Unusual Festivals in Hawaii

There are many reasons to take a trip to Hawaii. Some come to get hitched, celebrate an anniversary or to enjoy their honeymoon. Families come to soak up the sun. Others come to get away from it all and to just relax on island time.

And then there are those who come in pursuit of… uh, SPAM? Yeah. Check out a few of Hawaii’s most unusual festivals.

World Fireknife Championships

Each May in the tiny town of Laie on the north shore of Oahu, the Polynesian Cultural Center hosts a competition unlike any other – the World Fireknife Championships. This is some serious business – real knives, real fire. These guys put on a show with no protection between them and the weapons they’re using in pursuit of the title. It is common for the dancers to get burned, as there is no special protection between them and the flames (or the blades) of the knives.

This Samoan tradition originated as an actual weapon in battle, and is now featured at many a luau in Hawaii. It’s actually quite amazing to see the passion with which these muscle-bound Polynesian men can hurl a flaming blade in the air and catch it on the soles of their bare feet! Ouch!

Maui Onion Festival

Traveling over to the island of Maui, you will find a very special crop growing on the cool, upper elevations of the slopes of Mt. Haleakala. The famous Maui Kula onion is a prized variety of globe onion with a sweet, crunchy texture, said to be among the sweetest onions in the world.

Maui is so proud of this crop that they not only trademarked the name to ensure authenticity, but they celebrate the onion with a festival each year at Whaler’s Village in Ka’anapali. Festivities include a recipe contest, appetizer showdown between some of the state’s finest restaurants, and of course a raw onion eating contest. (Don’t forget your breathmints!)

SPAM Jam

Girl at Spam Jam (2009) in Hawaii
Spam Jam, Hawaii © Kyle Nishioka

And then there is the granddaddy of all the curious festivals held in Hawaii – the SPAM Jam Waikiki. Each April, a huge block party is held on the busiest street in Waikiki, Kalakaua Avenue, for the this island favorite luncheon meat. You may have heard that Hawaii is the largest consumers of SPAM per capita, in the entire country. It’s true – almost 7 million cans are consumed in Hawaii each year!

Festival-goers can enjoy live music, SPAM-themed food booths, and the chance to purchase SPAM merchandise like t-shirts, hats, even SPAM-flavored macadamia nuts. And don’t miss your chance to take a photo with the walking can of SPAM. All steps away from the world-famous Waikiki beach. Now really, what better way is there to spend your Hawaiian vacation?

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