How to Choose the Best Oahu Luau
No trip to Oahu is complete without going to a Hawaiian luau. But, choosing the best Oahu luau option for your family really depends on what you want out of the experience. For my family, we like the cultural component and are willing to travel a bit for a cooler experience. May contain affiliate links.
It just so happens that my two favorite Oahu luaus don’t serve alcohol. My husband thinks it’s because when guests aren’t tipsy, the luau has to try harder to impress. These are my top picks for kid-friendly Oahu luaus:
This is the newest luau on Oahu and they consider themselves the most “authentic.” I love it because it’s a small luau, so it’s perfect for families who don’t like huge crowds. Oh, and when you purchase a ticket to Toa Luau, you also get free admission to Waimea Valley, a cultural park where you can swim under a waterfall!
They have a lot of cool cultural activities before the luau. My favorite is their Kava Ceremony, which is something you don’t see everyday. 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. And there are lots of opportunities for kids to get involved in this authentic Polynesian experience.
The luau at Polynesian Cultural Center is fantastic! What makes this one of the best luaus on Oahu is that it includes admission to the entire cultural park. You can visit lots of Polynesian “villages” to see dancing, sample food, and participate in activities. And they have a cool canoe pageant where performers dance on canoes through the park.
We like to spend the whole day at PCC and then end with the luau and Ha: The Breath of Life. This is a great option for families because you get the traditional luau PLUS a dramatic theatrical show that talks about voyaging to new islands. If you have any Moana fans in your family, it’s a must do activity on Oahu!
If you are staying in Waikiki, you might not want to rent a car or hop on a shuttle to go to an Oahu luau. That’s why it’s nice there are a few Waikiki luau you can either walk to or take an Uber. And several are in fun locations!
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.
I admit, I’ve wanted to stay at the “Pink Palace” since I was a teen. This luau is held at the historic Royal Hawaiian Resort in Waikiki. The experience sounds a lot like the Feast at Lele on Maui. It’s a gourmet, sit-down dinner with vignette performances throughout the evening.
It’s definitely on the pricier end and children of all ages need to purchase a ticket (albeit a greatly discounted price.) It sounds like a romantic date night in Waikiki and it’s currently on my Oahu bucket list!
WAIKIKI STARLIGHT LUAU
This luau bills itself as Waikiki’s only five-night-a-week luau under the stars. What’s unique about the Waikiki Starlight Luau is that it includes a fashion show! It takes place at 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. Children ages 3 and under are free.
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.
So, this isn’t a traditional luau, but it includes Polynesian entertainment. The whole show features illusions, magic, vanishing acts in addition to hula and Tahitian dancing. I saw their show on TV many years ago and it reminded me of a Vegas dinner show. What’s cool is you can purchase tickets for just the show if you want to save a bit of money. Kids ages 3 and under are free.
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.
Other Oahu Luau Options
If you are staying on the East Shore, North Shore or outside of Waikiki and are renting a car, you have even more options for Hawaiian luaus.
This is the only East Side Hawaiian luau. It takes place at Sea Life Park and your luau tickets get you admission to play at Sea Life Park before the luau, making it a cheap 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.
KA WAA AT AULANI, A DISNEY RESORT & SPA
If you are staying at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, this is the most convenient luau since it’s right on 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 you get 4 hours of free parking.)
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.
This is another popular luau on Oahu and you’ll see advertisements for it in all the tourism magazines. What’s cool about this one is you can participate in a Hukilau and learn about ancient Hawaiian fishing before the show. There’s actually a lot of time before dinner to explore their Hawaiian village and see the demonstrations. Kids ages 3 and under are free.
So, this luau is located right at Wet N Wild, a Hawaii water park. The 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 has appeared on Oprah Winfrey, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Night with David Letterman, Travel & Discovery Channels, BBC and MTV. 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.
Germaine’s Luau on Oahu is one of the most popular Hawaiian luau 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 luau. But, it’s right on the beach and children ages 3 and younger are free.
Other Oahu Activities
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