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Big Kahuna

Big Kahuna is a Hawaiian-themed online slot which was created by gambling software developer Microgaming and released in 2004. The colorful game derives its title from – you guessed it – a kahuna. But what does the term actually mean?

Kahuna is an old Hawaiian word used to refer to powerful or spiritual figures, like ministers, wizards, experts or priests. Fans of the 1987 comedy film Back to the Beach will remember Frankie Avalon as the Big Kahuna in the story, the beach bum who could surf impossibly large waves. Judging from the look of the main character in our slot, however, the word shaman seems to fit the best.

Time-tested: With its release more than a decade ago, Big Kahuna was the first online slot to offer not one, but two bonus rounds: the Volcano Bonus and the Mask Bonus. Since that time, online slots have evolved to become highly sophisticated productions, with 3D graphics and original musical compositions. The enduring popularity of Big Kahuna is a testament to the fun and excitement that the game provides. In 2008, Microgaming built on the success of the tropical slot by creating a reimagined version of the game called Big Kahuna Snakes and Ladders.

The best casinos to play Big Kahuna

How to play

Big Kahuna is a 5-reel slot that boasts 9 unfixed paylines, meaning that players can subtract or add lines as they please. The game’s high-value symbols are made up of the following items, namely fruits that one would expect to find in a tropical island paradise:

  • Kiwis
  • Oranges
  • Coconuts
  • Watermelons
  • Pineapples
  • Raspberries

The Big Kahuna is naturally the highest value symbol and pays out 500 coins for 5, 150 for 4, 25 for 3 and 10 for 2. The next most valuable symbol is the iguana, which pays out the same as the Big Kahuna, but only awards 5 coins for 2 matching symbols.

Wild and scatter: The game’s wild symbol, the Big Kahuna Wild, can help you rack up more wins by substituting for all other symbols, minus those that trigger the bonuses. If 5 wild symbols appear on the reels, you’ll be in for a massive 8,000 coin payday, and if 4 fall, you’ll win 1,000 coins. Big Kahuna also boasts a scatter symbol, which comes in the form of a monkey’s face. Unlike most slots, however, the Scatter symbol does not activate any bonus rounds.

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Graphics and sounds

Color scheme: Big Kahuna is set in the Hawaiian Islands and features a wide spectrum of vibrant and tropical colors. The symbols have a playful, cartoonist feel and the reels are bordered on the left and right by bamboo sticks, which also serve to connect the site’s 9 pay-lines.

But the game-play window is in stark contrast to the slot’s bland lower navigation panel. The button placements for the options to select lines and place bets are positioned awkwardly and could be improved by simply adding plus and minus arrows to the sides of each option.

Background music: The game does not feature a musical soundtrack, and instead sets the mood with ambient jungle noise. Whenever a winning match is made, the event is accented by a chant which lets you know that you’ve won some cash!

At A Glance

  • Bonus Feature: yes
  • Scatter: Yes
  • Free Spins: No
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Big Kahuna is a standard slot and does not offer a progressive jackpot like other progressive slots. That said, players can win up to a whopping 8,000 coins when they hit 5 Big Kahuna Wild symbols, and can win plenty of cash in the game’s 2 bonus rounds.

Special features and symbols

Two bonuses: Big Kahuna is different from many online slots in that the scatter symbol does not activate either of the game’s bonus rounds. To trigger the volcano Bonus, hit 3, 4 or 5 volcano symbols on an active payline. When you do, the bonus round will begin and you will be tasked with picking a fruit offering. Select the fruit of your choice to reveal an award, toss it into the volcano as a sacrifice and receive your payment. The amount of volcano symbols used to trigger the bonus will determine how big of a prize you can win.

The Mask Bonus is the game’s other bonus round and is triggered when 3, 4 or 5 mask symbols fall on an active payline. When you are lucky enough to activate the bonus, you’ll be taken to a room where 10 Tiki masks are displayed. Choose masks to reveal bonus awards and continue until you uncover a Collect symbol, which ends the round. For each bonus amount you uncover, you will be paid double your bet per line.


Light and fun: While Big Kahuna sports only 9 paylines, the game provides ample action and excitement to keep players on their toes and coming back for more. The slot’s Hawaiian theme is light and fun and sports a vibrant colour scheme which makes the game pop and enhances the entire playing experience. The slot does not feature a progressive jackpot, but with a potential 8,000 coin wild symbol payout, players have the chance of winning a significant amount of cash.

A few downsides: Big Kahuna differs from other slots in that it doesn’t offer a free spins bonus, which some may find frustrating. Two bonus games are offered instead of free spins and give players the opportunity to pick items and receive bonus awards. But as the 2 bonuses are largely similar, it might have been a better alternative to offer a free spins round as one of the choices. Another downside is the navigation bar, which is drab and poorly designed, but could easily be fixed. That aside, Big Kahuna packs a lot of fun into its 5 reels and takes its place among Microgaming’s top slots