“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 Kauai 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 a traditional Hawaiian luau on Kauai. This sounded perfect for my family! So we quickly got our tickets for Luau Kalamaku in Lihue, Kauai.
For those who don’t know, I’ve been a professional hula dancer for the past 20 years. I’ve recently taken a break from performing to focus on my family. 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 Luau Kalamaku show.
Kilohana Plantation Railway Tour
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. We rode past tropical forest, historic homes and outbuildings, and working orchards and fields where we viewed an authentic plantation.
As I mentioned earlier, my preschooler had done this train ride before and he was really looking forward to it. 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.
About 2/3 into the ride, we stopped so people could get off and feed 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.
When we arrived back at the station, we took a few photos in front of the train because I knew my oldest would ask to see photos of the train after we got home. We quickly scurried into the dining area. At our table, the rest of the Hawaiian luau guests were already eating salad and fruit.
Luau Kalamaku is a theatrical luau that gives guests an intimate look into the heart of Kauai’s Hawaiian heritage. A cast of characters performing traditional music and song tells 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.
Luau Kalamaku offers 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.
The food 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 luau on Kauai. They offer a lot of vegetarian options, including mashed purple potatoes with coconut milk that was super tasty. My personal favorite was the kalua pig and poi. I regretted not going back for more (even though it was encouraged.)
Something cool about this Kauai luau is that they do more contemporary hula during dinner, then take an intermission before the theatrical show. The stage is also round and in the middle of the room. The performers face different directions so it brings the stage a bit closer. Our table was in the second row off to the side and we had a fabulous view with a bit of chair shifting.
Both my kids were MESMERIZED by the theatrical component of the show. My 3.5 year old sat on my lap after dinner. After the first number, my son asked if it was over. Worried that he was getting tired, I told him that it was the first of many number. 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
1. THEY GET TO RIDE A TRAIN
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 too long where parents get bored. Insider tip: Grab a 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!
3. TONS OF HAWAIIAN FOOD
There are tons of food options for even the pickiest of eaters. The mini dessert bar was a big hit at our table! 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. You won’t find this at any other Kauai luau!
5. 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.
6. IT’S A KID-FRIENDLY LUAU
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. This show finished at 8:30pm.
Kilohana Plantation offered us complimentary train tickets and Luau Kalamaku offered us discounted luau tickets. All opinions are my own.