A luau is like an immersion course in Hawaiian history, taking you back through decades of music, dance, culture and food. This was the first thing we knew we had to do when planning our trip, but the options are really overwhelming. Most of the larger resorts offer them on site and a few that run as a separate business. The price ranges from $80 USD – $150 USD per person, so it’s best to do your research if you are on a budget. We chose the Old Lahaina Luau based on recommendations from friends as well as our diligent research through Trip Advisor.The Old Lahaina Luau is located a few minutes north of the main part of Lahaina Town and provides ample parking on-site and across the street at the Cannery Mall. We were greeted with a beautiful floral lei and a cocktail – Mai Tais! – and ushered into the main open area of the luau, flush with bar stations, small local artisan stands, and a few other local goodies.
After grabbing a drink at one of the bars, we were taken to our seats by one of the hosts. We chose the “traditional” seating option, which means sitting or kneeling at a low table on the grass, or in this case, astroturf. We wanted to be closer to the action and have the most authentic experience possible, but in hindsight would have chosen the seating with high tables and chairs. It can be a bit much to sit on your bum for 2+ hours with no back support. Maybe we are just getting old, lol. The set up at our table was lovely (I can’t get enough of the fresh pineapples everywhere) and our place settings even had our names printed on them.
We dropped off our jackets and wandered the property for a bit. There was nearly an hour between our arrival and the start of the dinner – we actually thought we were running super late, but I guess they smartly tell their guests to arrive 90 minutes early for this exact reason and to make sure people can enjoy the grounds. During that time we were able to see the traditional unveiling of the pig roast which was very cool and smelled amazing. Unfortunately, this was not the pulled pork we ate that night (my guess is they do this the night before and keep the ritual for the guests).
We were escorted back to our section for the dinner buffet. I didn’t take any photos of this because I was soooo hungry and needed all my hands to carry my plates, lol. The buffet was really good in comparison to some I’ve had before, and our server/host explained every single item to us, including a more in-depth description of the traditional Hawaiian luau dishes like:
- Kalua Pua’a
- Lau Lau
- Poke (we already knew we loved this)
- Lomilomi Salmon
- Huli Huli Chicken
(this photo: www.oldlahainaluau.com)
The pork was a little dry, but otherwise super flavorful and delish. Cooking for hundreds of people is no joke, and I respect that. The buffet was very well done, in my opinion. Our server was there to bring us as many Mai Tais or Big Waves (beer) as we liked, and once we were full of food and some cocktails, the lights dimmed and the show began.
We were taken through an hour of Hawaiian history through music, drumming, and dancing. I don’t want to give too much away because you should really experience it for yourself. I have never seen anything like it and was in complete awe with the storytelling and overall production.
Total running time of everything was about 2 hours. The ambiance was great, and the production value was top-notch. My recommendation would be to book early, as they tend to fill up quick during high season. If you are traveling with children, I would tell you to book the normal seats instead of the traditional (floor) seating.
Make your reservations and see the amazing photos here!
Want more Maui? Check out my other posts:
Surfing, Snorkeling, and Everything Else!