Last updated: 05:00 PM ET, Tue June 21 2016

6 Reasons We'll Never Forget the Smith Family Luau

Features & Advice | Jennifer and Mark Campbell | June 21, 2016

6 Reasons We'll Never Forget the Smith Family Luau

 Photos by Just Chasing Rabbits 

Attending a Hawaiian luau is a rite of passage for visitors to Hawaii, especially on a first visit. It's one of those things that people expect you to do. In movies or TV shows, when the characters go to Hawaii, you know there will always be a luau. It may seem a bit "touristy," but we were not going to pass on the experience at all!

Because there are numerous luaus to choose from, of course we did our research, and we decided to visit the Smith Family Luau.

The Smith Family Luau is located in Kapaa on the beautiful "Garden Isle" of Kauai. The property is immaculately kept and landscaped into a true paradise.

1. We Were Greeted with Leis

Because we island-hopped Hawaii on a cruise ship, we were taken to the luau by bus. After arrival, we entered through a beautiful arch and were presented with shell leis. Being greeted with "Aloha!" and being given a lei is one of those truly Hawaiian experiences that I couldn't wait to have.

After our hellos from the Smith family, we boarded a tram to get a tour of the massive property and its many gardens.

READ MORE: The Perfect 48 Hours In Oahu

2. The Property Was Gorgeous

After the tram tour, where we were shown each of the garden areas (each one themed to a different garden type like Japanese, Polynesian, or Hawaiian) and given information on many of the plants and animals on the grounds, we were allowed to wander at our leisure.

We took tons of photos! Every scene, every angle that our eyes landed on looked like a postcard photo. This free time also gave us plenty of time to examine the plants and animals, many native to Hawaii, more closely.

The animals included birds like peacocks, ducks, geese, and chickens, but the bird I most wanted to see in Hawaii was its State Bird — the Nene Goose.

3. The Smith Family Has Been Hosting Luaus for Over 50 Years

The Smith Family has been hosting this luau for over fifty years, beginning with the grandmother, a native Hawaiian who married a man with the very "un-Hawaiian" name, Smith. The family joked with us about attending such a traditional Hawaiian activity with the SMITH family. We loved their humor but also their pride for their name.

This native Hawaiian family is happy to share their family and cultural heritage with guests. They were all so personable and welcoming. The whole family joined in the festivities by cooking, serving, singing/playing instruments, or performing the traditional dances.

4. We Watched a Traditional Imu Ceremony

Before dinner, we were invited to watch the imu ceremony, which is the process of taking the cooked pig out of its underground oven. The pig is cooked under mats and leaves with hot stones.

The crowd gathered around the covered pit, eager to watch dinner emerge! We were taken through the process by Kamika Smith, the emcee, as two talented guys removed the dirt, mats, leaves, and then the hot stones with their bare hands.

The pig looked absolutely huge coming out of its oven, and smelled amazing! We couldn't wait to get some of that kalua pork in our mouths and bellies!

5. We Tried Traditional Hawaiian Foods

We felt very taken care of the whole time. When we couldn't find seats for dinner right away, one of the Smith ladies was at our side immediately to show us to some empty chairs. When I couldn't decide exactly which foods to try, I was given food descriptions and suggestions.

The family members that helped me with my food choices were also the ones that cooked the food, and they were so extremely happy to tell me all about it and proud to share it with me. Have you ever made a dish for a party at someone else's house, and you just start smiling and beaming when someone tries it and likes it? Yeah, that's how they watched us! Loved it!

Not only did we have an amazing array of food to try, including traditional Hawaiian foods like poi, kalua pork, and haupia, but drinks were also included ... as in all the Mai Tais we wanted. That doesn't mean a whole lot for us since we don't really drink (you can read all about my bladder condition and how I handle it while traveling), but some people had a BALL with the drinks. I'm not sure they'll even remember watching the fire-dances and hulas performed that night!

6. We Enjoyed Traditional Hawaiian Dances

Our seats for the show were great. We made our way down to the stage area after we completed our meal, but many people enjoyed the drinks right up until show time.

The performances were lively, interesting, entertaining, impressive and even touching. The dancers seemed to have a blast. I'm not sure the smiles ever left their faces. I absolutely loved that so many body types were represented by the dancers, each one equally beautiful!

The dances included the Hawaiian Hula, but also a Samoan Fire Dance, a Japanese fan dance, and drum dances from Tahiti.

After the show, we took a photo with the performers and made our way out of the beautiful gardens back to the bus. The Smith Family waved goodbye to us as we returned to our floating hotel room (you gotta love a hotel room that follows you from island to island!).

We feel like we made a great choice by visiting the Smith Family on the island of Kauai. We could not have asked for a better experience. The atmosphere, the food, the people, and the performances were all wonderful.

READ MORE: Tubing Through Tunnels in Kauai

Thank you, Smith Family, for a night that we will always remember!

What do you think of luaus? Have you ever attended one? If so, what was your experience like? Let us know in the comments below!

This story originally appeared on the Just Chasing Rabbits blog.

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