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Last updated on February 19th, 2019 at 10:25 pm

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.

These are my top picks for kid-friendly Oahu luaus:

1. TOA LUAU

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!

Samoan Princess dancing at Toa Luau at Waimea Valley on Oahu in Hawaii #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 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.

2. POLYNESIAN CULTURAL CENTER

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.

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 Cheung

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!

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!

This video gives a great overview:


Waikiki Luau

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!

3. 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.

4. AHA`AINA LUAU

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.

Photo of Tahitian dancers at the Aha`Aina Luau in Waikiki on Oahu. It's one of the best Oahu luau in Waikiki. This Honolulu luau is a fun activity on Oahu. #luau #waikiki #royalhawaiianresort #waikikiluau #diamondhead #tahitiandancing #hawaiianluau #oahuluau
Isn’t this view of Diamond Head an unbelievable backdrop? Photo credit: The Royal Hawaiian Resort

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!

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. MAGIC OF POLYNESIA

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.

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.

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.

9. KA MOANA LUAU

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.

10. 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.)

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.

11. PARADISE COVE LUAU

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.

12. CHIEF’S LUAU

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.

13. GERMAINE’S LUAU

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

WHAT IS TYPICAL LUAU FOOD?

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

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

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 it 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 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 a creamy coconut jello. They are cold and make a refreshing palate cleanser! Plus kids usually enjoy eating it!

WHAT’S APPROPRIATE LUAU ATTIRE?

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

Luau Dresses

Most luau 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 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.

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 #waikikiaquariumWondering 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[mailerlite_form form_id=3]

Author

Marcie writes the family travel blog Marcie in Mommyland. When she's not traveling the world, she's home in Seattle with her husband and two little boys.

63 Comments

  1. I loved the luau in Maui. It was on the water and fun to watch the dancing and learn about the culture. The Polynesian cultural center sounds fantastic. I love those type of places to immerse yourself.

  2. Ruthie Ridley Reply

    This looks like a blast! Would love to do this with the fam!!!

  3. Kelsie Corbett Reply

    How fun! I love Luau’s! We went to one on the big island! Saving this for our Oahu trip!

  4. Love this and I would LOVE to take our family to any of the places you mentioned!! <3 Thanks for sharing!

  5. This makes me really want to visit the islands! There are so many awesome things to do…too many to choose from! Thank you for sharing!

  6. Wow, I totally wish I had read this before I went to Oahu! My hubby and I didn’t end up doing a luau cause we weren’t sure which ones were worth it. Thanks so much for sharing! xo, Brittany Nicole

    • Ack! Well, now you know for next time! That’s why I wrote this post, though! So many people kept telling me they didn’t know which one to pick so they didn’t do any.

  7. Oh my gosh, this is so helpful! I can’t wait to visit Hawaii myself and especially with our kids. They have such a beautiful culture! Thanks for sharing

  8. This is a great post thank you sharing, I will definitely remember these Luau’s, Hawaiin culture is so fun to learn about, they are great for the whole family as well!

  9. I really hope I can use these someday! I went to Hawaii years ago and I think we went to Germaine’s Lua. It was cool but would love to check out a different Lua if I make it back Oahu.

  10. These all look so fun! I’ve never been to a luau so they all seem great to me. I love that the cultural center includes all the extras!

  11. We’ve been wanting to go to Hawaii for years, and were very close once but then I got pregnant with my third son and the trip got cancelled. These are really great options for Luaus! I think our top pick would be Disney’s Aulani but also somewhere that shows us the local and traditional culture. Even though I have never been, we were very fortunate growing up that we lived next door to a family from Hawaii, and they threw a Luau for their sons graduation. It was so much fun and I still remember it to this day.

    • Oh awesome! I’m a hula dancer and I’ve danced at a lot of graduation luaus! So cool you got to go to one!

  12. I love the cultural aspects of the post. Oahu Luau are so cute 🙂 I don’t know which oneI would chose 🙂

  13. Wow there are so many options!! I can’t wait to go there some day! I would love to go to one!!

  14. While in Maui recently I attended The Feast at Lele. It was my first luau (since I was a kid, and do not remember!) and I loved every second of it! I will keep these in mind if I go to Oahu!

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

  16. Pingback: Extensive Oahu Family Vacation Planner for Oahu with Kids! | Hawaii Travel with Kids

  17. 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!

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