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Kauai Luaus Guide

The 7 Best Luaus on Kauai

Updated April 2024 ⋅ Written by Vanessa Howard ⋅ Edited by Laura Schulthies

Best Kauai Luaus
Best Kauai Luaus

Welcome to Kauai

One of the things that sets Kauai apart from the other Hawaiian Islands is its commitment to cultural heritage. The island is also known for its picturesque beauty. From Hanalei Bay to the stunning Napali Coast, you can enjoy the vast beauty and laid-back island vibes on Kauai. The island’s love of honoring its traditions and culture makes an authentic Hawaiian luau the best way to make the most of your time here. Keep reading for our list of the best Kauai luaus.

One of the things that sets Kauai apart from the other Hawaiian Islands is its commitment to cultural heritage. The island is also known for its picturesque beauty. From Hanalei Bay to the stunning Napali Coast, you can enjoy the vast beauty and laid-back island vibes on Kauai. The island’s love of honoring its traditions and culture makes an authentic Hawaiian luau the best way to make the most of your time here. Keep reading for our list of the best Kauai luaus.

Kauai Map

Kauai Map

Contents

What Is A Luau?

A Hawaiian Tradition

A Hawaiian Luau is a traditional Hawaiian feast often accompanied by entertainment such as music, hula dancing and other cultural performances. The word “luau” comes from the Hawaiian word for the taro leaf, often used in traditional Hawaiian dishes.

The history of the Hawaiian luau dates back hundreds of years to ancient Hawaii. Originally, a luau was a feast reserved only for Hawaiian royalty or high-ranking chiefs to celebrate special occasions such as important religious ceremonies, weddings, and births.

The early luaus were very formal affairs, with strict protocols and specific rituals to be followed. For example, men and women would eat separately, and the food would be served in a particular order based on the rank and status of the guests.

Over time, the luau evolved into a more casual celebration enjoyed by people of all social classes. The food and music became more diverse, and the atmosphere more relaxed and festive.

Kauai Luau Guide
Kauai Luau Guide

The Luau Experience

What To Expect

LEI GREETING

Your luau will likely begin with a traditional lei greeting where you will receive a flower lei as a sign of welcome to the event. Please note that to be respectful a lei should always be accepted. The proper way to wear your lei is to drape it over the shoulders so it hangs both in front and back. Removing the lei in front of the person who gave you the adornment is considered rude.

IMU CEREMONY

Before the meal begins, your luau will most likely have an imu ceremony. The imu is an underground oven that uses hot coals and stones to cook the main dish, usually kalua pork. The ritual consists of removing many layers of cloth to reveal the food. This exciting cooking process is witnessed before the pork is shredded and served.

DINNER BUFFET

Generally, dinner is buffet-style, allowing guests to sample various dishes and eat leisurely. Remember that every luau is different. Still, you can expect to see pork, chicken and salmon offered at most. You will also find poi (made from taro root), potato salad, sweet potatoes, salads, a variety of tropical fruits, and delicious desserts are offered.

DANCE & STORYTELLING

Depending on your luau, you will be dazzled by traditional hula dancing and storytelling during or after dinner. The dancers will wear traditional dress and dance to music and Hawaiian chants. Your luau may even end with a traditional Samoan fire knife dance. This thrilling spectacle will surely leave a lasting impression!

Best Kauai Luaus
Best Kauai Luaus

Best Kauai Luaus

Best Kauai Luaus
Best Kauai Luaus

Aulii Luau

The Aulii Luau is all about providing an authentic taste of ancient Hawaii culture. The event is derived from Hawaii’s celebration of family-style entertainment, where hula was a spiritual custom. You will find that the dances at this luau are fantastic, ranging from the ancient hula of Hawaiian mythology to the mesmerizing fire dances of Samoa. The food at an Aulii Luau goes beyond the standard luau fare of Kalua pork and poi and showcases the diverse flavors of Hawaii. The buffet features delicacies like fresh poke, teriyaki beef, and hulihuli chicken. Enjoy a refreshing mai-tai or a Blue Hawaii cocktail during this unique Kauai experience.

Kauai Luau Guide
Kauai Luau Guide

Luau Kalamaku

Marvel at the Kilohana Plantation, a 104-acre oasis that saw extravagant parties during its heyday, as you enter the Luau Kalamaku. Make sure to arrive early to stroll through the plantation grounds before the luau begins. This theatrical luau has an interactive stage that doesn’t just transport you into ancient Hawaii but puts you at the heart of the story. You will be enthralled by the tale of Polynesians who traveled across the Pacific to the Hawaiian archipelago. Enjoy graceful hula dancing and theatrical Tahitian performances. Food enthusiasts will love the buffet prepared by the award-winning Gaylord’s Restaurant featuring Hawaiian classics, including pineapple upside-down cake and fresh island fish with ginger and coconut. If you want an extra special treat, you can book the Luau Kalamaku with Plantation Owner’s Dinner and Champagne Reception.

Kauai Luau Guide
Kauai Luau Guide

Hawaii Alive Luau Show & Dinner

You will find the Hawaii Alive Luau Show & Dinner at the Kauai Marriott Resort. Impressively, this is the longest-running luau show in Hawaii. Now in its 53rd year, Hawaii Alive has endured for a reason; it’s one of the few luaus on Kauai to offer a show-only option. This allows you to dine on your own before enjoying the Hawaiian performance. Or you can go the whole nine yards and enjoy their all-you-can-eat buffet. The incredible buffet gives diners choices that range from hulihuli chicken to Hawaii’s signature coconut dessert, haupia. The acclaimed Puana family leads the performance, featuring all the best traditional luau experiences, including drums, great music, fire and excellent dancing.

Best Kauai Luaus
Best Kauai Luaus

Havaiki Nui Luau

The Havaiki Nui Luau is held every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort, and this enchanting luau is perfect for the whole family. Relax as Hawaii’s richest stories are told through ancestral Polynesian dances and culinary wonders inspired by Kauai. The evening’s festivities include a display of crafts, a torch-lighting ceremony, a lei greeting, a Hawaiian buffet, and an exciting Polynesian show. This luau also features interactive Hawaiian demonstrations that include hula lessons! Havaiki Nui elevates basic luau fare by offering exceptional options such as volcano-spiced fresh fish with mango coulis. You don’t want to miss the guava mousse cake, pineapple upside down cake, and haupia for dessert.

Smith Family Garden Luau

The Smith Family Garden is filled with natural wonders that range from a thriving fruit orchard to free-roaming peacocks and exotic bamboo forests. The lush park is 30 acres, where you can enjoy the Smith Family Garden Luau. As a luau guest, you will be treated to a tour around the beautiful estate before your luau experience begins. The luau itself celebrates the cultures of Hawaii by incorporating music and dances from Hawaii as well as traditional performances celebrating New Zealand, the Philippines, and Japan. Enjoy the show as you feast on Kalua pig roasted in an authentic earthen imu oven, a secret Smith family recipe for teriyaki beef, chicken adobo, poi, and various salads and desserts.

Kauai Luau Guide
Kauai Luau Guide

Ahi Lele Luau Fire Show

The Ahi Lele Luau Fire Show is the luau for those looking for a more intimate setting and community feel. The show is performed by a local family at the Anaina Hou Community Park, making this luau as authentic and unique as it gets! Through a mesmerizing fire and dance performance, you learn the story of the Polynesian islands. Everything about the show is real — the ancient chants, the drums, the fire, and the Tahitian-style dancing. You may not get the grand buffet the larger luaus offer, but they offer a “dinner Luau box” plus a mai-tai and beer option. Seating is first come, first served, but you can avoid the hassle of arriving early to save a seat and book the VIP package instead. This package comes with front-row seating and extra free drinks.

Kauai Luau Guide
Kauai Luau Guide

Luau Ka Hikina

You will find the Luau Ka Hikina at the Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach Resort in their newly built, open-air event pavilion, Halau Ho’okipa. You will get unparalleled views across the ocean as you take in the splendor of the Luau Ka Hikina. From the impressive torch-lighting ceremony that kicks off the evening’s festivities to the mesmerizing hula dances, Luau Ka Hikina is an excellent option to make the most of your time in Kauai. This memorable experience celebrates Hawaiian and Polynesian culture with a locally sourced, traditional Hawaiian feast and spectacular live music. Enjoy a delicious buffet with Hawaiian classics such as Hanalei Poi, Hawaiian Mac Salad, Kalua Pork, and Haupia Tartlets.

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