Lanikunhonua, also known as Paradise Cove, is a secluded beach area found in Kapolei, a fast-growing residential area in the island of O'ahu. For me, though, the rapid development isn't so obvious at the resort because I went there to witness a luau, the traditional Hawaiian party. It's complete with food and entertainment, a perfect way to close a day of walking around Waikiki and getting my computer fixed.
As I arrived in Paradise Cove, I was welcomed with a lei and a choice between a mai tai (what is a mai tai?) and orange juice as welcome drink. Then I was guided to my assigned seat for the show. After that, I was free to roam around the resort and partake of the activities before sunset. As I was learning the Hawaiian translation of my name, the band was serenading me and the rest of the guests at this luau. They were singing songs in the local language so I had no idea what they were singing... but they sounded good, adding to the winter-at-the-beach atmosphere.
Since the show hasn't started yet, I opted to get my name translated and written down on a leather band. Then I went over to try Hawaiian bowling (ulu maika) and javelin throw (o'o ihe). I didn't do so well in both events but I did get quite a few seashell leis afterwards.
The hosts of the afternoon festivities started taking their places where lifeguards would normally be in regular beaches.
They explained that each time we heard a guy blow into a conch shell, we should follow the sound because he's guiding us to where the next activity would be.
First, he heralded the beginning of demonstrations of traditional ways of catching fish at sea using nets (hukilau). The "fishermen" were by the beach and then they went off into the sea using a traditional canoe. Afterwards, they came back to the beach, sans fish, but with the net.
And then we could go under a grove of trees and learn how to make leis. In my case, I learned how to make a bracelet out of orchids.
As the sun finally set, we heard the conch again, leading us to the amphitheater where the host of the imu ceremony appeared and introduced us to our dinner. He said that we would be served fried chicken, salad, pasta, and cakes. Beverages weren't part of the bill so we could buy our drinks at the drink stand. And then, he described the highlight dish of the night: the kahlua pig...
... which reminded me so much of Philippines' very own léchon! One major difference, though, is that the kahlua pig is cooked in an underground oven, covered with banana leaves. After a few hours of cooking the pig, the men took it out of the oven and paraded the very fragrant pig around the amphitheater for people to see the pig up close before it got all chopped up.
The imu ceremony was completed by dancing and good music. All very calm and relaxing, building up to the dinner party that was about to start in a few minutes.
We knew that the party was about to start when the lights dimmed and the host of the hula came on stage. He also doubled as a singer and translator... he effectively got us into a party mood, Hawaiian style.
There were a few songs and dances, all tame... until this guy came out with torches! He was a fire eater and wowed the crowd!
I felt that he should have come out last because he was a tough act to follow, even by male and female hula dancers who even called members of the audience to dance on stage with them.
The evening ended on a high note with the fire eater coming back on stage for a very brief encore.
I had a lot of fun during this luau. Too bad I was alone. It would have been a lot better if I wasn't alone. Next time, I'll go on a luau with family and/or friends. Then it would be a riot!