Aloha, fellow Luau lovers!
If you’re anything like me, there’s something magical about a Hawaiian luau that can transport you to another world – one where ancient Polynesian traditions come alive through vibrant music, captivating dance performances, and mouthwatering feasts under the stars. I’ve been fascinated with this incredible slice of culture ever since my very first visit to these enchanting islands.
You see, my boyfriend and I have made it our personal mission to experience as many luaus as possible on our numerous trips to Hawaii. Trust me; we’ve laughed together at the lighthearted hula lessons and gasped in awe at the exhilarating fire-knife dancers. From family-friendly events to romantic evenings for two, we’ve seen them all!
But don’t worry; your journey into this fascinating world doesn’t have to be trial-and-error like ours. I’ve compiled years of research (and taste-testing) into finding only the best luaus that Hawaii has to offer. Whether you’re looking for an authentic cultural experience or just some fantastic island cuisine, there’s a perfect luau waiting just around the corner.
Warning: Attending one of these amazing events might make other parties seem dull in comparison – but hey, it’s a risk worth taking!
So grab your lei and let’s dive into my handpicked selection of Hawaii’s most unforgettable luaus – soon enough, you’ll find yourself swaying along with the rhythm of those hypnotic drums!
Ali’i Luau at The Polynesian Cultural Center
Oahu’s best luau takes place in the Polynesian Cultural Center on the North shore and consists of six villages modeled to the cultures and islands that make up Polynesia. The Center also hosts the terrific Ali’i luau, allowing guests to explore the villages, participate in interactive workshops, and enjoy an immersive show of Hawaiian tales.
Guests will love exploring villages from Hawaii, New Zealand, Tahiti, Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, and more while interacting with the locals and exploring their traditional homes and customs. In addition, they can engage in lei-making, learning Samoan cooking techniques, paddling an outrigger canoe, and learning to throw spears from fun workshops.
After the pre-show activities, settle down for a viewing of the main show, ‘Ha: Breath of Life,’ which narrates tales passed down generations through music, hula, flame dances, and fire walking demonstrations. Nothing compares to this captivating experience, as it’s a great way to learn about the island’s ancient history.
My boyfriend and I love the Polynesian Cultural Center and often visit it when we’re in Oahu, as they have the best luau in Hawaii. Here’s why you’ll agree:
- The luau includes a delicious all-you-can-eat buffet dinner of favorite island food.
- Your ticket allows entry to explore the Polynesian Cultural Center for three days.
- The luau and Center offer family-friendly entertainment for all ages.
Paradise Cove Luau
One of the most well-known luaus in Oahu takes place from the Paradise Cove beachfront, which transforms into a stunning luau venue each night. The Paradise Cove luau offers incredible ocean views throughout the show, entertainment featuring music and dance from around Hawaii, and great cultural activities.
You’ll be greeted in the traditional luau way with leis and Mai Tai drinks and given access to explore the vast event lawns, which look onto downtown Honolulu, Pearl Harbor, and the Diamond Head volcano. Enjoy the gorgeous sunset as it lights up the venue, and engage in the cultural displays like a beautiful Shower of Flowers, the Hukilau, which demonstrates Hawaiian net fishing techniques, and the Imu ceremony where a whole Kalua pig is removed from an underground clay oven (imu.)
Dinner is a delicious buffet meal of Hawaiian classics like the imu-roasted Kalua pork and other favorite continental dishes. Next, sit down under the starlit sky as the Paradise Cove Extravaganza presents thrilling shows featuring local dances, upbeat live music, and performances that will have you hooked till the last minute.
We never miss a chance to visit the Paradise Cove luau on our trips to Oahu, as it’s one of the best luaus in Hawaii. Here’s why you’ll agree:
- You can customize the luau package to include leis, drinks, buffet menu items, and seating of your choice.
- There’s a local arts and crafts display in the Hawaiian Village before the show.
- You can include hotel transportation in your ticket for convenient pickups and drop-offs.
Toa Luau at the Waimea Valley
Oahu’s most beautiful luau takes place amidst the natural beauty of the Waimea Valley, with lush greenery and cascading waterfalls. The Toa Luau takes place in the Valley and allows guests to tour the grounds before the main show, which features performances from around Polynesia and an incredible buffet dinner.
We highly recommend touring the Valley first, which includes a short nature hike to Waimea Falls and allows swimming in its freshwater pool. Next, you’ll walk through botanical gardens filled with local plants and flowers. The luau also offers ways to connect with the culture through the imu ceremony and the Kava ceremony, where guests pass around a ceremonial bowl and drink from it while reciting welcome chants.
Finally, sit down for a delicious buffet dinner of BBQ, Shoyu Chicken, fresh salads, and homemade Haupia (coconut) desserts. Once your appetite is filled, marvel at the dances and tales from Hawaii, Tonga, New Zealand, Fiji, and Samoa, followed by a hair-raising fire knife show which becomes the highlight of your night.
My boyfriend and I are big fans of the Toa luau, which gets you close to the island’s beauty, and is one of the best luaus in Hawaii. Here’s why you’ll agree:
- A walk through the gardens reveals the same fresh flowers that go in your lei.
- There are also fun Hawaiian lawn games before the show, which everyone can enjoy.
- Your ticket includes the entrance and tour of Waimea Valley.
The Old Lahaina Luau
Make way to Maui for the most authentic luau in Hawaii, which follows the same practices as ancient Hawaiians in celebrating this event. The Old Lahaina luau displays all the culturally accurate parts of a luau without the new-age additions like fire knife shows, such as sitting on floor mats and eating a Hawaiian meal.
However, this fantastic luau sells out pretty quickly, so get your seats booked months in advance, and you’ll thank me later.
The luau begins with a lovely lei and tropical beverage greeting, after which you can see the massive Kalua pig unearthed in the imu ceremony. Enjoy an endless buffet of Hawaiian classics for dinner, like Lomi Lomi salmon, island-style Mahi Mahi, Pulehu chicken, and assorted fresh vegetables and fruits.
After the filling meal, sit down to watch an authentic luau show which tells the stories of Hawaiians, of European arrival, and the development of hula in a captivating way. Afterward, sway under the starry sky to music as the luau nears an end.
My boyfriend and I love the Old Lahaina luau and often bring family and friends here, as it’s the best luau in Hawaii. Here’s why you have to try it:
- There are Hawaiian green sea turtles, called honu, on a sea wall near the luau grounds.
- A special sweet potato beer is brewed for the event by Maui Brewing Co.
- You’ll enjoy gorgeous waterfront seating with views of the distant mountains.
The Feast at Lele Luau
Some luaus are all about the food, and the Feast at Lele does justice to Hawaiian fare like no other through its excellent five-course dinner menu. Located on the lively Front Street in Lahaina, this luau promises incredible performances from around Polynesia and a gourmet-style meal prepared by professional island chefs.
Guests receive beautiful leis and complimentary Mai Tais on arrival as they settle in for a meal of island-style pork, chicken wrapped in taro leaves and cooked in coconut milk, and other mouthwatering dishes. Afterward, there’s an unmissable show featuring dances from Samoa, Tahiti, and Hawaii.
You’ll be hooked till the very end with performances like the Haka, a fearsome war dance performed by the Maori of Aotearoa (present-day New Zealand,) Tahitian hip-swaying dances, and a Samoan fire and knife dance.
My boyfriend and I can’t recommend the Feast at Lele enough, as its delicious food and unique performances make it the best luau in Hawaii. Here’s why you have to try it:
- There’s an open bar serving drinks throughout the event.
- The luau’s stunning location gives uninterrupted views of the Pacific Ocean.
- The dinner is made from local produce and served farm-to-table.
Drums of the Pacific Luau at The Hyatt Regency
Among Maui’s best luau is the Drums of the Pacific, the oldest and longest-standing luau on the island, which takes place regularly from the Ka’anapali beachfront. The Hyatt Regency Hotel organizes this event and pays great attention to detail in the Polynesian performances and authentic Hawaiian food served in the buffet.
The luau will have you captivated from the beginning, as it starts with a conch shell blow, followed by a steady drum beat as the stage lights up with tiki torches. As the only luau with performances from all of Polynesia like Hawaii, Tahiti, Samoa, Cook Islands, New Zealand, Tonga, and Tuamotus, you’ll learn immensely about these cultures.
One of our favorite performances in this luau was the Samoan fire knife dance, and flame-eating, which made for some unforgettable, jaw-dropping moments. For dinner, you’ll feast on favorite Hawaiian foods like Lomi Lomi salmon and Huli Huli chicken, with an open bar throughout the event.
Do yourself a favor and attend the Drums of the Pacific, as it’s undoubtedly one of the best luaus in Hawaii.
- This luau is a family-friendly event with a separate buffet menu for kids.
- You’ll receive fresh flower leis and cocktails at the beginning.
- There’s pre-show entertainment of hula lessons for kids and adults.
Voyagers of the Pacific Luau at The Royal Kona Resort
Voyagers of the Pacific is one of the Big Island’s best luaus and promises hours of entertainment through Polynesian storytelling, dances, and shows from around Hawaii, plus fun pre-show activities and a delicious dinner buffet. This luau takes place in the gorgeous Royal Kona Resort with oceanfront views as it overlooks Kailua Bay for the best outdoor experience.
Guests are greeted with shell leis and Mai Tais, then engaged in a series of great workshops and demonstrations. Families with younger children will especially love trying lei-making, getting a temporary tattoo, and watching as the staff unearths a huge Kalua pig in the imu ceremony.
Next, you can enjoy a feast of Hawaiian classics from the resort’s all-you-can-eat buffet, followed by drinks from the open bar. Finally, get ready to be transported to Polynesia through the luau’s immersive storytelling, plus incredible dances and a Samoan fire knife show which is executed to perfection.
We’re fans of the epic display at the Voyagers of the Pacific luau and highly recommend it as the best luau in Hawaii. Here’s why you will too:
- There are group hula lessons before the show, which help you learn the beautiful dance.
- Upgrade to VIP seating and enjoy front-row views of the performance.
- The luau is held four nights a week and has discounts for hotel guests.
Island Breeze Luau at The Kona Beach Hotel
If you have only enough time to attend one luau on the Big Island, let it be this one, as the Kona Beach Hotel hosts the best luau in Hawaii. The Island Breeze luau takes guests back to the times of King Kamehameha II through a royal court procession that replicates his arrival, complete on an outrigger canoe with loud Oli (chants.)
The performances in this luau pay tribute to all the Polynesian cultures. You’ll be captivated by fearsome Fijian war dances and a hair-raising Samoan fire show as the steady drum beats, chants, and music set the atmosphere. In addition, the luau promises views like no other as it takes place near the King’s former estate, Ahu’ena, with the stunning backdrop of paddlers and canoes on the Kamakahonu Bay.
For dinner, you’ll be feasting on a mouthwatering buffet with up to twenty-two Hawaiian dishes like imu-roasted pork, BBQ chicken, fresh island catch, and drinks from the open bar available all night.
My boyfriend and I love the Island Breeze luau for its unmissable performances and gorgeous location, and it’s the best luau in Hawaii. Here’s why you can’t miss it:
- The luau is set against the Hualalai volcano in the back, which makes for a great photo op.
- The sunset from the luau grounds gives views of Kona lighting up for the evening.
- There are local artisans selling arts and crafts, which you can purchase before the show.
Luau Kalamaku at the Kilohana Plantation
Known as the Garden Isle, Kauai is filled with natural displays of beautiful plant life, and you can watch them from the island’s best luau on the 104-acre Kilohana Plantation. The Luau Kalamaku is an award-winning event for its terrific presentation of Polynesian culture through immersive performances, dances, and a delicious dinner buffet.
On arrival, you’ll be greeted with leis and wander the expansive luau grounds, where local artisans showcase their handmade crafts and art pieces. Next, the Kalua pig gets unearthed, which signals the beginning of dinner, a buffet meal of classic Hawaiian fares such as fresh Mahi Mahi, teriyaki chicken, Lomi Lomi salmon, and a range of local vegetables, fruits, and sides.
After dinner, guests gather in the Luau Pavilion for the main show, which presents the story of the first Tahitian voyagers to land on Hawaiian shores. The show takes you through an incredible cultural display with graceful Polynesian dances, flame twirlers playing tricks with fire, and live Hawaiian music played on traditional instruments handmade by the musicians.
We were in awe throughout the Luau Kalamaku, and we can’t recommend it enough as it’s the best luau in Hawaii. Here’s why you’ll agree:
- You can explore the estate grounds from the Kauai Plantation Railway through an upgrade.
- Guests can meet the cast and take pictures with them after the performance.
- There’s an open bar selling a variety of drinks all night.
Smith Family Garden Luau
Keeping up with Kauai’s incredible garden displays, the Smith Family Garden Luau is a stunning show held on grounds facing the Wailua River, with the island’s beautiful flora and fauna blooming around you. This luau promises a more intimate gathering than most, as guests are invited in small groups and receive individual attention from the family throughout the show.
The luau begins with guests receiving a lei greeting, followed by wandering the gorgeous grounds and seeing the native plant life up close. Next, there’s an imu ceremony as the Kalua pig is removed from an underground clay oven (imu) and taken to the kitchens for serving. The Smith Family’s dinner buffet is terrific, as you can feast on Hawaiian classics and enjoy complimentary drinks from the bar all night long.
For the main event, guests will lose track of time and space as they enter a torchlit lagoon theater for the ‘Golden People of Hawaii’ show, which showcases the cultures of the many ethnic groups residing in Hawaii. Each group displays its intricate costumes as they take you through international performances from Tahiti, Hawaii, China, Japan, the Philippines, New Zealand, and Samoa, with fire knife dances and even Asian lion dances.
We never had a dull moment at the Smith Family’s incredible event, and we consider it the best luau in Hawaii. Here’s why you will too:
- You can spot peacocks roaming the grounds from a distance.
- The luau is set against a backdrop of fruit orchids and a bamboo forest.
- Your ticket includes a tour of the Smith family’s private grounds before the show.
Are Hawaii luaus worth it?
Whether it’s your first time in Hawaii or you’re a regular on the islands, there’s no better way to spend hours filled with entertainment than attending a Hawaiian luau. Besides learning about Hawaiian and Polynesian history, you get to watch captivating performances and feast on delicious island food.
How do you pick a luau in Hawaii?
You can choose a luau to attend based on preferences like family-friendly activities, the best buffet dinners, the most authentic performances, and entertaining shows. Read through the luaus mentioned in this article and attend the one that ticks all your boxes!
What is the best luau in Maui?
Maui’s luaus are some of the best in Hawaii, with the best ones being the Old Lahaina luau, that’s the most authentic, and the Feast at Lele luau, which has the best dinner.
How much is a typical luau in Hawaii?
Luaus from around Hawaii cost anywhere between $120-$300 and include a few hours of entertaining Hawaiian dances, music, and performances, interactive workshops or cultural activities, buffet dinners, and keepsakes. However, these events are free for children aged 3 years and younger in most venues.
What is the most authentic luau in Hawaii?
The Old Lahaina Luau in Maui and the Polynesian Cultural Center luau in Oahu are some of Hawaii’s most authentic luau. That’s because these events focus on the same practices performed in the first-ever luaus, such as local island-style feasts and performances showcasing Hawaii.
Wrapping Up The Best Luau in Hawaii
If you’ve made it this far in the article, you’ll have read about the many terrific luaus in Hawaii, which are the highlight of any island vacation. The luaus are family-friendly events, with both small and large gatherings, and promise hours of entertainment to guests through stories and performances from around Polynesia.
However, remember to book your admission ticket a while before your trip, as these luaus are sought out by people around the world and sell out quickly.
Want to attend the most family-friendly luaus in Hawaii? Visit the Old Lahaina luau in Maui, the Luau Kalamaku, and the Smith Family Garden luau in Kauai.
Looking for the most authentic luaus in Hawaii? Attend the Old Lahaina luau in Maui and the Polynesian Cultural Center luau in Oahu.
Want to attend a luau with the best performances? Visit the Luau Kalamaku in Kauai and the Drums of the Pacific luau in Maui.
The best luaus in Hawaii have something fun for everyone!
Last Updated on March 30, 2023 by Brigitte