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The Ultimate Guide to Oahu Luau Experiences for Families

The Ultimate Guide to Oahu Luau Experiences for Families

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Looking for the best luau in OahuHawaii for your family? Keep scrolling for a complete list of luau experiences from Waikiki to Turtle Bay. You’ll also read about luau food, how to get Oahu luau discounts, and more!
This post about the best luau in Oahu was written by Hawaii travel expert Marcie Cheung and may contain affiliate links, which means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.

Are you looking for the best Oahu luau for your family?

There are so many things to do on the island of Oahu, but one of my favorite activities is attending a Hawaiian luau! It’s one of my top Oahu travel tips for families.

Luaus are an important part of Hawaiian culture and can be found across the entire island.

All of them celebrate Polynesian culture in Hawaii and include similar elements. But no 2 luaus are alike! And I love that!

One of my favorite things about luaus is that there’s something for everyone. If you’re looking for a family-friendly luau experience, this list is just what you need!

Below, you can read my list of Oahu luaus and what makes them a great choice for you. And bonus: you’ll get my tips and inside scoop on what to expect at your first luau.

Keep scrolling to read about these amazing experiences on Oahu!

Don’t have time to read a bunch of Hawaii blog posts and reviews? Here are some of our top picks for visiting Oahu.

Popular Oahu Tours/Activities

Favorite Oahu Resorts/Hotels

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

My Top Picks for Best Luaus in Oahu

1. Toa Luau

This is one of the newest luaus on Oahu and they consider themselves the best “authentic” Hawaii family luau on the island.

I love it because it’s small, so it’s the perfect luau on Oahu for families who don’t like huge crowds. It might be the most kid-friendly luau that Oahu offers!

You’ll find it in Waimea Valley on Oahu’s North Shore.

And when you purchase a ticket to Toa Luau, you also get free admission to Waimea Valley, a cultural park where you can hike and swim under a waterfall!

Click to check the latest prices and availability.

Samoan Princess dancing at Toa Luau at Waimea Valley on Oahu in Hawaii - the best Oahu luau #toaluau #luau #oahuluau #waimeavalley #samoan
We all marveled at this dancer’s impressive headdress and graceful motions. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

They have a lot of cool cultural activities before dinner at Toa Luau.

My favorite is their Kava Ceremony, which is something you don’t see every day.

Everyone sits in a circle, and they explain why they do the ceremony and then all the guests have an opportunity to taste the drink.

There are lots of opportunities for kids to get involved in this authentic Polynesian experience. So, if you’re looking for the top luau in Oahu for kids, take a serious look at Toa Luau.

It really could be the best luau for families in Oahu, if not the best luau in Hawaii.

Click here to get this Oahu luau discount for Toa Luau!

Get all the details on this North Shore luau in my post on Toa Luau: Oahu’s Newest Luau Experience.

2. Experience Nutridge Luau

If you’re looking for an authentic Hawaiian luau, Experience Nutridge is hands-down one of the best luaus in Oahu.

They don’t do much promotion besides their own social media, so most people hear about it by word of mouth.

It sort of feels like you’re “in” on a really, really good secret!

Experience Nutridge is the most authentic luau in Oahu, Hawaii. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

It’s a really intimate experience, so it’s not one of those mega luaus packed with tourists.

Instead, there are lots of demonstrations, games, hands-on activities, and tasty food throughout the evening.

Because of this, it’s the most authentic luau in Oahu. It really feels like you’re in your Aunty’s backyard!

They have transportation options from Waikiki, or you can drive yourself. They have a decent bar, so you might opt for their shuttle service if you think you might drink.

This is by far the best luau in Honolulu, Hawaii. We loved it so much that we already booked it for our next trip!

3. Polynesian Cultural Center

The luau at Polynesian Cultural Center is fantastic! What makes this one of the best luaus on Oahu is that you can get luau packages that include admission to the entire cultural park.

Now, you have options here. This is great for families because you can decide what experience is best for your family.

The most popular option is the Ha: Breath of Life show.

We like this Hawaiian luau package because you get to spend the whole day at PCC and then end with the luau and Ha: The Breath of Life.

It includes the traditional luau PLUS a dramatic theatrical show that talks about voyaging to new islands.

 Click to check the latest prices and availability.

The Polynesian Cultural Center has tons of fun things to do on Oahu, like hands on crafts, cultural demonstrations, and audience participation. Crafts like these make it one of the best Oahu luau #polynesianculturalcenter #pcc #oahu #oahuluau #luau #familytravel
The Polynesian Cultural Center has so many family activities on Oahu, like weaving lauhala to make a fish in the Tahitian Village. Photo credit: Marcie

There’s also the Ali’i Luau, which is their more traditional luau with a buffet dinner. If your kids won’t sit through a whole show, there’s also the Gateway buffet package.

Or you can book the Super Ambassador Luau package, which includes a private tour of the park’s Polynesian “villages.” Then you’ll see the Ali’i Luau AND VIP seats to the Ha: Breath of Life show.

Also, if you have any Moana fans in your family, it’s a must-do activity and the best luau Oahu has for them!

Note: They don’t serve alcohol, but that’s a good thing! My husband thinks when guests aren’t tipsy, the luau has to try harder to impress!

Click here to get this Oahu luau discount for the Polynesian Cultural Center!

Read my Review of the Polynesian Cultural Center for Families.

Book a Family Photo Shoot

Whenever we travel, we almost always book a family photo shoot with Flytographer. They are super easy, affordable, AND guarantee that I’ll be in some photos. You can get $25 off if you book through this link or use the code HAWAIITRAVEL.

Best Luaus in Waikiki for Families

If you are staying in Waikiki, you might not want to rent a car or hop on a shuttle to go to luaus in Oahu. That’s why it’s nice there are a few Waikiki luau you can either walk to or take an Uber.

If you’re looking for the best Waikiki luau deals, take a look below.

4. Diamond Head Luau

What’s cool about this luau is that it’s the only Farm to Table luau in Hawaii!

Plus, it’s located at the Waikiki Aquarium, and they give you free admission to explore before this Waikiki luau begins.

So, if you are bringing kids, you can make a whole afternoon of it. And if you are staying in Waikiki, you can easily walk or Uber there.

Seating is limited to 250 people, making it a fairly intimate experience. Children ages 3 and under are free.

Check the latest rates and more information.

Click here for this Oahu luau discount for Diamond Head Luau!

5. Aha’aina Luau

I admit I’ve wanted to stay at the “Pink Palace” since I was a teen!

This open-air luau is held on the sacred Coconut Grove at the historic Royal Hawaiian Resort, just off Waikiki Beach.

The Royal Hawaiian luau experience sounds a lot like the Feast at Lele on Maui. It’s a gourmet, sit-down dinner with vignette performances throughout the evening.

Royal Hawaiian Resort hula dancers at a Waikiki, Oahu luau | luau waikiki | the aha aina luau at the royal hawaiian
I’m loving the new costumes and set! Photo credit: Royal Hawaiian Resort

It’s definitely on the pricier end and children of all ages need to purchase a ticket (albeit at a greatly discounted price).

It sounds like a romantic date night in Waikiki and it’s currently on my Oahu bucket list!

Check the latest rates and more information.

6. Waikiki Starlight Luau

This luau bills itself as Waikiki’s best luau under the stars. And what’s unique about the Waikiki Starlight Luau is that it includes a fashion show!

It takes place on the rooftop of the Hilton Hawaiian Village (where many scenes from Hawaii Five-O are filmed).

The show features dancing from Hawaii, Polynesia, and the Pacific. It also includes 4 acrobatic fire knife dancers. And children ages 3 and under are free.

Check the latest rates and more information.

7. Te Moana Nui

This show is at the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani hotel in the heart of Waikiki. It’s Waikiki’s newest indoor stage performance.

If you aren’t a fan of Hawaiian food, this luau offers prime rib and crab legs in addition to island cuisine.

There are also artists who will hand-drawn temporary tattoos on your face or body, which is sure to be a hit with kids. Children 4 and younger are free.

8. Rock-a-Hula Luau Buffet and Show

This will definitely remind you of a Las Vegas show! It’s at the Royal Hawaiian Center, which is easy to get to from anywhere in Waikiki.

It’s a mix of pop culture icons and Hawaiian entertainment. You’ll be able to see Elvis from Blue Hawaii!

The show was revamped in 2017 and now includes a journey from the 1920s through today.

They have some vegan options, and they have a detailed menu that shows all the diet/allergy info. Kids ages 2 and younger are free.

Click here to see the latest rates and availability.

Click here for this Oahu luau discount for the Rock-a-Hula Luau Buffet and Show!

9. Hale Koa Luau

The Hale Koa Luau is your traditional luau experience from beginning to end.

However, Hale Koa Hotel is a Waikiki hotel for members of the military. The hotel openly states that the luau is open to hotel guests or anyone else with an active or retired military ID.

The Hale Koa Luau is entertaining in that classic, touristy way. The pre-dinner activities are perfect for kids, and the tableside dinner service is excellent.

However, the price has gone up recently.

This is a great option if you’re E1-E6 ranking (you get a solid discount!). Otherwise, there are better luaus in Waikiki for families.

10. Queens Waikiki Luau

After a day of shopping along Kalakaua Avenue, head to the International Market Place for Queens Waikiki Luau. And don’t let the location inside the courtyard of the mall phase you!

I love that this luau is located right off the main strip near Waikiki Beach. There’s a dinner buffet, highly interactive entertainment, and a great show.

Kids ages 2 and younger are free.

Click here for this Oahu luau discount for the Queens Waikiki Luau!

11. Paina Waikiki Luau

You’ll find the Luau at Waikiki Beach Marriott near Diamond Head. This 3-hour show is held a few times a week and sells out fast, so book in advance!

If you’re interested in the history of Waikiki, you’ll love this small-scale luau.

Through Polynesian dances, songs, and hula dancing, you’ll learn about those who once ruled Hawaii.

When you arrive, you’ll get a temporary Polynesian tattoo along with your complimentary mai tai and lei greeting, which is a fun touch!

Kids ages 2 and younger are free.

Click here for this Oahu luau discount for the Paina Waikiki Luau!

More Oahu Luau Options

If you’re staying on the East Shore, North Shore or outside of Waikiki and are renting a car, you have even more options for Hawaiian luaus.

12. Aloha Kai Luau

This is the only East Side Hawaiian luau. It takes place at Sea Life Park and recently replaced Sea Life’s Ka Moana Luau.

Your luau tickets get you admission to play at Sea Life before the luau, making it an affordable luau in Oahu for families!

Children can learn hula dancing, make leis, taste poi, play the ukulele, and more before the show begins. Kids ages 3 and under are free.

Check the latest rates and more information.

Click here for this Oahu luau discount for the Aloha Kai Luau!

13. Ka Waa at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

If you’re staying at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, this is the most convenient luau since it’s right on the property.

But it’s also open to people not staying there. So, if you are curious about what Aulani is like, this is a great opportunity to check it out!

Plus, luau guests get 4 hours of free parking.

Photo of the Ka Waa Aulani luau on Oahu, Hawaii, which is a Disney luau #disney #aulani #aulaniresort #disneyaulani #aulaniluau #disneyluau
Families staying at Aulani Resort will appreciate this on-property Aulani Luau. Photo credit: Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

Even though it’s run by Disney, it’s strictly a Hawaiian luau. Moana, Mickey, and Minnie make a brief appearance, but that’s it.

It’s a 3-hour experience from start to finish and kids ages 2 and under are free.

Read Aulani Tips to Maximize 2 Nights at Disney Aulani Resort in Hawaii.

14. Paradise Cove Luau

This is another popular luau on Oahu, and you’ll see advertisements for it in all the tourism magazines.

One of the best parts of Paradise Cove Luau are the activities. There’s actually a lot of time before dinner to explore their Hawaiian village and see the demonstrations.

You can participate in a Hukilau and learn about ancient Hawaiian fishing before the show.

Kids ages 3 and under are free.

Check the latest prices and more information.

Click here for this Oahu luau discount for Paradise Cove Luau!

15. Chief’s Luau

So, this luau is located right at Wet N Wild, a Hawaii water park.

Chief’s Luau is run by Chief Sielu, the original world champion fire-knife dancer and Polynesian comedian.

He has 20 years of experience in the Samoan Village at the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu. He’s also appeared on many shows you might watch, like Oprah Winfrey, BBC, MTV, and more.

Chief Sielu is one of the best parts of the show! It’s also a wonderful show if you’re interested in a luau that celebrates a wide variety of Polynesian cultures.

This luau also has a special needs menu featuring items that are dairy-free, vegetarian, gluten-free, and peanut-free.

Kids ages 4 and under are free.

Click here for this Oahu luau discount for Chief’s Luau!

16. Germaine’s Luau

Germaine’s Luau on Oahu is one of the most popular Hawaiian luaus near Waikiki.

They even have shuttles from many Waikiki hotels. This is smart because when we were here about 5 years ago for a wedding rehearsal dinner, they offered a refillable cup for alcoholic drinks!

It’s not my favorite Honolulu luau. But it’s right on the beach and children ages 3 and younger are free.

Click here for this Oahu luau discount for Germaine’s Luau!

17. Mauka Warrior Luau

The Mauka Warrior Luau is a lovely night under a starry sky far away from the high-rises and lights of Waikiki.

This luau is located on the Hawaii Country Club Golf Course in central Oahu.

Everything about this show is impeccable, from the hands-on cultural activities to the delicious food and beautiful show with knife dancers!

When you book your tickets, you can choose to drive the 25-miles from Waikiki or add-on accessible transportation.

There’s an open bar, so this is a helpful option. Also, kids 4 and under a free.

Click here for this Oahu luau discount for the Mauka Warrior Luau!

18. Paniolo, a Hawaiian Cowboy Luau

The Paniolo Luau at Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu’s North Shore is unlike any other luau on Oahu!

It’s held at the Stables at Turtle Bay, with sweeping fields that looks out over the ocean. This unique luau dinner celebrates Hawaiian cowboy (paniolo) culture!

Enjoy all the classic elements of a Hawaiian luau, but with a twist. Grab a beer from a bar mad from a horse trailer, interact with ponies, and enjoy a paniolo show.

Shuttles are offered for resort guests. Kid ages 3 and under are free.

How to Choose the Best Oahu Luau

Luaus can be found all over the island.

The most popular ones tend to be located on Waikiki Beach or at resorts like Disney Aulani, but there are also some hidden gems that may not be as well known.

Most luaus include pre-dinner activities, dinner, and then a show with hula dancing and other Polynesian entertainment.

Other than that, they can vary, which is nice because you can find something that works best for you!

Here’s what to look for when choosing an Oahu luau for your family.

Start Time

Most luaus on Oahu start at around 6 PM, which means you may not finish till 8 or 9 PM. That’s pretty if you have little ones!

However, some, like Toa Luau, offer an early 1 PM show that ends at 4PM that might work better for you.

Activities

Most luaus include a lei greeting where you receive a fresh flower lei or a kukui nut lei greeting upon arrival.

Then there might be a complimentary welcome mai tai waiting for you and a cocktail hour. Some also offer complimentary photos during this time.

After arriving, pretty much all luaus feature an hour with cultural activities like lei making, a hula lesson, or ukulele lessons.

Some include cooking demos and Hawaiian games. An authentic luau will include an imu ceremony in its pre-dinner activities.

This is the best time for families, because children are made to feel welcome and involved! If you can, don’t skip this part of your luau experience.

Type of Luau Dinner

Traditional luaus serve a buffet dinner with a range of Hawaiian staples (more on that below).

This is nice because there’s something for even the pickiest eater in your family at a Hawaiian buffet. We love buffets and look for reviews that rave about the food!

If you’re not a fan of buffets, you might want to look for a luau that offers table service. Especially if you have specific diet restrictions, this might be the best choice for you.

Often when you book your tickets, you’re encouraged to mention include any dietary needs in the comment box.

Or you can always call the luau and they’ll work with you.

Entertainment

When our family attends a luau, we want something fun and educational with plenty of entertainment options for both adults and children alike.

It should have beautiful dancing, music, storytelling, fire-knife dancers…the works!

All luaus involve traditional hula dance, even if that’s not the main focus of the night.

More and more luaus center around traditional storytelling that involves different Polynesian dances that tell the history of Hawaiian culture.

Some include dinner entertainment while others separate the show from the meal. It’s all about your preference!

Length of the Luau

Most luaus typically run 3-4 hours. The Polynesian Cultural Center luau can even run 9 hours if you get there when the park opens!

Some kids can’t sit through all that. This is where you have to decide what you want to pay for.

Many family-centered shows will offer budget tickets to just the 60- to 90-minute show.

Wondering what food you will find at a Hawaiian luau? Enjoy poi, kalua pig, lau lau, lomi lomi salmon and more. #hawaiianfood #luau #platelunch
Here’s a sampling of Hawaiian food you might find at a luau. Photo credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Mark Kushimi

What is Typical Luau Food?

At most traditional Hawaiian luaus, you’ll find the following items:

Kalua Pork

This is the most well-known Hawaiian luau food. It’s a whole pig that’s been roasted underground in an imu.

The pork is so tender that it falls right off the bone and shreds. Very flavorful!

Poi

So, at whatever luau you choose, they will probably make some sort of joke about poi tasting like wallpaper paste. That’s just to scare you away!

Poi is mashed-up taro root that is fermented. It helps bring out the flavor of fish and meat, so be sure to combine them and use the poi more like a condiment!

Chicken Long Rice

If you have a picky eater in your family, chances are they will like Chicken Long Rice!

It’s long noodles with bits of chicken sprinkled in. It tastes a little like chicken soup, without the soup.

Huli Huli Chicken

If you like barbecue chicken with an island twist, you’ll love Huli Huli Chicken!

You’ll also see roadside stands selling Huli Huli Chicken or at fundraisers around Oahu.

Lau Lau

This is a super traditional Hawaiian food, but not all luau menus have it. It’s usually pork or fish wrapped up in ti leaves and steamed.

Lomi Lomi Salmon

This is very similar to ceviche, where it’s chopped up raw fish mixed with diced tomatoes and onions.

Macaroni Salad

Yes, it’s just what it sounds like. Basically, macaroni noodles with a lot of mayonnaise and usually some shredded carrots.

This is another option for picky eaters. Personally, I love mixing in a bit of Huli Huli Chicken when I eat it. So tasty!

Haupia

These little white squares are like creamy coconut Jello. They are cold and make a refreshing palate cleanser! Plus, kids usually enjoy eating it!

What Do You Wear to An Oahu Luau?

I know when people are packing for their trip to the Hawaiian Islands, they always ask about what to wear to a luau. So, here are my top picks for the best luau outfit:

Luau Dresses

Most luaus will give you either a shell lei or a purple orchid lei as you arrive.

If you think you’ll be taking a lot of photos, you’ll want to keep in mind so the lei will stand out against your dress.

For fun, tropical dresses, my top picks are this one and this one. Putting on a Hawaiian dress always makes me feel happy and like I’m on vacation!

But you don’t need to buy a new dress! Look in your closet for something brightly colored or a white dress always looks nice.

For shoes, I tend to always wear sandals. You probably won’t want to risk heels, especially if the luau is on grass or near the beach.

Aloha Shirts

Men often get a shell lei, purple orchid lei, or sometimes they get a black kukui nut lei.

While men can wear any type of shirt, a Hawaiian shirt is always more memorable! If you want to order ahead of time, this one and this one are both fun picks!

Men can easily pair Aloha Shirts with khaki pants or shorts. Or linen pants or slacks of any kind.

Hawaiian Clothes for Kids

And don’t forget about your kids! While they can wear anything they like, it’s so much cuter if they wear Hawaiian print!

I love matching Aloha shirt and shorts sets like this for boys and adorable Hawaiian dresses like this for girls.

Hawaiian Matching Family Outfits

Another classic option of what to wear to a Hawaiian luau is matching family outfits! There are lots of places that sell clothes for your whole family in the same print.

You can buy them before your trip at Aloha Fun WearHawaii Hangover, or Aloha Outlet.

Best Oahu Luaus Wrap Up

If you’re looking for a fun family activity in Oahu, it might be time to book your next luau!

I know my kids love the experience, and so do my husband and I.

Enjoy an amazing Hawaiian food and entertainment experience that will keep both adults and children entertained (and maybe even engaged). Check out one of these great dealsfor discounted tickets or free admission. You won’t regret it!

Loved this post about the best luau for kids on Oahu? Check out my other Oahu travel resources on my Hawaii site Hawaii Travel with Kids!

Other Oahu Activities

Family Guide to Oahu with Kids
Polynesian Cultural Center Offers Family Activities on Oahu
Family Photos on Oahu is a Smart Idea
Honolulu Cookie Company Features Pineapple Shaped Cookies
Toa Luau is Oahu’s Newest Family-Friendly Luau
Oahu Travel Hacks + Budget Tips for Families

Are you traveling to Oahu and want to know which is the best Oahu luau in Hawaii? Read my comprehesive guide to the best luaus on Oahu. Click to read more or pin to save for later. www.marcieinmommyland.com #oahu #oahuluau #luau #hawaiianluau #waikiki #aulani #disney #honolulu #hawaiiwithkids #familytravel
Having a hard time choosing which Oahu luau is right for your family? Read this complete list of the best luaus on Oahu and find out which luaus are free for kids! List includes Waikiki luaus, Disney Aulani luau, the Polynesian Cultural Center and more! Click to read more or pin to save for later. www.marcieinmommyland.com #oahu #oahuluau #oahuactivities #thingstodoinoahu #familytravel #hawaiianvacation #polynesianculturalcenter #toaluau #waikiki #honolulu #diamondhead #visithawaii #visitoahu
Choosing the best Oahu luau for your family can be tough! See which ones have the best entertainment, allergy-friendly food options, shuttles from Waikiki, or most unique cultural activities. Plus, find out if your kids can eat for free! Click to read more or pin to save for later. www.marcieinmommyland.com #oahu #hawaii #luau #hawaiianluau #hawaiianfood #oahuactivity #waikiki #honolulu #aulani #disney #polynesianculturalcenter #waimeavalley #waikikiaquarium

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    Wondering how to pick the right Oahu luau for your family? Get my list of the best Oahu luau in Waikiki, Honolulu, Disney Aulani, etc. Click to read more or pin to save for later. www.marcieinmommyland.com #oahu #visitoahu #visithawaii #hawaii #luau #waikiki #honolulu #familytravel #hawaiianislands

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    Scott

    Monday 28th of October 2019

    I did the Chief's Luau with my family when we went to Oahu and it was awesome. It started to rain a little bit, but that didn't stop the festivities. There were lots of activities for the kids and everyone had a blast. Reading this list makes me want to go try out some other luaus the next time I'm in Oahu!

    marciecheung

    Monday 4th of November 2019

    Chief's is a really popular one this year!

    fashionmommy

    Tuesday 17th of July 2018

    Some where I really want to visit, and would definitely want to see an authentic Luaua, would be so much fun.

    marciecheung

    Tuesday 17th of July 2018

    They are quite fun and memorable! Hope you make it there!

    Tina Hogan Grant

    Thursday 12th of July 2018

    This looks like a blast and such a fond memory to make with family

    marciecheung

    Thursday 12th of July 2018

    It was a birthday to remember!

    angie

    Wednesday 11th of July 2018

    what a wonderful trip this would be, one in a life time with so much beauty to be had.

    marciecheung

    Thursday 12th of July 2018

    Luaus are definitely not to be missed on a Hawaiian vacation!

    Danielle

    Wednesday 11th of July 2018

    This is so amazing to know! My family and I love luau's !!!! They're so much fun!

    marciecheung

    Thursday 12th of July 2018

    We love all the singing and dancing!

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