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On Walkabout At: The Smith Family Garden Luau On Kauai

Basic Information

  • Name: Smith Family Garden Luau
  • Where: Wailua, Kauai
  • Price: Adult $88, Jr. (7-13) $30.00, Child (3-6) $19.0
  • Time: Luaus begin at 4:45pm November – February 5pm March – October
  • More Info: The Smith Family Garden Luau website

Narrative

Something that I recommend that any couple visiting Hawaii do is to go and experience a luau.  On the island of Kauai I had a local tell me that the best luau on the island was the Smith Family Garden Luau just outside of Wailua:


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This recommendation ended up living up its billing because my wife and I had an absolute great time at the luau.  The Smith’s Tropical Paradise is a huge tourism business along the Wailua River on Kauai’s east side and the nightly luau is one of their most popular events.  The luau begins by visitors having about 30-45 minutes to walk around and check out the beautifully landscaped property:

The property is backdropped by a large volcanic ridgeline known as the “Sleeping Giant”:

My favorite part of walking around the beautiful grounds was all the colorful flowers everywhere:

I guess to add to the Polynesian atmosphere the Smith family must of felt it would be cool to add a mock up of one of the famous stone heads from Easter Island, but my wife and I just found it tacky:

Eventually everyone gathers for a ceremony to unearth the pig that has been slowly roasting most of the day underground:

While two young men conduct the ceremony the owner of the Smith’s Tropical Paradise explains how the family business got started.  The business began 60 years ago when Walter Smith Jr. and his wife Emily started a small rowboat company on the Wailua River.  Over the decades he grew the business to where today four generations of the Smith family help operate a business that includes boat tours, kayaking, weddings, and the luaus:

Here is a close up of one of the young men playing a conch shell:

Here is the founder of the family business Walter Smith explaining how their Hawaiian family has such an English name and he said it was because long ago that a man with the last name of Smith married into the family and the name has remained with this very Hawaiian family:

Here is how the pig looked when it was fully uncovered:

The pig was wrapped in banana leaves which is the customary way that the Hawaiians cooked the pig to seal in its flavor.  Here is how the pig looked once they pulled it out of the ground:

After the ceremony is complete everyone is brought to a large covered seating area where there is a huge buffet line of various foods to include the kalua pork that was cooked in the ground.  Here is how the kalua pork and the other food on the buffet line looked like once on my plate:

The food here was outstanding and I made sure that I made repeat trips to the buffet line.  While eating dinner a few local ladies perform hula dances:

They also make sure to get a few volunteers from the audience to join them on stage:

After dinner everyone is brought over to a large outdoor auditorium where an elaborate Polynesian cultural show is put on.  Here is one of the performers acting out the role of the Hawaiian goddess Pele:

Here are some performers dressed in Tahitian clothes and conducting a dance native to those islands:

Here is a close up of one of those performers:

Here are some performers conducting a Hawaiian dance:

Another nationality that the performers dressed and danced with was Japanese which is the largest ethnic group that lives in Hawaii:

Here is a closer look at the girls performing while wearing kimodos:

They also had performers dressed up in Maori outfits from New Zealand and do a fire twirling dance:

It was interesting to see the Maori performance considering that I have seen the Maori perform in New Zealand before first hand.  Finally what would a Polynesian cultural show be without someone twirling and spitting out fire?  This guy was actually quite impressive with what he was able to do during his performance:

Conclusion

The luau is expensive ($88 for adults), but I really think it is a must do for any couple or family during a trip to Hawaii.  The luaus expose visitors to Hawaiian foods and culture which shows that the islands are more than just great weather and the beach.  The Hawaii is also home to a vibrant culture that attending an event like a luau allows visitors to the islands to experience.

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