I attend an epic luau at the Hyatt Regency Maui. See the photo essay below then check out this video to learn to hula like a champ!


Mood Boards | Drums of the Pacific Luau

photos and words by felicia williams // maui, hawaii // shop travel goods


First of all, I feel it's important for you to know that the Hyatt Regency has penguins and flamingos just walking around. Let me say that again: PENGUINS AND FLAMINGOS...JUST WALKING AROUND.


After staring for 10 straight minutes at animals in tiny tuxes and frilly pink dresses, I weave my way through the beautiful property and down to the ocean front where I've been invited to experience The Drums of The Pacific Luau.

This makes my first (and only) luau while on the island and after an awesome day of exploring the island via helicopter, I was ready to kick back and take in a show.

Pros: The Drums of The Pacific is both a performance and a meal. The service is buffet style and it is damn delicious! The variety of fare is on point, the preparation is great (albeit you have to wait in long lines to get to your choices due to the packed nature of the venue) and the pork is simply awesome.

The performances are also really incredible, especially once the show picks up energy post dinner. The staff and the performers are to be commended for making an incredibly fun and fulfilling experience, and I especially loved learning about the mythos and stories behind Hawaii's arts and culture.

Cons: Timing and pacing. The beginning of the luau is quite long and drawn out. This is mostly due to the fact that there is a potential audience of nearly 700 people in attendance, all of whom have to be seated, watered and fed.

The first hour or so of the luau, though filled with some performances to pass the time, pales in comparison to the action that follows dinner. I found myself checking my watch, wondering when things would get started, even though they technically already had.

Neutral: The temperature. The luau is, of course, outdoors. Be sure to dress in layers and not simply show up in what you went to the beach with. The island of Maui can be a bit cool at night.

Verdict: Highly recommended - The VIP experience is well worth it (extra drinks, priority seating) and though the show starts slow, it ends with a bang you won't want to miss.

Read more Hawaiian adventure: The New Meaning of Luxury


Time to drink: As VIP, you get a lei (yay!) and choice of starter cocktail. Yes, I will have another Mai-tai, mahalo!

Top: The luau gets started. A trio of men come running up and down the aisles, bearing fire and blowing on conches. Bottom: Shortly afterwards, the master of ceremony comes out to greet the audience. I can only truly describe him as the Hawaiian Frank Sinatra. 

Top and middle: Women dances in various costumes and traditional dress take to the stage and entertain guests with their dances. An incredible live band plays throughout the evening as accompaniment. Bottom: There is a rather long wait from the time guests arrive, get food and settle in. It isn't until nearly an hour or so after the conches are blown that the meat of the show begins.

All: Aaaaaand, I learn to do the traditional Hukilau dance :) Volunteers were asked to take to the stage to learn this awesome dance. While Hawaiian Frank Sinatra crooned for us, our beautiful guys and gals of the luau showed us the moves. My adopted family happily snapped these pics from the front row! Want to learn how to huki-huki-huki-huki-hukiiiilua? See this YouTube tutorial video by Berryberet! 

Top: With the sun finally set and the food all polished off, it's time for the main event to get started. In a rush of fire and brightly colored fabrics, the performers take to the stage to sing and dance for the crowd.

Caution: For the snap happy (like myself) always check behind you in case there is a performer rushing up the aisle to the stage. You wouldn't want to get in the way :)

Top: The opening number is followed by a dramatic telling of Hawaii's myth story. Middle: The ladies of the troop pull off a very decidedly 1950s hula vibe with flair and finesse in my favorite outfits of the evening. Bottom: An awesome performance (inspired by a native bird) is pulled off by the male performers, lead by a man that definitely looks like he could be Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's brother.

Above: The Polynesian Princess arrives on the backs of well-oiled men!

All: The luau included numerous costume changes and plenty of great music as well as epic story-telling (by Hawaiian Frank Sinatra). The whole show, is an estimated 3 hour affair, and we haven't even gotten to the finale yet...

All: The moment we've all been waiting for; the image that adorns every promotional poster: The Fire Dance. Three men take to the stage and perform a series of deft gymnastics and movements, all in time to a rhythmic drum chorus. During the show I saw,  the main performer twirls his torch so fiercely, that it actually goes out near the end of the number.

All: The show ends with the master of ceremony calling out the special celebrations that are happening that evening, which prompts certain lucky individuals to be whisked onto the stage for a final dance. Some men (some very awkward men) find themselves publically urged to dance along side beautiful women for all to see, and find they are un equal to the task. Some men (like the bottom picture) excel beyond everyone's expectations, including his!




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