Discover the 14 Best Luaus in Hawaii: Unbiased Reviews and Recommendations (2024)

by | Nov 15, 2023

Attending a luau in Hawaii is one of the best things to do during your Hawaii vacation, especially for your first trip to Hawaii. But which one should you choose?

This guide will help navigate the best luaus in Hawaii.

A luau is more than just savoring delicious food and excellent performances – it’s an immersive journey through the islands and into Hawaii’s cultural heart.

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A luau takes intriguing stories from the past, like that pivotal moment when King Kamehameha II dismissed the kapu system in 1819 to open up communal feasting.

Through this blog post, we’ll take your hand (virtually speaking 🙂 and guide you through 14 of the most exciting luaus scattered across Hawaii’s main islands – Oahu, Maui, Kauai & Big Island.

We’ve read through countless reviews to recommend luaus that promise not only unforgettable experiences but also valuable insights into the beautiful Hawaiian culture and history.

Are you eager to join us on this thrilling virtual tour across this list of the best luaus? Let’s discover the best luau in Hawaii!

Key Takeaways of the Best Luaus in Hawaii

  • Hawaiian luaus are cultural celebrations that offer a unique experience of old Hawaii through traditional music, dance, and food.
  • Oahu luaus offer some of the best luaus in Hawaii, including the famous Ali’i Luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center and Paradise Cove Luau.
  • Maui has top-notch luaus like The Myths of Maui with captivating performances and Feast at Lele with an intimate setting and gourmet meal.
  • Kauai boasts unforgettable luaus, such as Luau Kalamaku at the historic Kilohana Plantation and Smith Family Garden Luau in the beautiful Wailua River Valley.
  • Hawaii Island (Big Island) features noteworthy luaus like Island Breeze Luau in Kona and Hawaii Loa Luau, providing a mesmerizing evening filled with Hawaiian culture.

Understanding the Hawaiian Luau

The Hawaiian luau is a cultural celebration that holds great significance in the Hawaiian culture. It is an event where locals and visitors come together to experience traditional music, dance, and food.

When attending a luau, it’s important to know what to expect and how to prepare for the experience. From the history of luaus to what you should wear, this section will provide you with all the essential information you need before diving into the best luaus in Hawaii.

History and significance

Luaus have a deep history in old Hawaii. Long ago, they were called aha’aina. These events were full of traditions and special rites. There was music, dance, and lots of food to share.

But there was also a strict rule system known as kapu that did not let men and women eat together or enjoy certain foods at the same feast. This lasted until 1819 when King Kamehameha II broke these rules with an enormous feasting event called luau where everyone could sit down and eat together – men, women, chiefs, common people – all enjoying the same tasty meals!

Today’s luaus keep this spirit alive with lively dances like hula and fire-knife dancing and hearty Hawaiian dishes like poke, poi and kalua pork prepared in an imu (underground oven).

What to expect at a luau in Hawaii

You will see many new things at a luau. First, you’ll enjoy fun games and crafty activities. Then, they will pull the pig out of the in-ground oven. You get to watch this! After that, you’ll eat food from an extensive buffet full of Hawaiian dishes like kalua pork and lomi lomi salmon.

As you eat, dancers on stage will tell stories with their moves. The fire knife dancer is always a high point at luaus! End your night under the bright stars as music fills the air. It’s the best!

What to wear at a luau

You don’t need to pack a fancy outfit for a luau. Just wear clothes that are comfy and bright! Fun dresses or aloha shirts with flowers are great picks. You can even get a unique aloha shirt or dress while you’re in Hawaii.

Many people like wearing flip-flops or slippahs because they are easy to slip off for any beach fun. Dressing up makes the night more fun, but it’s not needed.

Luau cost considerations

Going to a luau can cost you around $180. Some luaus might cost less, around $115. Other luaus will be more, up to $280. This is the usual price range for most luaus in Hawaii. Plan your budget well to enjoy this unique part of Hawaiian culture!

Best Luaus on Oahu

best luaus in hawaii oahu

When experiencing the best luaus in Hawaii, Oahu is a must-visit island. There are plenty of options from the Ali’i Luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center to Paradise Cove Luau and Toa Luau.

So if you’re planning a trip to Oahu, make sure to check out these top luaus for an unforgettable Hawaiian experience.

1. Ali’i Luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center

One of the best luaus on Oahu is the Ali’i Luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center. It is considered one of the top two best luaus in Hawaii. This luau offers an authentic Hawaiian experience, with traditional luau food and cultural performances.

At the Polynesian Cultural Center, you can enjoy delicious Hawaiian dishes like kalua pork and poi while watching beautiful hula dancers and fire knife dancers. Booking your tickets in advance is recommended as this popular luau tends to sell out quickly.

So, if you’re looking for a true taste of Hawaiian culture, the Ali’i Luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center is a must-visit during your trip to Oahu.

2. Paradise Cove Luau

best luaus in hawaii oahu - paradise cove

“Paradise Cove luau” by Anosmia is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Paradise Cove Luau is one of the best luaus on Oahu and is located within the Ko Olina Resort. This luau offers visitors a memorable experience with its dance and music performances from various Polynesian cultures.

The evening includes pre-show entertainment, dinner (buffet, family style, or plated), and a main luau show.

If you’re looking for an authentic Hawaiian experience during your trip to Oahu, Paradise Cove Luau is definitely worth considering as one of the recommended options for a memorable luau experience.

3. Toa Luau

The Toa Luau in Oahu stands out as a truly authentic and intimate Hawaiian experience. Nestled in the lush Waimea Valley, this luau captivates with its deep respect for Polynesian culture and traditions.

The interactive activities before the show, such as weaving and traditional tattooing, offer a unique, hands-on way to connect with the culture.

The performances are spectacular, showcasing Hawaiian hula and dances from other Polynesian islands, which adds depth and variety.

The food is a highlight, featuring a delicious array of traditional dishes that are both flavorful and well-prepared. Unlike some larger luaus, Toa Luau has a more intimate, family-friendly atmosphere, which makes the experience feel personal and engaging.

Top Luaus on Maui

When it comes to luaus on Maui, several top-notch options offer a truly unforgettable experience.

One of the most popular choices is The Myths of Maui luau, known for its stunning oceanfront location and captivating performances that showcase the history and culture of the Hawaiian islands.

Another highly recommended option is Te Au Moana Luau, which offers an incredible oceanfront experience. For those seeking a more luxurious experience, Feast at Mokapu Luau offers an evening show filled with traditional hula dancing and delicious luau food.

Whether you choose one of these luaus or opt for another on Maui, you can be sure that your night will be filled with incredible entertainment and delectable island flavors.

4. The Myths of Maui

When you visit Maui, you’ll often hear about “The Myths of Maui.” These myths are ancient stories that tell the history and culture of the Hawaiian people. They include tales of gods and goddesses, heroic feats, and legendary figures.

One popular myth is about the demigod Maui, who is known for his mischievous nature and incredible strength. According to the myth, Maui pulled up the islands from beneath the sea with his magical fishhook.

Another myth involves Maui battling with the sun to make it move slower so that people could have more daylight hours for their activities. These myths are an important part of Hawaiian folklore and continue to be passed down through generations.

5. Feast at Mokapu Luau

The Feast at Mokapu in Maui’s Wailea region uniquely blends luxury with Hawaiian culture. Its beachfront setting offers spectacular views, and the intimate, upscale ambiance sets it apart from typical luaus.

The highlight is its farm-to-table Hawaiian cuisine, using fresh, local ingredients. Entertainment includes authentic Hawaiian and Polynesian performances, such as hula and fire dances, complemented by narratives that enrich the understanding of island culture.

This luau is ideal for a sophisticated and culturally immersive experience on Maui.

6. Te Au Moana Luau

The Te Au Moana Luau in Maui offers a stunning oceanfront experience with a blend of traditional Hawaiian and Polynesian culture.

Held at Wailea Beach Resort, it features engaging pre-show activities and impressive performances, including a thrilling fire knife dance. The buffet serves a variety of traditional Hawaiian dishes, catering to different tastes.

The welcoming atmosphere and beautiful setting make it a memorable experience for visitors seeking authentic Hawaiian culture and cuisine.

Best Luaus on Kauai

best luaus in hawaii kauai

When it comes to unforgettable luaus on Kauai, there are a few that stand out. One of them is Luau Kalamaku, which takes place at the historic Kilohana Plantation.

This luau offers a unique blend of traditional Hawaiian music and dance with a breathtaking theatrical performance.

Another top choice is the Smith Family Luau in the beautiful Wailua River Valley. Here, you can enjoy delicious food, and live entertainment, and take part in cultural activities like lei making and hula dancing.

Lastly, ‘Auli’i Luau at the Sheraton Kauai is known for its stunning oceanfront location and authentic Hawaiian cuisine. With fire knife dancers and Polynesian performances, this luau promises an unforgettable experience for all visitors to Kauai.

7. Luau Kalamaku

Luau Kalamaku is one of the best luaus on Kauai. It offers an unforgettable experience for visitors to Hawaii. At Luau Kalamaku, you can enjoy traditional Hawaiian food and watch amazing dancing performances.

They have over 50 dancers and musicians, including an award-winning fire-knife dancer. The luau showcases the rich culture and history of Hawaii through its vibrant performances.

If you’re looking for a truly authentic Hawaiian experience, Luau Kalamaku is definitely worth checking out during your visit to Kauai.

8. Smith Family Luau

best luaus in hawaii - kauai smith family luau

DSCN0287” by The Consortium is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

You’ll find the Smith Family Luau an amazing experience, renowned as one of Hawaii’s best, especially on Kauai. With its 4.7-star Google review, you can expect excellence.

This luau offers a lot – from a buffet dinner with scrumptious food, a hula show depicting Hawaii’s story, to a narrated tram ride through stunning gardens, and even a shell lei greeting on arrival.

For $140 per person, it’s an incredible experience. If you’re planning a trip to Kauai, definitely consider attending the Smith Family Luau – you’re sure to love it!

9. ‘Auli’i Luau

I have found one of the best luaus in Hawaii for you to consider when visiting Kauai – ‘Auli’i Luau. This luau is known for its traditional Hawaiian food and entertainment.

At ‘Auli’i Luau, you can enjoy a delicious buffet dinner featuring local dishes, watch captivating hula shows, and experience other entertaining performances that showcase the rich culture of Hawaii.

Whether you’re interested in learning about Hawaiian history or want a memorable night filled with great food and entertainment, ‘Auli’i Luau is a popular choice among visitors looking to immerse themselves in the spirit of aloha on the beautiful island of Kauai.

Best Luaus on the Big Island

best luaus in hawaii big island

The Big Island of Hawaii is home to some incredible luaus that will leave you in awe. From the captivating Island Breeze Luau to the traditional Hawaii Loa Luau, there are plenty of options to choose from.

Immerse yourself in the rich Hawaiian culture and indulge in delicious food while enjoying a mesmerizing evening show. Don’t miss out on these extraordinary luaus that will make your visit to the Big Island truly unforgettable.

Island Breeze Luau

Island Breeze Luau in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii is one of the best luaus to experience. It is located at Kamakahonu Bay and offers a delicious buffet dinner with dishes like kalua pork, teriyaki chicken, and fresh tropical fruits.

The luau also features an amazing production with hula lessons, Hawaiian stories, and world-class entertainment. If you want to attend this popular luau, it’s recommended to book in advance as it tends to sell out quickly.

So, make sure to secure your spot for a memorable Hawaiian experience.

11. Hawaii Loa Luau

best luaus in hawaii big island - hawaii loa luau

Photo by Hawaii Loa Luau

Hawaii Loa Luau is one of the 14 best luaus in Hawaii, according to unbiased reviews and recommendations. It offers a traditional Hawaiian and Polynesian cultural experience with delicious food and exciting dancing.

You can expect to pay around $190 per person for this amazing experience.

Mauna Lani Luau

The Mauna Lani Luau is one of the 14 best luaus in Hawaii, according to unbiased reviews and recommendations. It’s a modern luau that focuses on traditional Hawaiian food and dancing.

The luau offers a buffet dinner with delicious dishes like kalua pig, poi, and lomi salmon. You can also enjoy cultural performances, including hula dancers and fire knife dancers.

The setting is beautiful, taking place near the ocean at the Mauna Lani Resort on the Big Island of Hawaii. Attending the Mauna Lani Luau is a great way to experience authentic Hawaiian culture during your visit to Hawaii.

Do You Need a Rental Car in Hawaii?

If you’re visiting Hawaii, you might be wondering if you need a rental car. Well, it really depends on your plans and where you’ll be staying.

If you’re planning to explore beyond the resort areas and want the freedom to go wherever you want, having a rental car can be helpful.

It allows you to visit different beaches, go on scenic drives, and easily explore the islands at your own pace.

However, if your stay is limited to one area and most of your activities are within walking distance or accessible by public transportation or organized tours, then you may not need a rental car.

Resorts often offer shuttle services to popular attractions as well.

It’s also important to consider parking fees, which can add up quickly in popular tourist areas. Additionally, traffic can be congested during peak times in places like Honolulu or Waikiki.

Ultimately, deciding whether or not to rent a car in Hawaii depends on your travel preferences and itinerary.

Take some time to research transportation options in the specific area you’ll be staying and weigh the pros and cons before making a decision that aligns with your needs for convenience and flexibility during your Hawaiian vacation.

Best Luaus in Hawaii FAQs

1. What is a Luau in Hawaii?

A Luau in Hawaii is a traditional Hawaiian feast with a buffet dinner and evening shows like fire knife dancing and Maori and Fijian dances.

2. What kind of food gets served at a Hawaiian luau?

Luais are known for their delicious buffet dinner, which features authentic Hawaiian dishes and an open bar serving Mai tai drinks among others.

3. Do all luaus offer the same experience?

No! Every luau has its own unique features tied to Polynesian cultures alongside offering exciting interactive shows telling folklore about ancient Hawaiian gods and goddesses or journeys through different islands starting from Tahiti to Hawaii.

4. What makes a luau experience authentic?

An authentic luau experience in Hawaii embraces the traditional culture and history of the islands, featuring elements such as storytelling, dance, and music.

5. Are there luxury luaus in Hawaii?

Yes, there are luxury luaus in Hawaii that offer a more upscale and exclusive experience, often including gourmet dining and premium entertainment.

6. What is the best luau experience for first-time visitors to Hawaii?

For first-time visitors to Hawaii, popular luaus such as the ‘Auli’i Luau or the Paradise Cove Luau offer a memorable introduction to the island’s culture and traditions.

7. Where can I find an authentic luau on Oahu?

Consider attending the Polynesian Cultural Center’s Ali‘i Luau for an authentic and immersive luau experience on the island of Oahu.

Best of Hawaii Luaus Wrap-Up

Experiencing a traditional Hawaiian luau is a must-do when visiting Hawaii. From the captivating dances to the mouthwatering food, it’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture and create unforgettable memories.

Whether you’re on Oahu, Maui, Kauai, or the Big Island, there are plenty of exceptional luaus to choose from. By considering this list of unbiased reviews and recommendations for the 14 best luaus in Hawaii, you’ll be well-equipped to find the perfect one for your vacation.

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.