image Smith’s family garden luau

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Wailua River

Smith’s family garden, where the luau takes place, is located on the east side of the island of Kauai and on the bank of the Wailua River, just before it empties into the Pacific Ocean. Smith’s family owns 30 acres of this beautiful land, which was turned into a tropical paradise due to the efforts of many generations of the family.

Luau in the Hawaiian language means a feast. The Smith’s family luau is not only a delight for the guests’ taste buds, but also a pleasure for their eyes, ears and soul. The garden is full of tropical flowers. There is a very beautiful show with music and dancing after the feast.  All of the guests are treated as Ohana, which means a family in the Hawaiian language.

The luau usually starts at 5 p.m. Upon arrival, every guest receives a lei made of fine sea shells as a gift. In a spirit of Aloha, guests are also offered a narrated tour of the family gardens. Everybody on the tour took their seats on a miniature train pulled by an electrical car. The estate is a tropical orchard where peacocks walk around spreading their tails. Strange looking birds inhabit the lush growth of exotic trees and bushes covered with tropical flowers.  There is a bamboo rain forest and a fruit forest.

There is also a lake with a tiny island in the middle and there are canals, crossed by connecting picturesque tiny bridges. Hawaiian canoes slightly rock on the lake. Ferns and palm trees reflect in the water of the canals.

On our tour, we passed a Polynesian village and a Philippine village with replicas of indigenous huts that were built of wood and have straw roofs.

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Aku Aku Head is the most popular site to take pictures. This head is a replica of the giant stone statues, which were found on Easter Island. Aku Aku in the Hawaiian language means spirit or upright god.

Smith’s family garden in fact contains several different gardens, consisting of different types of flowers.  Hibiscus Garden has a large variety of flowers. Flower Wheel has different types of roses.

Japanese Garden is located on a tiny island in the middle of the lake. There is a gazebo in the middle of the island decorated by rocks scattered among the trees.  Smith’s family garden is truly a feast for the eyes, especially during the summer months.

After touring the Gardens guests are invited to see the imu ceremony. Imu means underground oven, where a Kalua pig had been roasted since early morning. The recipe was passed from generation to generation in Smith’s family. The pig was covered in banana leaves and placed in the bottom of a pit lined with lava rocks over a fire. These rocks have the ability to preserve the heat from the fire. Two young men, dressed in traditional Hawaiian style, blew conch shells to the sea, to the mountains, to the rising and to the setting sun. The conch shell sound was very beautiful and was like a real musical instrument. It set a sacramental tone to the whole ceremony.

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Imu ceremony

After the roasted pig was unearthed, all guests were invited to the luau. In addition to the Kalua pig, there was teriyaki beef, mahimahi, poi, sweet potatoes, salads, salmon poki and deserts. My favorite desert was the rice pudding. There were unlimited mai tais, soft drinks and punch. Hawaiian music was played on a stage. The head of Smith’s family sang his favorite songs and guests were welcomed to get on the stage to learn hula dance moves. Then, after the sun sank into the Ocean and darkness covered the garden, guests were invited to see a show.
Since the first immigrants came from the Marquesas Islands in the South Pacific about 1500 years ago, Hawaii became home to several different cultures. There were also settlers from the Philippines, Samoa, Japan, China, and New Zealand. All these cultures were introduced and celebrated during the show.


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The show was opened by an Aloha dance, which is a traditional Hawaiian dance where the movements of the dancers’ hands tell a story. Then Pele, the mysterious Goddess of fire and volcanoes, appeared. Tahitian dancers moved their hips in a fast rhythm of drums and Philippine dancers jumped over moving sticks accompanied by playful and lyrical music. Maori warriors from New Zealand performed a war dance to instill fear in their enemies and Hula dancers cheerfully played with their sticks. China was introduced by a dragon and its tamer and Japanese dancers delicately stepped waving their fans. There were more performers and in the end, guests were stunned by an energetic Samoan fire dance.

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After the show all performers lined up to bid farewell to the spectators. Everybody was welcome to take a photo with the performers.

Kauai has a special place in my heart. Aloha and Mahalo!


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