From the minute you step off the plane in Maui you are greeted by the warm air, gentle sea spray and fragrant smells of the flora. Maui is tropical and bursting with culture and the best way to take in some of Hawaii’s vibrant culture is by attending a luau.
A luau is one of the most traditional events you can experience on Maui, and one of the most fun, entertaining and generally filling events too. Luaus are big Hawaiian parties, where you can eat endless banquets of food, enjoy local music, stories, and legends, and learn more about Polynesian culture in a wonderful setting.
Maui is one of the best places to experience a luau, and there are feasts and parties aimed at all different types of budgets, each coming with their unique twists too.
Deciding which is the best Luau in Maui to attend though can be a challenge, particularly if you can only afford to visit one or are limited on time during your visit to the island.
Some luaus are more traditional than others, some are more theatrical, and others are aimed mostly at eating, drinking and having a lot of fun.
To help you to decide which is the best luau in Maui to book, here’s our guide to the best shows and feasts held across the island.
What is a Luau?
A luau is, in its most basic form, one big party accompanied by extreme feasting, and a lot of music and dancing. Luaus have long played an important role in local history across Maui, and across the rest of Hawaii.
While the history of luaus is deeply rooted in Polynesian culture, the more modern concept of a luau can be traced back to the early 19th century. This is when King Kamehameha II decreed that feasts would no longer be segregated by gender and that men and women in his kingdom could eat, dance and dine together.
A popular concept, the idea of a luau has since evolved into meaning any form of party, from birthdays to celebrations, while for tourists, locals are happy to put on extravagant luaus of a more traditional kind.
Finding a good luau with a good mix of tradition, feasting, and festivities is a must if you want to experience the best luau in Maui.
Best Luau in Maui
Old Lahaina Luau (Our Choice as Best Luau in Maui!)
Located in central Lahaina, the Old Lahaina Luau is one of the most popular luaus in Maui. This traditional, local eatery overlooks the beach and is found in a beautiful setting. Listen to the waves in the distance, and enjoy the setting sun as you experience one of the most authentic events on the island.
The Old Lahaina Luau is a dedicated restaurant, and they host lively luaus every night of the year – but still make sure that you book your table in advance to avoid disappointment.
The evening begins as the sun sets over the ocean, and you’ll be welcomed traditionally by the local staff, before enjoying Hawaiian inspired drinks and an enormous buffet that will leave you reeling.
As you settle down to gorge, the entertainment begins, as the Hula dancers and musicians make their appearance. And then the night is only just beginning.
Our Evening at the Old Lahaina Luau
Undoubtedly one of the best luau in Maui is the Old Lahaina Luau. The grounds are located in the popular town of Lahaina, which rests in between the Ka’anapili area and Kihei, right on the ocean.
The grounds are smaller than a lot of luau’s you can experience while on Maui and this provides an authentic, intimate experience that you will not soon forget.
When we arrived we were directed to check in with the women being handed a small, fragrant flower to put behind their ear for the evening. Remember to place the flower on the right side if you are single and the left side if you are taken.
This is followed by the receiving of a fresh orchid flower lei and a welcome Mai Tai adorned with a fresh orchid. From the very start, the experience is one of doting attentiveness and Hawaiian culture.
After being introduced to our waiter for the night and shown our seats, we were free to wander the grounds. We could visit the open bar or one of the stations that are set up with hula dancing, photo booths, and souvenirs, all while a live band plays tropical sounds in the background.
The experience continued when we witnessed the unearthing of the roasted pigs from the earth oven or ‘imu’.
These ovens are built by digging a hole in the ground and adding wood, where a fire is built. Many lava stones are then added to the fire to be heated up until they are close to red in color. At this point, the excess wood is removed, the rocks are leveled and banana stumps are put over the rocks to trap the heat.
The pigs are then placed on the banana stumps after being wrapped in large ti leaves and then covered with earth and left to slow roast over the coals for five to six hours before being unearthed. This amazing tradition will become the centerpiece of your luau meal.
Many attend the luaus for the feast, and this particular luau dismisses you in an organized fashion to fill your plates with traditional Hawaiian dishes at one of their four buffets.
Their organization makes for short lines and a nice experience. While eating you are served refills of your drinks from your waiter, as well as, large trays of desserts to top off the already fabulous meal.
All of this is rounded off with the night’s performance of a traditional hula dance. The show at the Old Lahaina Luau tells the story of Hawaii and the hula. How the islands were discovered, how they have changed and how they have embraced their original culture through hula dancing.
The show is captivating with beautiful dancers and an engaging story. We left the best luau in Maui with a renewed appreciation for the culture that is, Hawaii.
Other Maui Luaus
Legends of Ka’anapali Luau
Hosted by the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel, just along the road to the north of the main Maui town of Lahaina, the Legends of Ka’anapali Luau is a wonderful feast of food and festivities.
The hotel itself is a well established cultural institution, offering not just accommodation, but immersive cultural experiences that take visitors on a journey through Hawaiin history and heritage.
One part of that experience is their excellent luau, which is certainly one of the best Luau in Maui. The event is held every Monday evening, and you can expect Hula dancing, singing, music and can even return home with a carved Tika statue of your own as a unique souvenir from the Legends of Ka’anapali Luau.
Maui Nui Luau
Held amongst the fancy surroundings of the Sheraton Resort, overlooking Ka’anapali Beach, the Maui Nui Luau offers you the chance to watch the sunset in one of the most supreme locations on the island, as you watch the fiery display over Black Rock.
The luau itself begins with a welcoming ceremony, which involves flowers and cocktails, before you are treated to one of the best buffets in Maui, served up by the hotel’s talented chefs, and mixing both local and international influences to create a sumptuous feast.
The highlight of the Maui Nui Luau will be the fire dancing and the unique Samoan Fire Knife ceremony, which is sure to amaze even the most seasoned of travelers. The luau is held on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at the Sheraton.
Drums of the Pacific Luau
The Hyatt Regency Hotel, found on the beautiful shores of Ka’anapali, plays host to the Drums of the Pacific Luau, which not only takes you on a journey through Hawaiian culture, but explores the wider history of Polynesia through music, dance, and of course, feasting.
This is a luau for the culture and music lovers out there, as expert performers who are well versed in the traditions of islands as far afield as Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, and New Zealand play throughout the evening, as you enjoy dishes from across the Pacific too.
Ulalena by Maui Theatre
The Old Lahaina Centre in the hub of Lahaina is home to the excellent Ulalena by Maui Theatre. This is one of the best Luau in Maui, but it’s quite different from the luaus hosted by the hotels and resorts and makes for a unique change to the feasting and partying of the more commercial events.
While you enjoy a wonderful, gourmet banquet, the show unravels before you, and you can enjoy one of the most intense performances in Maui, as dancers and musicians take to the stage in a fantastically visual display of Hawaiian heritage and culture, that’s as dramatic as it is refined.
Wailea’s Finest Honua’ula Luau
Located on the coast of Wailea in Maui’s south-west, Wailea’s Finest Honua’ula Luau offers you a journey through Hawaiian history as you see performances that tell the extravagant tale of Polynesian seafarers arriving on the islands many centuries ago.
With an open bar, an incredible array of buffet food and a lively atmosphere, it’s the best luau in Wailea, and one of the best luau in Maui too. You’ll experience, Hula dancing, torch lighting ceremonies and the unearthing of the pig – the center of the feast – from a traditional, underground oven.
If you are looking for a classic luau that also delves deep into Polynesian history, then this is the one to book when you are in Wailea.
Te Au Moana Luau
Also located in Wailea, the Te Au Moana Luau is another of the most popular luaus in Maui. Te Au Moana Luau is hosted at the Marriott Hotel and the name of the luau translates from the local dialect into English as ‘The Ocean Tide’.
The performances here focus on the seafaring abilities and history of the Polynesian people, and the luau shows visitors the relationship between the ocean and the people, and how the two have forever been intertwined in history.
Alongside the traditional entertainment, you can soak up the ocean-atmosphere along the coast, as you feast on endless Hawaiian food and drink endless rounds of local cocktails.
Huaka’i Luau Maui: Journey Through Polynesia
Every Wednesday at the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel, a luau of epic proportions is played out on the sands in front of the beautiful ocean waves. This is a performance of traditional Hawaiian culture and entertainment, and it couldn’t be in a better location.
You’ll enjoy the surrounds of one of Maui’s best beaches, as you are taken on a journey through local history, and through the history of the Polynesian people who settled many of the world’s most remote islands.
With a feast to match both the epic location and the epic journey that the luau takes you on, this is an event not to be missed, but because it’s only held once a week, make sure you book your tickets and tables well in advance to avoid disappointment.
Royal Lahaina Luau
The Royal Lahaina Resort is the location of Maui’s most royal luau, and it’s all played out in a stunning oceanside location. This is one of the most classic events on the island, as the Royal Lahaina Luau is one of the oldest organized luaus to be found anywhere in Hawaii.
You can rest assured then, that this a luau that shouldn’t be missed.
The luau focuses on the Myths of Maui, and you’ll enjoy a performance that delves deep into the local culture and mythology of the island, alongside an incredible buffet and Hawaiian cocktails.
The Feast at Mokapu
The Feast at Mokapu is a luxury luau that offers you some of the best cuisines on Maui. Held at the glamorous Andaz Maui Hotel in Wailea, it’s priced higher than the average luau in other hotels but offers much more in the way of gourmet food.
In a supreme setting, you’ll enjoy cultural performances as you drink handcrafted cocktails tailored to your specifications, and dine on beautifully prepared traditional food that’s been cooked by the resort’s top chefs.
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