Ultimate Kauai Luau Guide to the Best Luaus in Kauai

by | Jul 22, 2023

Kauai Luau Guide

Finding the perfect luau to attend during your Hawaiian vacation can be daunting.

We understand your struggle; there are so many options and we’ve been in your shoes, overwhelmed by choices! We aim to simplify this process for you by providing a well-researched list of the top luaus in Kauai, breaking down what makes each special—from their unique shows to stunning locations.

Dive in; an unforgettable Hawaiian experience awaits you!

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Key Takeaways

  • The top best Kauai luaus offer an immersive and entertaining experience that showcases Hawaiian culture, traditional dances, and delicious food.
  • Luau Kalamaku is a must-visit luau located on the historic Kilohana Plantation, offering a mix of Tahitian dance performances. Included is an all-you-can-eat buffet featuring local favorites.
  • Smith Family Garden Luau provides a diverse cultural experience with performances from Hawaiian, Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, and Tahitian traditions in a beautiful garden setting.
  • Auli’i Luau offers an authentic Hawaiian experience at the oceanfront Sheraton Kauai Resort in Poipu. Guests can enjoy breathtaking views during the event, traditional music, and interactive activities like hula lessons.

Understanding Luaus in Kauai

To fully immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture during your visit, experiencing a traditional Luau should top your list of things to do.

A luau is an iconic celebration deeply rooted in Hawaiian tradition and history – it’s truly the party of Pacific Island life! You’re guaranteed an unforgettable evening with its vibrant mix of festive entertainment, delectable food, and captivating cultural performances.

Initially named ‘aha’aina (which translates to “gathering meal”), these feasts marked significant events like victories in battle or successful harvests.

Today’s luaus are a fusion of these old traditions with contemporary Polynesian rituals, including a feast that showcases local food like teriyaki beef and fresh poke.

Your taste buds will be dancing along with the hula dancers as they perform to melodious Hawaiian music!

Don’t miss out on the Imu ceremony where kalua pig, a staple dish at every luau buffet, is unearthed from an underground oven called the imu – this practice pays homage to our ancestors’ cooking methods.

The highlight for many, however, lies in enjoying delicious food and watching breathtaking fire-knife dances and Tahitian drum dance routines performed by talented locals dressed in traditional attire.

Trust us; there’s no better way to savor Hawaii’s unique blend of cultures than attending a Kauai luau!

Best Kauai Luaus

In this section, we will explore the top Kauai luaus that offer an unforgettable experience of Hawaiian culture. Let’s dive in and discover these amazing luau options on Kauai!

Luau Kalamaku

Immerse yourselves in a piece of traditional Hawaiian culture at the spectacular Luau Kalamaku located on the historic Kilohana Plantation.

Ranked among the top five luaus in Kauai by TripAdvisor, this incredible experience is not to be missed! It’s more than just an evening out – it’s an adventure back in time, following Tahitian voyagers through music and dance.

Before participating in the main event, we recommend exploring the lush plantation grounds that transport you straight into Hawaii’s rich past.

Then prepare for a feast like no other – an all-you-can-eat buffet featuring local favorites such as Kalua pig and huli huli chicken.

Want to elevate your experience? Go for their VIP package – The Luau Kalamaku with Plantation Owner’s Dinner and Champagne Reception offering premier seating to enjoy this fiery spectacle up close.

So why wait? Ensure Luau Kalamaku is part of your itinerary when visiting beautiful Kauai Island!

Smith Family Garden Luau

Immerse yourselves in the electrifying ambiance of the Smith Family Garden Luau. This experience has earned high praise on TripAdvisor and is counted among Kauai’s top 5 luaus.

Nestled within the stunning Wailua Marina State Park, this luau unfolds over a sprawling 30-acre garden you’re welcome to explore before the main event begins.

Not just a feast for your senses, the luau promises an impressive spread of Hawaiian cuisine, including Kalua pig and local desserts.

A cultural extravaganza awaits as performances spanning Hawaiian, Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, and Tahitian traditions take center stage.

With its intoxicating blend of culinary delights and engaging performances, it’s no surprise that Smith Family Garden Luau enjoys its stellar reputation as one of Kauai’s must-do luaus.

Auli’i Luau

One of the top five luaus in Kauai is the Aulii Luau. This luau offers a truly authentic Hawaiian experience, as it is 100% owned and operated by locals.

It is highly recommended for couples seeking a romantic evening and groups looking to make lasting memories together.

The Aulii Luau stands out from other luaus on Oahu because of its intimate atmosphere. Located at the Sheraton Kauai Resort in Poipu, this oceanfront luau provides breathtaking views during the event, including a stunning sunset.

Guests can enjoy traditional music and spirited performances, such as the fire dance of Samoa and the drum dance of Tahiti.

The buffet offers delicacies like fresh poke and teriyaki beef, adding to the overall dining experience.

Luau Ka Hikina

Luau Ka Hikina is a must-visit luau experience in Kauai, Hawaii. Located at the Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach Resort, this top-rated luau offers an unforgettable evening of Hawaiian culture and entertainment.

As you arrive at the venue, you’ll be greeted with a warm aloha spirit and welcomed with refreshing mai tais and pineapple juice drinks.

The setting is stunning, across from the ocean and historic royal surfing grounds.

Once the show begins, you’ll be captivated by cultural performances that showcase traditional hula dancing, dynamic fire knife performances, and energetic Tahitian drumming. The talented performers will transport you to a world filled with vibrant costumes, rhythmic dances, and captivating music.

It’s truly a feast for the senses!

When it comes to dining, Luau Ka Hikina doesn’t disappoint. The buffet-style dinner features an array of mouthwatering Hawaiian dishes that highlight local flavors and ingredients.

In-depth Look at the Top Kauai Luau Experiences

Let’s dive deeper into what makes these top Kauai luaus stand out from the rest.

top kauai luau

Luau Kalamaku: The Experience

At Luau Kalamaku, you can expect an unforgettable experience that immerses you in the rich traditions of Hawaiian culture.

As one of the top luaus in Kauai, this is a must-visit for anyone seeking an authentic island experience.

The highlight of the evening is a mesmerizing performance that tells the story of Tahitian voyagers through captivating dance and music.

You’ll be swept away by the energetic rhythms and graceful movements, leaving you with a true appreciation for Pacific Island performance arts.

But there’s more to Luau Kalamaku than just entertainment. The luau offers a VIP experience called the Luau Kalamaku with Plantation Owner’s Dinner and Champagne Reception. You can enjoy premier seating as well as exclusive access to an exquisite plantation-style dinner and champagne reception.

Plus, transportation is provided for guests to ensure convenience.

When it comes to dining options at Luau Kalamaku, prepare your taste buds for a treat. The buffet dinner showcases traditional Hawaiian dishes like kalua pig cooked in an imu (a traditional Hawaiian cooking method), fresh poke, huli huli chicken, and teriyaki beef.

And if you’re looking for upscale dining options during your luau experience, Luau Kalamaku has got you covered.

best kauai luau - luau kalamaku

Photo credit: Luau Kalamaku


Smith Family Garden Luau: The Experience

At the Smith Family Garden Luau, you can immerse yourself in the rich cultural traditions of Hawaii and its neighboring regions.

Set amid a picturesque 30-acre garden within Wailua Marina State Park, this luau is considered one of the best in Kauai.

The experience begins with a tour of the lush garden, where you can learn about the flora and fauna that make Hawaii so unique. Afterward, you’ll be treated to a shell lei greeting and have an opportunity to take photos with talented performers showcasing Hawaiian, Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, and Tahitian cultures.

The imu ceremony is particularly noteworthy – it authentic demonstrates traditional Hawaiian cooking methods using an underground oven called an imu.

Once dinner is served at the buffet, prepare for a feast featuring succulent Kalua pig and a wide variety of salads and desserts.

best kauai luau - smith family garden luau

Auli’i Luau: The Experience

At Aulii Luau, prepare for an unforgettable Hawaiian experience that captures the essence of traditional island culture.

As one of the top luaus in Kauai, it offers an authentic and immersive journey into Hawaiian traditions and customs.

Situated at the stunning oceanfront locale of Sheraton Kauai Resort in Poipu. Here, you’ll be treated to breathtaking panoramic views while enjoying an evening filled with spirited performances such as the fire dance of Samoa and the drum dance of Tahiti.

Indulge your taste buds with a delectable buffet featuring mouthwatering delicacies like fresh poke and teriyaki beef.

With its scenic location, authentic entertainment, and affordable photo options, Aulii Luau is truly a standout choice that guarantees an enchanting island experience for every visitor to Hawaii.

best kauai luau - aulii luau

Photo credit: Auli’i Luau

Luau Ka Hikina: The Experience

At Luau Ka Hikina, you’ll get to experience an intimate and authentic Hawaiian luau right on the oceanfront.

Owned and operated by locals, this luau offers a true taste of Hawaiian culture.

The evening starts with a warm lei greeting as you enter the beautiful outdoor space. You’ll be treated to traditional music and Polynesian dances showcasing ancestral traditions from Polynesia, Samoa, Tahiti, New Zealand, and Hawaii.

But it’s not just the entertainment that makes this luau special. The all-you-can-eat buffet will satisfy your taste buds with appetizers, salads, imu-style kalua pig cooked in an underground oven for hours until it’s perfectly tender and flavorful.

Don’t miss out on the huli huli chicken and other mouthwatering dishes like fresh poke and teriyaki beef.

The small and intimate atmosphere at Luau Ka Hikina allows for a more personal experience where you can truly connect with Hawaiian culture.

It’s no wonder that TripAdvisor has recognized this luau as one of Kauai’s best luaus.

best kauai luau - ka hikina

Photo credit: Luau Ka Hikina

How to Choose the Best Luaus in Kauai

To choose the best luau for you in Kauai, consider location, menu options, entertainment choices, and pricing.

Consider the location

When choosing the best luau experience in Kauai, it’s important to consider the location. Kauai offers a wide range of luaus, each with its own unique setting and ambiance. Whether you prefer an oceanfront luau or one nestled in lush tropical gardens, there is a venue to suit every preference.

For those staying near Lihue Airport (LIH), nearby hotels provide easy access to luaus across the island.

Additionally, if you’re planning on exploring other attractions and landmarks on the island, selecting a luau that is located centrally can save you time and make transportation more convenient.

So consider your accommodation location and overall itinerary when deciding which luau is right for you.

Review the menu

One important aspect to consider when choosing the best luau in Kauai is the menu.

Each luau offers a unique culinary experience that showcases traditional Hawaiian cuisine. The menu reflects the island’s flavors from Kalua pig cooked in an imu (underground oven) to fresh poke, huli huli chicken, and teriyaki beef.

Some luaus also include vegetarian options and local drinks to complement the meal.

By looking at the menu beforehand, you can ensure that there are options suited to your taste preferences and dietary needs.

Check the entertainment options

When choosing the best luau in Kauai, it’s important to check out the entertainment options available. Each luau offers its own unique performances that showcase the rich Hawaiian culture and traditions.

From traditional hula dances to fire knife dancing, you’ll want to make sure the entertainment aligns with your interests.

Some luaus even offer interactive activities like headband weaving and hula lessons, allowing you to immerse yourself in the experience fully.

So be sure to explore what each luau has in store for an unforgettable evening of music, dance, and cultural celebration.

Review the pricing

Now, let’s talk about pricing when choosing the best luau in Kauai.

It’s essential to review the pricing options before making a decision. While some luaus offer budget-friendly options, others may be a bit more on the pricey side.

However, keep in mind that higher prices often come with added benefits and premium experiences.

For example, Luau Kalamaku Kauai offers premier seating for an enhanced experience at a slightly higher cost.

Similarly, Auli’i Luau at Sheraton Kauai Resort provides an oceanfront setting and traditional Hawaiian cuisine as part of their package price, giving you excellent value for your money while immersing yourself in authentic culture.

Tips for Attending a Luau in Kauai

When attending a luau in Kauai, it’s important to dress in comfortable and casual attire that suits the Hawaiian climate and culture.

What to wear

Dressing appropriately for a luau in Kauai is crucial to enjoy the experience fully. We recommend wearing comfortable and casual attire, perfect for the tropical climate.

Choose lightweight fabrics like cotton or linen that will keep you cool throughout the festivities.

For women, flowing dresses or skirts with vibrant patterns paired with comfy sandals or wedges are ideal. Men can opt for aloha shirts (often referred to as Hawaiian shirts) and khaki shorts or pants.

When to arrive

To fully immerse yourself in the luau experience, arriving early is essential. Arriving early allows you to enjoy the pre-show activities and explore the beautiful surroundings of each venue.

Not only will you have plenty of time to find your seat, but you’ll also have a chance to mingle with fellow attendees and soak up the lively atmosphere.

Keep in mind that popular luaus tend to fill up quickly, so arriving early ensures that you secure a good spot with a great view.

Plus, by getting there ahead of time, you won’t miss out on any of the exciting cultural performances or interactive activities before the main event begins.

So plan your arrival accordingly and make the most out of your luau experience in Kauai!

Etiquette tips

At a Kauai luau, respecting and embracing the rich Hawaiian culture is important. As guests, we should dress comfortably in casual clothing appropriate for the outdoor setting.

During the show, it’s polite to refrain from talking or using electronic devices so everyone can enjoy the performances.

When participating in any interactive elements of the luau, like joining a hula dance or learning some basic Polynesian phrases, approach them with enthusiasm and an open mind.

Wrap Up of Luaus on Kauai

Experiencing a luau in Kauai is a must for anyone visiting Hawaii. The top Kauai luaus offer an immersive and entertaining experience that showcases Hawaiian culture, traditional dances, and delicious food.

Whether you choose the oceanfront Auli’i Luau or the high-production Smith Family Garden Luau, you’re guaranteed to create lasting memories on this beautiful island paradise.

So grab your aloha spirit and get ready to be enchanted by the sights, sounds, and flavors of these incredible luaus!


What are the best luaus in Kauai?

The best luaus in Kauai include Luau Kalamaku, Sheraton Kauai Luau, Smith Family Garden Luau, and Hawaiian Luau Ka Hikina. These luaus offer authentic Hawaiian experiences and are highly recommended for visitors to Kauai.

Is it worth going to a luau in Kauai?

Yes, attending a luau in Kauai is definitely worth it. Luaus offer a unique and immersive experience into Hawaiian culture, showcasing traditional music, dance, and cuisine. It’s not just about entertainment, but a comprehensive cultural exposure that provides a deeper understanding of Hawaii’s rich history and traditions.

Where is Luau Kalamaku located?

Luau Kalamaku is located in Lihue, Kauai. It is a popular luau show that showcases traditional Hawaiian culture and entertainment.

Can you recommend a luau at the Sheraton Kauai Resort?

The Sheraton Kauai Luau is a great choice for those staying at the Sheraton Kauai Resort. It features a delicious buffet luau dinner, traditional imu ceremony, and entertaining performances.

What are the highlights of the Smith Family Garden Luau?

The Smith Family Garden Luau offers a scenic luau experience with a train ride through the gardens, traditional Hawaiian buffet dinner, hula dancing, and a spectacular Samoan fire knife performance.

Are there any luaus on the North Shore of Kauai?

Yes, Luau Kalamaku is another popular luau located on the North Shore of Kauai. It offers a captivating show featuring Polynesian music and dance and a delicious island-style buffet.

Which luau in Kauai is recommended for an authentic Hawaiian experience?

For an authentic Hawaiian experience, the Luau Ka Hikina is highly recommended. It showcases traditional Hawaiian food, music, and dance, giving visitors a true taste of Hawaiian culture.

Can you tell me about the Plantation Owners Evening luau?

The Plantation Owners Evening is a special luau event held at Kilohana Plantation in Lihue, Kauai. It offers a unique dining experience, featuring a gourmet dinner sourced from Kauai’s local ingredients.

Are there any luaus with an open bar in Kauai?

Yes, some luaus in Kauai offer an open bar, where visitors can enjoy a variety of tropical drinks and beverages along with their luau dinner and entertainment.

What types of food can I expect at a Kauai luau?

At a Kauai luau, you can expect traditional Hawaiian dishes such as kalua pork, lomi salmon, poi, sweet potato, and more. These luaus often serve buffet-style meals with a variety of options.

What are the best luaus on Kauai for a family?

The Smith Family Garden Luau is a top choice for families, as it offers a fun train ride and entertainment suitable for all ages. The luau also has a kids’ menu and activities to keep the little ones engaged.

Bryan Murphy

Bryan Murphy

Bryan Murphy, owner of Hawaii’s Best Travel, is a certified Hawaii destination expert from the Hawaii Visitors Bureau. He actively participates in the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau as a member and has a strong educational background focused on local culture and sustainability. As the host of “Hawaii’s Best Travel,” a top-30 US travel podcast, Bryan combines his years of experience with valuable insights. He connects with a broad online community, reaching nearly half a million people, and offers a richer, more responsible way to experience Hawaii.