For many visitors to Hawaii visiting a Luau is one of the top activities they wish to experience while on the Islands. The Traditional Hawaiian Feast and After Dinner show is steeped in Hawaiian Tradition. While these shows have taken on a much more “Cliched” and touristy feel they are still right up on most people’s lists. We still always attend a Luau during any visit. It’s just not Hawaii unless you experience a Luau. Like anything popular, there are always a large number of options as competition grows. Not All Luaus in Oahu are Equal so we endeavor to show you the Best Luaus in Oahu, Hawaii in our complete guide.
With so many on offer, they all try and have their own unique selling point so they stand out from the crowd so the best Luau on Oahu for one may not be for another so we do our best to point out the pros and cons of each.
What exactly is a Luau? What to Expect.
A luau is a name for any Hawaiian Party really but the tourist industry has spawned a more specific expectation of what a Commercial Luau should be. It often has little to no connection with how Hawaiians would celebrate. However, it is still steeped in tradition and filled with many traditional foods and activities.
A Typical Luau will start with you registering and being presented with a lei (Traditional Hawaiin Garland worn around the neck). Some offer flower leis others only a Shell Lei. Almost all VIP options have Flower Leis. The lei is an important part of the greeting ritual and we always feel just a tough short-changed if we don’t get a real flower lei.
Then you are often offered a welcome drink. Typically a Mai Tai. You are then free to explore the Luau Grounds. There are many different activities going on, all traditional Hawaiian or Polynesian in nature such as Lei Making, Poi Pounding. There is no need to get involved but it helps get you in the spirit. There may also be Hawaiian Games to play to keep you and the kids entertained. Some even go as far as Net Fishing demonstrations and traditional canoeing.
At some point, you will be invited to share the Imu Ceremony. All will be explained but you are watching your dinner being unearthed. An IMU is a large underground oven and inside for most of the day, there has been a whole pig slowly roasting. The IMU Ceremony is where the Staff unearths it ready for its final prep to be served. It’s a very important part of the feast and a must-attend. Don’t be too off-put, it doesn’t always look that appetizing on unearthing but we can assure you the finished kalua pork is delightful.
You will then take your seats for the feast. Where tables will take turns to visit the buffet and help themselves to the fare. This is a great way of doing it as you can try small amounts of as much as you like to sample. Remember you can always go back for more once everyone has had a turn.
Then near the end of the feast, or just after, the Show will start. This is a mix of hula and traditional dance that will tell the story of Hawaiian isles, how they were populated, and the myths and legends the ancient Hawaiian people believed, a story of gods, demigods, and royalty. Expect loud vibrant dancing and music. Finally, near the end you are often invited/coerced to get up and dance yourselves, before the end of the evening where you head off into the night, hopefully, a little tipsy…or maybe that’s just us.
If that doesn’t sound like your kind of thing…maybe think twice about spending 1-200 per person attending one? We think a lot of negative reviews of Luaus come from people not really knowing what to expect. Remember your entry fee is for the whole event, show, wait staff, performers, and meal, etc… If you expect a $1-200 Meal you will be disappointed. If you embrace the whole event for what it is and take in the locale and the ambiance as well as the food and drink, then we think they (or some) are quite good value, for an entire evening’s entertainment and Dining.
What Food is served at a Luau?
Most Luau’s offer a very similar Menu with varying degrees of quality. The food is intended to be traditional Hawaiin Luau Feast fare but it also caters to a more American palate, offering the chance to taste traditional food but often not requiring it to fill you up. We would always suggest sampling as much of the traditional fare as possible but understand some people can be fussy eaters, but they shouldn’t go hungry. Traditional food items include the following and are available at nearly every Luau:
Kalua pig (Kālua pork)
Cooked underground in an IMU the Kalua Pig is a traditional Hawaiian staple available all over the island. However, it is rarely cooked inside an IMU except for at Luaus. Reminiscent of Pulled Pork but saltier and less sweet. The underground cooking method adds a light smoke rather than the heavy smokehouse taste. Every Luau must have a Kalua pig…It’s not a Luau without.
With the look and texture of Wallpaper paste, only purple. It tastes worse than it looks. But you just must try it. Why? we had too and we want you to feel our pain. Apparently, it’s some god-awful root mashed up (the Root of the Taro Plant, which actually makes nice chips!). Pounding it in the arts and crafts displays beforehand is fun, and for those that have already been subjected to its nastiness, you can take some of the hate out on it!
Even better than Kalua pork is Poke. Marinated, cured seafood, preferably Tuna (Ahi). It’s like sushi but with bags of taste. It’s becoming more available outside Hawaii now. But it’s not the same without an untouched tub of poi next to it.
Meat, Often Chicken or beef, but traditionally pork, Steamed in leaves. It’s not always the tastiest dish but is a nice safe option for most. As really it’s just steamed meat!
Hawaiian sweet potato
Like regular Sweet potatoes only Purple. Because, Like Hawaii, Purple is just better.
A delicious Salted Salmon and tomato salad. It’s as fun to say as it is to eat!
Being in a tropical paradise you have to expect a pretty impressive tropical fruit platter for dessert, Most Luaus come up with the goods.
For more information on the Culinary Delights of the Hawaiian Islands Check out this post on what to Eat in Hawaii!
Is the VIP Experience worth it?
As with any “is it worth it questions” it’s always hard to answer. Typically an Upgraded experience offers a few different features. You may get extra drinks included, Better seating, Upgraded leis, and a first attack at the buffet.
Rarely is it worth it JUST to get extra drinks as the prices range from $20-80 that’s an expensive 1-2 drinks! The buffets are plentiful so you don’t need to be first. Online reviews often complain of Food running out but this is rare. As when it does happen people rush to bad-mouth the company, whereas happy full customers don’t bother. The Seating can be great as these are not HUGE elaborate shows like Cirque de Soliel. They are much more intimate affairs so getting close is a good advantage, however, basic seats can be really good too, Check out the seating charts and arrive early! Most people want a flower lei so this may even swing it. It can be an expensive way to get a few flowers though.
Overall, If only one or two of the benefits are important to you, the basic experience is probably fine. If 3, 4, or more are important it may well be worth the cash? But it really is a personal choice. We tend to think if you are reading about what you get and are already feeling disappointed with the basic, Upgrade. It’s an expensive Evening try and makes the best of it. We, on the whole, tend to only pay for the basic, but then we go to a lot of Luau’s, if this is likely to be your one and only the super VIP might well be worth the money!
Just about every Luau offers an Upgraded experience and often a super upgrade. They come up with all types of crazy names for them, so when we list prices we stick with VIP and Super VIP. It will be very obvious when booking which is which.
There are two main locations for luaus on Oahu. Honolulu and Kapolei. These are the two main Tourist locations so it’s unsurprising the competition is fierce. On top of these, there are three outliers, which we will deal with first. The Polynesian Cultural Centre in Laie, the Ka Moana Luau at the Sea Life Park, and the new Toa Luau at Waimea Valley.
Most of the Luau’s in Kapolei offer transportation from most Waikiki locations so you can easily utilize this if your intention is to fully appreciate the Mai Tais’ and cocktails. For anyone who likes a drink, it’s highly recommended or you are going to need a designated driver. Prices are quite reasonable at around $16-20 round trip, they will pick you up and bus you out and then bring you home. If you are staying in Kapolei We recommend just attending a Luau around your area as the Waikiki luaus are not as accommodating (they don’t need the numbers).
Visitors staying at the Turtle Bay Resort are advised to Visit the Luau at the Polynesian Centre as it’s really quite close and the hotel will lay on transportation for you, but also the Family themed Toa Luau is right on your doorstep too.
If you know where you are staying, you might want to jump straight to that section, but make sure you check out the Outliers section too as one of the best Luau’s in all of Hawaii lies outside of any major resort area!
Map Of Oahu Luau’s
Enough talk, let’s get on to the individual Luau themselves.
Outliers – Luaus outside of the Main Tourist Areas:
- Polynesian Cultural Centre – Ha – Breath of Life – Laie
- Aloha Kai Luau – Sea Life Center
- Toa Luau – Waimea Valley
Polynesian Cultural Centre – Ha – Breath of Life – Laie
- Cost – $139.95 Adults – $111.96 Children (4-11) – Gateway Buffet
- Cost – $189.95 Adults – $147.96 Children (4-11) – Alli Luau Package – Super VIP +$80
- Drinks – No Alcohol Served!
- Perfect for – Experiencing Hawaiian Culture
- Rating – 9/10 – Possibly the Best Luau in Hawaii
The Polynesian Cultural Center offers probably the best Luau Show on the Island. The HA – Breath of Life Show is far more than the regular Hulu shows most Luau’s offer. This combined with a very high-quality Feast, Served Buffet Style, and includes entry to the Centre itself. Simply visiting the Centre is an Oahu a Must do and a full day’s activity costs $69.95, to combine it with a great feast and incredible show makes the cost of this luau far more reasonable than it first appears. The one thing that may put you off slightly is the fact no alcohol is served or may be consumed on the grounds.
The Other thing going against the Breath of Life Luau is the Location. While for Guests of the Turtle Bay resort it’s very convenient, for everyone else it’s a bit of a trek. This is a good choice for those with a car though as the lack of alcohol averts the problem of needing a designated driver. The Centre does provide transport at a cost of $25 per person, with limited hotel pickup options from the tourist areas (or a more expensive Kerbside Pickup option). While that does add to the costs, it does solve the problem of getting there and back if you don’t have a car. And still, when you consider what is included in your ticket it’s still good value.
Alcoholic drinks are not allowed, but a large selection of Non-alcoholic drinks are available and included. Overall we think this is the Best Luau on the Island, probably the whole state! In terms of spectacle, grandness, and added extra’s it really does shine. The Show is phenomenal, the feast grand and authentic, and the cultural center and ground an absolute must-see. If you can get there and get over the fact you cannot drink it is a fantastic Event!
There is now the discounted Gateway Buffet Option. This is a reduced-price Option that offers a Buffet Dinner at the Gateway Dining Hall. This is not quite the same as the full Luau Buffet but offers similar foodstuffs. But the Gateway Buffet feels a little more Cantina than Luau Feast. You also get the most basic seating option and no lei on arrival. The Alii Luau Package offers Flower Lei, premium seating, and access to the real Luau Feast with authentic Imu Presentation and Luau Seating in the lush gardens of the Center.
The Super Ambassador is all the bells and whistles with two Lei Presentations, Nut and Flower, an Exclusive VIP Tour of the Center, front-row seats at the Show, and royalty treatment throughout your visit. It is eyewatering expensive but you really get the royal treatment,
Finally, this Luau is VERY popular and sells out really quickly sometimes months in advance, so get booking early! If you book 10+days in advance, which is highly recommended, through the link below you can bag 10% off as well!
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Aloha Kai Luau
- Cost – $119 Adults – $109 Youth (13-17) – $95 Children(4-12) – VIP +$40 – Super VIP + $95
- Drinks – 1 Drink Included – 2 for VIP And Super VIP
- Perfect for – Family Excursion
- Rating – 8/10 – Great Value
This is technically a brand new Luau only opening in 2023, however, in reality, it is a re-naming of the Ka Moana Luau that has operated at this site for years. The location is really stunning, set between the End of the Ko’olau Mountian Range and the Ocean this green and pleasant corner of Oahu is the perfect spot to spend the evening. The Show takes place with the ocean as the backdrop and while it’s not the biggest and most elaborate show, it is very friendly and personal with a lot of crowd interaction.
The Buffet offering is quite basic, there was a lot of food, but it wasn’t the highest quality, but more home-style and local. The drinks were good but served in disposable cups which is a bit of a letdown. We were on the Silver Package and got two free drinks, but additional drinks were fairly reasonably priced. However as one us had to drive, we were very reserved.
We found the best part of the Luau was the Crew. From arrival, right through to the end of the night the cast and crew were really engaging throughout. We were shown how to weave Coconut LEaves, given a Demonstration of climbing and Coconut tree, and even how to light a coconut n fire. The show was small with limited numbers, but it really felt personal with the cast really interacting with the crowd and being genuinely funny.
The Fire Dancers are about the best we have witnessed in Hawaii and there were several performers, including champion dancers, performing some incredible tricks.
Overall the Luau felt a little rough around the edges, but that can be dismissed as just being authentic and local-style. It was so friendly and warm that the imperfections were overlooked and we had a wonderful time at the Aloha Kai.
As the Luau to take over this location, it has also taken over the honors of integrating with the Sea Life Park. Gold and Silver Packages include a free Day Pass to the Center which is well worth a visit and makes booking the VIP really good value and great for families.
We do not always recommend the Upgraded packages but the Silver really does feel worthwhile here. Not only do you get improved seats, and an extra drink, you get a real Flower Lei and that Day Pass to the Sea Life Park, which can be redeemed up to 5 days after the Luau (or on the day)
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Toa Luau – Waimea Valley
- Cost – $115 Adults (13+) – $95 Children(5-12) – VIP +$30 – Super VIP + $60
- Drinks – 1 Included
- Free Entry to Waimea Valley
- Perfect for – low-key Authentic Luau
- Rating – 8/10
Get a Glimpse of the Real Hawaii, the one that existed for Centuries before the British and Americans came to ruin the party. There is not much of this way of life left on the islands, especially the big four, And the Waimea Valley and the Toa Luau are a little slice of that culture hanging on in the midst of modernization.
The Waimea Valley is a lost world, feeling a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki. It is in fact almost as far from the city as you can get and still remain on the island right up on the north shore. The deep valley walls separate the alley from the real world giving the sense of stepping back in time. The Valley is now an auditorium and botanical gardens, devoted to growing the island’s stunning tropical plants in the traditional fashion. There is a Stunning Waterfall at the end of a 3/4 mile hike where you can take a dip in the tropical waters, or head down to the secluded beach for a dip in the ocean.
It is amongst this stunning tropical paradise that the Toa Luau is set. Admission to the ark is included so arrive early and enjoy the day before heading to the luau as the sun begins to dip. The Luau is a really small intimate affair, billed as family-style luau and far more reminiscent of the real Luau Parties that would have taken place around the islands in the past.
The pre-Luau activities are far more engaging and interactive than any other Luaum and are far more than demonstrations but hands-on, take-part activities. Coconut Husking, Hot Rock Cooking, and of Course Poi Pounding. The Buffet feels very limited initially, however, the Crowd sizes are very small so a huge lavish buffet would be wasted, Instead, you get a smaller selection of fantastic food cooked with real love.
The Luau is the smallest and most intimate affair on the island and as such is never going to rival the likes of the Breath of Ha at the PCC. The show is very intimate with the performers crowding the small stage. Expect more crowd interaction and feel more like a part of everything.
The Silver Package gives you 1 dink and seats near the back. With each level of VIP (Silver, Gold, and VIP) moving you forward a row and adding on an extra drink. With the setting so intimate you get a good view of whatever level you get. Everyone gets a Flower Lei which is a nice touch.
Overall it is really nice, remote, and personal family Luau, far from the big-budget shows and spectaculars found elsewhere and all the more charming for it. If you go with the expectations of the bigger feasts you will be disappointed, if you go expecting a less flashy, more homely feast in a secluded paradise, you will be over the moon.
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Best Luaus in Honolulu and Waikiki
- Diamond Head Luau – Waikiki – Closed
- Ka Moana Luau – Aloha Tower
- Hale Koa Luau – Waikiki
- Waikiki Starlight Luau – Waikiki
- Royal Hawaiian Luau, ‘Aha’aina – Waikiki
- Kuhio Beach Hula Show – Waikiki
- Waikiki Luau / Rock-A-Hula – Waikiki
Diamond Head Luau – Waikiki
- Cost – $xxx Adults – $xxx Youths(13-17) – $xxx Children(4-13) – VIP +$xxx
- Drinks – 2 Included + Welcome Mai Tai
- Perfect for – Money No Object.
- Rating – 9/10
Currently Closed Due to Covid – We are really unsure when or if this one will open up again, especially as the Sister Luau has just moved and now features a Farm to Table Menu as well, still as of now they are claiming it’s temporarily closed.
The Diamond Head Luau was always a premium Luau but now it’s transformed itself into a Gourmet Farm to Table ultra Premium Luau. With all ingredients sourced locally and of very high quality it is a true gourmet experience. While Luau food has always been typically fairly low-quality Buffet style food the Diamond Head Luau now bucks this trend by offering a fantastic gourmet offering.
The Show remains the same and is one of the best on the Island. Vibrant and entertaining throughout with top-quality performers. The drinks included are of great quality and the location of the Luau is perfect for anyone in Waikiki. Located at the Waikiki Aquarium you are also free to have a look around the exhibits during Luau Hours. Really there isn’t much we don’t like about this top-of-the-shelf Luau…There is the Eye-watering Price of course! $159 for a Luau is an incredible amount to ask for. Sure it’s worth every penny with the Farm to Table feast that is really a unique experience. Still that $159 would buy a lot of good dinners in normal restaurants.
If you are after money no Object extravagant evening of fine dining and a fantastic show in a very intimate environment then you really can’t do any better. The more budget-friendly version of this Luau is now hosted at the Sea Life Park Hawaii called the Ka Moana Luau and can be found above in the Outliers section of this page.
Ka Moana Luau – NEW Location – Aloha Tower Honolulu
- Cost – $129 Adults – $109 Youths(13-17) – $89 Children(4-12) – VIP +$20 – Super VIP + $70
- Drinks – 1 Included (2 for VIP and Super VIP)
- Perfect for – Great Family Luau
- Rating -8/10
The Ka Moana Luau is a long-standing Luau that has provided fun and insight into Hawaiian culture for a number of years. It has always been one of our preferred Luau’s but a lot has changed in the last few years.
The Diamond Head Luau is the Sister Luau to the Ka Moana but this has remained shuttered ever since Covid. This was the more upmarket, Farm-to-Table Option, whereas the Ka Moana was the more relaxed option. But with the Diamond head, Luau remaining closed the Ka Moana has been upgraded somewhat and now offers a fantastic Farm To Table Menu.
It also has a new home, which is a double edge sword as we LOVED the old location, perched between spectacular mountains and the ocean. But the new location is pretty special too, right under the iconic Aloha Tower, Hawaii’s answer to the Statue of Liberty! While being a stunning and historic locale, it is also much more convenient for those staying in Waikiki and Honolulu. It is now easily in Taxu and Uber range, and this makes getting there and back (when Tipsy) far more convenient. However, the initial reports are not great with people not liking the Stip-Mall feel, with Classic Seating considered quite poor.
The other downside is that Luau now loses its affiliation with the Sea-Life Center, although a new company has taken over, the Aloha Kai (See Above). We wonder if this means the Diamond Head luau will now not re-open, but it remains listed as temporarily closed!
The Classic package gets you back-row seating and one alcoholic drink and a Shell Lei Greeting. The Splash Package gets you 2 drinks and better seats with the Celebrity Package offering 2 Drinks Flower Lei, a welcome Mai Tai, front-row seats, and a Souvenir Photograph.
The drinks are pretty good, but we are not fans of serving them in disposable plastic cups, but the Mai-Tais were tasty if a bit too sweet and orangy. The New Menu concept means Appetizers are served individually, and the main meal is served at Table Side, along with the drinks.
Overall it’s a strong offering but there may be a few teething troubles relating to the new location.
Go Oahu Pass
This Luau is also included on the Go Oahu Pass. a 3-day pass is only currently $206 which includes Splash entry to the Luau, worth $149, meaning you get 3 days of unlimited attractions for $57 extra, this includes the Pearl Harbour Add-ons, Kualoa Ranch Tours, Polynesian Cultural Center, Catamaran Sails, Kayak and Paddleboard Rentals and much more. It’s incredible Value, Read more here.
<<< Book Now on Tripster for a $10 Discount! >>>
<<< Included as Premium Attraction on Go Oahu Pass >>>
Hale Koa Luau – Waikiki
- Cost – $115 Adults – $40 Youths(11-17) – $28 Children(5-11)
- Drinks – Non-Included
- Perfect for – Budgets, Families
- Rating – 8/10
The Hale Koa Luau is put on by the Hotel of the same name and while it falls short of some other Luau on the Island it also massively undercuts them from a price perspective as well. It is far and away the Cheapest Luau in Waikiki. The Food is not the standard Buffet set up but instead a table service that may suit some but really it provides a more limited selection than most other Buffets. It’s not exactly the best food either. It’s perfectly edible but lacks the WOW people might be expecting.
Again the show isn’t as flamboyant as others and lacks a little traditionality with a more cabaret feel to it. But it’s still entertaining and gives you a good feel for the culture. While clearly not the finest Luau in town it will still leave you feeling you have had a great Hawaiian evening and won’t completely break the bank either.
Waikiki Starlight Luau – Waikiki
- Cost – $185 Adults – $102 Children (4-11) – VIP +$40
- Drinks – Mai Tai Punch + 1 Beverage (Punch and 2 Beverage for VIP)
- Perfect for – People Staying at the Hilton.
- Rating – 7/10
The Starlight Luau at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort is another high-end Luau. Being a resort-based Luau you can expect very high-quality food, but lacking a little in authenticity as it is prepared in the Hotel’s modern kitchens. The show is excellent and its unique selling point is it is completely outdoors. This is good when you are basking in the starlight, less great if it’s raining when it will be moved indoors.
Overall it’s a very strong offering but there is little to make it stand out. The pricing has shot up pre-covid as the base offering is the old VIP as there are limited numbers allowed. This makes the Waikiki Starlight a very expensive Luau and really it’s only a hotel Luau and not as good as some of the more authentic Luaus on offer. It’s incredibly convenient in the heart of Waikiki though!
The VIP Option gets you front-row seats and an extra drink, but both options are excellent with Flower Leis and great views.
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Royal Hawaiian Luau, ‘Aha’Aina – Waikiki
- Cost – $235 Adults – $150 Children(5-12) – $20 Children (under 5) VIP + $20
- Location – Royal Hawaiian – Waikiki
- Drinks – 3 Drinks
- Perfect for – A Splurge!
- Rating – 7/10
The Royal Hawaiin Luau is a top-rate affair but at an eye-watering $235 it’s hard to justify it over the more affordable options. The Meal is now a 3-course Table Service Meal, which is not your Typical Luau Style and instead offers a more refined and upmarket style. Serving the Meal this way still gives you the range of Luau Foods to try but also allows for a much better presentation and does feel more refined than a buffet, you also get a lot of food as some people will not like every dish, so if you do eat everything you will get a lot of food.
The Show has a magnificent background looking out over Waikiki Bay Towards Diamond Head as the sun dips into the Pacific. The Performance is one of the better shows, at least as far as the Hotel Luau’s go, it can’t rival the best such as the PCC though.
While we do really like the ‘Aha’aina, it really is a fantastic offering, It is just too pricey for us. It’s geared more toward hotel guests who don’t bother looking elsewhere. Although with more limited options available in Waikiki, and prices soaring it’s not as bad value as it used to be. However, for this sort of money, we expect unlimited drinks. However, if you are willing to pay, this is probably the best Luau in Waikiki.
< Book the Royal Hawaiian Luau here >
Kuhio Beach Hula Show
- Cost – $FREE
- Drinks – None
- Perfect for – Budget
- Rating – 10/10
Ok, this is not a Luau. It’s a Hula show. No food is included no Drinks either but it’s FREE. And at that price point, who can argue? Simply show up and enjoy a free hula show every Tuesday Thursday and Saturday evening (6:30 – 7:00 pm). The show is pretty basic, don’t expect the elaborately choreographed spectaculars at some of the Luau shows but for a bit of free culture, it’s great. Perfect if the whole Luau thing just seems a bit too Cliched but you still want to experience some authentic Hula.
As it’s free it has to be a 10/10!
Waikiki Luau / Rock-A-Hula – Waikiki
- Waikiki Luau Cost – $79 Adults – $69 Children(3-11) – Free Children (under2)
- Rock-A-Hula Cost – $69 Adults – $41 Children(3-11) – Free Children (under2)
- Luau & Show– $113 Adults – $68 Children(3-11) – Free Children (under2)
- Location – Royal Hawaiian Center
- Drinks – One Mai Tai
- Perfect for – Budget Conscious / Rock Fans
- Rating – 7/10 (9/10 if you include Rock-A-Hula)
This is a bit of an oddball inclusion as none of the offerings are in any way traditional. Both in the Sense of Traditional Hawaiian or the more recent traditions of the Hawaiin Luau. This is out there on its own as a very unique offering. We essentially have two elements here and they can be visited separately or combined into one evening of entertainment.
First is the Waikiki Luau. This is one of the best-value Luau’s on the Island and offers a Good Luau Feast served Table Side (no buffet) along with a welcome drink and light Hula dancing afterward. While it is really low priced it does not offer the traditional Luau show that really makes a Luau worth visiting.
The Second Element is the Rock-A-Hula Show. This is not exactly your regular Luau Hula Show. Although it does have a lot of the elements that most shows have, it also deviates from them in dramatic style! Namely by smashing in Legends of Pop Music right into the performances!
During the 75 Minute Performace expect appearances (by way of Tribute acts obviously) from Elton John Lady Gaga, Madonna, Micheal Jackson, and, of course, Elvis mashed into traditional Hawaiian Music, Chants, and Dancing. It’s quite a show and is a huge broadway-style production brought to the multi-million dollar Royal Hawaiian Theatre.
While this show can be enjoyed on its own you can link the two up and enjoy both for a more conventional Luau Dinner and Show Experience. At only $113 (book at a discounted rate below) each that still makes this an incredible value Luau Experience.
The downside to this is that it really does lack that authentic Luau Feel. The show is awesome, but it’s not a Luau Show and people on their first visit may miss that. We love the relaxed romantic Island vibe of the traditional Luaus.
The Second big downside is the location. The theatre is wonderful, but it’s an indoor theatre and a far cry from the stunning ocean-side locations the other Luau offer. This Luau is in a Shopping Mall!
Still, it is a very interesting offer, and those who love classic Rock and Roll performances will love the show and it is rated as one of Hawaii’s top acts.
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Kapolei Area Luaus
- Paradise Cove Luau – Kapolei
- Germaine’s Luau – Kapolei
- Cheifs Luau – Kapolei
- Disney Luau – Kapolei
Paradise Cove Luau – Kapolei
- Cost – $140 Adults – $115 Youths(13-20) – $100 Children(4-12) – VIP +$25 – Super VIP +$90
- Drinks – 1 Mai Tai Punch + $12 card that can be used towards drinks
- Location – Paradise Cove
- Perfect for – Luau in a Paradise setting
- Transportation is available from Waikiki for $35 Roundtrip
- Rating – 9/10
The Name of the Luau may suggest this Luau is set in a beautiful cove, reminiscent of paradise, blue waters, soft sands, and Turtles swimming in the bay while the sun slips below the waves. And as luck would have it that is pretty much what you get!
Paradise Cove is a truly wonderful location and ranks highly on any to-do list or beach guide. Turtles are almost guaranteed and the sunsets beautifully out to sea as the evening goes on. It’s a very special location for a Luau. And the Luau is a pretty good one at that.
It’s not quite up to the level of some of the ultra-premium offerings in Waikiki, but then the price is nowhere near that either. And with the location on offer, you really won’t care. Food is a decent standard and quite varied and it’s a good show with talented performers. But you can get better elsewhere. But not the location. We advise getting there early like lunch! and spending the day at the cove. Transport is a whopping $35 Round trip, so a designated driver will save you a lot of cash.
The Paradise Cove Luau regularly wins awards for Best Luau in Hawaii, but it’s not for the show or food, just the fantastic overall experience. The Luau feels so welcoming friendly and authentic it’s like having dinner with family and that is EXACTLY what a Luau should be like. And did we mention the Location?
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Chiefs Luau – Kapolei
- Cost – $135 Adults – $110 Youths(13-20) – $95 Children(5-12) VIP +$35 Super VIP + $80
- Drinks – 1 included
- Perfect for – Family Fun Day Out
- Transportation – Available from Waikiki for $39 Roundtrip
- Rating – 7/10
Situated at Wet And Wild Hawaii This is a great Luau to visit following a day enjoying the park. The Luau itself follows on the fun theme by not taking itself too seriously. It’s hosted by the Chief who keeps things fun and entertaining throughout. The Chief is often described as the best thing about the Luau, and that’s not meant in a derogatory way.
The Luau is a pretty bold and in-your-face affair, with the Chief himself being a very boisterous and loud character. He runs the show and makes sure everything is really fun and laughter filled. There is a lot of food on offer and no one should leave here hungry, more likely struggling to move.
The Show is really fun, loud, and vibrant. We find at times we are literally hurting from laughter. As far as the Kapolei Lusu’s go for us the Paradise cove just pips the Chiefs, but mainly as we prefer the setting, but there is no doubt the Chiefs is a solid offering. If you have kids, a day at wet and wild followed by the Chiefs is a seriously fun-filled day out.
Price-wise, we do struggle to recommend the Aloha option. The Terrace section just feels like you are pushed off to the side, so we at least recommend the Pradise. You get an extra drink, a better Lei, and much better seating. This means that the Chiefs Lusu is right up there with the more expensive options, it’s a great experience, but at $170 it’s pretty pricey.
< Book the Chief’s Luau Here >
Germaine’s Luau – Kapolei
- Cost – $150 Adults – $130 Youths(13-20) – $110 Children(4-12) VIP +$40
- Location – Barbers Point
- Drinks – 2 Included (3 with VIP)
- Perfect for – Relaxed attitudes
- Transportation – $35 ($5 Parking)
- Rating – 8/10
Germaine’s Luau is what is called a Backyard Style Luau, What this means is it’s a more laid-back approach than many and meant to replicate more how real Hawaiians celebrate rather than the Royal feast of the traditional Luau. Really it’s not that different from the other offerings on the island but that’s not a bad thing really. The pricing is very competitive and is the second cheapest on the island. While the Backyard Style is this Luaus selling point really what stands out for us is the beachfront setting. It’s not quite Paradise cove but it’s a really laid-back beautiful setting right on the beach.
With one Drink included, a shell Lei and basic seating the Basic option is fairly basic. The VIP or Plumeria Option gets you a lot of add-ons. 3 Drinks, Upgraded Lay, Premium Seating, Cold Appetisers (as well as the Buffet), a Souvineer Gift, and your own private Bar. Definitely worth considering, in fact, it’s one of the best premium options on the list!
We Rate the relaxed feel of Germans very highly and think this is a really good option, but you have to accept this comes being a bit rough around the edges, which is its charm, but you should not expect a really polished experience.
<<< Book Now and Save at HawaiiActivities.com >>>
KA WA‘A, a Luau at Aulani – A Disney Luau- Kapolei
- Cost – $160 Adults – $94 Children(3-9) VIP + $29
- Location – Disney Resort
- Drinks – None
- Perfect for – Disney Guests
- Rating – 6 / 20
The Luau at Aulani is a pretty good offering. It’s provided by Disney so as you would expect everything is to a very high standard. However, there isn’t really a lot to make it stand out above the rivals. The Hotel has a nice Captive audience of guests staying at the Disney resort and as such, we feel this is mainly designed to take advantage of that. We feel you can do better by venturing away. for those looking for maximum convenience while staying in the Aulani, it’s hard to beat, and really it is a pretty solid luau. It just doesn’t excite us enough considering the fairly substantial price!
Have Your Say
Have you been to a Luau in Oahu? Which did you go to? How did you rate it? Let us know in the comments below. Or if you have any questions or require a personal recommendation just leave us a comment. We are always happy to talk Luau.
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42 thoughts on “Best Luaus In Oahu, Hawaii 2023, Every Luau in Oahu Rated So You Can Find The BEST”
Wow, great timing. We are going to Oahu for spring break and my wife has been wanting to take in a luau. I am going to share this with her, but I have my eye on Diamond Head Luau – Waikiki. What a great atmosphere to experience one of the great events. I can’t wait for the food! Do you know what is included in the VIP package? Once again, thank you for sharing this, your timing is impeccable.
Excellent glad we could help out. Hope your trip is amazing, we will be just across the water in Maui! The diamond head is a clear winner from a food perspective! With a great location, very intimate and good show also. The standard experience is very high quality with all the usual VIP Extras thrown in, Flower Lei, 2 Premium drinks + Welcome drink. So the VIP Option only gets you premium seating front row. There are only two rows however so Standard seating is pretty good anyway. Honestly we are not sure how much value the VIP gives you as the standard offering here is so good.
We would probably save the $60 for more drinks!
Have a great time.
Do you know anything about the Toa Luau at Waimea?
Unfortunately, we are not overly familiar with the Toa Luau. It only opened in October and we haven’t had a chance to look into it yet. It is keenly priced and seems to be leaning towards and very traditional theme. It’s pretty far from anything but the Waimea Valley (free entry included) is very beautiful and the remoteness could really add to the atmosphere. But as we said it’s so new we can’t really comment at the minute.
Maybe you could check it out and report back?
Thanks for reading
Thanks for the reviews! This is exactly what I was hoping to find!
Excellent, glad to be of help!
Have a great time in Oahu!
this is nice if I had I seen this article early my last trip to Oahu would have been better but me and my family would be going again next year and I would love to go to Chiefs Luau-Kapolei. But I would love to ask what is included in the super VIP package. Thanks a lot for this article you are the best steve
Sorry, you didn’t find the article before your last trip but hope it is useful next year!
Chiefs a really good and very popular Luau over in Kapolei which is a really beautiful part of the Island! With the Super VIP, that they call the Royal Package, you get 3 alcoholic drinks (1 and 2 on the lesser packages) a freah flower Lei on arrival (instead of Nut and Shell Leis) You also get premium seating for the show and first go at the buffet. along with a souvenir and pork tasting once the Pig is unearthed. It costs a rather steep $175 ($135, $99) But gets you the best experience.
Wow, this article is what I was looking for. We are traveling to Oahu this winter to visit my ante, my mother’s sister. She lives there for years now, and we thought it would be great to go for a visit:). We didn’t know what to do there, so this article is convenient. The Hale Koa Luau in Waikiki seems to be fun. I’ll show this tour to my children and my husband. I am sure they will love it. Just a question, is there a tour on the water to watch whales? My kids want to see whales and dolphins in Oahu. Are there any?
Thank you, and looking forward to hearing from you!
Glad you found what you were looking for! Hope you and your husband and kids enjoy the Luau!
We must say we are very jealous of your auntie, living in Hawaii is a real dream of ours!
As for whales, they are seasonal so not always in Hawaiian Waters, however you say you are going in winter and Whale season is Nov-Apr So they will certainly be there! Maui is the best place to go to see whales but there are whale watching trips from all the islands including Oahu.
Dolphins are plentiful and present year-round any water bases activity can see dolphins, you may even see them from the shoreline! Check our Oahu Beach guide for details (you might find it useful anyway!)
Best Beaches in Oahu
Have a great trip
Interesting to find out about what a Luau is. Indigenous traditions (kitchen included) should be re-discovered and made known to the rest of the world, and this goes as well for the Amerindian, Polynesian and Aboriginal Australian people’s customs (as much as these populations are still alive now)
Also, I think tourists find the Hawaiian food delicious. And maybe it is healthier than other kinds of meals and foods the “civilized world” is used to.
When you say about their food that “it also caters to a more American palate”, do you mean plate?
Anyway, visiting these places would be an unforgettable experience to people who pay a fly to Hawaii.
We think the Polynesian Cultural Center Luau would really suit you as this is devoted to the REAL Hawaiian and Polynesian Culture.
Hawaiian food is certainly healthy, focused on fresh natural ingredients. However, the introduction of more western influences can mean it is still easy to overdo it! Obesity can be a problem within the Hawaiian people!
By Palate we mean Palate, according to the dictionary defines as “a person’s ability to distinguish between and appreciate different flavors.” We mean what tastes and aromas you are used to, Hawaiian food can be a little exotic for some Americans but there are usually more familiar foods there too for those who struggle experimenting.
I have always wanted to go to a Hawaiian Luau and the only thing I probably wouldn’t enjoy is the steamed pork. Everything else you have described sounds magical.
Can you recommend the best ones to attend or are they all pretty much the same? I think this is the type of event one needs to attend with a crowd.
You should definitely try the Kalua Pork unless you are restricted from doing so for dietary or cultural reasons. If you just don’t like pork it is a very different style and definitely worth trying as it is very integral to the Luau ritual. And it’s some of the best pork in the world!
Our Favourites are the Diamond head, which has the best food, or the Polynesian Cultural Center that is the most authentic. But most are fairly similar and all are very enjoyable.
Have a great time
I haven’t had a chance to visit Hawaii yet and I have only heard a little bit about Luaus, so this information is both interesting and helpful as I plan to travel to Hawaii next year for a wedding. From your choices I really like the sound of the Diamond Head Luau. I like the fact that this Luau went from premium to farm to table with a gourmet experience. For such a fantastic experience the price is actually pretty fair I feel. Another show I’d actually like to catch after a day at the beach is the Kuhio Beach hula show. These are some fantastic options that I’ll share with my traveling companions and I’ll definitely save your post for when it’s time to book my Luau. Thanks for the awesome recommendations!
Hawaii is the most perfect place for a wedding and a Luau a great shout for a big family and friends get together before the big day! For a special event like that the Diamond Head is a really good choice, it is seriously upmarket now!
Hope you have a great time!
The free Kuhio Beach shows are really good fun to get to grips with hula dancing, make sure you do this first as there will be a chance at the Luau to showcase your skills!
It’s been over a year now since you said Tao Luau opened. Do you have any more comments or feedback on it? Also, how many people does the Diamond Head luau seat? I think smaller is better.
Unfortunately, we have not made it to the Toa Luau yet, General feedback has been excellent, and most people are seeming to really enjoy it and at least on Tripadvisor, it is seeing nearly all 5Star reviews. It is very high on our must-visit next time we are on Oahu.
Diamond head seating is dependent on numbers but is one of the smallest. The VIP seating is a row of up to 9 tables of 6 and the regular seating is behind up to 11 tables of 10-12 people. This varies day to day but gives a good rough idea. It is a more intimate affair than others but this supposed to be a celebration feast and a traditional gathering so if it were too intimate it would miss the point!
Thanks for reading
My wife and I have been planning to visit Hawaii for a long time and really we think Honolulu might be the best option. Hopefully, in the coming year, we will make it finally.
Our Daughter will be 4 by the time we go and hopefully will appreciate the Luaus by then? What do you think?
The food looks so amazing and we can’t wait to sample it all along with the traditional and customs of the Luau.
The Luau show will certainly be a really memorable highlight for a 4-year-old the Colors, Sounds, and music are so Vibrant and eyecatching they are perfect for younger audiences. The food may be a little lost on her, but there are many options at most Luaus for young or fussy eaters and loads of healthy options for health-conscious parents!
Get there early as the many activities and games available beforehand are perfect for the little ones. Especially Leu Making!
Two potential issues to be aware of is the Luau grounds can be a little hot and sticky which can make for grumpy kids and the shos run pretty late so make sure she can cope with that, especially factoring in Jet Lag, if coming from the mainland leave the Luau as late in the trip as possible to ensure you are acclimatized to the time zone.
Hope you make it out there and Have a great trip
Ha what a coincidence, I was just advising a friend yesterday to stop off in Hawaii for a few days on her way to the states. She has not done much travel and I think she would love to do a Luau. I will pass on your website.
Some of the food you describe is similar to what the Maori (New Zealand) call a Hangi. The difference is that all the food is cooked in the ground. They have traced the Maori as originally coming from Islands close to Hawaii. They also do tourist shows to show traditional food and cultural dances etc. It’s a good way to enjoy an introduction to a culture in an entertaining way.
Great hope she finds it useful and helps her pick out the perfect Luau!
Yeah the whole Polynesian island chains share a lot of cultural similarities and share a lot of ancestries, as the islanders spread out and mixed, it is a huge area of the earth but only pockets of inhabitable area, and it created a really vibrant and wonderful culture.
Most luaus are fairly mixed Culturally with dances, foods, and activities from, Samoa, Tahiti, Tonga, etc…
Thanks for commenting
Wow😍! This article clearly painted the beauty of the Hawaiians tradition. It will put an endless smile on my face if I finally gets the chance to visit Hawaii and attend the amazing Luau party, taste the various traditional meals they’ve got there. Also I’ll like to learn about their historical background.
Hope you get to visit a Luau soon, The variety of food is excellent and you really get o taste all the different Hawaiian Cuisine. The Show itself is a history lesson, telling the story of how the Islands came to be in the manner they have passed the stories down for generations, although a lot of it is more myth than history, there is plenty of historical background in there too.
Have a great time when you finally get to Hawaii
Hi, Great article
We are heading to Oahu soon and obviously we want to do a Luau, we were going to just ask our Concierge but were worried they would just send us to the one they get the biggest kickbacks from!
Love the look of the Polynesian Cultural Center, But the Diamond head Luau looks AWESOME and is just so much more convenient! Plus we want to hit the Mai Tais!
Thanks again, just reading this got us really excited for our October trip!
Thanks for reading,
Bet you can not wait until October, Warm Sany beaches, endless sun, and Luaus!
We are heading over in October too (well hopefully, everything crossed Hawaii are accepting visitors by then)
The PCC is probably the best show o the Island and the Buffet is really good, but the Diamond head is a real treat and we get what you mean about convenience, he PCC is a trek back to Honolulu after the show. It’s much easier if you are staying on the north shore though.
Thanks for reading and enjoy your trip
Hey Steve, I will be travelling with an individual who has a difficult time getting around and while we will be renting mobility scooters for our normal getting around in Waikiki we are expecting that she will be using a walker when we go out for dinner or specific events. Can you tell me if the Diamondhead farm to table luau is on even ground that’s NOT sand? She has issues walking on uneven ground. Thanks in advance and thank you for the seriously informative article as well.
The diamond head Luau is located at the Waikiki Aquarium. As such there are a network of good pathways navigating the whole area. The Luau itself is on a well manicured lawn. We can no reason your wife would struggle at all.
While the luau is seafront there is no beach as such in this location but a concrete promenade instead.
Its a little way out from Central Waikiki, probably too far to walk if you have trouble walking, but nothing a cab/uber wont fix!
Hope that helps you, and hope you have an amazing time
We are looking to head to Hawaii now the Travel restrictions are being lifted! Do you know if the luaus will be open for business in November?
What changes will there be and are they still worth visiting, We can’t imagine Hawaii without a Luau! It really is one of the highlights if our Trip!
Hi Jake, We are looking into this. We are not on the Islands at the minute so we are waiting for up to date info on the Luaus. We are sure they will be up and running as soon as possible. With Table service and outdoor seating, there is no reason the Luaus cannot be COVID Secure.
We will let you know more when we do!
I visited Hawaii sometime around last year and fortunately for me it was the time thery were doing luau festival,Luau is one of the top activities i enjoyed to while i was on the islands. The Traditional Hawaiian Feast and After Dinner show was just so wonderful and hopefully am gonna be there for the next feast thanks so much for this post
Actually, Luau’s are no longer a seasonal thing and they run all year as a tourist attraction. You can find a Luau most nights on any of the Hawaiian Islands any time of the year!
So good news for your next trip you will definitely be able to visit a Luau again!
We have been dreaming of a Hawaii vacation for years and we were booked to go this august Staying on Both Oahu and Maui. That dream was dashed by the coronavirus! But we have moved our dates to next year!
We can’t wait, hopefully, the Luaus will be back up and running by then? what do you think?
Love the article on the Oahu Luau’s, if we were to do just one, which island do you think has the best Luau’s? Oahu or Maui?
You and me both! Our plans to visit the Hawaiian Islands were scuppered also this year, along with all our other trips! The covid has been an utter nightmare for us!
Luaus are in the process of starting up again. They are still closed for now but we are sure they will open up with social distancing really soon. Maybe the buffet will be replaced with table service but there will be back soon enough!
We prefer Maui’s Luau’s, mainly for the Unlimited drinks, but there are some super Luau’s on Maui
The Old Lahaina Luau is one of our favourites in all of Hawaii and is more authentic than most, but you do lose a few “inauthentic” elements that people love!
Hope you have a great trip
Are the discount links no longer active? I attempted to book a luau for my vacation in a few months through your affiliate link, but it still showing the same price. Thank you!
Sorry, no the discounts we used to receive are no longer valid.
we are in the process of finding a new partner to offer the best discounts. Toms Barefoot tours are no longer trading and the page that is still up just links you directly to the vendor.
Your best bet the minute while we find a reseller who offers good discounts and we can trust is to just go direct. The Hawaii tourism industry had has brought time with almost a year of near-zero trade so it needs our support now more than ever!
We will work on getting this reflected on the page asap,
Sorry about that
Thank you for researching all the Oahu luaus!
I’m trying to book the PCC Alii Luau for early October, but it’s booked up until Oct 28! Is the Gateway Buffet Package much different? Is it just the same food, but in a dining hall and no show while eating? We would still see the HA: Breath of Life show, right? How’s the show during the luau compared to that?
I didn’t realize how far ahead I needed to book these luaus. The Ka Moana Luau and Toa Luau are also booked when I’m there. All the recent TripAdvisor reviews for Paradise Cove Luau look pretty bad – I don’t know if it’s a post-COVID thing?
Unfortunately, as some of the big Luaus are still closed and the ones that are running have limited capacity, it’s meant availability has gone a bit crazy! The PCC has always been very popular but it’s never usually booked out this far in advance. There is free cancellation offered so there is always the chance a slot will become available, and you can always upgrade if that happens!
The Gateway Buffet still has the same foods as the Main Feast (See Menu here) it’s just the setting is a lot less exciting than the main feast. You still get the same show only you only get the General Seating, whereas the Upgraded packages get the Luau and Super seating, which is closer or more central. (Seating Chart here) and you still get access to the whole PCC Beforehand (and afterward as you get a 3day ticket) It is still a great experience, it’s just the meal is a bit more special with the upgrades.
Honestly, we have not made it back to Paradise Cove post-covid. While there are a string of really nasty reviews, they do come mixed into some really positive ones too, we never hold too much stock (either way) in Tripadvisor reviews they are often subject to abuse. A lot of the bad ones don’t make that much sense have very poor spelling and grammar, and incorrect info. It is a bit confusing really, the Cove really was one of the best, but everyone has been hit so hard by Covid they may have cut corners to try and recover. Maybe not worth the risk at the minute until things settle down, the truth comes out eventually.
Hope you get to visit a Luau, feel free to report back what you find. Unfortunately, right now with travel, some things are not perfect, we have grown accustomed to expecting the “dream” experience from travel after spending so much money, but the Pandemic has meant we need to accept a less than perfect trip, just being grateful we can actually go anywhere!
Have a Great Trip
You have a nice spread f Hawaiian culture. Very informative
I have been to the United States but not to Hawaii yet. Hawaiians being of Polynesian heritage do offer a different tourist experience.
I would love to visit Hawaii but would not be attending the Luau as I do not consume pork nor drink alcohol. Would you have different programs for people like me?
We think the best option for you would be the Polynesian Cultural Center Luau.
There is NO Alchohol served at this Luau, as it is run by the local Morman Church, so instead, there is a range of refreshing soft drinks, smoothies, and juices.
There is a fair bit of pork on the menu, but a lot of other options as it’s a buffet you are free to choose as much of what you do choose to eat. There are many Fish, Chicken, Beef, and vegetarian options, really not eating pork would be absolutely no problem here.
Check the Menu’s here
Just avoid the Imu Ceremony, we can’t imagine seeing the whole pig carcass being uncovered would be very appropriate for you.
On top of this, you get to visit the whole center and experience the different Islands and how the different Polynesian Culture lived their lives.
We think it’s the best Luau in Hawaii, and absolutely suitable for your dietary needs!
Full Review Here
It has been over 20 years since I traveled to Saipan. Hawaii has always been my number one travel destination, but I have never been there. Fortunately, in the context of this article, I am happy to experience Luau’s party indirectly and learn more about it. In particular, menus such as Kalua pork are of great interest to me. Smoked but barely cooked is a lot of imagination. I want to go to the Luau party soon and try their food!
We can’t say we have ever been to Guam, We are sure it’s very interesting but it’s not a traditional tourist location so has never come up. Hawaii is much more convenient to visit as a vacation. We do hope you get there soon and get to visit a Luau.
For now, glad you are enjoying them vicariously through our article.
Kalua Pork is incredible, but it’s not really barely cooked, despite using low temperatures, it is cooked for hours until it falls apart and melts into the mouth, incredible, similar to pulled pork.