Hula and Luaus

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
"Hey, what is this place? Palm trees... hula girls... pineapples... hula girls... surfboards... hula girls!... hula girls!... hula girls! Of course, it all adds up! I've somehow landed in Norway!"

If the cast goes to Hawaii, there will inevitably be a hula show and a luau.

Other elements of Hollywood Hawaii involve:

  • Plump, friendly men with ukuleles and names like "James Humunupukapu'a", or "Israel Kamakawiwo'ole". Asian surnames are strangely unheard of, especially in a state where Asian Americans make up nearly two-fifths of the population.
  • Skinny, sexy girls in coconut bras and grass skirts, even though most ethnic Pacific Islanders are plumper than the average American (although Hawaii is one of the thinner states overall), and most residents get their clothes from the mall rather than a palm tree.
  • Everyone wearing Hawaiian shirts. Okay, this one is actually true, even in the workplace, since the tropical weather doesn't take kindly to layered 3-piece suits. However, business and casual Hawaiian shirts are more subdued than the loud tourist versions.
  • Surfing.
  • Volcanoes.
  • Beaches.
  • Tourists. Tons of tourists. (This is true in some places, but other parts of the state are relatively free of these guys.)
  • A pig roasted on the beach.
  • Pineapples. (Also true, since the Dole plantation did most of its growing work here and was partially the reason why Hawai'i has a lot of Asian heritage.)
  • Did we mention the beaches?
  • Local kids hanging out all day in the sun instead of going to school.

Visiting Hawaii or another tropical island is always a good excuse for a Beach Episode.

Usually doesn't apply to series set in Hawaii, such as Magnum, P.I. or Hawaii Five-O, as the location is simply local flavor.

Examples of Hula and Luaus include:

Anime and Manga


  • Played mostly straight in the Disney Made for TV Movie Johnny Tsunami, which featured native Hawaiians moving to Vermont as the main premise for a Fish Out of Water story.
  • In Forgetting Sarah Marshall, the main character goes to Hawaii on vacation after breaking up with his super hot celebrity girlfriend. The Hawaii pictured features pretty much everything listed above minus the volcanoes.
    • To be fair, he is at a tourist resort staffed almost entirely be white people.
  • North had a highly offensive version of this.
  • The Fifth Element plays this for laughs with Fhloston Paradise.
  • In Twenty Twelve, the characters plan on stopping in Honolulu in order to refuel on their flight from Las Vegas to the Arks in China. The entire island is covered in lava.

Live-Action TV

  • Played straight in Sabrina the Teenage Witch, in which Sabrina and her evil twin are competing against each other to see who gets sacrificed to a volcano. Later, Sabrina learns she has a relative who is a Hawaiian volcano goddess.
  • The opening of Hawaii Five-O had shots of these.
  • While Dog the Bounty Hunter doesn't fall under this trope, being actually based in Hawai'i, it does subvert the image of Honolulu as a glamorous resort town for viewers too young to remember Hawaii Five-O or Magnum, P.I., showing that it too has its slums and the problems typically found there.
  • The Pritchett-Delgado-Dunphy clan go to Hawaii during Jay's birthday in Modern Family.
  • Mama and her family visited Hawaii on a two-part episode of Mamas Family. The episode fit the trope well, as did the "aloha hula lamp" that Mama got there.
  • Saved by the Bell: Hawaiian Style

Tabletop Games

  • Parodied with the Brown Islands setting in GURPS Discworld Also, where the natives think of surfing as a religion, and have a habit of reassuring visitors they stopped sacrificing people to the volcano ages ago, in a vague manner that suggests they can't quite remember if they'd any reason to.

Theme Parks

  • Disney Theme Parks has the attraction The Enchanted Tiki Room, plus the Polynesian resort at Disney World. Rumors persist of a park that will be built in Hawaii itself.
    • They've recently[when?] opened a hotel/vacation club for members on O'ahu called Aulani. Though it really shows its work and pays a greater respect to the culture of the islands.

Video Games

  • Backyard Basketball has the Whirling Hula Hoops team, which has a pineapple mascot with a Hawaiian shirt twirling a hula hoop around.

Western Animation

  • Justified Trope in both the film and series Lilo and Stitch, in that there's always a hula going on because the main characters and their family work in the tourist industry. In one episode, they go to Honolulu and it's just a regular city. Most of the characters, notably, are also ethnically realistic looking. Nani does fit the "sexy skinny girl" part, but she only dresses in coconut bras and grass skirts as part of her work uniform. She normally wears jeans and a T-shirt, and c'mon...she probably just takes good care of herself. Hawaii is just as much a part of the US as Nebraska, which means that some people will be fat and some will be thin.
    • Not to mention...take a look at her below the waist. She's actually got quite a distinctive figure compared to most animated girls.
  • Rocket Power played everything but the skinny women part straight, as most of them were as fat as visiting relative Tito.
  • Garfield in Paradise.
  • The Backyardigans had an episode, "Legend of the Volcano Sisters", set in Hawaii, but with very few of the characteristics mentioned above. "Surf's Up!" can also count as it's mainly involved with surfing.
  • The Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers episode "Gadget Goes Hawaiian" fulfills this trope almost perfectly. There's a luau complete with hula, there's surfing, there's even an artificial volcano. Little more is missing than the roasted pig and the coconut shell bras.
  • As the page quote shows, Freakazoid! used this trope as part of a pseudo-"Mister Sandman" Sequence when Freakazoid was thrown back in time to Pearl Harbor.

Real Life

  • You can only find luaus at the hotels or resorts; locals have their own, less-produced versions which are basically Hawaii-style BBQs, a lot more hanging out and a lot less hula and fire-shows. Aloha attire (Hawaiian shirts, etc.) is actually very common for semi-formal wear, pineapples have been made into one of the largest tourist-traps by Dole (Come see the pineapple-shaped World's Largest Permanent Hedge-Maze! ), and tourists can be avoided if you feel safe with traveling to the North Shore, which you generally shouldn't, because the people who break into cars will spot a tourist in no time. O'ahu is known for its huge amount of petty crime, mostly car break-ins and pickpockets.
    • Hell, look vaguely Hawaiian (Filipino, any Asian with a tan), wear a Hawaiian shirt, and you will blend in. The residents lampshade it themselves - and even the Dole plantation does some subverting (pointing out that pineapples aren't a native Hawaiian fruit).