What is the Best Luau in Maui 2019? – Our Maui Luau Reviews

One of the most popular attractions for Visitors to Maui is a Luau. This traditional Hawaiin Feast has morphed into a Massive Tourist attraction with dozens of different offering on each island. Like anything that has multiple offerings from differing competitors, they have all developed their own theme and unique selling points. While this is great for Choice and Value it makes knowing What is the Best Luau in Maui is difficult. Choosing a luau on Maui for you and your family can be a tough choice, especially considering the not insignificant outlay! Our Maui Luau Reviews Post aims to cut through the marketing and find the Best  Maui  Luau for you.

What is the Best Luau in Maui

The Best part of Maui luaus is they all offer OPEN BARS! This makes us so happy. Not only do we not have to cut through the different drink policies of each luau to help you decide but it also means we can all drink the night away to our heart’s content! With unlimited open bars, you can be assured maximum Aloha Spirts!

What exactly is a Luau? What to Expect.

A luau is a traditional Hawaiian party. The modern Tourist take on the luau all tend to follow a fairly set path. A large Luau feast followed by a show featuring traditional Hawaiian and Polynesian dancing and music. Often following t theme of myths and legends of how the islands were formed and inhabited.

When you arrive at your chosen Luau you will be checked in a and assigned seats. You will then often be given a welcome Mai Tai to enjoy while you wait for the bar to open. At this point, you can explore the grounds and there are usually demonstrations and activities of a traditional Hawaiian nature. Such as Lei Making Poi Pounding, or Just Hawaiian games. This is a great way to keep the kids entertained. or you can just relax, sip your drink and take in the surroundings.

IMU Ceremony

After a while, you will be invited to witness the IMU Ceremony. An IMU is a large traditional underground oven used to cook the Centrepiece of any Luau the Kalua Pig. The pig will have been slowly cooking away all day under the ground and now will be unearthed. After a bit of digging the lid will be removed and reveal the cooked whole pig. This will then be carried off to be prepared for the feast.

The bar should now be open offering all-inclusive drink and you will now take your seats. Tables will then be called up to visit the buffet to help themselves to the Luau food (see below). Anyone purchasing VIP or Prefered seating will be called up first. After everyone has visited the Buffet you are normally welcome to head back for more. Often dessert will be served at your table instead of the buffet.

By now the sun should be dipping below the horizon and with the drinks flowing you should be having a great time, and around now the show will begin. This will be a loud and vibrant display of traditional Hawaiian and Polynesian dancing, amusing and acts. It will tell the tales of the Hawaiian creation story and the myths and legends of the past. Some shows are better than others but you should expect a lively display with entertainers who really care about their craft.

The High Prices at luaus sometimes impart very high expectations on some people. They think they are paying $100+ for a meal and expect the sort of ultrafine dining you would get for that. When presented with a mass-produced Buffet of traditional food they are disappointed and feel ripped off. While we understand this The truth is you are paying for the whole experience. And for 4+ hours of entertainment in an often beautiful location, we don’t feel they are too bad value, considering the general costs of the island. If you view it a Dinner and a Show With drinks included it feels much more palatable. Your bill would run a lot higher for the same in Vegas or Broadway…

It is an experience and one that we feel everyone visiting Hawaii should try. It may not be to your liking but like the Poi, you won’t know if you don’t try. We find most people do love the experience. Like most things, it’s the noisy minority shouting on Travel forums that bad mouth the Luaus.

Go in with a light heart and open mind with low expectation and make full use of the open bar and we are sure you will have a great time. We still always hit a Luau on every visit to the Islands. And we think Maui has some of the best!

Luau Food

Traditional Luau Food

Most Luau’s offer a very similar Menu with varying degree’s 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. The 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 and 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 Kalua pig…It’s not a Luau without.

Poi

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. Pounding it in the arts and crafts displays beforehand is fun for old hands as you can take some of the hate out on it!

Poke

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.

Laulau

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.

Lomilomi salmon

A delicious Salted Salmon and tomato salad. It’s as fun to say as it is to eat!

Tropical fruits

Being in a tropical paradise you have to expect a pretty impressive tropical fruit platter for dessert, Most Luaus come up with the goods.

Is the VIP Experience worth it?

Not every Luau on Maui offers Premium or VIP options. The ones that don’t tend to be such a good basic offering VIP isn’t going to get you anything. With other, you don’t get a lot. On some islands, the VIP level offers you more drinks but with Open bars, it’s not something to worry about. All you get is Seat closer to the Stage and first visits to the Buffet.

Seating at most Luaus is good wherever you sit it. They are not HUGE events and you usually get a good view. And first, go at the Buffet should not be a major problem. There is usually more than enough to go round and we would be very annoyed and be making complaints if food ran out before we got there even if we were last.

The lack of value of VIP is reflected in the cost. Preferred seating / VIP / Premium isn’t much more expensive than the basic. Essentially the basic offering in most Maui Luaus you can rest assured a great time without but if the worry of a poor seat and being last to the Buffet is a problem the extra may be well worth it. We tend to prefer the Luau’s that don’t offer this option though as we know we are getting a first-rate experience without paying a premium.

Location

One of the key points in choosing a Luau in Maui is the Location. Are you staying in West Maui or South Maui? As most Luaus offer an Open bar driving is out of the question for a lot of people. Sure you could use a designated Driver but they are sure to miss out. Because of this, we tend to stick to the Luaus in the area we are staying in. Not many people stay on Lahaina but it’s a short taxi ride from Kaanapali or Kapalua. Whereas getting a taxi to or from South Maui would be a considerable expense.

There are great options in both areas so there is just no need to travel. We have separated out reviews into the two regions so you can easily find an Amazing Luau experience close to your accommodation.

West Maui Luaus

West Maui is Spoilt for choice for Luaus we list 9 different options (two are not REALLY luaus) Compared to only two in South Maui. We are not quite sure what the reason for the dispersion is as both areas are BIG tourist locations, It always surprises us there is nothing in Kihei.

Old Lahaina Luau

  • Cost – $125 Adults  – $78 Children(3-12)
  • Drinks – All Inclusive Bar
  • Perfect for – Traditional Hawaiian Experience
  • Rating – 9/10
Old Lahaina Luau
Old Lahaina Luau

The Old Lahaina Luau is a traditional style Luau that shuns some of the more “touristy” elements of some Luaus. For Example, Fire Dancers are not Hawaiian, but Polynesian. As such they are omitted. While causes some negativity we like the attention to authenticity. The food is as good as luau food gets while remaining authentic and always very plentiful. The show is the best show on Maui and the location is a stunning oceanside location with a large natural looking stage set in stunning tropical gardens. Drinks are very good and far less watered down than most, and the Open bar has only moderate queues. By the end, we were quite pleasantly squiffy.

In Our opinion, this is easily the top Luau in West Maui, in fact, all of Maui. They just seem to get everything right. The downsides are the large tables which require you to sit with strangers. We really don’t mind this but for some, it can be an issue. It’s also far from the cheapest option.

There is no Premium here which we like as really everyone gets the premium experience. The only choice is Traditional Seating or table seating which is the same price. Traditional seating has the benefit of being right next to the stage but has the disadvantage of being Floor seating. Yep, the table is low and all you get is a cushion. This is great at first as you lounge in the fading sun with the endless Mai Tais. But by the time you get to eat it’s a bit more of a pain and by the end of the show you are just looking for any excuse to get up and stretch.

This Luau is very popular and we do recommend booking early as is does often sell out. We recommend booking as early as you possibly can sometimes it’s booked up for up to a month or even more!!!

<<< Book the Old Lahaina  Luau through Tom Barefoot’s for $120 >>>

Feast at Lele

  • Cost – $135 Adults  – $98.86 Children(3-12)
  • Drinks – All-Inclusive Bar
  • Perfect for – Something very different.
  • Rating – 7/10
the feast at lele a luxury maui luau in maui

The Feast at Lele is a very different experience to most Luaus. It is a sitdown multi-course Meal that is accompanied by entertainment as the meal is brought to you. There is not Buffet, no queuing hoping there is enough lukewarm food left for you. It’s all rather civilized. The meal itself is a Multi-course Polynesian affair with a selection of different dishes from all over the region: Hawaii, New Zeland, Tahiti, and Samoa, while traditional entertainment from the region accompanies the meal.

Being a Sit-down meal the quality is far higher than a Luau Buffet can attain. The Choice of dishes from other Polynesian cultures increase the potential flavors and tastes and this leads to an incredible gastronomic experience. The “show” is a little more disappointing as the acts run throughout the meal on a small stage which lacks the overall impact of a full Luau show. The price is very steep also. Although the free-flowing drinks can help offset that by quite a bit.

Really we feel this isn’t the best chose for a Luau. It just doesn’t quite feel right. It’s a great experience and the food is fantastic but it’s just not quite what we want for a Luau. for first-timers, we would avoid. Experienced travelers who have been to many Luaus who are looking for something different or just a fabulous meal will love it though.

<<< Book this Luau through Tom Barefoot’s Tours for $130 >>>

Drums of the Pacific

  • Cost – $130-138 Adults  – $76 Children(6-12)
  • Preferred – $145-153 Adults  – $76 Children(6-12)
  • Drinks – All-Inclusive Bar
  • Perfect for – People looking for an Exciting Loud Show
  • Rating – 8.5/10
Drums of the Pacific Luau

Drums of the Pacific is a premium Luau put on by Tahiti productions Hawaii’s largest Luau production company. This means you can be assured a very high-end experience. The Location of the Luau is within the grounds of the Hyatt Regency at the end of Kaanapali. We find the actual luau area a little disappointing and concrete. But the rest of the experience is top-notch.

The buffet is of high quality and endless. Great drinks flow well but the queues can be quite large as the Luau caters for a large crowd. Being a Tahiti Production means the talent is some of the best and sets and costumes fantastic. The Drums of the Pacific show is Large and spectacular, probably the best in Maui (not as good as Ulalena). We slightly prefer the Old Lahaina Luau but if we are staying in Kaanapali then the convenience would probably tempt us here. We normally stay in Napili/Kapalua so have to travel anyway.

While it is a great offering it’s also a very high price and the preferred and VIP options bump this up considerably. For the $130 we expect a flower lei and reasonable seats and don’t feel $153 is really good value. In their favor is their offer of a free child with every two paying adults which could save a fair bit for families.

<<< Book this Luau through Tom Barefoot’s Tours for only $123>>>

Royal Lahaina Luau – Myths of Maui

  • Cost – $107 Adults  – $44.95 Children(6-12)
  • VIP – +$30 per person
  • Drinks – All-Inclusive Bar
  • Perfect for – Families on a budget
  • Rating – 6/10
Royal Lahaina Myths of Maui Luau

The Royal Lahaina Luau has been running for an awfully long time and they know a thing or two about Luaus. It boasts a sea-front location but in reality, it lacks a little compared to the other rivals, although it is undoubtedly seafront it doesn’t provide the sort of Hawaiian paradise some of the other Luaus offers. It is a good offering but it doesn’t shine like some of the others.

While this is the cheapest Luau on Maui, it is not remarkably so. only a few dollars. However, where it does win is it’s child prices. Kids 6-12 are only $44 and under 6 are free. So large families will save a great deal over most other options. We always think children who are not drinking and are not going to eat too much are overcharged for luaus. So kudos to Royal Lahaina for their fairer pricing.

<<< Book this Luau through Tom Barefoot’s Tours >>>

Wailele Polynesian Luau

  • Cost – $130 Adults  – $65 Children(6-12)
  • Premium – $170 Adults  – $80 Children(6-12)
  • Drinks – All Inclusive Bar
  • Perfect for – People Staying at the Maui Westin
  • Rating – 7/10

The Wailele, the Maui Nui and the Legends of Kaanapali are all Hotel Luaus. They are organized by the Hotels that they are held within. The Luau’s before this is hosted and run by private companies dedicated to putting on Luaus. This is not technically a bad thing the Hotels have a large staff and well-appointed kitchens along with great buying power so can provide a great event. However, they have a captive audience and as such offer very little in terms of Unique selling points or standout reasons to attend.

It’s not that they are bad Luaus, far from it they are all just a little samey and feel geared toward the guests of the resorts who simply don’t want to bother leaving the grounds. Not a great reason to choose a Luau. If you are staying local to the Luau and simply want a local and convenient luau they are perfectly fine.

<<< Book this Luau through Toms Barefoot Tours for $115 >>>

Maui Nui Luau

  • Cost – $115 Adults  – $65 Children(6-12)
  • Cocktail – $40 Adults – $ 20 Teens(13 – 20) – $17 Children(6-12)
  • Drinks – All-Inclusive Bar
  • Perfect for – People Staying at the Sheraton, or people who just want to Drink
  • Rating – 7/10
Kaanapali Sunset Luau

Formally known as the Kaanapali Sunset Luau

While this is the Standard Hotel luau provided by the Sheraton it does have an interesting twist. One option is a Cocktail only option. This gives you a free open bar and the show but no dinner, saving a considerable sum. $40 is not much for a show with unlimited drinks. The Beachfront location is very good too. It’s an open and green space with a natural feel. Much better than some of the Courtyard Luau’s and can be much cooler than some.

<<<Book Now With Tom Barefoot’s Tours>>>

Legends of Kaanapali Luau

  • Cost – $105 Adults  – $75 Teens –  $65 Children(3-12)
  • Premium  – $120 Adults  – $120 Children(0-12)
  • Drinks – All-Inclusive Bar
  • Perfect for – People Staying at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel
  • Rating – 7/10

Another Hotel Luau, that is perfectly acceptable but in no way stand out. it is a little cheaper than the other hotel options for standard seating.

It is worth Pointing out if you have kids and want premium the Legends of Kaanapali have a despicable pricing policy of charging $120 for everyone. Kids, babies, adults, everyone. We would look elsewhere. If you are not looking for premium then the seating policy is fine.

Ulalena by Maui Theatre

*** Unfortunately this show is not being performed at the minute ***

  • Cost – $69.99 – $114.99 – Adults $29.99-$74.99 – Children
  • Drinks – None
  • Perfect for – People who dislike Luau Food.
  • Rating – 8/10
Ulalena show

We love Luau Food but for some people, it’s just not their cup of tea. The Slightly bland lukewarm buffets just are not what they like. While we disagree we understand and sometimes people just want a good sitdown meal in a great restaurant. But that doesn’t mean they wish to shun the Luau completely. Ulalena is a Luau show without the Feast and rigmarole of the traditional Luau. It is one hell of a show too. It’s a large scale theatre production heading towards a Cirque de Soliel type production (not quite that level but getting that way) It is certainly a big cut above any other show at a Luau.

It’s not really a way to save money over a Luau as the cost is almost the same as some Luaus but it’s a 75-minute show and quite an expensive production. We think it’s the best production of its type anywhere in the state only the Polynesian Cultural centers show on Oahu comes anywhere near, and it still misses. So it’s a one of a kind experience. If possible we recommend seeing this and trying a Luau, but you will need a big budget for that! We score it 8/10 as it’s not really a Luau and the high price. For the show itself, it’s a 10/10.

Should you want to include a Luau dinner with your show the Ulaena Now offers a Luau Dinner as part of it’s top Diamond Package along with premium show seats. We are not sure why you would choose this over a traditional Luau which offers a lot of other activities on top of the feast and show. We do feel Ulaena is an alternative to the Luau feast so best to eat before/after at a real Restaraunt. The option is there however and if you REALLY want to see this show but still want to try traditional food then it is a good choice.

Lahaina Cannery Hula Shows

  • Cost – Free
  • Drinks – None
  • Perfect for – FREE
  • Rating – 10/10

If you are not interested in feasts or of elaborate shows or just can’t stretch to the cost of a luau but still want to see some traditional Hawaiian dancing then the Lahaina cannery Hula Shows offer completely free hula shows to anyone who turns up. Ok It’s not as elaborate as Ulaena, it is in fact very basic, but It’s free and provided by volunteers so who are we to complain. It’s a great way to get a taste of Hawaiian culture and fantastic for kids, where $100’s of dollars to attend a luau could be pretty wasted on them. I am afraid we can’t score a free volunteer show as anything but 10/10. Shows are not daily but very frequent.

<<< Full schedule here >>>

South Maui Luaus

We are not sure why the Clear disparity between the offerings in West and South Maui. As you can see South Maui only has 2 Luaus on offer compared to the 9 on offer in West Maui. Anyway, the Good news is while there is little choice in South Maui, what is on offer is very good.

Te Au Moana Luau

  • Cost – $124 Adults  – $79 Children(6-12)
  • VIP – $142 Adults  – $89 Children(6-12) – $18 – Infants
  • Drinks – All inclusive
  • Perfect for – Anyone Staying in South Maui
  • Rating – 8.5/10
te au moana luau maui show

The Location for Te Au Moana is a fantastic oceanside setting, with the stage using the Pacific ocean as an incredible backdrop to proceedings. The Area is open and cool breezes keep the temperature down. This is another Tahiti production so you can expect a top-class show with top-rate performers. All set to that incredible Ocean Back Drop. All Luau’s on Maui have Ocean Views but the Moana luau really makes the best of the location.

The Buffet is top-notch too. With plenty of choices and very well stocked with all the standard Luau Items. Drinks flow freely and the Mai tais are up there with any Open Bar Mai Tai on the Island. Overall it’s a very good Luau in a Stellar location. Our top pick in the Wailea area. It is expensive but that is the going rate for a Wailea Luau and your only other option is the grand Luau (same price) or traveling to Lahaina/Kaanapali.

**Note this is not actually related in any way to the Disney Film. Moana Means Ocean. You don’t have to tell your children it’s not Disney related though, just don’t let them expect to meet Moana, Maui or Hei Hei… And they Won’t sing “that” song. **

<<< Book Now With Tom Barefoot’s Tours >>>

The Grand Luau at Honua’ula

  • Cost – $112 Adults  – $60 Children(6-12)
  • VIP – $125 Adults  – $94 Children(6-12) – $64 – Infants
  • Drinks – All Inclusive
  • Perfect for – Anyone Staying in South Maui
  • Rating – 8/10

The Only other Luau in South Maui is the Grand Luau at Honua’ula Set in the lush grounds of the Grand Wailea the Grand Luau has a fantastic location. It is also a very good offering too. Everything you would expect and easily a match for the Te Moana Luau. Really it’s hard to separate the two. They are so evenly matched in terms of the show, food, price, drinks. You could almost toss a coin.

Really the only standout for us is the Location of the Te Au Moana. The Oceanside setting of the show compared to the stage up against a building just tips it for us. But both are fantastic Luaus and there is no need to leave Wailea to experience what a Luau is all about.

<<< Book Now With Tom Barefoot’s Tours >>>

Have Your Say

Let us know Which luau you are going to choose? What are your reasons? Be sure to come back and tells us what you thought? Already Been? Which Luau did you attend? Was it worth it? Or maybe you are Old veterans like us feel free to share your wisdom with us in the comments below. And as every, if you have any questions just drop us a comment below we always love talking Luau.

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10 comments

  1. It has been over 10 years since I have been to Maui, but I will always remember going to the Luau and to the top of Mount Haleakala and seeing the sunrise.

    Luaus are expensive, but you really are paying for the entire show. I was really young when I went so the things that I stick out the most from my memories are the hula and fire dancers rather than the food.

    If I were to go again, I would definitely visit the Old Lahaina Luau. It would be great to see an authentic luau and take part in a cultural experience.

    1. HI,

      Yes we always find Luau’s are one of the standout memories of a Hawaii/Maui trip. The Haleakala sunrise is another incredible experience. Indeed they are quite an outlay but it’s sometime a once in a lifetime thing and you do get a lot for your money. You should definitely consider going back it’s quite a different experience as an adult as food is one of the main parts of the Luau but when younger you care less about these things.

      The Show is still a great part of the evening.

      Old Lahaina is our Favorite on Maui, but be advised there are no fire dancers as they are not traditional and Old Lahaina is very traditional. 

      Hope you get back soon and thanks for reading.

      Steve

  2. This information on the best Luau in Maui is perfect and timely. My husband and I are planning a trip to Hawaii and we have gotten as far as a ball park for travel dates and are now working on where we want to go. This article has everything we need to know and consider when picking a Luau. This is absolutely on the bucket list for our itinerary. Your article is helpful and will make it easier for us with our decision. Thank you!
    Lyndsay

    1. Hi Lyndsay,

      Glad you found our Article useful. We are sure you will have a great time at your Luau whichever you choose. We literally just book to go to the Te Au Moana Luau for our next Hawaii trip, next month and we really can’t wait.

      We hope you have a great time in Hawaii and hope our other articles can help you plan a fantastic trip.

      Thanks for reading

      Steve

  3. Hi I just came across your website on Hawaii easily the best place to visit I think. I have never been there before but this article is making me want to go even more lol. I believe it is one of the most expensive places to visit but my friends rent a cabin that sleeps 12 people. When they are there they rent a car by there own food but I will save your site and show them the different places to eat and more thanks for the read. Jeremy
    Cheers

    1. Hi Jeremy,

      We always rent a Condo as we love the home away from home vibe. And as you say you can buy your own food and save lots of cash that way. The local produce on the Islands is also incredible so it’s a shame not to do some cooking while out there. You can splash a few $$ on a few special meals out.

      Glad you liked the site and hope your fiends like it too. Hope you get to Hawaii soon and check out this paradise Island Chain. 

  4. Gosh Steve your articles are really good! Now I want to go to Hawaii! I was laughing at your cheekiness wanting us to go through the Poi experience! I’ve got a young child who’s not even a year yet, how crowded are they? Are the shows played late? We might wait to go until he’s a bit older but who knows! Also, in your experience which part of Maui is better for sightseeing in family? Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Diellebe,

      Oh Thanks for the kind words. The Poi is something everyone should suffer, we are sure there will be someone who likes it! They can be pretty crowded but you should be Ok with a little one on that front. The shows do run on till quite late sometimes after 9:00 pm and the temperature can get pretty hot so there is potential for a grumpy child. You will probably know best how your child would cope. They would obviously be too young to get anything out of it, but under 3’s are normally free at most luaus.

      As for Sightseeing Kahului the main city is a bit built up and not overly pretty, apart from that the entire island is stunningly beautiful! Really anywhere you go is breathtaking. Have a look at our Beaches guide or our places to stay on Maui or Things to do on Maui to give you some ideas.

      Also keep an eye out on our site over the next few weeks as we begin our new Feature “LIVE BLOGGING” where we will be reporting live daily from our destinations. First stop is L.A on March 10th then from Maui for the next two weeks!

      Thanks for reading

      Steve

      1. Awesome Steve! I can’t wait to travel far again, I’m considering either waiting for baby to grow a bit more or to have a parenting break/escape hahah.. Can’t wait to watch those live videos, I’m sure they will be amazing.
        Cheers!

        DiellBee

        1. Hope you get travelling soon. There is no reason Children should stop you exploring the world. Although we do appreciate very young kids can be challenging until the grow a little.

          We can’t wait to make the live blogs. It’s been snowing all week and is -15 here, a bit of L.A / Hawaii sun will be very welcome!

          Thanks

          Steve

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