Whether it’s your first time to the islands or you’re a seasoned pro, taking in a luau is a fun, delicious, and cultural way to spend an evening. If you’re traveling with the whole family, a group of friends, or just a couples trip, a luau offers something for everyone to enjoy. Some luaus focus mainly on Hawaiian culture but many also include dance and songs from Tonga, Samoa, Tahiti, and other countries in greater Polynesian. Luckily Maui has a great variety of excellent luaus to choose from!
Your evening will kick off at most luaus with some hands-on activities and cultural demonstrations. You can usually wander these areas with a cool, refreshing, tropical cocktail, as most luaus offer an open or pay bar. Mai Tai, anyone? Next will be the mouth-watering buffet dinner (in most cases) where you can sample delicacies from Hawaii and greater Polynesia. Dishes like succulent kalua pig fresh from the imu, lomilomi salmon, tender laulau, and don’t forget the poi! Lastly, with a full belly, the show will begin and you’ll be transported with vibrant and immersive dance, song, and storytelling. Check out our picks below for luaus we recommend on Maui!
West Maui Luaus
Enjoy one of the best (if not the best!) luaus the islands have to offer right here on Maui! The Old Lahaina Luau is an authentic Hawaii-centric luau featuring the very best of Hawaiian food, culture, music, and dance. As the sun sets on the gorgeous beachfront grounds in Lahaina you’ll enjoy a delicious traditional dinner, unlimited drinks, and an award-winning show. Choose from traditional seating (cushions on the ground with a low table) or regular table and chairs. Book early (the Old Lahaina Luau has been known to sell out up to a month or more in advance) it’s one you don’t want to miss!
Lele is the ancient Hawaiian name for Lahaina and this food-focused luau takes place on the beach where the royal family of Maui would feast and entertain. While at Feast at Lele you will delight in a 5-course sit-down dinner, at a private table for just your party, offering delicacies from Aotearoa (New Zeland), Tahiti, Samoa, and Hawaiʻi. As you sample each course from a different area of Polynesia you will be transported there with the songs and dance of that culture as well. The evening concludes with the ever thrilling and enchanting fire knife dance from the nation of Samoa.
The Myths of Maui luau is located in the Royal Lahaina Resort on beautiful Ka’anapali Beach. The longest running ocean front luau on Maui, Myths of Maui will transport you to Hawaii, New Zealand, Samoa, Tahiti, and Tonga. Myths of Maui offers pre-show cultural activities, an imu ceremony, and boasts a kid-friendly buffet. The traditional Polynesian show features a spectacular muti-performer fire knife finale!
The Maui Nui Luau is a celebration of Maui, the Valley Isle itself, and the legendary demigod it’s named for. The luau is held at the Sheraton Maui Resort on their lush front lawn next to famous Black Rock, with the sands of beautiful Kaʻanapali Beach ahead of you. You’ll witness an incredible Cliff Dive Ceremony from Black Rock to kick off the luau. Follow this with abundant cultural activities, fabulous food, an open bar, and beautiful songs and dance from Hawaii, Tahiti, Tonga, and Samoa and you have a night you won’t soon forget!
The longest running show on the islands, Drums of the Pacific Luau is located on gorgeous Kaʻanapali Beach at the Hyatt Regency Maui. One of the goals of this luau is to highlight the connection and similarities across Polynesian cultures, in particular how guests are welcomed. Polynesian cultures dictate that guests are welcomed sincerely, fed well, and greeted with song and dance. With nearly 40 years of experience, a 3-course plated dinner, open bar, and delightful show you’ll surely feel the warm and inviting Polynesian spirit!
South Maui Luaus
If you’re looking to get a little lux in your life look no further than The Feast at Mokapu, Hawaii’s most authentic luxury luau. Located in Wailea on beautiful Mokapu Beach you’ll experience a curated cultural show that focuses on ancient Polynesians arriving on Maui, and highlighting the deep connection Hawaiians hold to the land. While you enjoy the show you’ll be spoiled with an abundant plating of traditional Hawaiian dishes, prepared with the utmost care. Add in the handcrafted cocktails and this is one luau you can’t miss! The Feast at Mokapu luau is only offered 2-3 times a week, so be sure to book early!
Te Au Moana literally translates to “the ocean tide,” and this luau turns its focus to just that, the ocean! Ancient Polynesians voyaged on the ocean, ate from the ocean, and had a deep reverence and respect for the ocean and the Earth. These values are still reflected today in Hawaiian and Polynesian cultures alike. With the beautiful ocean as your backdrop at Wailea Beach Resort, you’ll hear these stories and take part in cultural activities that bring them to life. All while enjoying a delicious 3-course Hawaiian ohana (family) style dinner, open bar, and fabulous show! Also, in the spirit of ohana, there’s no charge for children 5 and under!
At the Grand Wailea Luau immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture with traditional ceremonies, music, an open bar, and delicious food! Each party has its own private table overlooking Wailea Beach. You’ll also enjoy interactive activities, hula lessons, and a spectacular performance that highlights the story of Honau’ula, when ancient voyagers first discovered Maui.
Have you already done a luau and are looking for a new experience? Or maybe you’re just looking to get a little more bang for your buck? The Pride of Maui Sunset Luau Cruise might just be for you! Enjoy all of the experiences of a traditional luau plus the added bonus of a sunset cruise. You’ll delight in scrumptious freshly prepared island fair, a full open bar that includes Maui Brewing Company beers on tap, and live Polynesian dancers right on board. All of this and from their observation deck you get to take in 360-degree views of the gorgeous sunset, the mesmerizing blue ocean waters, Maui itself, and the outer islands. If it’s November-March you may even get to see a humpback whale! The Pride of Maui Sunset Luau Cruise departs from Maalaea Harbor, which makes it centrally located from either the Lahaina or Kihei area. Added bonus: kids 5 and under are free!
The modern-day luau got its start with King Kamehameha II, who in 1819 repealed religious traditions that banned women and people of lower classes from eating with men and eating certain foods that were served at feasts.
The luau got its name from one of the most popular dishes served at the feast; chicken and young taro plant leaves baked in coconut milk, called luau.
Traditionally people would sit on the floor; the feast would be laid out on woven mats and eaten with only their hands.
Luaus were traditionally large events, one of the largest was thrown by King Kamehameha III in 1847. It required 4,000 taro plants, 271 pigs, 482 gourds of poi, 2,245 coconuts, 3,125 salt fish, and 1,820 fresh fish! Another example is, King Kalakaua, known as “The Merrie Monarch” for his fondness for parties, who in 1883 hosted more than 1,500 guests for his 50th birthday luau. The guests had to be fed in 3 separate shifts!
The luau as we know it today has taken shape from tourism and a genuine interest in all things Hawaiian. Cruise liners started to bring tourists to the islands in the 1930s and later the advent of the trans-pacific flight brought more eager tourists starting in the 1950s and ’60s and to this day.
Attending a luau is a fantastic way to learn about Hawaiian culture, history, dance, and of course food!
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