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When we lived on Oahu, we lived within walking distance of a very popular luau. When there were visitors in town, we would book tickets, go in and enjoy the buffet and food. Since then, we’ve learned a lot about luaus and seen firsthand the different levels of quality and experience you can achieve.
What Is The Best Luau In Oahu
If you’re looking for a fun luau, we’ve compiled a list of the best luaus on Oahu that we hope are worth your time and money. Will you be traveling to the other Hawaiian Islands? Check out our Top 14 Luaus in Hawaii (our honest review).
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We’ll start with the best show on Oahu’s North Shore, Waimea Valley. Then travel around the island and enjoy some of the best luaus on Oahu.
The upcoming 2021 Toa Luau has become one of the best luaus on Oahu. And a great price. At Waimea Valley on Oahu’s North Shore, you can try fun Hawaiian activities like games and coconut shelling before you sit back and enjoy a great show and delicious food. This luau is family-friendly because there’s a show at 1:00 PM, so you can head back to Waikiki before bed.
Choose from three luau packages and show times (1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.). Entry tickets include drink tickets and cash at the bar.
Why we love it: The Waimea Valley Falls Baths and Gardens alone are worth a visit. Activities and a Polynesian show make it great fun for the whole family.
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Toa Luau does not provide transportation from Waikiki or anywhere else on the island. Parking is available at Waimea Valley.
This is Oahu’s Great Fire Dance Show presented by World Fire Knife Dancer Chief Sielu. Chief’s Luau is known for its entertaining MC. Laughter, Samoan fire dancing and Polynesian dancing are top notch in this Polynesian show.
The downside to this luau is that it is 45 minutes west of Waikiki at a water park. However, transportation is available from Waikiki. Don’t let the water park scene ruin your experience. The food is not as good as other luaus on Oahu.
Why we love it: This luau is a fan favorite because of the quality of the production. It is one of the few where the jokes and stories are as entertaining as the dancing.
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When you look for a luau in Oahu, the first thing that comes to mind is the Polynesian Cultural Center. It’s a popular favorite for a reason. It’s not just a luau, it’s an all-day experience.
Luau packages are a bit confusing (at least for us at first). Below is an overview of Polynesian Cultural Center venues and events.
Hukilau Marketplace is a dining and shopping district across from the Polynesian Cultural Center. Entry is free, no booking required.
Gateway buffet is a dinner package but does not include Luau performance. The buffet is open from 16:30 to 19:00 and is served in the Great Hall. The celebration includes traditional Luau food, but not the Luau dinner show, such as traditional dances and storytelling.
Best Luau In Oahu
Ali’i Luau is a traditional Luau buffet. As you dine, an MC will tell you Hawaiian stories accompanied by live music and dancing. This is their most popular luau experience.
Not sure which luau and catering option to choose? Check out our Ali’i Luau vs. Gateway buffet: how to decide.
HA: Breath of Life is a spectacular big night after the Ali’i Luau or Gateway Buffet. Sit in the great room and experience a light show, dance and sing.
You can purchase ticket packages that combine these events. Most popular is the full-day Ali’i Luau experience in Polynesian island villages, where the day ends with HA: Breath of Life.
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The whole day’s event was postponed. So do what’s best for your family because you still have a long way to go to the resort on the other side of the island.
Why we love it: We were skeptical when we arrived (it might feel like Disneyland), but it was a truly immersive day. You can spend the afternoon doing cultural activities and then stay for the luau and evening show. The food is great and plentiful and everyone is very friendly!
There’s plenty to do at the Polynesian Cultural Center, so make sure you get there when it opens. This sign will guide visitors through the Hukilau Market.
This is a strong recommendation for anyone who wants to experience a luau without leaving Waikiki. While it’s not a fancy luau (it’s in the middle of an international market), the price reflects that. However, the service, entertainment and experience are excellent.
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You can also upgrade to front row seats if you want to be closer to the action or get a better deal at the back table. You won’t get a sunset view, but you’ll have a great night in Waikiki.
Why we love it: If you’re looking for an inexpensive luau option without leaving Waikiki, this is for you. Plus, you usually don’t have to make reservations weeks or months in advance like many other luaus in Hawaii do.
Most luaus on Oahu are indoors. The chief’s luau is not included, but the others on this list are dining.
Come rain or shine, the Luaus will go on. In case of rain, the broadcast will continue, so be prepared mentally. They do everything to make you feel comfortable.
What Is The Best Luau In Hawaii?
The Ali’i Luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center is housed in a large outdoor pavilion to protect the celebration from the elements.
It depends on what your expectations are. Luaus can be a wonderful experience that will be a memorable part of your vacation. Or they get frustrated and do something you wish you hadn’t. But the most important thing is to know what to expect and what you will like.
If you’re traveling to Vegas for shows, the luau is for you. So find your type and book early! If you don’t care about price and just want to enjoy an evening of entertainment, you’ll likely enjoy a luau.
If you expect gourmet food at a high price and don’t care much about entertainment, a luau may not be the activity for you. But don’t worry, we’ve listed some alternatives below.
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Although all Oahu luaus are family-friendly, there is one that stands out. The Polynesian Cultural Luau Center serves families (except private nursing homes) who have an educational experience in Polynesian and luau storytelling. Children dance at the luau, drawing children into the audience.
My daughter Edyta loved the show and food at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Staying at HA: Breathing Life was difficult.
While both islands have great luaus, if you have a choice, going to a luau on the Big Island is a better bet. You can find a good luau that is conveniently located near your vacation spot or resort so you don’t have to travel far.
While there are some great luaus on Oahu, some of the best ones are farther from where people live, requiring more time and effort to get to and from your luau. Toa Luau, for example, is incredible, but it’s on the north coast of the island. If you are staying in Waikiki, it takes about an hour to drive to the Luau. It is on the north coast, as well as the cultural center of Polynesia, and is a 60-minute drive away.
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Check out our list of favorite Big Island luaus, Maui luaus, and other Hawaiian islands.
A luau has two main components: celebration and entertainment. Most luaus follow the same format, which includes entertainment upon arrival and before the show, dinner (buffet, family or dining) and the main luau performance. Luaus usually last 2-3 hours, although the Oahu Polynesian Cultural Center is open all day.
Luau dishes include traditional Polynesian canoe harvests and new foods brought from around the world by missionaries, whalers and plantation workers. For example, a luau always includes poke, poi, kalua pork, lomi-lomi salmon, and lau-lau. Learn more about these dishes here.
For entertainment, most luaus feature dances from various Polynesian islands. The fire knife dance is a Samoan tradition, not Hawaiian. It is fun to watch the different dances of each Polynesian nation. However, some luaus, like the old Lahaina luau, are strictly Hawaiian in terms of dance, food, and storytelling.
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A luau can be more than a dinner party. Enjoy learning about the culture of the Polynesian peoples.
If you’re visiting Hawaii for the first time and can’t make it to a luau, don’t despair. Below is a list of alternative culture and entertainment. For a deeper cultural experience, try one or more of the options below
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