Which is the best luau in Hawaii? I get that question all the time and I'm not at all surprised. With so many luaus to choose from on each island and the cost and time commitment required, visitors want to make sure that they go to the luau that best suits their personal interests.
Some are more party oriented. Some are very culturally oriented. Some have great entertainment but not so great food and vice-versa. You can learn a bit about the history of the luau and something about the types of food and entertainment that you'll find at luaus in our feature Luau - A Hawaiian Feast.
Here are twelve of my favorite luaus in Hawaii. I've included three from each main island.
I'd also like to hear from you. What is your favorite luau in Hawaii and why? Send in your submissions and photos.
Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa and Island Breeze Productions present Haleo – the Voice of Life each Monday evening at an oceanfront setting at Sheraton Keauhou Bay.
The story of Haleo – the Voice of Life, celebrates the history of the ahupua'a (land division) called Keauhou. A journey through a very special time in Hawaiian history highlights the birth at Keauhou Bay of Kauikeauoli who became Kamehameha III, surfing stories of He‘eia Bay, the battle of Kuamo‘o and how Kamehameha III bridged the gap of many ancient traditions as he brought the people of his kingdom into a new era.
Pre-show activities for luau guests include the opportunity to meet the entertainers and talk story with them to learn, in advance of the show, some of the stories of Keauhou and the legacy left by Kamehameha III. Arts and crafts including lauhala weaving and coconut husking can also be enjoyed. With Hawaiian music adding to the magical setting beneath the stars on the Hawaii Lawn, guests then savor a dinner buffet of traditional Hawaiian foods and contemporary favorites prepared by the chefs at Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa.
The Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa offers their Royal Luau on Wednesdays and Sundays. Set aside ancient Hawaiian fishponds and the backdrop of beautiful Anaehoomalu Bay, you can't ask for a better location.
An acclaimed cast of musicians, drummers and dancers from Tihati Productions presents Tihati's Polynesia - a fast paced musical journey through the South Pacific including songs and dances rarely seen in typical luau shows and culminating with a spell-binding Samoan fire-knife dance.
The luau dinner offers such favorites as kalua pork, mahimahi, pulehu chicken, and kalua turkey along with island sweet potatoes, lomi lomi salmon, fried rice, potato and pasta salads. Complimentary Mai Tais and full open bar service are included.
Luau Kalamaku is offered twice-weekly and is Hawaii's only luau show performed "in-the-round," offering great views from every seat in the house. Featuring a state-of-the-art media system and an interactive stage design, the show includes a cast of approximately 50 dancers and musicians including an award-winning fire knife dancer.
The cultural journey begins with craft demonstrations and Hawaiian games, followed by the traditional imu ceremony. Guests are treated to a sumptuous buffet, while hula dancers and musicians entertain. Following dinner, the 45-minute main show begins as dancers take the stage to share the ancient Hawaiian legend of Kalamaku (child of the new land) and the Polynesians' amazing and dangerous journey from Tahiti to Kauai.
Sheraton Kauai Resort's Surf to Sunset Oceanfront Luau is held by the sands of the crescent-shaped Poipu Beach, and is Kauai's only oceanfront luau. The Surf to Sunset Oceanfront Luau is held twice weekly on Mondays and Fridays.
The elaborate luau banquet features both traditional Hawaiian delicacies as well as dishes that are inspired by the numerous ethnic foods that are enjoyed by the people of modern Hawaii, such as Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino and Thai-inspired foods.
The E Pele E Polynesian revue is a Polynesian dance and song extravaganza hosted by local celebrity Dickie Chang and presented by Kapu Kinimaka-Alquiza's renowned Halau Hula O Kaohikukapulani.
Consistently voted one of Hawaii's best luaus, the Smith Family Garden Luau is offered Monday, Wednesday and Friday at their 30-acre garden along the Wailua River.
With continual music the luau feast offers traditional favorites like kalua pork, beef teriyaki, chicken adobo, and sweet'n'sour mahimahi as well as lomi salmon, fresh poi, Hawaiian sweet potato, mac salad, namasu salad and numerous tropical deserts.
Their Rhythm of Aloha show offers colorful, authentic performances from Hawaii, Tahiti, Samoa, Philippines, New Zealand, China and Japan in our spacious open-air, torch-lit "Pele Amphitheater" (complete with erupting volcano!).
The Grand Hyatt Kauai Luau Havaiki Nui is held Sundays and Thursdays at the beautiful Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa on Kauai's southern shore.
Guests enjoy contemporary Hawaiian music while sipping a tropical drink and sampling pupu (appetizers). The luau feast offers both traditional Hawaiian and modern Hawaii fare such as kalua pork, haupia, roasted Hawaiian sweet potato, and poi along with other delicious dishes with an Asian Pacific flare.
The Polynesian Revue presented by Tihati Productions features the ancient Hawaiian hula kahiko, modern hula ‘auana, the pulsating dances of Tahiti, Maori dances from New Zealand, and the exhilarating fire knife dance of Samoa.
The Old Lahaina Luau is offered nightly at their own private luau grounds behind the Cannery Mall in Lahaina, West Maui. The Old Lahaina Luau takes great pride in presenting an authentic Hawaiian luau - an evening of traditional Hawaiian cuisine, music, cultural dances and island crafts. Guests will appreciate a genuine reflection of Hawaii’s rich history, while enjoying an ocean view and sunset.
As a three time attendee, I can attest that this is, by far, the best luau that you will find anywhere in the islands. It offers the most delicious and authentic food and the most well-produced and choreographed entertainment. If you only attend one luau while you're in Hawaii, be sure to attend the Old Lahaina Luau on Maui.
What happens when you combine the Polynesian cuisine of Chef James McDonald (of Pacific'O and I'O Restaurant fame), the entertainment expertise of the folks who run the Old Lahaina Luau and one of the best beachfront settings in Hawaii? The answer is The Feast at Lele in Lahaina, Maui.
The Feast at Lele is more like a fine dinner show than a traditional luau. Each table has a tablecloth, china with silverware and cloth napkins. Guests receive very personal attention from at least two servers. The "Feast" itself is the real star here. The menu consists of a five-course meal featuring cuisine from Hawaii, Tonga, Tahiti, and Samoa, plus dessert. Each course is followed by dramatic Polynesian entertainment from each island.
If you're staying at Ka'anapali Beach, there's no more convenient luau than the Drums of Pacific Luau at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa. The luau is held Tuesday through Sunday at the resort's Sunset Terrace.
The Drums of the Pacific Polynesian Spectacular is another Tihati Production. It takes you on a journey through the islands of Polynesia, complete with a traditional imu ceremony and the exotic flavors of native Hawaiian cuisine. They feature authentic dances and music of the old Hawaii, Samoa, Fiji, New Zealand, Tahiti, Tonga, and Rarotonga.
As good as the entertainment is, the real star of this luau is the food. It is some of the best I've ever eaten at a luau in Hawaii.
Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa has transformed its Waikiki Luau on the Lagoon into an all-new show - The Waikiki Starlight Luau on the resort's Rooftop Garden. The luau is offered Sunday – Thursday evenings.
The Waikiki Starlight Luau features the beautiful ladies and gentlemen of Tihati Productions in a creative new show concept — a stage in the round—where every seat promises a great view. Guests are taken on an exhilarating voyage across the South Seas in a celebration of Polynesian music and dance.
Complementing the show concept is a sumptuous dinner buffet featuring a modern twist on traditional luau fare. You can read more details by clicking on the link below to more info.
The Paradise Cove Luau, held nightly at the beautiful Ko Olina Resort area, is one of the best I've attended anywhere in Hawaii.
The pre-dinner activities and entertainment are the best at any luau I've ever attended. The imu ceremony is especially impressive. The food is neither the best nor the worst that I have had. It is somewhere right in the middle. The kalua pig was moist and quite good.
Paradise Cove's after dinner show is excellent. The show hosts are entertaining, funny and personable. The dancing is professional and well choreographed. Guests will enjoy the dance and music of several Polynesian cultures including Aotearoa (New Zealand), Samoa, Tahiti and of course, Hawaii. Their Samoan fire-knife dancer is excellent.
One of the highlights of any visit to the the Polynesian Cultural Center in La'ie on Oahu's North Shore is the Ali'i Lu'au. Like all of the PCC, it is available Monday - Saturday evenings.
The award-winning Ali'i Lu'au takes guests on a nostalgic trip back in time to learn about the royalty of Hawaii while enjoying traditional Hawaiian luau food and entertainment, cultural demonstrations and great service. It's the islands' most authentic Hawaiian luau. On my most recent visit, I found the luau food much improved from the past and really quite good.
While the luau entertainment is excellent, I highly recommend that you also book the Center's Polynesian spectacular, Hā: Breath of Life held shortly after the luau.