The smiles of Naiome Cadije, Liliana Erichsen, Natalie Cadije, and Natalie Boyer were as warm as the golden hues of sunset as the quartet planted aromatic lei on guests coming through the entrance line at the Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu.
“These girls made the lei,” said Leilani Bond, described as “the second youngest daughter” of Kumu Hula Leilani Rivera Low. “They also do several numbers in the show.”
The quintet greeted guests to the inaugural Luau Moana Aloha, the newest Kauai luau that is set in the open air outside the Koloa Grand Ballroom at the Autograph Collection Hotel overlooking the Koloa Landing. Seating to the luau that takes place on Monday and Wednesday evenings start at 6 p.m. Dinner service begins at 6:30 p.m. with the stage show starting at 7:15 p.m.
“There are a lot of stories to tell about this area leading to this place close to the birthplace of Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana‘ole who spearheaded the passage of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act,” said Julie Souza, a local resident who experienced the growth of the place bathed in history, culture, and community. “The eucalyptus trees lining Maluhia Road leading to Koloa, the Waita Reservoir that has more than two billion gallons of water — this is a story full of history.”
Kumu Hula Low, the daughter of international entertainer Larry Rivera of Coco Palms and Elvis Presley fame, and herself, internationally known as a kumu hula and recording artist, picks up the theme to open with a kahiko, or ancient hula, on Kuhio with her entourage of maidens.
The opening oli prefaces the Polynesian voyage through cultural demonstration stations and enhanced with the special appearance of Kap Tafiti extolling the virtues of coconut, known in Hawaiian as niu, and the personal appearance of Jerome Koko, one of the original performers with the Makaha Sons of Ni‘ihau. The quick Polynesian tour ends with Tafiti scaling one of the coconut trees to the delight of not only luau attendees, but tenants of rooms surrounding the open field.
Celebrity chef Sam Choy was another of the dignitaries enjoying the inaugural luau, greeting guests who enjoyed the specially-created menu reflecting the bounty of Kauai’s farms and coastlines and prepared by Koloa Landing chef Rafael Camarillo and his culinary staff.
The taste of dessert lingers on the palate as Kumu Hula Low opens the stage tour of Hula Kahiko, Hula auana, Tahitian, Maori, and Tongan dances that flit the audience through stops in Polynesia. The live presentation by drummers, musicians and dancers closes with a visit to Samoa with a heart-stopping fire knife dance, closing not only the Polynesian vignette, but Low’s 38 years of experience in teaching Polynesian dance and music.
Free valet parking is available for luau attendees.
Information: www.luaumoanaaloha.com, or 240-6600.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.