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The Best Oahu Luaus

Food, Fire & Fun!

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

Oahu Luau Guide: The Best Oahu Luaus
Oahu Luau Guide: The Best Oahu Luaus

Welcome to Oahu

Oahu’s Luau scene is quite diverse; whether you are looking for an amazingly lavish experience in Waikiki, or an authentic and intimate gathering, you will find it in Oahu. There is a celebration for every taste on this Hawaiian Island, and these unforgettable colorful experiences will leave a lasting impression. Keep reading for our guide to the best luaus on Oahu.

Oahu’s Luau scene is quite diverse; whether you are looking for an amazingly lavish experience in Waikiki, or an authentic and intimate gathering, you will find it in Oahu. There is a celebration for every taste on this Hawaiian Island, and these unforgettable colorful experiences will leave a lasting impression. Keep reading for our guide to the best luaus on Oahu.

Oahu Map

Oahu Map

Contents

What Is A Luau?

A Hawaiian Tradition

A Hawaiian Luau is a traditional Hawaiian feast that is 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, which is 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 guests’ rank and status.

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

Oahu Luau Guide: The Best Oahu Luaus
Oahu Luau Guide: The Best Oahu Luaus

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. And the proper way to wear your lei is to drape it over the shoulders so that 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 the layers of cloth to reveal the food. This exciting cooking process is seen before the pork is shredded and served.

DINNER BUFFET

Generally, your dinner is buffet-style, allowing you 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 that poi (made from taro root), potato salad, sweet potatoes, salads, a variety of tropical fruits, and delicious desserts are offered.

DANCE & STORRYTELLING

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, and this thrilling spectacle will surely leave a lasting impression!

Best Oahu Luau
Best Oahu Luaus

The Best Oahu Luaus

Best Oahu Luaus
Best Oahu Luaus

Chief’s Luau

Head to Chief’s Luau for breathtaking panoramic views and a one-of-a-kind Oahu luau. Join the Chief for a night of fascinating Polynesian culture and fun. Chief Sielu Avea is one of the funniest Polynesian entertainers and the original World Champion Fire-Knife Dancer.

This immersive luau experience begins with a lei greeting and explores Oahu’s rich cultural heritage. Sit back, sip a Mai Tai, and sink your teeth into a delicious all-you-can-eat Hawaiian feast as you enjoy this thrilling Polynesian show with fire-knife dancing like you have never seen before.

Best Oahu Luaus
Best Oahu Luaus

Ali-i Luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center

Held at the Polynesian Cultural Center, the Ali-i Luau is a celebratory feast that will leave you thoroughly entertained. On Oahu’s north shore, this luau honors the island’s history by emphasizing the cultural significance of each of the traditional luau components.

Ali-i Luau draws inspiration for its delicious buffet from the techniques and recipes passed down from the days of the mighty King Kamehameha II. The stellar entertainment includes dancing and decorations rooted in tradition. The Polynesian Cultural Centers Ali-i Luau is recognized as the most authentic luau on Oahu. Luau admission packages include admission to the Polynesian Center’s six island villages, each of which celebrates the culture of an island nation.

Best Oahu Luaus
Best Oahu Luaus

Paradise Cove Luau

At the Paradise Cove Luau, you are welcomed with tropical Mai Tais and traditional Hawaiian music to set the mood for the evening’s festivities. Stroll through the Hawaiian Village and learn more about the island’s culture. Or go for a canoe ride in Paradise Cove and witness the time-honored techniques of underground cooking before you head to the Imu Ceremony. 

The evening continues with an epic feast, so bring your appetite and savor every bite of the extensive menu. The Paradise Cove Luau blends the best of traditional Hawaiian dishes with local favorites and continental cuisine. Enjoy a spectacular Hawaiian sunset as the backdrop for the award-winning performers. Prepare to be entertained and amazed by an unforgettable show featuring Hawaiian and Polynesian culture.

Best Oahu Luaus
Best Oahu Luaus

Toa Luau At Waimea Valley

The Toa Luau offers more than just a cultural experience. It transports you to the beauty and excitement of Polynesian culture on Oahu’s North Shore. With 3 different luau packages, you can enjoy the lush landscape of the Waimea Valley. Free passes to Waimea Valley are included with each luau package so you can explore the fragrant flower lei gardens, hike among Hawaii’s most diverse plant life, and take a refreshing swim at Waimea Falls.

Tao Luau includes authentic, interactive cultural demonstrations, a delicious island feast, and Polynesian dances from around the Pacific. Experience the natural wonders of Oahu with traditional cooking demonstrations and thrilling entertainment at Tao Luau.

Best Oahu Luaus
Best Oahu Luaus

Aloha Kai Luau

The Aloha Kai Luau is held on the beautiful grounds of the Sea Life Park in Makapuu Meadows. Enjoy the iconic Oahu view as you overlook the ocean and are tucked beneath the Koolau Mountains. The Aloha Kai Luau offers one of Oahu’s most authentic luaus and world-class entertainment.

This cultural experience invites you to understand and fully immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture. Enjoy a flavorful feast with delicious kalua pork made in an underground oven at one of the few authentic Imu experiences offered on Oahu. Aloha Kai Luau also provides an exclusive chef-curated menu featuring a culturally inspired meal to enjoy as you experience the award-winning performances. The performances range from fire knife champions to graceful hula and coconut tree climbing.

Best Oahu Luaus
Best Oahu Luaus

Queens Waikiki Luau

If you don’t want to leave Waikiki but want to experience an authentic luau, then Queens Waikiki Luau is perfect for you. During this fun celebration, you can learn about the hula, eat delicious Hawaiian cuisine, and enjoy an authentic Polynesian show. Each guest can sip on 3 complimentary Mai Tais or soft drinks while enjoying the evening’s entertainment.

The entertainment at Queens Waikiki Luau includes traditional dances from across the Pacific and a famed Fire Knife Dance. You can enjoy delicious Hawaiian cuisine, including poi, lomi salmon, and kalua pork. Queens Waikiki Luau is a perfect way to celebrate your time on Oahu. Prepare for a beautiful night of culture, food, music, and entertainment. Aloha!

Best Oahu Luaus
Best Oahu Luaus

Diamond Head Luau

Have a one-of-a-kind experience at the Diamond Head Luau with farm-to-table culinary delights. The fresh, locally grown, and sourced ingredients elevate the traditional luau cuisine. Trust us, you will taste authentic island flavors in every bite.

Dinner isn’t the only part of the Diamond Head Luau that is pure magic. With Diamond Head Crater as the backdrop, you can watch the sun dip below the beautiful ocean during the lei greeting with delicious Mai-Tai’s. Enjoy an evening of dancing, singing, and feasting under the gorgeous Oahu sky.

Best Oahu Luaus
Best Oahu Luaus

Mele Luau

If you are looking for an authentic Hawaiian feast and thrilling Polynesian Dancing, the Mele Luau is the best choice for you. Enjoy a traditional feast featuring authentic Hawaiian luau cuisine and vegetarian and child-friendly favorites. This luau includes a Hawaiian buffet and bar that will have your mouth watering. 

Following your feast, the thrilling Mele Luau show combines awe-inspiring Polynesian dancing, ancient legends, and a sweet love story for an experience full of humor and energy. Known as the most eco-friendly luau in Oahu, Mele Luau is perfect for those looking to travel more sustainably.

Best Oahu Luaus - Paniolo, A Hawaiian Cowboy Luau
Best Oahu Luaus - Paniolo, A Hawaiian Cowboy Luau

Paniolo, A Hawaiian Cowboy Luau

If you’re looking for a truly unique luau experience, check out Paniolo, A Hawaiian Cowboy Luau. Paniolo is steeped in the rich cultural tradition of Hawaiian ranching. Set against a backdrop of the Turtle Bay Resort stables and the ocean, this luau has been named “Best Dinner and Show” by Modern Luxury Hawaii. Between the Pua’a Presentation, the conch shell dinner call, and the entertaining Paniolo Show, you’ll be enthralled by the traditions of Hawaiian ranching. The luau runs every Wednesday, and diners can expect a pig roast, delicious eats, welcome cocktails, live entertainment, and a fun cash bar made from a vintage horse trailer. Paniolo offers plenty of fun activities for the kids, including a pony meet and greet and hula lessons. Those looking for an authentic Hawaiian cultural experience will love the Paniolo, A Hawaiian Cowboy Luau. 

Best Oahu Luaus
Best Oahu Luaus

Rock-A-Hula

Sit back, relax, and enjoy the “Rock-A-Hula” show in Waikiki. You’ll be entertained by this concert-style show featuring powerful Hawaiian and Polynesian music, hula, and fire-knife dancing. Held in the beautiful Royal Hawaiian Theater, this “luau” is more of a dinner show than a traditional luau experience, but don’t let that stop you from rocking the night away.

Enjoy Polynesian cocktails and a luau-inspired show under the stars, with gourmet dining packages available. Dining packages include a delightful Hawaiian buffet with kalua pork and a garden bar. These packages also include a Mai Tai to sip and enjoy at your “Rock-A-Hula” experience.

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