahitian dancing and high energy Samoan fire dances at night.
Details to the Feast at Mokapu
Limited seating available on Sunday and Tuesday evenings from 5 to 8 pm
Complimentary 8 x 10 souvenir photo is included with the event
There’s no getting away from it, Maui is a very expensive place to vacation. Although, there are some fantastic things that you can do absolutely free or on the cheap Maul if you plan for things in advance. Even though flights and hotels maybe be a bit pricey, you do activities, adventure experiences and DIY self-tours that fit your interests and are affordable or even free. With so much to see and do on the island, take the time to see what is available and note some of these fantastic free or cheap things to do on Maui is up to you to discover and experience.
29 Free or cheap things to do Maui Island
1. Explore the black sand beach, tidepools and caves at Wai’anapanapa State park
Located off the Hana highway, this state park has so many unique sites and attractions located in the park with a black sand beach, freshwater caves, a heaui (temple) and a natural stone arch as well as tide pools that turn red from all the fresh water shrimp in the pools.
2. Maui Swap meet
A fantastic place to spend a few hours and find some great deals or a real treasure, the Maui swap meet at the University of Hawaii in Kahului from 9 to 1pm every Saturday. There are over 200 vendors selling fresh produced to finished goods and take away foods, hand-made crafts and crafts, tourist souvenirs and other locally made gift items. There is a 50 cent entrance fee for the swap meet charge per person which is a great deal!
3. Visit the upcountry town of Makawao
Slower paced and friendly the small town of Makawao up country is cooler and low key than the lower coastal areas of Maui. In town you’ll find lots of cool art galleries, boutique stores, restaurants and upscale shops in this cowboy town turned trendy hangout spot with a nice artsy vibe with local stores to make it feel authentic and lived in.
3. Explore Paia town
The funky surfing beach town of Paia in North Maui has gotten edgier and cool with a lot of fun and hip coffee shops and bakeries, colorful art galleries and boutique stores and trendy cafes along with the standard surf shops around town. Paia maintains that small town vibe and acceptance to travelers dropping by and hanging out on the way to Hana or enjoying the surf culture at Ho’okipa beach park. It’s the perfect spot to check out all the surfers and wind surfers plying the big waves in the North Shore of Maui.
4. Maui Fridays
Every Friday at a different location in Maui is part of
Maui town Fridays with food truck vendors, art and crafts booths, food from
local vendors and live entertainment programs sponsored by the County of Maui.
You can check out this website here for
more information and details to Maui Fridays
Check out the Friday events below
• 1st Friday of the
Month, Wailuku (Central Maui) on Market Street
• 2nd Friday, Lahaina (West Maui) on Front
• 4th Friday, Kihei
(South Maui) at Azeka Shopping Center Mauka
5th Friday, Lanai
5. Free winery tours
On the slopes of Haleakala at Maui Wine -free winery tours
are given at 10:30 and 1:30pm daily of the winery and tasting room. There is a
nominal fee for the wine tasting segment of the tour.
For tastings in its Kings cottage with 5 tastings for $10 of various local blends and tropical inspired wines.
6. The Banyan tree of Lahaina
Planted in 1873, this famous banyan tree is huge at over 60 feet tall and has 12 major trunks that make it look like several trees but is actually just one tree. Covering an area of over 200 feet, it provides shade for over 2/3 of an acre and has many benches set so you can sit in the shade.
7. Free concerts at the Shops of Wailea
Every third Wednesday at the Shops of Wailea at the fountain court from 5 to 7:00, free entertainment acts from Hawaii’s top local entertainers perform for free at these regular concert series. Parking is free the first hour and validated if you purchase over $25 at a shop. Check out the calendar here for event details. There are free hula shows every Tuesday and Thursdays from 5:30 pm also at the shops.
8. Walk around the Maui Plantation
Stared as a show plantation 30 years ago showcasing over 40 crops that are grown and harvest on site. The plantation has hundreds of local and tropical plants listed and also has a farm stand, restaurant, coffee café and retail store on site for visitors to explore for free.
9. Check out Iao Valley State park and botanical gardens
You can tour the beautiful botanical gardens, display ethnic villages and easy hikes through this scenic valley self-tour and all for free. It’s a nice place to enjoy lush tropical plantings and show gardens and natural settings in this gorgeous botanical garden. Check out their website here for more details to visiting the park.
10. Do some fun hikes in Maui
Most hikes are free in Maui with the exception of some park entry or parking access before you head out on those trail heads. Check out these 10 popular hikes here for inspiration and planning your next hike to some spectacular views, waterfalls and other lush landscapes in Maui.
11. Do a self-tour of Historic Lahaina
Once the first capital of the Kingdom Hawaii, Lahaina has 62 historic landmarks in this trail that you can visit on a self-tour of the important and historic sites around the city. You can check out the web tour here for more details on the places that you can follow directly on this trail and at your own pace.
12. Free whale watching
From Mid-December to Mid-May in Maui is whale watching season and if you pick a spot on the beach or coastline, you’re bound to spot some whale action at a distance or maybe closer depending on how deep the water levels where you are hanging out in. Be patient and look out for those water spouts and your spot them, hopefully closer to the shoreline.
13. Art inspiration at Hui No‘eau Visual Arts Center
If you love historical places combined with art, visit the Hui No‘eau Visual Arts Center in upcountry Maui. Offering a variety of local art classes, art studio space and an art gift center, this wonderful non-profit organization uplifts the art community with visual art promotion in this historic and gorgeous building that you can do a tour or easy self-tour.
14. Free Hula and Polynesian dance shows in Maui
If you love dance and free performances, you can check out the free programs every night except for Mondays at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel at the Tiki Courtyard. Performances start at 6pm so get there early for the best photo spots and seats. The shops at Wailea offer a free hour dance program every Tuesday and Thursday starting at 5:30pm.
15. Free Music performances and community Festivals
There are so many free festivals happening every week in Maui offered through the visitor’s bureau and other organizations. You can check the local papers, the tourist magazines or even the tourism website here for an updated list of free events and festivals happening in Maui when you visit.
16. Road to Hana
If you’re game to visiting the famous road to Hana in Maui, then wake up early for this easy but sometimes slower pace and travel through some one lane bridges to Hana. It’s about the journey and some of the scenic spots and attractions you visit along the way and just outside of town. Check out the best Hana experiences here for more inspiration and details to visiting the east side of Maui and the must visit spots along the way.
17. Maui’s amazing beaches are free
Maui is beach heaven and there are so may wonderful beaches to enjoy on the island. Golden sandy beaches, black sand beaches and even a red sand beach are located all around the islands and free for the public to enjoy. You can check out the best of the beach scenes in Maui here for more information and locations of what locals favorite beaches are on the island.
18. Watch the big surf action at Ho’okipa
Just north of Paia town is Ho’okipa beach park where all the big waves and wind surfers hang out. Free parking at the beach park offers some wild action on the surf with surfers and wind surfers trying to find the biggest wave action on the beach.
19. Black Rock diving show
Fronting the Sheraton Maui at Kaanapali, every night before
sunset on the Black rock, you’ll see the diving at its best and done several
decades in this nightly ritual. Starting with lighting of the tiki torches and
then a blast from a conch shell starts the diving fun with a string of warrior
20. Enjoy sunset on the beach
Can anything be better and simpler than enjoying sunset on the beach at Maui? Well maybe a nice cool drink and some pupu’s (appetizers) but it definitely is a nice was to end a spectacular day on the beach then to watch the sun go down with those striking warm and golden colors and just witnessing another beautiful day in Maui.
21. Free Hula Lessons, Hula shows and Ukulele classes
If you’re musically inclined, head out to the Lahaina
Cannery Mall which offers free hula lessons every Thursdays at 5:00 pm to learn
some basic moves and free hula shows are performed every Saturday and Sunday at
1pm to popular Hawaiian songs.
If you want to try an ukulele class for free, head out the to stage area on Tuesdays at 5:30. Even if you just want to brush up on some new chords, put this on your calendar.
22. Enjoy snorkeling at its best in Maui
With some of the best beach parks and snorkeling venues around the island, you’ll have some fantastic snorkeling to do and free. Maui’s best snorkeling spots are easy to get to and you can check out the best snorkeling spots here from beaches, bays and nature reserves for more information on where to go on the island.
23. Visit the Kealia pond National Wildlife Refuge
This 691-acre refuge located on the south-central coast hosts many endangered birds. There is a visitor’s center that you can learn about the native birds and then explore the 2,200-foot boardwalk with interpretive guides and exhibits.
24. Art Galleries of Lahaina
For Art lovers, it’s easy to visit all the art galleries centered in Lahaina for this pleasant art discovery tour. Covering a spectrum of art from glass, ceramics, jewelry, painted mediums to sculpture, you’ll enjoying seeing all the local artists promoted at all these fantastic galleries in town and maybe take home a lovely piece of art from Maui. Check out the top galleries to visit here for locations and what you’ll see in town.
25. Ka’anapali historical walk
You can enjoy a lovely beach walk in Ka’anapali and visit
many historic sites along the way. You’ll find some great markers with
historical references that show interesting facts that are well presented in
the easy coastal walk. Check out the main attractions here
for more information.
Here’s what to do in Maui cheap
26. Go for a local shave ice treat
For a cheap and delicious treat try some local shaved Ice and the local favorite shop to try some of the exotic flavors. There’s so many fantastic places to try shave ice on the island, but check out the local favorites here for more inspiration on where to go for the best of the best in Maui.
27. Go to a local farmers market in Maui
You can go to a variety of farmers markets around Maui to get fresh produce and finished goods, take-out meals, arts and crafts and locally made products that you can take home. It’s fun to see where the locals shop, hang out and support local vendors on the island and try some delicious made foods yourself. Check out the following farmers markets available to visitors in these farmers markets on the island for where to find the local markets, timeframe and hours.
28. Enjoy strawberry picking and eating
You can pick your own strawberries at $4 per pound and have a picnic on site at the Kula Country Farms on the slopes of Haleakala. While you’re picking some really sweet strawberries don’t forget to enjoy some of those gorgeous views of the Maui landscape far below and take some nice photographs of the area.
29. Lavender and views
Check out the lavender farm at Kula – for only $4 entry,
you can enjoy some fresh air and beautiful scents of lavender fields and
gorgeous views at the 4000 elevation of the Ali’I Kula Lavender farm. The
beautiful views of lavender fields and panoramic scenery of Maui landscape is
hard to beat when you head upland in Maui.
Where to find the best hotel deals in Maui
Days Inn by Wyndham – affordable and oceanfront, simple and clean rooms and parking included in this budget friendly motel in Kihei area
Hale Pau Hana Kihei – also a budget friendly inn in Kihei fronting Kamaole Beach II. These apartment style units are small but clean with plenty of eateries close by.
Ka’anapali Ocean Inn – oceanfront in Ka’anapali district with comfortable with ocean views, simple and clean in a great area and budget friendly.
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Honolulu is the main tourist hub in Oahu and a fun place to explore the many attractions on the island. With outdoor activities and adventure experiences available almost year round, there is something for everyone to enjoy in around Honolulu area. If you are visiting Oahu, check out all the top things to do in Honolulu for planning your visit. Hopefully, these fantastic suggestions and tips will fill up your must do list when you are visiting Hawaii.
Here’s 34 fantastic things to do in Honolulu
Visit Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona
The most popular attraction to visit in the area, a visit to
Pearl Harbor is a must to really
absorb and experience the infamous Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor. The park is
a national park monument that is filled with interesting artifacts, historic
film background, museums and a water tour to the monument and the USS Arizona
which is all fascinating to witness. You can also visit the Pacific Aviation
Museum and the USS Bowfin submarine park for a nominal fee. Entrance to the
park is free but there is a small fee to book a reservation which is advised.
You can also book a nice tour of the Pearl Harbor and visit here for a guided tour of the park and visit to other attractions along the North Shore area.
Explore cool and hip Kakaako, Honolulu
The hip and fun district of Kakaako in Honolulu is where to hang out for all the fun bars, galleries, cool new restaurants and colorful street art. The once run-down warehouses in the neighborhood is now filled with vivid graffiti and street art and the area is a hot new entertainment zone filled with cutting edge art, shopping, dining and entertainment.
Hike up to Diamond Head
One of the fun things to do is to hike up Diamond Head and
experience the expansive panorama of Waikiki and Honolulu below. Popular time
frames would be early in the morning for cooler temperatures or later in the
afternoon for that golden light and sunset views (park closes at 6pm). Park is
open from 6am to 6pm with the trail head closed off at 4:30 pm and parking fee
is $5 per car. Check out the visitor
information site here for more details.
For a guided tour of Diamond head, transfers and visit, check out this affordable tour here for more details.
Stroll down Kalakaua Boulevard
The main thoroughfare In Waikiki is Kalakaua Boulevard which contains all the popular tourist attractions filled with shopping malls, restaurants and entertainment venues on the street. It’s fun to check out all the chic shops and galleries during the day time but Kalakaua Boulevard really comes alive at night when everyone seems to be out and enjoying the lively night scenes, people watching and dining al fresco in all the outdoor bars and restaurants around the street and beach areas at Waikiki.
Enjoy Kapiolani park in Waikiki
The large green park area on the edge of Waikiki is a nice and quiet respite to enjoy in busy Honolulu. But you can also check out the main attractions in Kapiolani park including the Honolulu Zoo, Diamond Head Crater, Queens beach, Waikiki Aquarium and also the bandstand at Waikiki Shell that has weekly free or paid events and concerts for visitors and locals.
Free Hula show at Kuhio Beach
Regular hula shows are offered at Kuhio and visit Waikiki hosts a free hula show at Kuhio Beach which Is a fantastic way to enjoy a hula experience for free at the beach. You’ll enjoy different types of hula styles being performed along with live music accompaniment and the visitors are allowed to hang out on the grass or beach area around the stage. Check the calendar here for any updates on the regular show schedule at Kuhio.
Enjoy free fireworks at night
Every Friday night between 7:45 to 8pm on the beach at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, a free firework display is staged for all to enjoy right on Waikiki beach. Make sure that you get there early since the prime spots fill up quickly closer to the stage and the beach area for the best picture taking spots. For easier and good views of the fireworks at the distance, check out Ala Moana park with nice views to the fireworks display at Waikiki.
Photo tour of Honolulu and region
A guided tour showing you the best spots around town and in the area with a guide and without the headache of driving, parking is a great way to spend the day and capture some of the best images and scenes around Oahu. I would recommend doing this with someone who knows the best locations and times to be at certain spots around the main attractions of Honolulu without all the hassles.
If your visit is limited or planning is a pain, check out this local tour photography experience that you can do without all the hassles and time to enjoy the photo process and focus your energies to creating beautiful impressions of your visit. Or you can enjoy a full day tour covering Waikiki, East Hawaii and also the North Shore in a full day photo tour experience.
Enjoy amazing malasadas at Leonard’s Bakery
For a delicious foodie experience, go to Leonard’s and try some of the famous malasadas (Portuguese inspired doughnuts and now a local favorite dessert). These fried goodies are best hot and just served fresh and you can have them filled with different custards or tropical inspired flavors.
Learn to surf on Waikiki Beach
Waikiki Beach is the perfect surfing beach in Oahu with shallow water that expands far out at a distance from the beach area and with a sandy soil bottom to land on when you fall. Learning to surf on Waikiki is a fantastic opportunity to enjoy a new adventure experience or even brush up on some of your surfing background.
If you’re into visiting museums, this museum is definitely worth visiting containing an eclectic mix of Polynesian inspired artifacts, artwork, sculpture and spanning from ancient tribal to contemporary styles of art and expression. The Honolulu Museum of Art hosts and impressive collection along with some fascinating rotating shows highlighting the unique history and culture of Pacific Island lifestyle and interests. Check out their website here for more information and details to the current shows on their calendar.
Tour Shangri la
The famous American heiress Doris Duke created her own Shangri La Mansion that shines like a Persian jewel box in the middle of the Pacific coastline in Honolulu. Created entirely to look and feel like a Muslim palace, the home has been customized with spectacular marbles, hand-maid inlay tiles and intricate Islamic artwork showcasing the best art she purchased from various sources. This amazing Shangri La fronting the Pacific Ocean is truly one of a kind filled with art, sculpture, artifacts and other treasures. Tours to this special place have to be arranged in advanced but you can easily book a reservation on their website here for visiting this amazing and historic home.
Atlantis Submarine Tours
If you are looking to see the bottom ocean floor in Hawaii without getting your feet wet, then sign up for this Atlantic Submarine Tour which will take you under 100 feet of Oahu’s coastline. You can experience the real marine life, tropical fish and corals that exists around the coastlines of Oahu especially the hidden marine areas around Diamond Head’s coast which is not easily accessible on your own.
Located in Honolulu area towards the university, Manoa falls is an easy hike through a lush jungle area called Rainbow valley with all the rain and rainbows occurring daily in the area. You’ll know when your close when you reach the rock cliff areas where Manoa falls cascades about 150 feet from the top to the basin area to a shallow lagoon. When you are in the area already, check out the Lyon Arboretum which is close by. You can check more details about visiting Manoa Falls here for planning a hike to the falls and surrounding area.
What’s not to like with a snorkel or dive experience to round out the Waikiki fun. This snorkel tour here will take you on a sailing experience to some fun spots around Oahu to check out all the cool sea life, tropical fish, green sea turtles and coral reef to explore and snorkel through. Providing, transportation services, equipment and a nice meal you’ll enjoy this guided tour and not have to deal with driving and parking issues around the island. For a more extensive diving experience around Waikiki including two diving wrecks, this tour is unique and fun to do in Oahu.
Explore a mature and lush Lyon arboretum in Honolulu
If you love natural gardens then visit the Lyon Arboretum very close to Manoa Falls. Entrance is free but a requested donation of $5 helps to maintain the expansive gardens in the park. Large with lush garden areas and an inspiration point that really inspires, it is hard to believe that this is just in the city limits with all this tropical splendor and beautiful landscape to enjoy. Check out visiting the Lyon Arboretum here for more details and inspiration to seeing this lush and mature garden in Oahu.
Waiola Shaved Ice
If you are looking for a really good shaved Ice experience in Honolulu then check out the different locations that you can find Waiola Shaved Ice. The longest running shave ice store on all the island, the Moilili location is the original location to go for that authentic experience. Check out the Waiola Shaved Ice website to find the closest location and hours.
Visit the Honolulu Zoo
The Honolulu Zoo located at Kapiolani park is the perfect family friendly attraction that is colorful and filled with a fantastic assortment of animals regionally and from around the world. The gorgeous tropical settings and environments make this zoo fun to explore specially to capture in photographs with friends and family. Check out the Honolulu Zoo’s website here for more details and information to what’s currently happening or any other special events currently going on.
Duke Statue at Waikiki
The world-famous Hawaiian surfer Duke Kahanamoku has a bronze statue located on Waikiki beach right at the end of hotels. A well-loved water sports leader and spirit of Aloha, you will always find fresh leis adorning this sculpture with outstretched hands. It’s a perfect spot to take pictures of the surfer typically adorned with fresh and old leis. With fantastic views of Waikiki beach and ocean in the background, this is the perfect moment to capture with your friends and family along with the Duke of Waikiki.
Dining and shopping at Ala Moana Center
This is the largest open-air shopping mall in the Pacific and filled with high end designer shops, local galleries and art, souvenir and gift specialty vendors and the biggest food court you’ll find around Oahu along with a cool Japanese food walking court. There’s plenty of things to see and do at Ala Moana Center and the outdoor venues and even outdoor food venues really complement the Hawaii lifestyle and shopping at its best.
One of the best snorkeling areas on Oahu and a marine preserve sanctuary, Hanauma Bay is quite spectacular and well maintained. You have to go through a video entry to the park first and then have access to the park and beach areas. What you’ll find at Hanauma Bay is a magnificent crescent shaped beach protected by small cliffs with beautiful coral beds, colorful tropical fish and some cool marine life that may unexpectedly show up. Definitely worth visiting and enjoying the beach and snorkel experience, check out the Haunama Bay website here for more details on entrance, conservation and other updated news to your snorkel experience in Waikiki area.
A delicious Luau show and buffet
A fantastic one of a kind luau experience with a large buffet spread in Waikiki, this luau show and dinner here also includes entrance to the Waikiki Aquarium. Dinner includes a different farm to table experience with locally sourced local foods and other specialties.
Visit a local Farmers market in Honolulu
Check out local life, snacks and goodies, and fresh local produce at these local farmers markets. Held every Wednesday on the Lawn at the Blaisdell Center, the farmers market is held from 4 to 7pm. At the KCC farmers market facing the Diamond Head entrance, the market is on Saturday from 7:30- 11am and on Tuesdays evenings from 4 to 7pm. For a comprehensive list of farmers market here in Honolulu and the entire Oahu island.
Japanese food experience at Shirokiya’s Japan Village Walk
For a unique food experience check out the Shirokiya’s Japan Village Walk at the Ala Moana Center. Modeled after a Japanese village, this walk has over 30 kiosks serving typical and favorite Japanese foods and local beers. There is a cool set up buddhas in the back that serve as guardian spirit for the area. A cool and unique Japanese foodie experience in Honolulu, check out their official website here for details and other new updates on the Village Walk.
Sunset cruise on Waikiki at night
A sunset cruise is a great time to experience to enjoy
sunset on the water and fantastic views of Waikiki and the golden hour. Many
cruises do offer cruises with dining or drinking options to compliment the
cruising experience. Most of the
experiences launch right on Waikiki beach with catamarans that offer a typical
1 ½ to 2-hour tour cruising the coastline and passing through popular
attractions in the area.
Check out this sunset sailing cruise tour with appetizers, drinks and a two hour cruise and launching right on Waikiki beach. Or check out this elaborate dinner buffet cruise with fireworks experience is a really way to do it up for the once in a lifetime experience cruising Waikiki.
Tour Honolulu’s Iolani Palace
The royal Iolani palace built in 1882 by King Kalakaua is where the last queen, Liliuokalani was living prior to the US coup that overthrew her government and installed an interim colonial government. This once royal palace was at its time, the most innovative and outstanding royal palace and the only one in the USA in its time frame. Filled with magnificent furniture, artifacts, memorabilia and even fashion of the royals during that time frame, you’ll get to see all of these wonderful collection within the palace rooms. You can visit the palace with a docent tour by registering for a set tour on the Iolani Palace website here for more details and instructions to the tour.
Experience Hawaiian history at the Bishop Museum
The rich and cultural heritage and tradition of the ancient Hawaiians are well presented at the renovated Bishop Museum in Kahili. This expansive museum houses Polynesian artifacts, historical treasures even royal adornments and fascinating exhibits to explore. The museum shares the history of the early voyagers and Polynesian settlers, Hawaiian and cultural beliefs or exhibits and folklore along with features on Volcanoes, different cultures, even early sporting events on the Hawaiian Islands. Check out the calendar and new shows at the Bishop Museum here for updated information, entry and other events.
Helicopter tour over Honolulu
A night tour above Waikiki and Honolulu along with an amazing
firework display is one of the most spectacular helicopter experiences you can
have in Hawaii. This helicopter
tour offers a real one of kind experience cruising the south shore, Pearl
Harbor and all over Waikiki.
A day helicopter tour over the Pali mountains, east side of Oahu and Waikiki is another fun option to see the spectacular attractions from above.
Visit Honolulu’s Chinatown district
On the outskirts of Honolulu and Waikiki is the large Chinatown district which has gone through a big change and now is a popular and hip area for cool art galleries, cafes and a monthly First Friday series event. You can also opt for the more traditional Chinese restaurants or dim sum scene, checking out the lei stands, traditional shops and produce markets that locals visit for cheap and fresh produce. Check out the Chinatown First Friday website here for updated information, pictures and calendar of fun things happening in this district.
Check out the Honolulu Aloha Swap meet
Just outside Honolulu at the Aloha Stadium is the popular swap meet that happens every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. You’ll find lots of thrift and antiques, collectibles and even lots of cheap Hawaiian souvenirs to take home as gifts. Entry to the swap meet is only $1 per person. Check out the swap meet website here for more details, hours and updates.
Located in Waikiki off Kapiolani park, this family friendly venue has a lot of fantastic local animals and typical animals from around the world in tropical inspired environments. Admission for the aquarium is $12 per adult and $5 per child. Visit the museum’s website here for more details, admission and current shows.
Honolulu’s Punchbowl cemetery
The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific locally known as the punchbowl was built in 1948 as a cemetery for the US armed forces that died during World War II. The Punchbowl is in a dormant volcano called Pouwaina and means the hill of Sacrifice. A beautiful area with gorgeous views, cemetery and monuments, it is very peaceful and a quiet respite from busy Honolulu. Check out more details to visiting the Punchbowl here for information and directions.
Enjoy sunset on the beach
A simple but inspiring way to end the day in Waikiki is a walk on the beach or just relax and watch the sunset come down with all the brilliant colors on the bay and beach area. Afterwards the twinkling lights of Waikiki’s shopping streets and restaurants beckon you to stop by and check out all the fun and delicious food venues waiting for hungry appetites.
Hike Koko Head Stairs
This is a fantastic workout climbing an ancient tuff cone with an old abandoned railway that serviced bunkers that were built on top of the cone. You climb over these railroad ties (that’s over 1000 steps ) all the way to the ridgeline and the trail truly a cardio workout if you don’t take any breaks on the way to the top. Once there, will be rewarded with fantastic views of the east side of the island and the Hawaii Kai area of Portlock.
Check out these amazing views from the top of Koko crater trail.
Looking to save more money while on vacation
Check out the Go Oahu Card which will save you with admission to the most popular attractions on the island with a 1, 2, 3, 5 to 7-day pass. This includes entrance to many must visit places like the Polynesian Cultural Center, Hanauma Bay, Iolani Palace, Bishop Museum, Dole plantation and a variety of snorkeling excursions and more. With a few of these bigger experiences you can easily save some money on this vacation. You can purchase the Go Card here.
Where to stay in Honolulu
With most of the hotels located in Waikiki, you can find the full gamut of hotel accommodations that can fit your needs and budget. Check out these highly rated Trip Advisor reviews of the best hotels in Waikiki below.
The Outrigger Beach Resort in Waikiki – is right on the beach and in a great location with excellent service, many rooms with ocean views/city views and excellent value for the money. Check the TA site here for the reviews and images of this highly rated hotel.
Prince Waikiki – on the edge of Waikiki and a close walk to the Ala Moana Center. This quiet hotel is away from all the bustle of Waikiki, excellent ratings, service and comfortable rooms. Check the TA site here for the reviews and images of this highly rated hotel.
Embassy Suites Waikiki Beach – features 1 to 2 bedroom suites and kitchenette. Also free breakfast, poolside reception and just steps to famous Waikiki Beach and shops. Check the TA site here for the reviews and images of this highly rated hotel.
Ilikai Lite – 5 star ratings to this quality 3 star hotel with excellent service, free wiki, good walking distance to beach and shopping, and really good value for Waikiki. Check the TA site here for the reviews and images of this highly rated hotel.
Check out more of the best rated hotels with Trip Advisor here for images, details and un biased reviews from visitors.
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Hawaii is a melting pot of so many different foods, flavors, ingredients and nationalities that blend to create unique Hawaiian style food for today. Hawaii cuisine is unique and also comforting at the same time – covering delicious street food and pupus (appetizers or snacks), a mixture of Asian, American and European influence and local favorite dishes that have been passed through the generations. Along with authentic Hawaiian foods, plantation workers from around the world came to Hawaii and shared their favorite comfort foods and helped to create an eclectic melting pot of dishes. Eventually, this became a mixed plate style of local delicious Hawaiian dishes and popular pupus, entrees and desserts . Check out some of these popular Hawaii dishes you need to try when you visit and see which ones end up being some of your favorite Hawaiian food.
Try some of these local Hawaiian dishes
Hawaiian pupus or appetizers
Hawaiian pupus are a typically served Pau Hana or end of day. Enjoying some delicious small bites and a nice beverage with good friends and just relaxing is how we celebrate Pau Hana . Pupus (appetizers) are very popular dishes at happy hour venues or just a take out dish brought to the beach to eat and enjoy outdoors. Here are some of the local favorites you’ll always find in a café, take out counter or a grocery prepared food section.
Poke – raw sushi prepared in a myriad of ways originated in Hawaii and has become well known worldwide. Typically using local fish like Ahi, Ono and mahi mahi, poke is usually prepared with the freshest raw fish cuts and ingredients in a variety of styles and taste. There are many poke shops, grocery deli areas and even restaurants that do their own take of this tasty Poke appetizer dish.
Eggrolls or lumpia – a take off from Chinese style egg rolls or Filipino lumpia, egg rolls in Hawaii are a pupu favorite eaten with or without a delicious sauce. This pupu can be sold traditionally in take out counters or served in fine dining establishments with their on take on an elevated eggroll presentation and taste
Spam musubi – a popular take away snack found everywhere, this easy to eat and simple rice, spam and seaweed wrap is a quick filler in between the main meals and popular with locals. Spam musubi is an easy snack you can find at local mom and pop counter food places, farmers markets and even a local grocery or gas station that sells snacks.
Steamed manapua – a different take on Chinese pork buns, the Hawaiian manapua is typically larger with BBQ style meat or charsui and a yummy sweet/sour style sauce that is easy to devour by yourself. Best eaten when right out of the steamer, it is also delicious eaten at room temperature.
Edamame– Originating from Japan, this simple snack of edamame is simply prepared with garlic, sesame oil and some chili flakes on the boiled beans that absorbs all the delicious flavors from the mixed ingredients. A perfect snack to go along with any popular Hawaiian beer, cider or cocktail drink
Boiled peanuts – An easy to make and eat popular snack, boiled peanuts are just that boiled in water and salt and drained. Whenever locals crave a bit of salt and something nutty, this is definitely the choice of pupu they will look for.
Portuguese Sausage – grilled, baked or fried, Portuguese sausage is delicious as a pupu or a meat side dish that is often served with a mixed plate dish. It is always a local favorite sausage you will find in any local café or takeout counter.
Hawaiian style entrees
Plate lunch – many take places, small store delis or even cafes sell to go plate lunches with local favorite entrees over two scoops of rice and two scoops of macaroni. Try this with favorite fried mochi chicken, deep fried fish or seafood or specials of the day
Bento Box – originally from Japan, bentos are offered at many Japanese places and other take-out spots or cafes that serve up smaller mixes of local Japanese flavored dishes like fried fish, mochiko chicken, chicken or pork katsu and sushi or rolls.
Moco loco – you can get many different versions of moco loco dishes or stick to the local favorite which typically has two scoops of rice, a hamburger steak type patty and a generous topping of gravy with a fried egg on top. This local favorite comfort food is always on the menu at local cafes or restaurants.
Kalua Pig – a very popular entrée meat dish that is always at every pot luck or luau you might go to, Kalua pig is moist, juicy and a great dish to mix with rice or poi as a starch. Typically done traditionally in an imu (steamed underground pit), kalua pig is now baked in a stove or crock pot. Kalua pig is so easy to do in a slow cooker, check out how make Kalua pig here for instructions.
Lau lau – a favorite dish in any Hawaiian menu, lau lau is made with taro leaves wrapped around pork and or fish and steamed to create a delicious, moist, comfort style food especially when combined with poi or rice as a starch dish. If you want to try and make it yourself, check out this simple lau lau recipe here for directions.
Lomi salmon – a typical side dish in a Hawaiian style mixed plate made with diced tomatoes, onions and dried fish or salmon to make this a savory, salty side complemented with some poi or rice. Check out this simple lomi salmon recipe here on how to make some delicious lomi salmon.
Huli Huli chicken – You’ll have to stop if you see huli huli rotisseries at a roadside stand with those amazing smells. It is melt in your mouth perfect chicken that’s moist, flavorful and so delicious with some rice, macaroni salad or lomi salmon on the side.
Luau stew – Just like grandma would make comfort food style, luau stew is just that made with taro leaves, coconut milk and some protein like chicken, pork or beef depending on what’s in the fridge. Everyone has their own favorite style and added flavors, but these basic ingredients make it a favorite Hawaiian comfort food.
Hawaiian Short Ribs – another popular dish that everyone love, short ribs Hawaiian style is typically dried and then grilled or baked to gooey perfection. There are many different preparation styles, sauces and ingredients used, but typical tropical and Asian flavors in preparing and marinating the meat are the local way to enjoy these ribs.
A more Hawaiian take on ramen soup than Asian counterparts, Saimin is a local favorite soup broth made with fish, pork and chicken stock. Add some Portuguese sausage, fish or pork with this soup and you have a hearty and flavorful local dish everyone loves to eat.
Poi – the traditional Hawaiian poi is made with taro that is pounded and water added to create a sticky consistency. Letting the poi sit and ferment for a few days adds a sour touch that is perfect for the various meats and other side dishes that complement this starch.
Pipi Kalua – Hawaiian jerky style beef that is dried outdoors and then fried or char broiled in an oven to tender goodness. When you add some rice or poi with other sides, this is the most delicious Hawaiian meal you have and will crave for days.
Chicken long rice – When the Hawaiians brought their chickens, they saw that Chinese laborers would combine their noodles into a fantastic soup and chicken which created this fantastic dish and flavored with lots of garlic and ginger to make a favorite local dish.
Purple sweet potato – a staple starch brought as a canoe plant by the Polynesians, purple sweet potato is always part of a Hawaiian mixed plate or pot luck style dish that is a perfect complement to all the savory and salty dishes present in any food event or something you’ll find at a café or take out counter.
Hawaiian style desserts
Delicious desserts cover the gamut of tropical flavors, fried goodies or something cold and perfect for those hot Hawaiian days where you want something easy and refreshing. Check out some of these popular desserts below that you might want to try soon.
Hawaiian shaved Ice – You definitely have to try a local shaved ice at any of the popular local venues and on a hot day. Super fine shaved ice is pack into paper cones and you then have a choice of different flavors to top like coconut, mango, lilikoi or a bevy of other popular toppings to choose from to create your own yummy dessert
Haupia – a popular Hawaiian favorite, Haupia is basically a coconut cream dessert that can be served creamy style, more solid and cut or even combined with other sweet ingredients like sweet potato or even sweetened taro to make a more complex dessert.
Malasadas – taken from Portuguese settlers that deep fried this gooey dough and slathered sugar all over the fried goodness. Malasadas are served best hot and also with a bevy of piped
A local favorite dessert you can find at many farmers markets, take out places and even grocery stores. Mochi cakes originate from Japan but with many different variations in Hawaii to include tropical flavors like likikoi, pineapple and coconut. Try some delicious mochi and you will be sold.
Thanks for visiting today and checking out this post on Popular Hawaii dishes you need to try. I hope you are inspired to plan a visit and enjoy these wonderful attractions. If you enjoyed the images and post, could you please share it with any of the social media buttons located around the post.
If you like what you see, come and check out my other social media channels for more updates, including Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter Some links in this article on Popular Hawaii dishes you need to try are affiliates which provide a small commission to support this site at no extra cost to you. Thank you for reading, and happy travels!
This Hawaii Chocolate making and tour was a fun experience offered by a local grower in the Big Island of Hawaii. There are several farmers on Hawai’i Island planting varieties of Theobroma cacao trees that produce cacao seeds or pods from which cocoa and chocolate is made. The best known varieties are Criollo, Forastero and Trinitario which is a hybrid mix of both Criollo and Forastero.
The quality of the chocolate depends on the variety of the tree, and Criollo is considered the best chocolate producing trees.
Cacao – From Tree to Chocolate
Sometime ago, I participated in a fun one-day chocolate making workshop at local grower, Sharks Coffee in the Hamakua district that took us from harvesting the cacao pods to making the chocolate and all the steps in between.
We arrived at the site early on a beautiful,
sunny but breezy morning and were given a short orientation talk by the owner
of the little farmstead who is a coffee and cacao grower.
Our group got paired up in teams of twos, one
picking the pods and the other carrying a burlap sack to put them in. As we walked through the cacao grove, he
explained and demonstrated what to look for and how to pick. He also explained how the trees need to be
trimmed by cutting all but the main trunk as the little trees grew to make it
easier to harvest.
The pods are harvested approximately every two
weeks and the ‘ripe’ stage can be red, yellow, orange or mixed, depending on
the variety of cacao tree. We harvested
approximately 300 pods that morning.
As sacks were filled and dumped into a wheelbarrow they were taken to the shed where the processing started.
We were taught how to open the pods by giving
them one or two sharp blows with a mallet and how to shuck the pods by removing
the placentas with the seeds. Each pod
can contain anywhere from 30 to 40 seeds.
After all the pods were opened and shucked, the
seeds were placed in a large plastic container with drainage in the bottom to
collect the juices. We were given
ice-cold juice from a previous harvest to taste and found it delicious. The empty pods are recycled as composting
material and nothing is wasted.
After the juices are drained, the beans are
placed in a different container to ferment for 5 to 7 days, turning them each
day, making sure that the beans are heating up.
After fermenting comes the drying stage; the
beans are turned onto a mesh bottom drying rack in a single layer, in a well
ventilated area and stirred daily. This
process can take up to 6 days, depending on heat and air circulation, but
dryness can be tested by opening a bean.
The dried beans need to be ground or cracked using a machine called Crackenstein or for small batches just simply a rolling pin. The farmer has a machine he rigged up to separate the dried husks from the nibs, but a regular hand-held hair dryer can be used when processing small batches.
When roasting small batches of nibs, set a
toaster oven at 425oF and roast for 9 minutes, then down to 325oF for another 9
minutes and finally bring the temperature down to 259oF for 10 minutes.
To grind the nibs a large Champion juicer can be used or a peanut butter machine to turn the nibs into paste. The paste is then placed in a Santha wet grinding-mixing machine for conching, for 2 to 4 days, adding sugar and vanilla slowly after paste is liquefied (about 12 hours). At this point you may also add cocoa butter and lecithin (emulsifier), but we didn’t add anything but sugar and vanilla to our batch.
Sugar can be adjusted according to your
taste. Our dark chocolate was made using
75% cacao to 25% sugar.
To temper, the chocolate should be brought up to 115 to 120 degrees, then removed from heat and cooled to approximately 82 F. Bring the temperature back to 88-90 degrees and maintain while pouring into molds by working quickly.
Squirt bottles work well for pouring the liquid chocolate into the molds. To minimize air bubbles, first tap the squirt bottle and after pouring, tap the molds to remove as many bubbles as possible. Chill for about 15 to 20 minutes to set and pop loose from mold.
Each participant left on a chocolate high with a few packages of the chocolate and a potted one foot Criollo variety of cacao tree. My tree is now about 20 feet tall and we’ve been harvesting pods, which we use for making small batches, or trade to a chocolatier friend for chocolate bars!
Cacao: the name of the tree and the pod, not to be
confused with cocoa a product derived from processing the cacao beans
Nibs: the clean, roasted and slightly crushed cacao
bean. The taste is slightly bittersweet
and richer than the chocolate made from them.
Conching: the process by which the chocolate is processed
to avoid grittiness by keeping the chocolate in a hot liquid state until
Tempering: the final process which gives the chocolate a
satiny and glossy finish by removing all crystallization from the liquid.
The New Taste of Chocolate: A Cultural and Natural History of
Chocolate with Recipes by Maricel Presilla
Naked Chocolate: The Astonishing Truth about the World’s Greatest Food by David Wolfe
The True History of Chocolate by Sophie and
Bio of Sonia Martinez
Sonia was born in Cuba and ended up living in Hawai‘i—from one beautiful island in the Atlantic to another beautiful island in the Pacific with several years in between living in the American South. She lives in a beautiful rural rainforest area on Hawai’i Island where she enjoys growing herbs, collecting cookbooks, developing recipes, visiting farms and farmers markets, writing about food and cooking, reading voraciously, and working on crossword puzzles. Keep up with her adventures and ongoing love affair with Hawai’i by visiting her food and garden blog called Sonia Tastes Hawaii
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