Whether you’ve come to Hawaii for your honeymoon, with kids, or as a few days getaway, there are a few things on top of your tickets and hotel that you should think of in advance:
- Top spots for Hawaiian-style breakfast and brunch;
- The must-visit towns that best translate local arts and culture;
- Bars that serve most exquisite tropical cocktails; and….
If you’ve ever watched movies depicting Hawaii, you’ve definitely seen characters having fun at Luau. Because no Hawaiian vacation can go without this local yet world-renowned fest, filled with Polynesian hula dancing, Hawaiian music, a Kalua pig, and the best pieces of local craftsmanship.
Choosing a Luau: The Key Things to Consider
Now, every island has plenty of Luaus — and one better than the other. So if it’s a one-of-a-lifetime experience for you, you have to get serious about your choice.
Here are a few things to factor in when choosing your fest.
1. Do your homework before you land on the island
Luaus can get pricey — the average costs range from $90-$200. This means that you’d want to make the right choice and make the most of this experience.
Consider your location, budget, and free days (you will find a Luau every day of the week, but the one you like might operate on certain days only) and check sites like Tripadvisor and Yelp for additional info, reviews, photos, and tips.
Note: some Luaus let you bump your seats with extra money, yet some offer top spots on a first come-first served basis, meaning that if you book early, you get a better view. So it’s best to reserve your spot well in advance as some of the top fests and top spots sell out fast.
2. Choose your preferred vibe
Some Luaus are smaller and some are bigger, hence you can opt in for a more intimate or more fest-style arrangement. Yet it’s important to choose the right table and the right seat.
The fests typically feature smaller (up to 5 persons) tables and bigger tables that can fit in up to 50 people. The former are more likely to translate the intimacy of Luau, while the latter are for those who want a full-on Polynesian celebration with some distractions from the actual spectacle of the fest.
Yet as much as Luau is an all-sensory experience — you have the food, you have the crafts — the key appeal is the performance, both musical and dance. And you want a front seat to all the visual riches!
3. Research the food options
While it’s the spectacle that makes the show, Luau is also all about the local cuisine and authentic vibe. So make sure to check the menu of each Luau within your shortlist.
While some Luaus offer a more international spin to the fest, we advise you to go full Hawaiian — the local cuisine might seem unusual, but after all, you’ve come to a new place so give some shake to your taste buds.
Here are some of the must-haves when you’re checking out the menu:
- Kalua pig (a life-sized pig that’s cooked in an underground oven) — if you arrive early, some Luaus let you witness the preparation and the cooking process.
- Lomi lomi salmon (raw salmon with a mix of tomatoes and herbs).
- Poke (yep, this renowned meal came from Hawaii).
- Any fresh catch local fish.
- Anything purple — the local purple vegetable called taro is used in various meals but one definite must-try is poi, a taro plant-based paste.
4. Consider the entertainment
All Luaus consist of similar milestones: the opening (guest reception where you get a beautiful Lei necklace), open bar before the start of the festivities, some pre-performance entertainment (hula dance or ukulele masterclasses, etc.), buffet feast, and the actual show (Hawaiian music and hula dancers).
But some ceremony features range from one Luau to another. We suggest that you consider Luaus that include an Imu ceremony (the prep of the Kalua pig) and Samoan fire knife dancing. Those two things you won’t see anywhere else — so make sure not to miss them!
Top Luaus in Hawaii
All Luaus are different and the ‘to each his own’ logic best applies when thinking of the best Luaus on the island.
Yet if you’re still struggling with the excess of choices and can’t make up your mind, check our guide to the 6 best Luaus in Kauai.