Man performing a fire dance show on the beach in Hawaii.

6 Best Luaus on the Big Island for an Authentic Experience

The Hawaiian Islands are renowned for their luaus, and the Big Island is home to some of the best!

But with so many options, deciding which one to experience can take time and effort. Luckily, we have rounded up the top luaus on the island for you!

Whether you’re looking to immerse yourself in Hawaiian traditions, indulge in delicious cuisine, or have a fun night out with family and friends, there’s a luau here that’s perfect for you. 

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Don’t have time to read our full review of the best Big Island Luaus? No worries! We have a shortlist of our three favorite luaus here to make things easy for you.

Top 3 Picks: Best Luaus on the Big Island of Hawaii

#1 Top Pick
Man performing a fire dance show on the beach in Hawaii.

Legends of Hawaii Luau

  • Very interactive luau
  • Best luau buffet
  • Perfect for the whole family
#2 Pick
Men performing a fire dance show on the beach in Hawaii.

Hawai’iloa Lū‘au 

  • Beautiful setting (Fairmont Orchid Resort)
  • More intimate luau experience
  • Spectacular fire dance show

#3 Pick
Men performing a fire dance show on the beach in Hawaii.

Voyagers of the Pacific

  • Perfect location right on Kailua Bay
  • Spectacular show
  • Interactive luau

Big Island Luaus Map

(1) Legends of Hawaii Luau (Kohala Coast)

Located at the gorgeous Hilton Waikoloa Village, the Legends of Hawaii Luau is one of the most popular on the Big Island. 

It takes place in an open amphitheater near the ocean.

The luau will take you on a journey through the Legends of Hawaii. Included is plenty of live music, a delicious dinner buffet, an incredible show, Olelo Hawaii language lessons, a hula lesson, and more.

Location: Kamehameha Court at the Hilton Waikoloa Village

Duration: 2 Hours

When is the Luau?: Sundays, Tuesdays, and Fridays from 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Packages: The Legends of Hawaii Luau offers two different packages:

General seating: $190 Adult

  • Unlimited alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks
  • Interactive table lei greeting
  • Full Hawaiian dinner service
  • Luau show
  • Self-parking

Ali’i Seating: $220 Adult

  • Includes all features of the General Seating plus priority dinner service, $10 off picture package per group, and premium seating close to the stage.

Why we love this luau: We love the educational component of this luau and the varied entertainment options. If you’re looking for an interactive luau perfect for the whole family, this is one of the best options.

(2) Hawai’iloa Lū‘au  (Kohala Coast)

The Hawai’iloa Luau showcases vibrant hula performances, fantastic food, and great music. The Fairmont Orchid is one of the most beautiful resorts on the island, so you can be sure that its luau lives up to its high standards.

The land area known as Kalahuipuaa is the site for the luau. Kalahuipuaa is known as a gathering place for royalty and special visitors.

The menu is extensive and made with local food available at that time of year; you can enjoy some amazing traditional foods, including kalua pig, chicken, long rice soup, and much more!

The Hawai’iloa Luau is one of the most expensive luaus on this list but has one of the best locations and offers a more intimate experience compared to some of the larger luaus.

Location: Fairmont Orchid Resort

Duration: 2.5 Hours

When is the Luau? Every Saturday

Packages: The Hawai’iloa Luau offers two different packages:

Ohana Seating: $198 Adult

  • General seating
  • Polynesian show
  • Keepsake kukui nut lei
  • Luau buffet dinner
  • Open bar
  • Pre-show activities

Ali’i Seating: $233 Adult

  • Includes all features of the General Seating, plus preferred front row seating, appetizer platter, one printed photo per booking, and a keepsake mongo shell lei.

Why we love this luau: We love the atmosphere at the Hawai’iloa Luau. It’s a traditional luau in an intimate setting on a sacred site. Perfect for an unforgettable night out! The show is also spectacular, with choreography that is beautiful and educational.

A lit torch at a fire dance show at a luau in Hawaii.

(3) Voyagers of the Pacific Luau (Kona)

The Voyagers of the Pacific Luau offers a magical evening under the stars celebrating Polynesian culture.

This is another excellent option if you’re looking for the best luau in Kona that is on the beach. The setting is breathtaking, with stunning sunset views right from your seat.

The show includes fire dancers, traditional Hawaiian music and dance, hula lessons, a fantastic dinner buffet, and much more.

The food is also delicious and includes traditional Hawaiian dishes like kalua pork, poi, lomi salmon, haupia (coconut pudding), and more.

Location: Royal Kona Resort

Duration: 3 Hours

When is the Luau? Mondays-Wednesdays, Fridays

Packages: There are two different packages:

General Seating: $177.59 Adult

  • Shell lei greeting
  • Luau buffet
  • Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks
  • Luau show

VIP Seating: $212 Adult

  • Includes all features of the General Seating plus premium seating, early access to the dinner buffet, tiki mugs, kukui nut lei, and complimentary ocean photo per table/group.

Why we love this luau: We love the location right on the beach! The atmosphere is relaxed but still lively and entertaining. The fire show finale is also spectacular and a great way to end the night. 

(4) The Mauna Kea Luau (Kohala Coast)

The Mauna Kea Luau takes you to a place where time stands still. You will be accompanied by Hawaiian music played on traditional instruments. You also have the opportunity to learn more about the island through native stories and myths.

The Mauna Kea Luau is known for its amazing Polynesian Show, including an exciting fire knife dance. 

This luau takes place on one of Hawaii’s most beautiful beaches, where you can enjoy dinner with the water lapping at your feet and some spectacular sunset views.

This luau is one of the most expensive luaus on this list, but it’s worth it.

The sunset and ocean views are fantastic too. 

If you love sunsets, be sure to read this article on the best places to watch a sunset on the Big Island.

If you have a sweet tooth, we highly recommend trying their lava cake! It’s delicious.

Note: This luau does not include an open bar; you only get one complimentary drink.

Location: Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

When is the Luau? Tuesdays & Fridays

Duration: 3 Hours

Packages: Mauna Kea Luau offers three different packages:

General Seating: $180 Adult

  • Polynesian show
  • Luau buffet
  • Complimentary mai tai upon entry

Premium Seating: $200 Adult

  • Includes all features of the General Seating plus preferred entry and premier front-row seating, complimentary mai tai or kid’s drink, chips, and smoked ahi dip.

Show Only: $130

If you’re looking for one of the cheapest luaus on the Big Island, the show-only option at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is excellent. This option does not include dinner or the pre-show activities.

Why we love this luau: You can’t beat a luau on the beach! The Mauna Kea Luau is a memorable experience – with beautiful views, incredible food, and a vibrant show. Plus, the fire knife dance will leave you in awe. 

Men performing a fire dance show at a luau on The Big Island of Hawaii.

(5) Island Breeze Luau (Kona)

The Island Breeze Luau offers a very intimate setting under the stars on the shores of Kamakahonu Bay, one of the best locations on the island. The show is known for its delicious food and outstanding Polynesian production.

The show begins with a warm welcome, with the Royal Court arriving by an outrigger canoe.

If you have kids in your group, this is one of the best luaus on the Big Island for families. They offer many activities, including learning the hula dance and mo’olelo storytelling.

Location: Courtyard Marriot King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel in Kona

Duration: 2.5 Hours

When is the Luau? Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays

Packages: The Island Breeze Luau only offers one package ($176.97/Adult and $88.49/Child), which includes the following:

  • Open bar
  • Buffet dinner
  • Polynesian show

Why we love this luau: We love the intimate setting; it’s perfect for families or couples looking for a night to remember. The Royal Court welcoming you by outrigger canoe gives the whole experience an extra special touch. 

(6) Sunset Luau (Kohala Coast)

The Sunset Luau at Waikoloa Beach Resort takes you on a journey from Tahiti, Hawaii, New Zealand, and Samoa through the songs and dances of Pacific cultures.

Located right on Anaehoomalu Bay with beautiful ocean views, this luau offers an authentic Hawaiian experience. The music and entertainment are top-notch, and you will be able to learn more about the culture through storytelling.

Location: Waikoloa Beach Marriot Resort & Beach

Duration: 3 Hours

When is the Luau? Mondays, & Wednesdays

Packages: The Sunset Luau offers two packages:

General Seating: Adult $176:

  • Open bar
  • Polynesian show
  • Luau buffet

Premier Seating: $211 Adult

  • Includes all features of the General Seating plus preferred seating in the first three rows.

Why we love this luau: The sunsets here are truly amazing – be sure to take lots of pictures! The entertainment and food are great, and it’s an overall fun experience. There are also many activities for kids, so it’s great for families.

What to Expect When Going to a Luau

Going to a Hawaiian luau is a great chance to learn more about the Polynesian culture, sample some delicious local dishes, and enjoy an entertaining show from dancers who incorporate the rich culture into their performance.

You’ll be joined by visitors from all over the world at a celebration with food, games, music, dance, and cultural performances.

The cultural activities were traditionally intended to entertain local people and guests. The sound of acoustic guitars, ukuleles, and woodwind instruments often accompanies the show.

The music includes island rhythms, a light celebratory dance that involves stomping feet on the ground to elicit a hollow drumming sound or “tapping out the rhythm.”

Parts of these shows may have been modernized from what they used to be, but many follow some of the critical elements from Hawaiian ceremonies.

What Type of Food is Served at a Luau?

Below is a list of food you can expect to have at a luau.

Kalua Pork – This traditional Hawaiian dish is made by braising or baking a whole pig in an imu (underground oven) until the meat is exceptionally tender.

Taro – Taro is the traditional staple starch made from a root vegetable of the same name. It has a starchy consistency and is similar to breadfruit in taste. Hawaiians pound it into poi, which is then used as a condiment for other dishes.

Lomi Lomi Salmon – A Hawaiian classic and a very popular side dish. It’s a mixture of chopped tomato, onion, and green onion with chunks of raw salted salmon.

Poi – Taro root pounded into a paste and then mixed with water to make this pudding-like staple food of the islands.

Chicken Long Rice – This is a local side dish – a savory, long spaghetti-like noodle made from chicken broth with pieces of chicken, green onions, and eggs. It’s similar to Chinese egg drop soup.

Huli Huli Chicken – Huli huli chicken is a very popular dish in Hawaii. The chicken is basted in a special sauce while being cooked over an open fire or on a spit to give it flavor and keep it moist. 

Lau Lau – A traditional Hawaiian dish made by steaming pork, chicken, or other meat with taro leaves. These are wrapped in ti leaf and then boiled for hours. 

Haupia – This is a classic coconut pudding made with coconut milk, cooked sugar, and arrowroot. It has the consistency of gelatin and resembles Hawaii’s famous shave ice dessert, but tastes much richer and is sometimes combined with fruits like pineapple chunks or strawberries. This is my favorite luau food and something I always look forward to in Hawaii.

Macaroni Salad – This is another staple side dish made from elbow macaroni, mayo, and chopped vegetables like pickles and carrots.

History of Luaus

Before the 19th century, women used to have meals separately in Hawaii due to prejudices against them. 

The law prohibited women and commoners from eating foods such as poi, reef fish, bananas, and pork meant for special events.

Only the chiefs of Hawaii and the king were allowed to have these types of foods.

In 1819, King Kamehameha ended the tradition of the ‘aha’aina, which helped free women of the religious taboos held against them.

To celebrate this remarkable change in law, he held a feast where he ate alongside women and commoners. This led to a new way of feasting and the present-day luau.

The luau is a social gathering believed to have been a celebration for special occasions such as weddings, birthdays, and even a victory in battle or the launching of a new canoe.

It was initially called ‘aha’aina. The term ‘aha’aina means feast or banquet, referring to the food served at the luau. The celebration was centered around feasting on traditional foods.

The luau evolved from ancient times when people used the ground as their table. 

The food was cooked in an underground oven or grilled on hot stones around a fire. This is inferred from the term “imu,” a hole in the ground lined with hot stones used to cook meats, especially pig.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Luau Worth It on the Big Island?

Yes, a luau is worth it on the Big Island. A luau is something that everyone needs to experience at least once. You get to enjoy a traditional Hawaiian feast with all the classic dishes and plenty of entertainment. Plus, it’s a great way to learn more about Polynesian culture.

How Long Do Luaus Last?

Most luaus last around 2-3 hours. However, the length of time can vary depending on the location and type of luau.

Are the Luaus Outside?

It depends on the luau, but most are usually held outdoors to give you a sense of the traditional Hawaiian setting. Some luaus also have indoor settings, and some will move indoors if the weather is terrible.

What Should You Wear at a Luau?

We have been to many luaus in Hawaii, and people wear what they are most comfortable with. While some people might wear aloha attire, it’s not a requirement. Most luaus don’t have a dress code, so you can wear whatever you want!

What is the Average Cost of a Luau in Hawaii?

Unfortunately, the cost of a luaus has gone up over the years. The prices vary widely depending on the location and what is included. Prices typically range from around $125 to over $275 per person.

What is a Hula, and Where Can You Watch the Hula on the Big Island?

Hula is a storytelling dance of the Hawaiian Islands. The dancer uses gestures, footwork, and body movements to tell the story.

You can watch the hula at most places where you can enjoy Hawaiian music, such as these luaus!

Is it Better to Go to a Luau on the Big Island or Oahu?

Both islands have fantastic luaus, so it depends on your preferences. 

Most people would say that Oahu has the best luaus because it’s home to the Polynesian Cultural Center, one of Hawaii’s most popular tourist spots.

Oahu is also home to the Chief’s Luau, another popular luau in Hawaii.

However, the Big Island also has fantastic luaus and offers various experiences. We also love that the Big Island has multiple luau options directly on the beach, while Oahu mainly has Paradise Cove on the beach.

What is the Best Luau in Kona?

The Voyagers of the Pacific Luau at the Royal Kona Resort is one of the most popular luaus on the Big Island. This luau includes a traditional feast with all your favorite dishes and drinks and good entertainment, including a Samoan fire dance finale.

What is the Best Luau Close to Hilo?

Unfortunately, there aren’t any luaus close to Hilo. The closest luaus are located in the Kona and Kohala areas, about 1.5 hours away from Hilo. Compared to Kona, Hilo is much more remote, so there are fewer luaus in this area.

The Wrap Up

If you’re planning a trip to the Big Island of Hawaii, we recommend checking out these fantastic luaus.

We hope this article has helped you narrow down the options to find an unforgettable Hawaiian experience!

Until next time, Aloha!