Summer luaus at Kona Kai bring tropical flavor to Shelter Island
by ANTHONY GENTILE
Published - 07/28/10 - 03:17 PM | 8601 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Organizers of the Motu Nehenehe luaus at Kona Kai are striving to offer authenticity in Hawaiian food, hula dancers, live musicians, drummers and fire dancers. 	COURTESY PHOTO
Organizers of the Motu Nehenehe luaus at Kona Kai are striving to offer authenticity in Hawaiian food, hula dancers, live musicians, drummers and fire dancers. COURTESY PHOTO
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Polynesian dancers are set to entertain the crowds during authentic luaus Friday nights through Sept. 3 at the Kona Kai resort on Shelter Island. 	COURTESY PHOTO
Polynesian dancers are set to entertain the crowds during authentic luaus Friday nights through Sept. 3 at the Kona Kai resort on Shelter Island. COURTESY PHOTO
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Locals scouting out an island oasis to start their weekend don’t have to go far for the rest of the summer. The Kona Kai resort on Shelter Island is hosting Hawaiian luaus Friday nights through Sept. 3.

“We’re just trying to create an atmosphere that makes it unique and gives us some identity on the island,” said Kona Kai general manager Jeff Foster.

Billed as “San Diego’s Hawaiian Isle,” Shelter Island now has an authentic luau to match. The shows start at 6 p.m. and feature food and entertainment on the shore of the San Diego Bay.

“We have panoramic views of the water and there’s boats and palm trees swaying,” Foster said.

The authentic luau re-creation starts with the menu, which includes tropical fruit, lomi-lomi salmon, Kalua pork, baked mahi mahi, pinapple upside-down cake and Kona coffee.

Foster said Kona Kai’s aim is to make the luaus as authentic as possible.

“We’ve had a lot of people here who have visited Hawaii and been to luaus before and want to relive that experience without having to fly to Hawaii,” Foster said. “Hopefully, this is giving them a little taste of that.”

The evening concludes at 8 p.m. with a dance show featuring the San Diego-based Motu Nehenehe Polynesian Dancers. Motu Nehenehe, which means “beautiful island” in Tahitian, will perform dances from Tahiti, Hawaii, Samoa and New Zealand in authentically-styled costumes.

“Our group is authentic because I take it from the islands themselves and learn abroad, or they come over here to teach me,” said Babe U’liani Valero, director of Motu Nehenehe.

Motu Nehenehe is made up of 45 performers, including hula dancers, live musicians, drummers, fire dancers and child dancers. Those numbers are sure to increase during the performances, as members of the audience will be called out to join the performers.

“When we pull people out, they’re shaking their buns and it really gets the crowd rolling,” Valero said.

Kona Kai’s luaus will also feature a no-host bar with mai tais and Hawaiian punch, a conch shell announcement and imu pig presentation.

The luau is part of the resort’s “Drive to Hawaii” campaign to promote the Hawaiian flavor on Shelter Island.

“We’re getting a tremendous response,” Foster said. “Our numbers have been really excellent.”

Tickets to the luau are $42 for adults, $19.95 for children ages 5 to 12 and free for children under 5.

For more information, visit www.resortkonakai.com.

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