Ultimate Big Island Luau Guide to the Best Luaus on the Big Island of Hawaii (2024)

by | Mar 12, 2024

Are you excited to explore the best luaus on the Big Island? From captivating fire dances to delectable Hawaiian dishes, these cultural celebrations offer a glimpse into paradise under the stars.

Luaus aren’t just about food – they’re about immersing yourself in Hawaiian traditions that span generations. In this post, we’ll delve into the top luaus that promise an unforgettable journey through Hawaii’s rich heritage.

So, let’s explore together and discover the ultimate luaus that will make your trip to the Big Island truly memorable.

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This best luaus on the Big Island post is written by Bryan Murphy, an expert in Hawaii travel and a top-rated podcast host. The post may contain affiliate links, meaning I may earn a small commission if you use the provided links. Learn more on my privacy policy page.

Planning Your Trip? Use Our Favorite Resources!

🏨 Accommodations: We recommend Expedia

✈️ Flights: For the cheapest flights, we use Skyscanner

🚗 Rental Car: We recommend Discount Hawaii Car Rental

🌋 Attractions: We recommend Get Your Guide

🌺 Luaus and Tours: We recommend Hawaii Tours

📱 Mobile Tour App: Our favorite is Shaka Guide

Don’t Feel Like Reading? Here Are the Best Luaus on the Big Island:

Key Takeaways for the Best Luaus on the Big Island

  • Luaus are Hawaiian feasts with music, dance, and storytelling that share Hawaii’s culture. You can enjoy dishes like kalua pig and poke bowls.
  • King Kamehameha II started the tradition of men and women eating together at luaus in 1819, promoting equality.
  • Each Big Island luau offers something special. For example, Legends of Hawaii Luau has great food and views. The Luau at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is known for authentic experiences.
  • Prices for adult tickets to luaus range from $50 to over $190 before taxes. Some luaus offer discounts for children or premium seating options for an extra cost.
  • Besides luaus, you can explore Hawaiian culture by visiting historical sites or enjoying Polynesian shows and hula performances around the island.

What is a Luau?

best luaus in maui - Maui Nui Luau at Sheraton Maui

A traditional luau is a Hawaiian celebration that brings people together for a feast loaded with cultural significance.

Picture the vibrant sounds of Polynesian drums blending with graceful hula dancers moving to ancient rhythms, all under the open skies as the sun sets over Hawaii.

It’s not just about enjoying delicious food; it’s an immersive experience where music, dance, and storytelling weave together to tell the rich stories of Hawaii’s past and present.

At these gatherings, you’ll get to taste traditional dishes like kalua pig cooked in an underground oven called an imu, poke bowls brimming with fresh seafood, and sweet desserts like haupia.

Imagine sinking your teeth into succulent meats and flavorful sides while watching fire dancers light up the night.

Luau guests are treated to a slice of Hawaiian culture that’s both entertaining and educational, offering insights into the island’s heritage through every bite and performance.

History of Luaus on the Big Island

Luaus on the Big Island have a rich history that takes us back to 1819 with King Kamehameha II. He made a landmark move by deciding to eat together with women, breaking the old rule that men and women must have separate meals.

This act wasn’t just about changing dining arrangements; it symbolized equality and unity among people in Hawaii. Since then, luaus became a way for everyone to gather, celebrate, and enjoy food without any barriers.

King Kamehameha’s gesture laid the foundation for what we now know as the modern luau – a feast full of traditional Hawaiian foods, music, and dances. Over time, these gatherings grew into elaborate celebrations of Hawaiian culture and history.

Today’s luaus on the Big Island are not only about enjoying good food like lomi salmon or taro root but also about connecting visitors with Hawaii’s past through hula dancing and stories.

The transformation from sacred ceremonies to inclusive celebrations shows how Hawaiians honor their traditions while embracing change.

Attending a luau gives you a taste of this incredible journey through history – from King Kamehameha II’s groundbreaking meal to today’s vibrant festivals under Hawaii’s stars.

What to Expect at a Luau in Hawaii

are hawaiian luaus worth it - visitor at a luau wearing a lei

At a luau, expect a night full of delicious food, captivating dances, and the warm spirit of Aloha. Get ready to learn more!

Traditional Luau Food

Luau feasts are a true delight, showcasing Hawaii’s rich flavors and culinary traditions. You can savor poke, a raw fish salad seasoned with Hawaiian spicesPoi, made from taro root, offers a unique taste of the islands.

Don’t miss out on kalua pork – it’s slow-cooked in an underground oven called an imu for incredible tenderness and smoky flavor. Lomi lomi salmon adds a refreshing touch to your plate with its tomato-based side dish.

Lastly, lau lau will impress you by steaming pork or fish wrapped in taro leaves for hours until perfectly soft.

These dishes not only fill your stomach but also introduce you to centuries-old Hawaiian culture and cooking techniques.

From the savory kalua pork to the subtly sweet poi, each bite tells a story of Hawaii’s history and its melding of different cultures into one vibrant community.

So as you dig into these traditional favorites at any luau on the Big Island, remember that you’re tasting more than just food – you’re experiencing Hawaiian heritage at its finest.

Luau Entertainment

At a luau, you step into a world of vibrant music and danceHula dancers sway with grace, telling stories with their movements that reach back centuries.

The sound of Polynesian drums fills the air, setting the rhythm for an unforgettable night under Hawaiian skies.

Fire dancers captivate audiences with their daring moves, spinning flames that light up the evening.

Storytelling is a big part of the show, taking you on a journey through Hawaii’s rich history and culture. You’ll hear tales from ancient times when kings ruled these islands.

This mix of music, dance, and stories creates a magical experience that celebrates Hawaii’s traditions and its people’s connection to land and sea.

Visting another island? Check out our luau guides for Kauai, Oahu, and Maui!

Top 5 Best Luaus on the Big Island

Discover the best luaus on the Big Island. Each luau offers a unique blend of cultural wonders, tasty feasts, and unforgettable performances. Keep reading to learn more about these top picks!

1. Legends of Hawaii Luau

Location: Hilton Waikoloa Village

enjoy-spectacular-performances-by-hula-and-fire-dancers-legends-of-hawaii-luau-hilton-waikoloa

Credit: Hawaii Tours

Visitors to Hawaii looking for an unforgettable luau experience will find Legends of Hawaii Luau at Hilton Waikoloa Village one of the best luaus on the Big Island. This luau takes place every Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday.

Adult tickets start at $190. For those wanting better seats and easier access to the buffet, there’s an option to pay an extra $30.

The setting includes a large stage for performances where guests can enjoy traditional hula and fire knife dancing.

The buffet offers a variety of local favorite dishes that give attendees a taste of Hawaiian cuisine. Highlights include traditional Hawaiian food, making this event more than just dinner; it’s a cultural feast for the senses.

Plus, with its location on the Kohala Coast, attendees get stunning views as they dine under the stars and watch spectacular sunsets.

This luau is celebrated for providing guests with both entertainment and educational value about Hawaiian history through dance and music.

This luau takes you on a journey through the legends and history of Hawaii with stunning performances along the shores of Kamakahonu Bay.

You’ll feast under the stars while enjoying live music and an all-you-can-eat buffet featuring traditional Hawaiian dishes like kalua pig, poi, and haupia.

The highlight? A mesmerizing fire knife dance that lights up the night.

2. The Mauna Kea Luau

Location: Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

Mauna Kea Luau

Credit: Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

The Luau at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel brings the vibrant culture of Hawaii to life. Guests can enjoy the soothing sounds of surf mingling with soulful steel guitars under the stars.

The menu offers traditional Hawaiian food that delights all your senses. Polynesian entertainment, including an awe-inspiring fire dancing performance, adds excitement to the evening.

Pricing options cater to different preferences, ranging from show-only tickets at $130 for adults and $94 for children to premium seating which costs $200 for adults and $140 for children.

This variety ensures every guest finds a spot that suits their budget while experiencing unforgettable moments on the Big Island of Hawaii.

As one of best luaus on the Big Island, it set against the backdrop of Kauna’oa Bay, this event offers a mix of contemporary and Hawaiian cuisine in its buffet spread.

Enjoy imu ceremony demonstrations and learn about ancient Hawaiian culture through stories told by captivating hula dancers. It’s perfect for those who appreciate both great food and cultural richness.

3. Voyagers of the Pacific Luau

Location: Royal Kona Resort

Voyagers of the Pacific Luau

Credit: Voyagers of the Pacific Luau

At Royal Kona Resort, the Voyagers of the Pacific Luau stands out among Big Island’s top luaus.

With shows on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, guests pay $179 for adults.

This luau treats you to an oceanfront seat overlooking breathtaking Kailua Bay. Here, tradition takes center stage with Hawaiian hula dancing and the thrilling Samoan fire-knife performance.

This experience blends magnificent sunset views with authentic cultural entertainment.

You get a full evening of enjoyment – from savoring traditional dishes to watching skilled dancers tell stories through their movements against a backdrop of fiery torches and the sound of waves.

It’s an immersive dive into Hawaii’s rich heritage at one of its most scenic spots. Definitely one of best luaus on the Big Island!

Experience a celebration packed with Polynesian activities from across the Pacific at this oceanfront setting.

The luau showcases thrilling Samoan fire knife dances, beautiful hula performances, and a variety of island delicacies to enjoy as you watch the sun set over Kailua-Kona.

4. Island Breeze Luau – He ‘Ohana Kakou

Location: Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel

Island Breeze Luau

Credit: Island Breeze Luau

Island Breeze Luau at Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel invites you to experience a night of traditional Polynesian culture every Tuesday and Sunday.

Guests enjoy an evening filled with the vibrant performances of Fijian and Māori dances as part of the Polynesian Revue.

This luau stands out for its commitment to showcasing authentic cultural activities, offering both entertainment and education for all ages.

Dining at Island Breeze Luau is a feast for the senses, featuring a dinner buffet stocked with traditional Hawaiian foods like kalua pig, poi, chicken long rice, laulau, lomilomi salmon, haupia, and poke.

The full open bar ensures that your cup never runs dry as you savor these island favorites under the stars.

Adding to the allure are child-friendly activities that make this luau a must-visit destination for families seeking to immerse themselves in Hawaiian traditions while enjoying contemporary comforts.

At Island Breeze Luau on the historic grounds where King Kamehameha once lived, guests are treated to an evening filled with traditional Polynesian entertainment.

From powerful drum dances to graceful hula movements—and let’s not forget about sampling authentic island flavors—this experience is steeped in rich cultural heritage.

5. Feast & Fire Luau

Location: Outrigger Kona Resort & Spa

Feast and Fire Luau

Credit: Feast and Fire Luau

The Feast & Fire Luau at Outrigger Kona Resort & Spa offers an unforgettable evening. With general seating for adults priced at $160, this event is a must-see on Mondays and Thursdays from 5 to 8 p.m.

Guests enjoy traditional luau food alongside contemporary dishes while watching a mesmerizing Hawaiian show. Highlights include hula dancingfire dancing, storytelling, and a captivating torch lighting ceremony.

Discounts are available for children and private seating options enhance the experience. This Big Island luau invites visitors into the rich culture of Hawaii through its engaging performances and culinary delights.

Make your visit memorable by joining the celebration under the stars at this iconic location.

Here, you dine al fresco while overlooking dramatic ocean views at sunset.

The evening includes interactive games for kids, storytelling that weaves together myths of gods and heroes from Hawaiian lore, followed by an exhilarating performance using fire knives that truly captures the spirit of old Hawai’i.

Pros & Cons (For each Luau)

Alright, if you’re planning a trip to Hawaii and yearning for the quintessential Hawaiian experienceattending a luau is a must.

Here’s a concise guide on the pros and cons of the top luaus to help you make an informed choice.

LuauProsCons
Legends of Hawaii Luau, Hilton Waikoloa Village– Breathtaking venue with outdoor setting
– Diverse and extensive buffet menu
– Incorporates legends of Hawaii into the show
– Can be pricey compared to others
– Large venue may feel less intimate
Luau at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel– Traditional and authentic experience
– Beachfront setting offers stunning views
– High-quality performances
– Limited availability; advance booking required
– Higher end on the cost spectrum
Voyagers of the Pacific, Royal Kona Resort– Convenient downtown Kona location
– Dynamic fire dancing finale
– Offers a cultural journey through Polynesia
– Can feel crowded during peak seasons
– Vegetarian options may be limited
Island Breeze Luau, Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel– Oceanfront luau grounds enhance the experience
– Interactive activities (e.g., lei making)
– Suitable for families
– Some may find the food options less adventurous
– Evening can get chilly; bring a light jacket
Feast & Fire Luau, Outrigger Kona Resort & Spa– Spectacular fire-dancing acts
– Scenic location overlooking the ocean
– Fresh and locally sourced ingredients
– Slightly removed from the main area, requiring transportation
– Price point may not fit all budgets

Choosing the perfect luau can define your Hawaiian adventure. Each luau offers a distinct slice of Hawaiian culture, from the traditional to the extravagant.

Consider what matters most to you—be it the food, the authenticity, the entertainment, or the location—and you’re sure to find a luau that fits just right. Enjoy the feast, the music, and the dance, and let Hawaii’s spirit embrace you.

Cheak out our guide to the best luaus in Hawaii to learn even more about luaus!

Our Opinions and Advice

I love attending luaus. However, I don’t think it’s nesseccary for every visit to Hawaii. I feel it’s important to at least experience one or two authentic luaus in Hawaii.

But, there is so much else to see and do while visiting Hawaii. So, maybe put a luau on your list for your first visit and if you visit again, be sure to check out more of Hawaii’s culture.

Best Luaus on the Big Island of Hawaii Wrap-Up

As we come to the end of our journey exploring the best luaus on the Big Island, it’s clear that each one offers a unique and unforgettable experience.

From the mesmerizing performances to the mouthwatering cuisine, these luaus showcase the beauty and richness of Hawaiian culture.

As you plan your visit to the Big Island, consider attending one of these top luaus to create memories that will last a lifetime and immerse yourself in the spirit of Aloha.

If you’re eager to learn more about Hawaiian culture and attractions, check out our other articles on Hawaii’s best travel destinations and activities.

Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, there’s always more to discover in this tropical paradise.

So, what’s next on your Hawaiian adventure? Start planning today and experience the best luaus on the Big Island firsthand!

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FAQs for the Best Luaus on the Big Island

1. What makes a luau on the Big Island special?

Luaus on the Big Island are unique because they blend traditional island culture with breathtaking performances. You’ll enjoy Hawaiian BBQ, witness the hula kahiko dance, and learn about the history of Hawaii at places like Kamehameha the Great’s former estate.

2. Can you recommend some popular luaus on the Big Island?

Sure! The Luau at Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort and Mauna Kea Luau are crowd favorites for their stunning sunset views and delicious mix of contemporary and Hawaiian dishes. Don’t miss out on these for an unforgettable evening!

3. What should I expect when going to a luau?

Expect a feast! Luaus include a full bar with beer, mai tais, and more. You’ll see amazing dances that tell stories from Hawaiian history while enjoying foods like steamed chicken soup or Hawaiian bbq – all under Hawaii’s beautiful sky.

4. Are there any luaus that offer something extra special?

Yes! The Feast and Fire Luau stands out for its quality show set against scenic backdrops, offering guests not just dinner but an immersive cultural experience with every performance.

5. How do I choose the best luau for my visit?

Consider what matters most to you: Do you want breathtaking ocean views? A focus on native Hawaiian traditions? Or maybe a menu rich in Polynesian flavors? Check reviews of big island luaus like those by Island Breeze Productions or at Courtyard by Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach to find your perfect match.

6. Is it worth visiting different luaus if I come back to Hawai’i?

Absolutely! Each luau has its own flavor—literally and figuratively—from the Legends of Hawai’i Lū‘au’s historical tales to Hilo’s unique local charm. Exploring different luaus gives you a fuller picture of Hawaiʻi Island’s rich culture.

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.