Formerly known as a pāʻina or ʻahaʻaina, the lūʻau is among the islands’ most joyous occasions for visitors and locals alike. Not only is it a feast for the ages—we’re talking local-style chow like kālua pig, poi, huli huli chicken and laulau—but it is also a place of learning and culture. While the flashy fire knife dancing and mesmerizing hula performances are fun to watch, the best lūʻau makes sure to mix those performances with storytelling of the Islands, teaching guests more about the land they are visiting. And with so much culture on Hawaiʻi Island, it’s no surprise that some of the best lūʻau in the state call the Big Island—a popular moniker for Hawaiʻi Island—home. Here are our five favorites, located across the island from Kona to Waikoloa.
1. Legends of Hawaiʻi Lūʻau
Among the top rated lūʻau in the state, the Legends of Hawaiʻi Lūʻau at Hilton Waikoloa Village is a truly stunning experience. Starting with live music, ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian language) lessons and an intro class to hula dancing for visitors, dinner is preceded by a exhilarating torch run, where the men of Tihati Productions light the torches of Kamehameha Court to the pulsating beat of polynesian drums. From there, visitors can eat and relax as the main event begins and talented performers share moʻolelo (legends) of Hawaiʻi.
For tickets and more information, visit the Legends of Hawaii Luau’s website.
2. Voyagers of the Pacific
Picture this. You’re sitting outside on a beautiful Hawaiian day, watching the sun set over gorgeous Kailua Bay. It’s time for the all-you-can-eat Hawaiian feast promised by the Voyagers of the Pacific lūʻau, which includes ʻono (delicious) local fare like locally sourced poi, teriyaki beef, fresh pineapple and haupia pudding. Stuffed to your heart’s content, it’s time for the show, an epic that tells the story of ancient Hawaiian and Polynesian culture, which ultimately culminates in an awe-inspiring Polynesian fire knife dance.
For tickets and more information, visit the Voyagers of the Pacific’s website.
3. Pilikana Waterfront Local Hawaiian-Style Luau
In the heart of Kona town is the Pilikana Waterfront Local Hawaiian-Style Luau, put on by Kona Inn Village. Pre-show activities include keiki (kid)-friendly Polynesian-style tattoos, hula lessons and Polynesian drumming. Through music and song, the show tells stories of Hawaiʻi, while the buffet meal—catered by local favorite Umekes Fish Market Bar & Grill—provided beforehand gives lūʻau-goers an insight at the local fare produced here in Hawaiʻi.
For tickets and more information, visit the Pilikana Waterfront Local Hawaiian-Style Luau’s website.
4. Waikoloa Sunset Lūʻau
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Hawaiʻi sunsets and lūʻau go hand-in-hand, combining the islands’ most fiery natural display with a cultural showcase and ʻono food. A seriously fresh dinner—concocted by executive chef Jayson Kanekoa—features J.A. Farms Garden Salad, Waipi’o Valley poi, Keāhole shrimp, hōʻiʻo fern shoots, Pūlehu steaks and grilled chicken with Hamakua mushrooms. After the sun has set and the food has been enjoyed, performers will take diners on a journey through Tahiti, New Zealand, Hawaiʻi and Sāmoa through song and dance.
For tickets and more information, visit the Waikoloa Sunset Luau’s website here.
5. Luau at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel
Easily one of the nicest properties and resorts on island, the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel’s lūʻau festivities are as authentic as they are luxurious. Tables are laden with kālua pig, fresh island fish, lomi lomi salmon and piles of locally sourced fruit. Through music, culture and Hawaiian legends, the folks at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel aim to dazzle its guests with magnificent hula performances and dazzling fire knife dances.
For tickets and more information, visit the Luau at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel’s website here.