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Luau Kalamaku: An Unforgettable Kauai Luau for Kids

Luau Kalamaku: An Unforgettable Kauai Luau for Kids

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Are you looking for the best Kauai luau for kids? We’ve been to all kinds of luaus, but we’ve been to Luau Kalamaku in Lihu twice! Keep reading for all the details and to get my personal experience at this luau dinner
This Kauai Luau post was written by Hawaii travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.

Luaus in Kauai are completely different than on any of the other Hawaiian Islands. And if you’re looking for the best Kauai luau for kids, Luau Kalamaku is unlike any other!

Luau Kalamaku is located at Kilohana Plantation in Lihue on the Golden Coconut Coast. You’ll enjoy a train ride, you’ll feed animals, and enjoy a one-of-a-kind theatrical show. And the food is some of the best I’ve had a a luau.

If you have young children and want a family-friendly luau in Kauai to take them to, keep reading. Below you’ll get the information you’ll need on Luau Kalamaku, as well as my personal review as a mother of 2.

Luau Kalamaku in Lihue offers the only Kauai Luau with a Train Ride.
We were greeted with fresh orchid leis when we arrived at Luau Kalamaku at Kilohana Plantation. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

FAQ about Kauai Luaus

How much does a luau cost in Kauai Hawaii?

Most luaus in Kauai range between $125 to $250 per person, and there are a lot of factors that decide the price. Remember that at some luaus, children under 3 are free! If you want a more intimate experience with perks like front row seats, a lei greeting, and professional pictures, the price will be higher. For a traditional Hawaiian luau with hula dancing and a buffet dinner with family-style seating, the price is usually closer to the low end.

Are Hawaiian luaus worth it?

While they’re definitely a special event meant for tourists, luaus are a great way to experience Hawaiian cultural for the first time. You’ll enjoy traditional Polynesian dances, music, food, and more. And if you’re looking for a more authentic and unique luau, Kauai luaus are known for being both of these things.

How do I choose a luau?

There are a lot of things to consider when choosing the right luau for you! If it’s your first time, I recommend leaning into your tourist status and going for a traditional luau with a buffer dinner and hula dancing. You can also choose between luaus with buffet-style dinner or private tables. Some give you a welcome cocktail and include cultural activities. Most will include different Polynesian dances, including Hawaiian hula dancing and a special fire dance. Every luau is different, so you can have a unique experience each time you attend one!

What are the top 3 Kauai luaus?

There are so many excellent Kauai luaus! Here are my top 3 suggestions: For a quality traditional Hawaiian luau, go with Auli’i Luau at Kauai Sheraton. It’s the only oceanfront luau in Kauai. If you have kids, then take them to the Kalamaku luau in Lihue (more on this one below!). And for the best authentic Hawaiian luau, The Smith Family Garden Luau is a must-do. It includes different rituals and elements from Asian and Polynesian cultures.

Want a Hawaii travel guide? I’ve got detailed guides and 7-day itineraries!

Luau Kalamaku is the Only Kauai Luau with a Train Ride!

“Are we going to ride the Kilohana Plantation Railway train today?” This is a question my 3.5-year-old has asked me nearly every day for the past year.

My Mom lives on KauaiHawaii and took my oldest there for a special trip after my youngest was born. They rode on the train several times during the trip and it was the ultimate experience for him.

When I announced that we’d be visiting Grandma on Kauai this July, he pleaded to ride the train.

So, I pulled up their website and that’s when I realized that they offer a train ride that is followed by one of the best Kauai luaus. This sounded perfect for my family!

So we quickly got our Kauai luau tickets for Luau Kalamaku in Lihue.

For those who don’t know, I’ve been a professional hula dancer for the past 20 years.

Because of my background, I tend to look for hula experiences that are unique or out-of-the-ordinary.

I was drawn to Kilohana Plantation since it offers a train ride and a theatrical storytelling during the Luau Kalamaku show.

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Kilohana Plantation Railway Tour

Ok, so let’s talk about the Kauai train ride first and what it’s all about.

I’m always curious about what life was like long ago. This 40-minute narrated tour let me step back to the plantation era a bit.

Kilohana Plantation History

Kilohana Plantation is a 105-acre plantation estate built in 1935 by the Wilcox family. When it was built, Kilohana Plantation was the most expensive home on Kauai.

In its heyday, Kilohana was the site of many extravagant parties and ceremonies. It remains a Historic Landmark and one of the finest examples of plantation era architecture in Hawaii.

We boarded the vintage train and sat down in one of the mahogany passenger cars. There are windows that we could open and close.

Kilohana Plantation Railway and Luau Kalamaku (one of the best luaus on Kauai) are fun things to do on Kauai with kids.
My 3.5 year old was thrilled to get to ride the Kilohana Plantation Railway again! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

My family rode through a tropical forest, and near historic homes and outbuildings.

On our train ride through the plantation grounds, we saw working orchards and fields with a dozen different varieties of fruit trees.

We also saw vegetable gardens, rare and exotic tropical flowers, and hardwood trees.

For things to do in Kauai, Kilohana Plantation Railway and Luau Kalamaku (one of the best Kauai luau experiences) are fun things to do on Kauai with kids.
We loved seeing the animals grazing in the fields as we chugged along Kilohana Plantation near Gaylord’s on Kauai. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

As I mentioned earlier, my preschooler had done this train ride before, and he was really looking forward to it this time!

This was mainly because he loved seeing all the animals on the plantation. There were pastures of donkeys, goats, sheep, horses, cattle, ducks, geese, and wild pigs.

Photo of the Kauai train ride at Kilohana Plantation, which is a fun thing to do in Kauai with kids.
My Mom and baby stayed on the train while I took my oldest to feed the pigs at Kilohana Plantation. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

This time, he sat on the right side of the train and got a great view of the animals. From the left side, my mom and baby saw more of the plants.

Feeding the Animals

About 2/3 of the way into the Kauai train ride, we stopped so people could get off and feed the goats and pigs.

This part was a bit overwhelming for me as families grabbed bread and hot dog buns and rushed to get close to the animals.

I thought I’d be able to get some cute shots of my preschooler feeding the animals. Reality sunk in and I ended up squeezing through people and lifting him up so he could see the pigs.

But he had an absolute blast! It’s the first time I’d seen him really engage with animals.

Oh, and don’t worry. The bits of bread aren’t the only thing the animals eat.

In fact, they get all the leftover food from Luau Kalamaku! It’s one of the ways Kilohana Plantation tries to reuse, reduce, and recycle.

When we arrived back at the station, we took a few photos in front of the train. Then we quickly scurried into the dining area for our Kauai luau.

If you are looking for a luau with a boat ride, check out Smith’s Tropical Paradise

Luau Kalamaku: One of the Best Luaus on Kauai

Luau Kalamaku is a theatrical Kauai luau that gives guests an intimate look into the heart of Kauai’s Hawaiian culture and heritage.

A cast of characters perform traditional music and song that tell the story of the original Tahitian voyage to the Hawaiian Islands.

Their music is so authentic that even the drums are made by hand by the musicians themselves. How awesome is that?

Pre-Luau Activities

When you arrive, you will be greeted with a fresh flower lei. And you’ll have an opportunity to take photos with the cast. But this is also your chance to explore the rest of the plantation grounds.

You can walk around a craft fair and see artisans working on cool projects or check out the boutique shops at Kilohana Plantation.

There’s also a traditional imu ceremony. That’s where they pull out the pig that has been roasting in the underground oven.

Photo of a Hawaiian artisan at Luau Kalamaku near Gaylords at Kilohana Plantation on Kauai
This artisan carved wood right in front of us on the grounds of Kilohana Plantation on Kauai. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Drink Options

Luau Kalamaku offers guests complimentary unlimited beverages. I really appreciated the assortment of tropical juices available for my family. And they were really quite tasty!

They also had the usual beer, wine and cocktails available, too.

Guests could only get one alcoholic drink at a time, so keep that in mind if you send someone else to pick up some drinks.

There was unlimited drinks at Luau Kalamaku, one of the best luaus in Kauai.
The fruit juices at Luau Kalamaku were super tasty! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Food at Luau Kalamaku

The food at this Kauai luau is definitely worth mentioning.

Luau food usually doesn’t impress me and I have lowered my expectations about it. That being said, I really enjoyed the food at this one!

Luau Kalamaku is one of the best luaus on Kauai and has so many Hawaiian food options.
The purple mashed potatoes featured coconut milk and they were amazing! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

It’s a buffet dinner that you’ll take to round tables (that you’ll share with other guests) around the stage.

They offer a lot of vegetarian options, including mashed purple potatoes with coconut milk that was super tasty. Plus, they had green salad, macaroni salad, fresh fruit, and more.

I’m not a vegetarian, and my personal favorite was the kalua pig and poi! I regretted not going back for more (even though it was encouraged).

Luau Kalamaku is one of the best luaus in Kauai.
The hula auana was a great treat during dinner before the full show at Luau Kalamaku. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Dinner Entertainment

Something cool about this Kauai luau is that they do contemporary hula dancing during dinner, then take an intermission before the theatrical show.

I enjoyed watching the modern hula dance to familiar Hawaiian music. It’s like what you’d see at any hula show in Hawaii, only this one featured songs about Kauai.

The stage is round and located in the middle of the room. The performers face different directions, so it brings the stage a bit closer. There really isn’t a bad seat in the house!

Our table was in the second row off to the side and we had a fabulous view with a bit of chair shifting.

Luau Kalamaku offers the only theatrical luau on Kauai.
This Luau Kalamaku theatrical show kept my boys’ attention for the whole time! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

The Theatrical Show at Luau Kalamaku

When the show started, I could tell we were in for a whole new experience!

Both my kids were MESMERIZED by the theatrical component and it’s no wonder why Lonely Planet named it the Best Luau on Kauai!

After the first number, my 3.5-year-old asked if it was over. Worried that he was getting tired, I told him that it was the first of many numbers. He responded with a resounding “Good! I like this show!”

I was actually pretty surprised that my 9-month-old and 3.5-year-old stayed engaged for the majority of the show.

My baby fell asleep in Grandma’s arms during the second-to-last song. My oldest was so enthused about the show that he asked to take photos with the dancers.

6 Reasons Why Your Kids Will Love Luau Kalamaku

I know it can be overwhelming to figure out the best Kauai luau for your family. There are tons to choose from.

But Luau Kalamaku really is one of the most unique luaus on Kauai for kids.

Luau Kalamaku is a fun thing to do in Kauai with kids.
My son begged to get his picture with these Luau Kalamaku performers.

1. They Get to Go on a Train Ride

Do your kids love trains as much as my boys do? The ride is just long enough that kids feel like they are on an adventure. But it’s not so long that everyone will get bored.

The train ride is a pretty budget-friendly Kauai activity for kids, too. And you can do it in addition to the luau or as a separate activity.

ADULTS: $21.50
KIDS 3-12: $16.00

The Plantation Railway is open 7 days a week and departs at 10 AM, 11 AM, 12 PM, 1 PM and 2 PM with additional tours on Tuesday, Thursdays, and Fridays at 4:30 PM and 5:30 PM.

It’s perfect if you’re also attending the luau, because you can go on a ride right before the Luau Kalamaku.

Insider tip: Grab a free mai tai and enjoy it on the train!

2. It’s Kind of Like Moana

Luau Kalamaku’s theatrical show focuses on the journey to Hawaii. If your kids like the story of Moana, they will be just as into the story of Luau Kalamaku.

There is a bit of drama, lots of music and tons of dancing!

And there’s even a real canoe that’s used as decoration. My son completely believed that it was Moana’s canoe, and he was in awe of it!

3. There’s Tons of Hawaiian Food

There are so many food options for even the pickiest of eaters. My kids tried a little of everything, but mostly ate a lot of macaroni salad, potatoes, bread, and fruit.

The mini dessert bar was also a big hit at our table!

I’d say that for a Kauai luau, the food here at Luau Kalamaku is a cut above other Kauai luaus.  It’s flavorful and more than what you’d expect from buffet food.

Insider tip: Put a little bit of everything on a plate so your kids can see what they like and then go back for more of what they’ll eat!

4. Children’s Activities

During the train ride, your children will have the opportunity to feed pigs, goats, and sheep. You won’t find this at any other Kauai luau! Or maybe any luau in Hawaii!

Staff members cut up lots of bread so your kids can feed the animals as much as they like, and kids get such a kick out of it.

There’s also the imu ceremony where they can see the pig lifted out of the underground oven. And families are treated to Hawaiian games, music and dancing in the tropical gardens.

5. There’s an Intermission During the Luau

Intermission offers the perfect break for kids to run to the bathroom. This is essential if you are potty training or have recently potty trained your toddler.

It’s also a great opportunity to leave early if you need to.

Sometimes younger kids just can’t sit still, or they are overly tired, and it can be stressful. It’s nice having a built-in “out” where you can re-evaluate whether or not to stay.

6. It’s a Kid-Friendly Kauai Luau

Even though it’s a theatrical show, luau guests will enjoy seeing a variety of examples of traditional Polynesian entertainment.

At Luau Kalamaku, you’ll see graceful hula dancers, traditional fire knife dancing, fire poi balls exhibition, and dramatic torch lighting. Your kids will be awed!

Plus, as a mom of two little kids still adjusting to the time zone, I appreciated that Luau Kalamaku ends earlier than other luaus on Kauai. Our show finished at 8:30 PM.

Also, since it’s centrally located in Lihue, it’s easy to drive north, south, or east.

How to Book this Kauai Luau

The easiest way to reserve your luau dinner at the Kilohana Plantation is to book online. They guarantee the lowest price available.

If you are planning on also doing the train ride, you can get tickets when you arrive or can book online directly through Kilohana Plantation.

Kilohana Plantation offered us complimentary train tickets and Luau Kalamaku offered us discounted luau tickets. All opinions are my own.

Looking for more Kauai travel resources? Check out the best things to do on Kauai with kids, 10 Must-Read Kauai Travel Tips, baby-friendly Kauai activities, Kauai family resorts, and the most Instagrammable spots on Kauai!

The Only Kauai Luau with a Train Ride is Luau Kalamaku in Lihue, Hawaii.
Luau Kalamaku is the best Kauai luau with a train ride and is a fun thing to do in Kauai with kids #bestkauailuau #kauai #hawaii #familytravel #hawaiiwithkids

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Jake Ferrer

Monday 23rd of October 2017

Such a beautiful place. I am sure you enjoyed your stay there. I want see a hula dancer in real.


Monday 23rd of October 2017

Hula is such a beautiful artform!


Thursday 19th of October 2017

This looks like a fun thing to do, especially with younger children! Would love to check it out :)


Tuesday 17th of October 2017

Seems like such a unique experience! I would love to attend an authentic luau one day, that's so cool that you were once a professional luau dancer. Do you think you'll ever return to it? The food and drinks all look and sound amazing. Purple mashed potatoes? Yum!


Wednesday 18th of October 2017

I'm taking a bit of a break from hula dancing at the moment, but you never know :)

Manjulika Pramod

Tuesday 17th of October 2017

Hula dancing and experiences sound interesting. I am sure I will love this train ride too. Authentic music sounds amazing. This food platter looks yum. I am sure your kids had a great time.


Wednesday 18th of October 2017

My kids loved it much more than I anticipated!

Emily Terrell

Tuesday 17th of October 2017

This looks like an amazing family adventure! I would love to take my kids on something like this. We don't have a lot of options for train rides here, but if I ever make it to Hawaii, this would be something I'd plan on doing with them.


Tuesday 17th of October 2017

Train rides are fun for kids of all ages! I hope you're able to visit Hawaii someday!

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