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 offerings on each island. Like anything that has multiple offerings from differing competitors, they have all developed their own themes and unique selling points.
While this is great for Choice and Value it makes choosing the perfect Luau difficult. With so much choice making the choice of which Luau to attend can be pretty stressful as these are a significant outlay and a major part of most people’s Hawaii Vacations! So we put together our Maui Lua Review page so you can find out what the Best Luau in Maui really is.
The Best part of Maui luaus is they all mostly 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 of maximum Aloha Spirits!
2022 Update –
After the Covid pandemic took its toll on the Hawaiian Islands, many businesses that struggled to keep their head afloat have bumped prices in order to recoup some of the money lost during the prolonged shutdown with no Tourists. When we updated this article, we were pretty shocked at the HUGE price increases seen in the Luau Market.
For those new to the Islands, these prices will seem pretty steep, but for those returning the prices really are shocking, almost double in some instances.
One big thing that seems to have changed is most Luau’s now offer table service rather than the Buffet Layouts of the past. This may change in the future but for now, most Maui Luau’s are table service, maybe this is reflected in the cost increases.
Unfortunately, we have had a few losses too, and a new arrival!
- What to Expect at Luau
- Luau Food
- VIP Options
- Best West Maui Luaus
- Best South Maui Luaus
What is the Best Luau in Maui, Hawaii?
Simply put there is no “Best Buffet”, all of Maui’s buffets have their own Unique selling pints and will be suited to different types of guests. There are traditional Luau’s, Hotel Luau’s, Extravagant Luau’s, Cheaper Luaus, and even Free Hula Shows.
Our Guide is here to help you find the one most suited to your type of group and what you would like from the Luau experience. We do rate the Luau’s but really it’s more important to find the Luau that suits you the best.
Location is not to be ignored either. If you are staying in Wailea, it’s a long hike over the Lahaina, and back after a skinful of Mai Tai’s! So we do recommend sticking to the Laua’s in your area.
What exactly is a Luau? What to Expect.
A Luau is a traditional Hawaiian party. The modern Tourist version of 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 the 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 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 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.
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 drinks and you will now take your seats. Tables will be served or you will be invited to the Buffet. 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, Music, 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 $180+ 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 as 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.
People complain they are very inauthentic, and this is true enough they are a Tourist Service and a million miles from how the traditional Hawaiians would celebrate. But they are great fun.
Go in with a light heart and open mind with low expectations 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!
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 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 a heavy smokehouse taste. Every Luau must have a Kalua pig…It’s not a Luau without.
Huli Huli Chicken
This is a modern Hawaiian staple and not really traditional. But it’s fantastic and has found its way into most Luau menus. The Chicken is marinated in a spicy, savory sauce, of Soy and Toasted Sesame and then turned over hot coals, although most Luau, HuliHuli will be oven-roasted.
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 (It’s Taro btw). 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!
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 platters for dessert, Most Luaus come up with the goods.
The best part of Maui luaus is the drinks. These are free-flowing and fantastic. You have to start off with a Mai Tai, then move on to something more exotic such as a Pina Colada, Chi Chi, Lava Flow, or Blue Hawaiian. Most Maui Luau’s offer open bars and we are big drinkers and have never felt restricted.
The Open bars make up a large portion of the adult prices and as such if you don’t drink it can feel a little pricey. There will be a huge selection of soft drinks too, fruit juices, tea coffee, and sodas.
Most open bars will offer beers and wine as well as cocktails, but we prefer the tropical vibes the cocktails bring.
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 that VIP isn’t going to get you anything. With others, you don’t get a lot, considering how good the basic package is. On some islands, the VIP level offers you more drinks but with Open bars, it’s not something to worry about. All you get are seats closer to the Stage and first visits to the Buffet/Service.
Seating at most Luaus is good wherever you sit it. They are not HUGE events and you usually get a good view. Not being first up to the Buffet should not be a major problem. There is always more than enough food to go around and we would be very annoyed and be making complaints if food ran out before we got there even if we were last, this has never happened and there is always enough for second or third visits to the buffet for more food!
The lack of value of VIP is reflected in the cost. Preferred seating / VIP / Premium isn’t much more expensive than the basic. Essentially with the basic offering in most Maui Luaus, you can rest assured you will have a great time without upgrading to premium, 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.
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 in 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 our reviews into 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.
- Cost – $182.29 Adults – $92.71 Children (3-12)
- Drinks – All Inclusive Bar
- Perfect for – Traditional Hawaiian Experience
- Rating – 9/10
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 it 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 that 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, but then for the quality, it’s not the most expensive either!
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. Kids seem to love it, however, as they are more used to sitting on the floor than us older folks!
We like the large reduction in price for kids, as they are not drinking, it makes sense to charge considerably less. The Old Lahaina Luau is currently a Table service Luau not returning back to the traditional buffet since Covid.
This Luau is very popular and we do recommend booking early as it 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, and currently, it’s booked up to two months out!
- Cost – $192.71 Adults – $103.12 Children(3-12)
- Drinks – All-Inclusive Bar
- Perfect for – Something very different.
- Rating – 7/10
The Feast at Lele is a very different experience from most Luaus. It is a sit-down multi-course meal that is accompanied by entertainment as the meal is brought to you. There is no Buffet, no queuing, no 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 Zealand, Tahiti, and Samoa, while traditional entertainment from the region accompanies the meal.
Being a Sit-down meal the quality is far higher than any Luau Buffet can attain. The Choice of dishes from other Polynesian cultures increases 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.
The only real issue we have with the Feat at Lele is it’s not really what we consider a classic Luau. It is a really enjoyable night out and the food is far superior to all other Luau on the island, and most people love being served rather than queueing for a buffet. But there is the whole show feel that is missing. We think first-timers would be better off looking at the traditional Luau, such as Old Lahaina Luau, to get that authentic feeling.
Feast at Lele, is better suited to those who have visited a luau before and are looking for a different experience. Or those who don’t really fancy the slightly “rough around the edge feel” of a traditional Luau.
There is no doubt though from a gastronomic point of view Lele’s is the best option!
- Cost – $210 Adults – $105 Children(6-12)
- VIP – $260 Adults – $130 Children(6-12)
- Drinks – All-Inclusive Bar
- Perfect for – People looking for an Exciting Loud Show
- Rating – 8.5/10
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 of 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, and there are some sublime views over the channel to Lanai as the sun sets.
The Drums of the Pacific dropped its Buffet menu during Covid and has converted into a 3-course meal served meal, but it has retained the classical buffet food you would expect (see above) we are a little torn on this as we like helping ourselves but this way is more civilized.
Great drinks flow well but the queues can be quite large as the Luau caters to a large crowd. Being a Tahiti Production means the talent is some of the best and the sets and costumes are 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. This has also skyrocketed since Covid. For the $210 we expect a flower lei instead of the Nut Lei provided, and reasonable seats, infact we expect a whole lot more than this! The VIP offers very little above the standard package apart from front seats. And at $260 per person that is a staggering cost!
- Cost – $161 Adults – $88 Youth (6-12) – $free Children(0-5)*
- VIP – $213 Adults – $140 Youth (6-12)
- Drinks – All-Inclusive Bar
- Perfect for – Families on a budget
- Rating – 6/10
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 Luau offer. 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 but it does have some good savings for families as children under 6 are free.
The show is average really and is set on a small stage with a small number of performers. These smaller shows are less dramatic, but the tight-nit teams are well drilled and can still pull off a great performance and as always they are enthusiastic and love performing. The best way to describe this would be the show is more intimate that the larger productions.
Food is not where the Myths of Maui shines. It is decent and plentiful but it is definitely cheaper and feels a little more like a Cantine, rather than an exotic feast. We do find the bar excellent though!
A the end of the Day the Myths of Maui Luau is geared to be the cheapest on the island and there are some compromises to achieve that. But it is still an excellent choice and can save quite a bit of cash for families on a budget.
The Wailele and the Maui Nui 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.
- Cost – $175 Adults – $80 Children(4-12)
- Premium – $195 Adults – $100 Children(4-12)
- Drinks – All Inclusive Bar
- Perfect for – People Staying at the Maui Westin
- Rating – 8/10
The Wailele Polynesian Luau is the hotel Luau situated at the Maui Westin Kaanapali. For quite a while this was a pretty dull and average Hotel Luau. However, the Luau has just undergone a huge makeover and is now billing itself as the most authentic Luau in Maui.
Well with the self-titled Maui’s Most Extreme Troupe of Fire-Knife Dancers performing at the show we can already say they are not going for real authenticity. So we wonder how much of the rebranding is just that branding.
The show has undergone a nice makeover and has a wonderful setting with waterfalls and the setting sun as a back-drop. The fire dancers are really epic and perform some excellent tricks, standing in human towers as they twirl their firey battons.
Food has also improved but it’s still large trays of hotel catered food, which is palatable enough but never feels very authentic.
The re-branding has taken the Wailele up a couple of gears, and it’s pretty well priced compared to the competition but it still feels like a hotel Luau. However, if you are staying local never underestimate the advantage of being able to stagger home!
- Cost – $180 Adults – $105 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
- Rating – 7/10
Formally known as the Kaanapali Sunset Luau, the Maui Nui is the Sheraton’s house Luau focused primarily on the guests of the hotel. The main advantage of the Luau is the Location. Set on the beach overlooking Black Rock in the heart of Kaanapali, the Luau features the legendary Cliff Diving Ceremony and stunning views of the sunset over the Ocean.
The show is on the smaller side and not as dramatic or spectacular as some and the food tends to be the regular hotel Luau kind, so kind of average really. Prices are at the higher end without really justifying it. It’s a solid Luau but doe nothing to really set it apart from the competition, apart from the great location.
Legends of Kaanapali Luau – Closed
*** Unfortunately this show is not being performed at the minute ***
- Closed – Possibly permanently – a tragic loss!
- 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.
South Maui Luaus
We are not sure why there is a clear disparity between the offerings in West and South Maui. As you can see South Maui only has 3 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.
- Cost – $240 Adults – $165 Children(6-12)
- VIP – $275 Adults – $160 Children(6-12)
- Drinks – All Inclusive
- Perfect for – Anyone Staying in South Maui
- Rating – 8.5/10
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. **
- Cost – $280 Adults – $140 Children(4-12)
- VIP – $340 Adults – $180 Children(4-12)
- Drinks – All Inclusive
- Perfect for – ?
- Rating – ?/10
The Feast at Mokapu is the newest Luau to open up on the Island. Set in the stunning new landscape of the ultra-premium Andaz Maui hotel it markets itself as the most premium Luau on the Island.
You will notice that our score is? and we think it’s perfect for? that’s because we have not made it over to Mokapu since it opened, thanks to Covid!
Fear, not our ticket is booked and we will be reporting back soon. The Luau has already hit the top 3 on Tripadvisor and seems to be getting rave reviews. But we need to check it out ourselves first before we can report back.
First impressions…$280 for basic seating…wow! It better be good to justify that! And $340 for the VIP is really an indictment of the madness that is Wailea Prices right now!
Lū’au at the Grand Wailea (previously the Grand Wailea Luau)
- Cost – $265 Adults – $200 Children(3-12)
- VIP – $325 Adults – $245 Children(3-12)
- Drinks – All Inclusive
- Perfect for – Anyone Staying in South Maui
- Rating – 8/10
The Final Luau in South Maui is Lū’au. Set in the lush grounds of the Grand Wailea, Lū’au 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, and drinks. You could almost toss a coin.
We have a feeling the new, Feat at Mokupu will offer a very similar standard of Luau as well. Honestly apart from the price, and the locations, these 3 are really very similar offerings, possibly the deciding factor would be Which one is most convenient for you?
As we have said from the start one of the most important factors is location. As the drinks are flowing it’s best to find a Luau within staggering distance, but our highest-rated option, The Old Lahaina Luau, is a fair way from most hotels and resorts. It’s worth the taxi ride over though, at least you are staying in West Maui.
Soth Maui has limited options, all very good, but all expensive. This is fine for those staying in ultra high-end luxury resorts who will not care a jot about the price, but for the more budget conscious in Kihei and such, it’s a painful choice. Again, we think the money would be best spent on a Taxi or Uber over to Old Lahaina Luau.
Overall just make sure you have fun. The worst Maui Luaus still have great locations, Open Bars, with fun and enthusiastic staff and performers. They are great fun and with a few Mai Tai sunk you will be having a whale of a time!
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 ever, if you have any questions just drop us a comment below we always love talking Luau.