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A friendly, fun night out at Germaine's Luau

A royal welcome.
A royal welcome.
Gillian G. Gaar

Attending a luau is always a fun activity whether it’s your first visit to Hawaii or you’re a longtime visitor. Germaine’s Luau, which has been in existence for over 40 years, offers you a very friendly night out; it’s an evening that’s imbued with the true aloha spirit.

And who is “Germaine”? She’s Margaret Germano Mazurek, who later changed her name to Marcia Germaine. Marcia visited Hawaii in the late ’60s, promptly fell in love with the islands, and subsequently moved to Oahu. Having attended a luau on her first visit, she decided she wanted to create something similar for island visitors, and Germaine’s was born.

The luau was originally held at Sea Life Park, on east side of the island. But by 1976 it headed west, to Kapolei, near Barber’s Point lighthouse. The lush property was previously owned by William and Rosalei Stephenson, who planted a coconut tree for each member of their family on the grounds; those trees remain on the grounds today.

You can drive to Germaine’s, but free transportation from Waikiki is included in the price of your ticket. Driving at rush hour there’s sure to be traffic in busy Honolulu; another thing to consider if you think you might want to drive. The fun starts with your Germaine’s host on the bus, who shares information, tips, and trivia on your journey.

When you arrive, you’ll see a great ocean view as you step off the bus. A Germaine’s staffer will snap your picture with the ocean as a backdrop for purchase later, but be sure to take some time to enjoy the view afterwards. You’ll find open seating at Germaine’s, meaning you can sit anywhere you like; it’s one of the main reasons this luau has such a friendly atmosphere (it also means, if you’re driving yourself, you can arrange to get there extra early to get a good seat). Down in front are the traditional low tables, where you sit on mats, with regular picnic-style tables behind. You’re given a generous three coupons for alcoholic drinks, and if you’re a fan of tropical Hawaiian drinks, consider buying a souvenir Tiki mug; it’s larger than the standard glass, and they’ll fill it for the same price. There are non-alcoholic versions of tropical drinks available as well. Soft drinks, tea, and coffee are free.

There are pineapple hors d’oeuvres at your table, and musicians providing live music, giving the evening a relaxed start. Then the Royal Family arrives, attired in red and gold, and after some welcoming dancing, you’re invited to the imu ceremony, to watch the roast pig drawn from the pit where it’s been baking.

Food is a big part of a luau, and you’ll get all you can eat at Germaine’s. You’ll find the staples of every luau, like kalua pig, lomi lomi salmon, and poi. There’s lots of other choices as well; chicken, teriyaki beef, mahi mahi, vegetables and fruits. Don’t forget to save room for haupia, a sweet coconut pudding. All the food was well prepared and very tasty — and you have plenty of time to go back for seconds. After you eat it's a good time to visit the gift shop, if you want to pick up a souvenir.

And then it’s time for the show! And while there’s plenty of the traditional hula that comes to mind when you think of Hawaii, Germaine’s also presents a well rounded Polynesian revue that encompasses other islands in the South Pacific as well: the exciting rhythmic dance from Tahiti, the “slap dancing” from Samoa, and dances from New Zealand. Audience participation is mixed in, so you can get a chance to do a little hula yourself, while learning that “every hula tells a story.” Even the bus hosts get in on the act, with the audience asked to cheer on their host when they get up to perform.

No luau is complete without a fire knife dancer, something that’s always exciting to see. Germaine’s dancer doesn’t disappoint, easily getting the biggest hand of the night. And by the time the cast sends you off with a rousing “A-looo-ha!” at the end, you’ll feel well and truly entertained. Germaine’s prides itself on being the closest you can get to an actual backyard luau, and by the evening’s end, you’ve become part of the Germaine Ohana (family). A night at Germaine’s is like going to a party where you feel like you’re among friends from the moment you arrive, with good fun and great food making it an evening to remember.

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