Women dancing at a Luau on the Big Island

The 9 Big Island Luau Shows: Everything You Need to Know!

Aloha!

A luau on the Big Island of Hawaii can be a very exciting and beautiful experience.

There are many different luau options on the Big Island, so it can be hard to decide which one will suit your needs best.

This article will explore the nine luaus on the Big Island of Hawaii. A few factors that will be discussed are pricing and the night’s overall value.

We have compiled a list from those we have personally seen and/or researched to provide you with an accurate picture of your options.

The nine luaus on the Big Island are: Mauna Kea Luau, Island Breeze Luau, Voyagers of the Pacific Luau, Haleo Luau, Sunset Luau, Hawai’i Loa Luau, Ho’omau-A Mai Grille Luau, Laniakea-An Umekes Luau, and Legends of Hawaii Luau.

Before we start, here is a helpful list of questions that you should think about before purchasing any tickets:

What to Expect When Going to a Luau

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

A luau on the Big Island is an opportunity to experience a part of the Hawaiian culture by joining visitors from all over the world at a celebration with food, games, music, dance, and cultural performances.

The cultural activities have traditionally been intended to entertain local people as well as guests. The show is often accompanied by the sound of acoustic guitars, ukuleles, and woodwind instruments.

Watching a wonderful fire show at a luau

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

Some of these shows may have been modernized from what they used to be in the past. Many follow some of the critical elements from Hawaiian ceremonies.

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 certain foods such as moi, 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 party. 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 either cooked in an underground oven or grilled on hot stones placed around a fire. This is inferred from the term “imu,” a hole in the ground lined with hot stones and used to cook meats, especially pig.

Is a Luau Worth It On the Big Island?

In my opinion, everyone should try going to a luau at least once.

A luau is a great way to let your hair down and have a good time. You can enjoy a beautiful night out with friends or take the kids for a fun evening together, all while enjoying traditional island food and an unforgettable show.

If you are staying on the Big Island for vacation, it may be worth going to one as they are a great way to experience a little bit of the island’s culture.

Watching a fire dance show at a luau

Luaus are an opportunity to experience tradition through music, dance, food, games, and performances that often incorporate history into their act.

Now let’s discuss the Big Island luaus

Differences Between the Luaus?

Below is a comparison of the Big Island luaus listed in this article. The table shows general admission pricing for adults.

I have also listed the days of the week the luau is offered to help make your planning and decision easier.

The luaus are arranged in order from least expensive to most expensive. You can click on the luaus to purchase a ticket.

LUAUWHENLOCATIONPrice
Haleo LuauThursdaysSheraton Kona Resort & Spa$129
Voyagers of the Pacific LuauMondays-Wednesdays & FridaysRoyal Kona Resort$130
Sunset LuauMondays & WednesdaysWaikoloa Beach Marriot Resort & Beach$139
Legends of Hawaii LuauTuesdays, Fridays & SundaysHilton Waikoloa Village$145
Island Breeze LuauTuesdays & SundaysCourtyard Marriot King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel$149
Laniakea-An Umekes LuauSundaysUmeka Fish Market Bar and Grill$150
Ho’omau-A Mai Grille LuauWednesdaysMai Grill on Waikoloa Beach Golf Course$157
Hawai’i Loa LuauSaturdaysFairmont Orchid$159
Mauna Kea LuauTuesdays & FridaysMauna Kea Beach Hotel (Kohala coast)$160

The 9 Big Island Luas

In no particular order, here are the 9 Big Island luaus…

Mauna Kea Luau

Location: Mauna Kea Beach Hotel (Kohala coast)

Price: Starts at $160 per adult (13 years+), $110 for children (4-12 years old). They also offer premier seating starting at $180 per adult and $130 per child. You also have the option to book the show only for $110 per adult and $84 per child.

When: Tuesdays & Fridays 5:30 PM – 8:00 PM

How to Book: (808) 822-5707. Click here to book

Attire: Aloha attire (Ex. floral shirts, shorts or pants, and sandals for men; sundresses or blouses with a skirt or pants, and sandals for women)

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.

On top of it all, the Mauna Kea Luau is known for its amazing Polynesian Show that includes an exciting fire knife dance. It is a show that you will not forget! 

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

The Mauna Kea Luau is one of the most expensive luaus on this list, but it’s totally worth it.

This luau has a fantastic sunset and ocean views. 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, I highly recommend trying their lava cake! Trust me, you won’t regret it.

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

Island Breeze Luau

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

Cost: Starts at $149 per adult (13 years +), $74.50 per child (4-12 years old), free general seating for children 3 and under.

When: Tuesdays and Sundays 5:30 PM – 8:00 PM

How to Book: (866)-482-9775. Click here to book

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 very warm welcome, with the Royal Court arriving by an outrigger canoe.

This show is suitable for families, including kids. They offer many kinds of activities, including learning the hula dance and mo’olelo storytelling.

Note: This luau features an open bar and a buffet.

Voyagers of the Pacific Luau

Location: Royal Kona Resort in downtown Kailua-Kona

Price: General seating starts at $130 for adults and $65.45 for children; free general seating for ages 5 and under.

When: Mondays-Wednesdays and Fridays 5:00 PM to 8:30 PM

How to Book: (877-631-9793). Click here to book

Voyagers of the Pacific Luau offers a magical evening under the stars celebrating Polynesian culture. The show is held oceanfront and offers live music and exotic dances.

The food here (all-you-can-eat buffet) is very delicious and includes traditional Hawaiian dishes like Kalua pork, poi, lomi salmon, haupia (coconut pudding), and more.

Note: The drinks are also complimentary, which makes this an excellent value for your money.

Sunset Luau

Location: Waikoloa Beach Marriot Resort & Beach (Kohala coast)

Price: General ticket prices start at $139 per adult (13 years +) and $69.17 for children (6-12). Children five and under are FREE. They also have the option for premier pricing, which includes preferred seating, floral lei, and a Hawaiian treat. Premier prices start at $170.97 for adults and $101.13 for children.

When: Mondays & Wednesdays 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM

How to Book: (808) 886-6789. Click here to book

Dress Code: Casual

This luau will take you through a journey from Tahiti, Hawaii, New Zealand, and Samoa through songs and dances of these Pacific cultures.

A new menu was also recently introduced, and it includes Hoio fern shoots, Pulehu steaks, grilled chicken with Hamakua mushrooms, and Waipio Valley poi. This is definitely a great show for families, including kids.

Hawai’i Loa Luau

Location: Fairmont Orchid (Kohala coast)

Price: General tickets start at $159 per adult (13 years +) and $79.50 for children (6-12 years), free general seating for children 5 and under.

When: Saturdays

How to Book: Click here to book

This luau showcases vibrant Hula performances, amazing food, and great music. The Fairmont Orchid is one of the most beautiful resorts on the island, so you can be sure that their luau lives up to their high standards.

The land area known as Kalahuipuaa is the site for this 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 be sure to enjoy some amazing traditional foods including Kalua pig, chicken long rice soup, and much more!

The Hawai’i Loa Luau is one of the most expensive luaus on this list, but also has one of the best locations on the list. The Fairmont Orchid is definitely worth it in my opinion.

Ho’omau-A Mai Grille Luau

Location: Mai Grill on Waikoloa Beach Golf Course

Price: Standard seating starts at $157 per adult (13 years +), $99 for children ((5-12 years), free admission for children 4 and under. They also offer VIP seating starting at $178.

When: Wednesdays

How to Book: click here to book

This luau is set in the lush tropical gardens of Waikoloa Beach, set against a golf course backdrop.

Ho’omau is a traditional Hawaiian term, meaning to continue or persevere. The mission of Ho’omau is to perpetuate and preserve the cultural traditions and lifestyle of the Hawaiian people.

The show celebrates this heritage in a way that appeals to all ages, with live music and dance performances by top local entertainers.

Note: Strict cancellation policy. Make sure your trip to the Big Island is fully confirmed, as all sales to this luau are final.

Legends of Hawaii Luau

Location: Hilton Waikoloa Village (Kohala coast)

Price: starts at $145 per adult for general seating and $78 for children (5-12); $22 for children under five years old. You can also upgrade to their Ali’i seating, which gives you premier seating, an upgraded shell lei, priority dinner service, and more. It starts at $172 per adult for general seating and $105 for children (5-12); $22 for kids under five years old.

When: Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM

How to Book: click here to book

Located at the gorgeous Hilton Waikoloa village, this luau is definitely one of the best on the island. It takes place in an open amphitheater near the ocean (but not on a sandy beach).

The luau will take you on a journey through the Legends of Hawaii. The show includes live music, Olelo Hawaii language lessons, and a hula lesson.

They offer unlimited tropical cocktails, beer, wine, and nonalcoholic beverages. You also get a Hawaiian lei exchange at your table.

Note: Strict cancellation policy. All sales are final. The luau includes a buffet and open bar.

Laniakea-An Umekes Luau

Location: Umeka Fish Market Bar and Grill in Kailua-Kona

Price: starts at $150 per adult for general seating and $95 for children. VIP seating is also offered starting at $170 for adults and $120 for children.

When: Sundays

How to Book: click here to book

In an intimate setting, you’ll enjoy a lovely dinner just a few feet from the Kona coastline with amazing views. The show features traditional Hawaiian rhythms and dances, taking you through Polynesian locations like Tahiti, Samoa, and New Zealand.

This luau is one of the newest luaus on the Big Island, featuring dinner from Umekes Restaurants.

This luau provides a very intimate cultural experience with family and friends.

Note: This Luau has a very strict cancellation policy. Make sure to call them directly to confirm the policy before booking.

Haleo Luau

Location: Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay, south Kona

Price: Starts at $129 per adult (13 years +)

When: Thursdays, but as of May 1, 2021, Haleo Luau is closed. Please check their website to see if it is open at time of reading. They have added additional nights at their sister luau Island Breeze Luau.

How to Book: 866-482-9775. Click here to book

This luau is known for its amazing Polynesian show, which includes an exciting fire knife dance, a Tahitian dance, a Hawaiian night sky with the stars to accompany it, and a group of hula dancers that are so good they will leave you in awe. 

This luau offers hula lessons and storytelling before dinner.

One of the cool things about this luau is that you will get the opportunity to meet the dancers before the show to learn more about the language and culture of Hawaii.

It’s also one of the best luaus in terms of setting, as it takes place at the scenic Keauhou location.

The food here is spectacular and includes traditionally Hawaiian foods, including macaroni salad, poi lomi lomi salad, and so much more.

NoteThis luau offers an open bar service.

Frequently Asked Questions About Big Island Luaus

What type of food is served at a luau?

Like any restaurant, the quality of the food varies. Below is a list of food you can expect to have at a luau.

Kalua Pork

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

Kalo

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

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 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. This tasty dish can be found at many different restaurants throughout the islands.

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. The result is a flavor-bursting dish that even the pickiest eaters will find completely delicious.

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.

Macaroni Salad

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

How long will the luau last?

Most luaus are about three hours long, including pre-show, seating time, dinner, and entertainment.

Should I go to a luau?

As I mentioned before in this article, everyone should try it at least once.

If you are looking for a fun, unique activity to enjoy while on vacation in Hawaii or get better acquainted with local Polynesian culture, then getting tickets to join the celebration should be at the top of your list.

Luaus are perfect for all ages, making it excellent family entertainment too!

Watching a Luau dance outside

Which luau is best on the Big Island?

It depends on what you would like to get out of the luau experience. Each of the luaus mentioned in this article are unique in their own ways.

If you are concerned mainly about pricing, then I would go with one of the cheaper options. If you want a more upscale and unique experience, then Legends of Hawaii is the one for you.

Which luau is best for families?

The good thing about luaus is that they are family-friendly. All of the luaus mentioned in this article are suitable for families.

What should I wear at a luau?

Some luaus have a dress code, but the majority do not. I listed the ones that have a dress code in this article.

Women usually wear luau dresses, and men opt to wear shorts and sandals or slacks with Aloha shirts.

See also: Hawaii Packing List for Your Family in 2022: Things not to forget

If the luau doesn’t have a dress code, it all comes down to comfort for your family.

What is the average cost of a luau in Hawaii?

Luau tickets can range between $129 and $160 per adult for general ticket pricing. The price of the luau will depend on the venue.

Is there a difference in food at each luau?

Yes, most of them offer different menus, but they all offer traditional cuisine. Be sure to check out the menus online before booking so you know what to expect.

What is a hula, and where can I watch the hula on the Big Island?

A 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 that you can enjoy Hawaiian music, such as these luaus or even at your hotel’s luau!

To Wrap it Up

If you’re planning a trip to the Big Island of Hawaii, we recommend checking out these fantastic luaus for some good food and entertainment.

Remember that the best luau is the one that suits your needs and budget.

We hope we have helped you narrow down the options to find a great Hawaiian experience!

Until next time, Aloha!

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