Polynesian culture permeates the air in Newport Beach as a new luau experience comes to Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort.
By Ashley Ryan
There’s no doubt—a trip across the Pacific to the Hawaiian Islands is always desirable. However, now it’s possible to celebrate the aloha spirit right here in town with the Newport Beach Luau. Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort hosted the inaugural event on-property at the end of August, partnering with Islanders Luau to present a festive night filled with the culture, traditions and essence of Hawaii.
Upon arrival, guests were welcomed with multicolored leis and invited to find a seat amongst the bright pink tables. The main lawn was lined with tables, serving up authentic fare like Hawaiian-style teriyaki chicken, steamed rice, roasted vegetables, leafy greens, Hawaiian rolls, macaroni salad, a whole fish and pineapple upside down cake, while a small Tiki bar in the back of the space mixed up tropical pineapple and Malibu concoctions, blue pina coladas, mai tais and more. Not long into the dinner service, a Kahlua pig was presented to guests as well, paraded around the lawn before being carved on one of the back tables.
In addition to the delicious meal, visitors were able to take advantage of activities like hula hooping, palm weaving and a coconut hut that allowed guests to learn about one of Hawaii’s most famous fruits.
There was also a VW bus-turned-photo booth for guests to climb into and snap a series of pictures, complete with props.
But the main highlight of the event was the live entertainment, which drew from Tahiti, New Zealand and Samoa as well as Hawaii. During dinner, a three-piece Hawaiian band delighted guests with a blend of upbeat and tranquil island music, including hits like “The Hukilau Song” and Israel Kamakawiwoole’s rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
Following the band’s performance, the ladies took to the stage to present various hula dances, including traditional and modern variations plus songs set to the beat of ipu gourds. Mixed in, male performers showcased various styles of Polynesian dance, including the Samoan slap dance. Special guest Moana, a fictional character from the 2016 Disney film of the same name, made an appearance as well, keeping children enthralled with her rendition of popular song “How Far I’ll Go.”
Toward the end of the evening, children and their parents were invited on-stage to participate in various dances and share some of their backstories. The event finished with an impressive Tahitian fire dance, an impressive display featuring fire eating, flaming swords and more. Afterward, the performers invited attendees up to the front to snap photos with them.
Set beside the scenic Newport Back Bay, views of the water were complemented by the colorful sunset sky. The breeze off the water made the Newport Dunes lawn the ideal spot to unwind and enjoy a summer night, while the entertainment only enhanced the experience. The resort and its partner did a flawless job of capturing the heart of a traditional Hawaiian luau, offering Southern California residents a chance to experience a new culture right here in Orange County.
Because of the event’s initial popularity, Newport Dunes has added a second luau date on Saturday, Oct. 12 from 6:30-9:30 p.m. The celebration will once again be held on the resort lawn, and tickets can be purchased online.