August 18, 2013

The Hawaii Classic: A Luau on the Beach

My lovely boyfriend Joe is about halfway through graduate school for psychology.  Being the smartypants he is, he was accepted to present his research at a conference in Hawaii.  Usually they hold these things in wonderful places to encourage you to use your vacation time on something academic, but Hawaii has to be about as good as it gets.  Because I was graduating a week after his trip, and my clinical work and final paper would be submitted, I groveled and was kindly rewarded with a round trip ticket to Hawaii from my amazingly generous parents.  Talk about the perfect graduation present!

So my parents booked the flights, and Joe's lab partner Allison booked our hotel room, and everything was all set to go.  Allison even found a luau for us to go to the night we got there!  So Joe and I got us at 2:30am, gathered our bags and headed to the airport.  We flew separately on different airlines through a different airport but landed and left at around the same time, so I was headed out alone to Salt Lake City.  

By some unfortunate luck my first flight got delayed for over two hours.  And then, after figuring out that our fuel tank was not working and wouldn't full properly (I'm sure that's not important?) we took a pit stop in Omaha to refuel for Salt Lake City, and landed just in time for me to sprint through the airport to get to my Hawaii flight in time for boarding.  I was fit to be tied worrying that if I was late I'd have to miss the luau too, but thankfully I made it!  So with the aid of a travel pillow and some pop chips I made it through some very long flights to land in Honolulu at 2 in the afternoon.

When I walked through the airport and hit the sunshine, 80 degree air, and the smell of the ocean  I was quite possibly the happiest lady in the world.

After a brief refresher we headed out to the shuttle across the street from our hotel to head out to Germaine's Luau!

I won't pretend I had any hand in planning this, but from my understanding we chose it based on the fact that it's less expensive than most and (very importantly) serves alcohol.  It was a great choice.  It had literally everything I wanted to get from the experience and could even fit on our extremely small graduate student budget.

The bus ride there took maybe 40 minutes or so, but we had a pretty entertaining guide, Kale, on the bus with us telling us stories about what to expect, and the foods we had to try.  It kind of had a camp counselor feel, but was pretty funny.  After the scenic drive through Honolulu traffic, the bus stops and lets you out right on the beach.  They give you a seashell lei (of course) and take your picture before letting you out to explore and find a seat.

Each ticket comes with your buffet ticket and three drinks.  We opted to buy a ceramic tiki mug that you can then use for your drinks to get twice the volume.  Since we had six drink tickets between us, we got one cup and shared and did not make it to the end of our tickets.  I think it was worth it, but I also love giant sized ceramic mugs.

Not long after our arrival the dancers started up:

After a little performance and history we were told to head to a sand pit to see the pig roast get removed from the sand.  Joe and I opted to stay up on the deck behind the bar, but I didn't really get a clear photo.  In any case, they call for every one to come, light up torches around the circle, and explain how they cook the delicious pig roast.

This luau is no small venture-  there were several hundred people there.

We enjoyed our sweet drinks, took a seat, and watched some more dancing while the food was prepared. And of course, there were multiple opportunities for people to take the stage too.

 Dinner was really good.  It's a good thing we were starving from a day of travel, because there were tons of options and I wanted to try everything.  They have quite a few traditional Hawaiian foods that you may or may not like, but they also have food you're used too (like the roast pig) so anyone can be happy.

After dinner, the real show started.  The sun went down, so I gave up taking pictures, but just trust that the show was fantastic.  There were a number of different styles of dance from different islands, all with their own elaborate costumes.  There's even a man who dances with fire and was absolutely incredible.

All in all, it was a fantastic evening.  Admittedly, it's a little bit cheesy tourist shtick, but that is why you go to a luau after all.  It's one of those things you can't go to Hawaii and not do, and in my personal opinion, it's not to be missed.  The food is good, the drinks are abundant, the dancing is wonderful, and in the words of Joe, "that fire dancing was pretty sweet."

Stay tuned for more from Hawaii!
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