Let's be frank, luaus might be a fun way to experience "Hawaii" but they are not authentic tributes to this ancient culture. That's why when a friend invited me to Hotel Molokai's Friday evening Kupuna Night, saying that this was the most authentic Hawaiian music and dance event in the state, I changed my travel dates so I could attend.
The collection of elders sat around a card table as the sun set over the adjacent Pacific Ocean strumming ukuleles and singing songs of ancient Hawaii. Drinks flowed freely, laughter was even more abundant. The elders talked story, ate their dinners, and some even got up to hula.
The oceanfront (and poolside) bar area was packed with locals and the few tourists who abandon the glitz of Maui for Molokai's rugged, albeit beautiful shores. Plus the mai tais were way better than any luau I had ever attended.
The elders, led by Hawaiian musician Lono, come together to honor the music and traditions of ancient Hawaii. They are trying to save the language, the songs, and the culture by gathering and honoring their ancestors.