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Aug 3, 2007 03:09 PM

Best Maui Luau?

Does anyone have any recommendations for the best luau (cultural experience, excellent show, and yummy traditional menu)? We will be staying at Kaanapali Beach Hotel, so something in that area would be most convenient - although we will have a car and don't mind driving.

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  1. Though it has been many years, since I did it, the "Old Lahinia Luau," still is getting good reviews. There was a thread, about 9 mos. ago on CH, on luaus, with several good reviews. Seems that part of that thread might have been Kaua`i-based, but IIRC, Mau`i was covered, as well.


    2 Replies
    1. re: Bill Hunt

      Thanks very much for your reply! Yes, I've heard good things about that one. I will read the luau thread as well.

      1. re: Bill Hunt

        What is a typical Luau meal and festivities like?

      2. We did Old Lahiana Luau in November 2005. It rained, but the show must go on...they passed out panchos.

        The food was so-so, nothing memorable at all. But, the drinks keep comin', as it's an open bar for all of the tropical drinks. I can't recall if "regular" drinks are inlcuded in the price, i.e., wine, beer, liquor, etc.

        It was my 5th or 6th trip to Hawaii, but my boyfriend's first trip. I have friends from Hawaii, so I'm familiar with the culture. Quite honestly, I wish I'd saved my $80 and gone out to dinner.

        4 Replies
        1. re: geg5150


          I'm basically with you on commercial luaus, in general. My first was for an international sales meeting on O`ahu (Sea Life Park), that I was photographing for my client. They pulled out all of the stops and had a troupe from the Polynesian Cultural Center. The food was excellent, as was the entertainment. A lot of time was spent on the historical aspects of the luau and Polynesia (Old Lahiana does a good job of this too). This event went on from about 4:00PM, until just before Midnight. It was about 4x the event at the PCC. We then did Old Lahaina a few years later, as my wife had not done a luau. It was OK, but paled in comparison.

          I have not done any, except the PCC, when we took family members and it was included in their VIP packages.

          However, if one has not done one, I'd recommend that they research the ones on the island, that they will be visiting. I feel that it is a must do - once.

          Now, looking in the local paper (depends on island), might yield a church, or other civic organization, that will be hosting a luau, that is open to the public. I'd opt for that first, but it is pot-luck.

          I have to admit that I still enjoy sitting on my balcony at the HHV, overlooking the King's Jubilee, and watching/listening from the comfort of my lanai, with a bottle of Chassagne Montrachet. I would not attend at the pool level, but appreciate the show, from above. Same for the luau at the Sheraton Kaua`i. We sat on the lanai for a bit, but abstained from attending in person. Been there - done that, and so has my wife now.

          Actually, the best was one at my country club in Denver. My wife hired a troupe and oversaw the catering. The dancers had just won a gold medal at the October festival in Wiamea. This was for my 50th, and was so far above the one that the cc held annually. All of my guests, who were members complained to the club, about how much better mine was...


          1. re: Bill Hunt


            On a side note I was wondering how extensive the show is at the Old Lahiana? I'm going in August and heard that out of all the more touristy luaus (we want to go to just one, to say we've been), the Old Lahiana has the best food. If we go there, would you say we don't need to check out PCC at all for their show? Thank you!

            1. re: chickiecc

              They are really two different things. Of the normal commercial luaus, that I have attended (usually because a guest has not been), Old Lahiana is pretty good. The chart, in a very short time, the migration of the Polynesian people and culture to the Islands, plus a bit of a nod to the rest of Polynesia - a well-performed "short course," by folk, who seem to know their moves, and really enjoy bringing the show to the tourists.

              Now, PCC is a complete course in the history, geography, geology, culture of about all things Polynesian. They used to have a great IMAX film on aspects of the history, told through a narrative story. Unfortunately, I cannot recall the title, and the last two trips had good, though not great films. I have enjoyed spending the $ for their VIP tickets, which includes a personal guide, complete access to the various "villages," front-row seating for all "events," and food. The food is not up to what I have had elsewhere. It was not bad, just a bit "instutionalized" for my palate. One can also tailor their "experience," to suit their tastes. For instance, one can spend more time in, say the NZ pavillion, talking with the actors, who assume the roles of those islanders. There are several "shows" during the day and evening, and seeing one is really enough for me. I'd rather spend more time soaking up the culture of each pavillion and talking to the kids, all of whom, IIRC, are from the island, that they populate at PCC, and are students at the Brigham Young Campus next door. If you go, go early and plan on spending a lot of time doing things that most of the tourists will not do. I think that I'd skip the evening meal, and maybe catch a late table at OLA at Turtle Bay Resort. I do not know of a good restaurant very near the PCC, but I'll bet others have some suggestions, that I have just missed. No, do not skip the PCC, if you care about the culture and history of Polynesia - you just might walk away with a degree in Cultural Anthropology!


              1. re: Bill Hunt

                Great! Thank you so much that was very helpful. I'm sure we'll have a wonderful time at both!

        2. I am going to the Old Lahaina Luau next Tuesday courtesy of my brother in law. We have reservations for the traditional seating and i will let you know how it is.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Ela0427

            Please do, as this is a subject that comes up often and many visitors might have done on, though years ago. Who knows how they have changed?


          2. I went to the Old Lahaina Luau and loved it! The entertainment was very well done, and the food was pretty good. The unlimited tropical drinks were excellent, especially the Mai Tai and Pina Coladas. The pork dishes, chicken long rice, pulehu steak, poi rolls and sweet potatoes were all good. The ahi poke was the best I had on the island! The haupia and dessert plates were also very good. I did not care for the rice nor the salads. The food is by no means excellent, but it is probably the best food at a traditional luau. Plus, the location is close to Ka'anapali and extremely beautiful. Try and catch the shuttle to Lahaina so you do not have to drive back after the unlimited drinks. Enjoy!

            Old Lahaina Luau
            1251 Front St, Lahaina, HI 96761

            1. We like the Feast at Lele--its not a typical luau--its a private table and not a buffet--we really liked it!

              2 Replies
              1. re: calisummer

                Yes, the feast at lele, that's the one I couldn't think of. I heard that the food is better there, but that the show is much better at OLL. Although, do they do a fire show at feast of lele?

                1. re: geg5150

                  yep--they had the fire dance there! We had a front row center view!