Hot summer weather is often a short-and-sweet memory for Canadians. That’s why it is so important to make the most out of our summer months. One of the best ways to celebrate great summer weather is by throwing a luau party.

We’ve hosted a number of luau themed parties and cruises over the years. It’s a favourite theme among many of our charters, not to mention we throw a pretty good Luau themed dinner cruise every August.


Here are some helpful tips on how to create your own Luau themed party this summer.

Luau Location:

While you can throw a luau party just about anywhere, the theme really lends itself well to outdoor venues especially ones with lots of greenery or sand. So whether you’ve got access to a great outside patio, poolside venue, beach, backyard or one of our six vessels a luau themed party is the perfect way to celebrate summer.


Luau Decorations:

Decorations are a key element that really brings a luau themed party to life.

Start your luau themed décor with colour. Use lush tropical and bright colours like magenta, aqua blue, bright orange, green and yellow. Try to incorporate these colours throughout your décor. Table cloths, runners, napkins and candles are a great place to start.


Transform your luau backdrop with tropical plants like ferns, palms and tiger lilies placed in brightly colored pots. Add bright hibiscus flowers or any other tropical flower (real or fake) to really capture the Hawaiian look.

Hawaiian Luau Plants & Decor

Affordable decorations and accessories, including grass skirts which can be fastened around tables, totem poles, tropical flowers, bright paper lanterns, sand and seashells can transform any room or venue into a luscious tropical setting.

Hawaiian Luau Decor grass skirts and totem poles

Great centerpieces can include:

  • Tropical fruit – delicious and eye catching
  • Conch shells with smaller shells scattered around it either directly on the table or on a large palm leaf
  • Flowers arranged in a clear container with shells and blue colored water.


You can also wow your guests with totem poles and vases you make yourself. Add a tiki bar, surf board and tiki lanterns to take it to the next level.


Luau Food:

The word “luau” means feast, so no Hawaiian luau themed party is complete without a Hawaiian inspired menu. Key ingredients to include in your Hawaiian themed menu are pineapple, pork, fish like tuna, snapper or swordfish, coconut or coconut milk, spam, macadamia nuts, sweet potato and poke.

Some Hawaiian themed dishes could include:

  • Shish kabobs with pineapple
  • Pad thai noodle boxes
  • Lemon Chicken
  • Pork tacos
  • Coconut shrimp
  • Mini Hawaiian pizzas
  • Tropical fruit platters
  • Taro chips
  • Pineapple Chicken
  • Sweet and Sour Pork
  • Coconut rice
  • Upside-down pineapple cake

Hawaiian Luau themed food

Add some wow-factor by placing food on large palm leaves and dips and salads in hallowed out pineapples or coconut shells.

Luau Beverages

Set your tiki bar up with a selection of delicious tropical cocktails or mocktails or chose a signature luau inspired drink.


Common ingredients for Hawaiian themed drinks are rum, blue Curaçao, pineapple juice and coconut cream or milk. We suggest any of the following drinks – Mai Tai, Blue Hawaiian, Tropical Breeze, Piña Colada, Blue Lagoon, Planters Punch, Blue Wave or our favourite the Mariposa Martini.

Hawaiian Luau drinks & cocktails

Garnish your drinks with tropical fruit and colourful umbrellas.

Take it to the next level and serve your drinks in a hallowed out pineapple or coconut shell.

Luau Attire:

Get your guests to dress up for the occasion in Hawaiian inspired clothing. This could be as simple as a tank top and sarong or board shorts with sandals or flip-flops or as elaborate as a coconut bikini and grass skirt.


Everyone can find something in their wardrobe that’s beachy and colourful. Hawaiian shirts can be found at just about any vintage or second hand store and Hawaiian prints are often in fashion and can be found at regular clothing stores as well as second hand shops.


When all else fails, a Hawaiian lei always adds a finishing touch. Get a bag of leis from any party store or dollar store and give your guests a lei to welcome them to your luau when they arrive at the party or hang them on the back of your guests’ chairs.

Luau Entertainment & Music:

The soundtrack to your luau can be traditional, classic or contemporary or a mix of all three. Slack-key guitars, ukuleles and drums are instruments commonly featured in Hawaiian music. Choose music that is more acoustic with a laid back island feel.


Hawaiian artists include Don Ho, Amy Hanaiali’i Gilliom, Ledward Kaapana and Israel Kamakawiwoʻole. A more contemporary play list could include songs by Jack Johnson, The Beach Boys, or Ben Harper.

Dancing is a feature in every luau. Splurge and hire traditional hula dancers to perform and welcome guests to the party or brush up on the basics and give your guests a quick lesson on how to sway their hips and tell lyrical stories with their hands, Hawaiian style.


Don’t forget your limbo stick, as no luau party is complete without a limbo contest.


There’s still a few more weeks of summer. So start planning your luau party today!



About the Authors:

As the Event Manager for Mariposa Cruises, Lauren Matunin prides herself on delivering fun and memorable events for our clients. She is always ready to take the helm and willing to go the extra nautical mile to ensure all events go off without a hitch. Lauren relies on her attention to detail, creativity, and passion to ensure each and every event is one of a kind and credits collaboration among the entire Mariposa crew as the key to our event successes.