Whether it’s your first trip to Hawaii or your 10th, attending a Hawaii luau (Hawaiian feast) is one of the best ways to experience the culture. Lucky for you, each island has several luaus to choose from ranging from kitschy to chic. What you’ll find at each one, however, is an array of Hawaiian dishes like kalua (baked) pig cooked in an imu (underground oven), poi (baked and pounded taro root), laulau (steamed meat wrapped in ti leaves) and haupia (coconut pudding), followed by sensational entertainment with plenty of Polynesian flare. Learn more about the best luaus in Hawaii.
Luaus on Oahu
This one’s an oldie but a goodie. The no frills luau, located at a former beachside home on the westside of the island, has been entertaining audiences since 1976. It’s one of the least expensive luau in the state, yet you’ll still get to experience all the typical traditions including a festive, colorful show. Make sure you’re ready to feel 100 percent like a tourist, however, which is part of what makes this event so charming. Pricing ranges from around $75 to $128.
Once hosted at Sea Life Park in Waimanalo, the Chief’s Luau has now moved to Wet’n’Wild waterpark in sunny Kapolei. Guests are seated at banquet tables where a bountiful meal is enjoyed while warriors and fire dancers perform under the stars. The three-hour luau also includes a visit to Polynesian Village where guests can enjoy activities like lau hala weaving and spear throwing. Prices range from $87 to $159 for the “Royal Experience.”
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The manicured tropical setting at this luau is unlike anything you’ll find in Waikiki. Located at the Polynesian Cultural Center on the north shore, guests are surrounded by lush tropical foliage and serene waterfalls. Adding to the richness of this experience is that prior to indulging in an ample buffet, there’s opportunity to peruse one of the most popular attractions on Oahu and “visit” six different Pacific Island villages including Fiji and Tonga. Prices vary from about $85 to $219 for VIP accommodations.
There is a reason USA Today readers recently voted the Polynesian Cultural Center Hawai‘i’s best attraction. There is simply nowhere else in Hawai’i where you can experience so much in one place. The Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) has the culture, history and entertainment of six Island Villages; they have Hawai‘i’s most authentic royal Lū‘au; there’s the Hukilau Marketplace, with the best shopping & dining on the North Shore; and then an absolutely dazzling evening show unlike any other in ‘Oahu.
Luaus on Kauai
Smith Family Garden Luau
Guests are in for a visual treat at this coveted luau located in the sacred Wailua Valley. In operation for more than 50 years, the heart of this family-run business is the music that’s been passed down several generations that serenades guests throughout the evening. Cost is $98 for adults.
The entertainment that accompanies this Kilohana Plantation luau in Lihue will blow you away. The meal and performance take place in a large amphitheater with tables surrounding a stage. The interactive show incorporates the story of a voyage from Tahiti to Hawaii and pays homage to Hawaiian gods and goddesses including Pele (volcano deity). Cost is about $110 per adult.
Luaus on the Big Island of Hawaii
Island Breeze Luau
Kailua-Kona is one of the most popular resort locations on the Big Island making this luau a convenient place to visit. Hosted by the Courtyard Marriott’s King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel, it’s hard to find another event with more over-the-top amusement. The entertainment gets even better once the sun goes down and the Maori and Fijian dances of war along with a Samoan Fire knife dancer put on eye-catching displays of talent. Cost is around $100 per adult.
Hawaii Loa Luau
Formerly known as the Gathering of the Kings, this new, top-rated luau is held at The Fairmont Orchid Hawai‘i along the South Kohala Coast. Festivities are nothing short of grand and take place at Kalahuipaa, a former gathering place of alii (royalty). An exquisite meal takes place before a theatrical show that features a modern take on luau entertainment including hula-dancing paniolo (cowboys). Cost is $115 per adult.
Things to know before you go – learn about the history of the luau!