The Best Kauai Luaus
The first luaus came about in 1819 when King Kamehameha II ended the century-old practice of gender segregation at large meal gatherings. It was during the first celebrations following these new traditions that the term luau came to be.
These days, luaus are a valued part of Hawaiian culture and a revealing educational experience–on top of being a fantastic time, of course. For this article, we at Shaka Guide wanted to round up a few of the best luaus on the island of Kauai. Be sure to stay tuned until the end where we’ll nominate the best, most culturally accurate luau on Kauai!
When: Every Monday and Tuesday starting at 5 pm
Where: The Kilohana Plantation at 3-2087 Kaumualii Hwy, Lihue, HI 96766
Cost: Adult: $111.95; Teen (13-17): $74.45; Child (3-12): $43.45; Infant (Under 3): Free
This luau takes place on a retired sugar plantation just outside of Lihue. It begins with a torch lighting, followed by an opening ceremony during which the night’s food is brought out of a traditional imu underground oven. Dinner includes authentic dishes like Lomi Lomi salmon, mahi-mahi, kalua pork, purple sweet potatoes, and taro rolls.
After eating, guests are encouraged to enjoy and participate in Hawaiian games, music, dancing, and walks through the facility’s tropical gardens. At 6:15, the theatrical show begins which includes hula, traditional fire knife dancing, and a fire poi-ball exhibition.
When: Sunday and Wednesday starting at 5:30 pm
Where: Grand Hyatt Kauai at 1571 Poipu Road, Koloa, Hawaii, United States, 96756
Cost: Adults (21 & up): $135; Juniors (13-20): $108; Children (3-12): $69; Infants: Free
The luau at the Grand Hyatt Kauai in Poipu offers a lei Greeting, hula lessons, all-you-can-eat buffet, open bar, crafts, demonstrations, and a show. Entrees include traditional and less traditional options ranging from imu-cooked kalua pig to grilled new york steaks.
When: every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with additional seasonal days. Start times of 4:45 or 5:00 depending on the season.
Where: Smith Familly Garden outside Wailua at 3-5971 Kuhio Highway, Kapaa, HI 96746
Cost: Adult (13+): $98.00; Junior (7-13): $30.00; Child (3-6): $19.00
This Luau happens every weekday through June and August, so if you’re visiting during the summer, this is an easy option to make work. It’s also an outstanding luau with culturally accurate dining and events.
You’ll start with a shell greeting, followed by either a stroll or tram ride through the botanical garden. Next, there’s an imu cooking demonstration, which is followed by cocktails, dinner, and the Rhythm of Aloha show. The show features cultural performances from Hawaii, Tahiti, Samoa, Philippines, New Zealand, and Japan.
When: Monday and Thursday starting at 5 pm
Where: Sheraton Kauai Resort at 2440 Ho’onani Road
Koloa, HI 96756
Cost: Adults (18+): $118.94; Teens (13-17): $80.88; Youth (4-12): $57.10; Child (0-3): Free
This luau features familiar offerings like Polynesian dinner, drinks, and a cultural show. It has the added bonus of continuing late into the night “until the drinks stop flowing.” The venue is also particularly nice with ocean-side seating.
When: Thursday and Sunday starting at 5:15 pm
Where: Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach Resort at 650 Aleka Loop, Kapaʻa, HI 96746
Cost: Adult (13+): $99.00; Child (4-12): $65.00; Infant (0-3): Free
The Luau Makaiwa starts off with a cocktail reception followed by a cultural arts exhibit. Next comes the torch lighting ceremony and authentic Hula Kahiko, which honors the beauty of Kauai. The open bar is available starting at 5:30, and food options include Polynesian staples like kalua pork, huli huli chicken, and lomi lomi Salmon.
When: Wednesdays starting at 5 pm
Where: The Tahiti Nui at 5-5134 Kuhio Hwy, Hanalei, Hawaii
Cost: Adults (18+): $80; Seniors: $67; Teens (13-17): $47; Children (4-12): $37; Infants: Free
This Luau features Mai Tais on the house until 6 pm and an open buffet. It runs a bit shorter than other Luaus at about two and a half hours. The dinner show features dancing and a fire knife demonstration.
Is going to a luau worth the money?
Even the most affordable luaus cost a pretty penny, especially if you’re bringing the whole family. But the experiences available at these cultural events are truly unforgettable. And, once you get a taste of kalua pork, slow-cooked all day in an underground imu oven, you’ll forget all about the price tag.
Can I just see the show?
The Smith Family Luau offers an only-the-show option if you’re more interested in cultural demonstrations than food and drinks.
So, which is the most culturally accurate Luau?
The most culturally accurate luaus will feature authentic Hawaiian delicacies like kalua pork from an imu oven, poke, and taro. An authentic luau should also include real hula, which is much more elegant than the more touristy hula you may be familiar with.
For these reasons, Shaka Guide nominates the Smith Family Luau as Kauai’s most authentic. This is the longest-running luau in Kauai and has been kept going by four generations of Smiths. The hula and song traditions are also extremely accurate to Hawaiian culture. The fact that this luau takes place in the sacred lands of the Wailua River Valley only adds to the authenticity.