“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 luau. This sounded perfect for my family!

Kauai's Only Luau with a Train Ride
We were greeted with fresh orchid leis when we arrived.

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 show.

Kilohana Plantation Railway

Kilohana Plantation Railway and Lu`au Kalamaku on Kauai
My 3.5-year-old was thrilled to get to ride the Kilohana Plantation Railway again!

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.

Kilohana Plantation Railway and Lu`au Kalamaku on Kauai
We loved seeing the animals grazing in the fields as we chugged along.

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.

Kilohana Plantation Railway and Lu`au Kalamaku on Kauai
My Mom and baby stayed on the train while I took my oldest to feed the pigs.

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 luau guests were already eating salad and fruit.

Lu`au Kalamaku

Kilohana Plantation Railway and Lu`au Kalamaku on Kauai
This artisan carved wood right in front of us on the grounds of Kilohana Plantation on Kauai.

Lu`au 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.

Kilohana Plantation Railway and Lu`au Kalamaku on Kauai
The fruit juices were super tasty!

This luau 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.

Kilohana Plantation Railway and Lu`au Kalamaku on Kauai
The purple mashed potatoes featured coconut milk and they were amazing!

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. 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.)

Kilohana Plantation Railway and Lu`au Kalamaku on Kauai
The hula auana was a great treat during dinner.

Something cool about this 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.

Kilohana Plantation Railway and Lu`au Kalamaku on Kauai
This show kept my boys’ attention for the whole time!

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 It

Kilohana Plantation Railway and Lu`au Kalamaku on Kauai
My son begged to get his picture with these performers.
  1. They get to ride a train! That is a winning activity all in itself.
  2. Do your kids enjoy Moana? Then the story in Lu`au Kalamaku will captivate their attention.
  3. There are tons of food options for even the pickiest of eaters (including mini desserts.)
  4. Children have the opportunity to feed pigs.
  5. The luau has an intermission that is perfect for potty breaks or leaving early.
  6. It ends earlier than other luaus. The show finished at 8:30pm.

Heading to Hawaii? Here are some helpful tips:

7 Reasons Why Feast at Lele is the Ultimate Maui Date Night
Bring Old Hawaii to Life With Hands-On Activities at Maui Nei Native Expeditions
A Week in Maui: Tips & Itinerary for Families
Fun Things for Babies on Kauai
What I Pack in my Carry On Backpack When Traveling to Hawaii with Kids

Kauai's Only Luau with a Train RideKilohana Plantation offered us complimentary train tickets and Lu`au Kalamaku offered us discounted luau tickets. All opinions are my own.

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80 Comments

  1. Looks like you and your toddler had a great time. I’ve only ever been to Hawaii for a short stopover. I hope to get there for a proper look one day.

    • marciecheung Reply

      I hope you get to go over for an extended trip, too!

  2. Luau’s are always one of my favorite parts of visiting Hawaii! This looks like such a fun option for families!

    • marciecheung Reply

      It’s definitely a great activity for families with small children!

  3. Abhinav Singh Reply

    This seems like a perfect vacation for adults and kids alike. I loved the turtle carved out of a wood. I love collecting local crafts during my travel. Mashed potatoes tempt me. Would love to visit this with my family.

  4. This sounds like such a unique experience. I would love to go to Kauai someday and do it. My kids would love it too. And I know that I would enjoy those purple mashed potatoes with coconut milk!

    • marciecheung Reply

      I hope you and your family are able to visit Kauai!

  5. I’m in my 20s and a Moana fan. haha! This is something I would definitely enjoy too! Food looks great as well 🙂

    • marciecheung Reply

      The train ride is just the right length for small children.

  6. Our family has been to Kauai several times, and we love it there. But, I never knew about this train, what a great idea for kids! For a relatively small island, it just shows how much it has to offer. Thanks for the new place to add to our Kauai list!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Traveling with small kids has encouraged me to always check to see if there’s a train ride 🙂 Yes, Kauai has so much!

  7. This place looks perfect for complete family but kids will love it most. My son too loves train rides.

  8. Wow, super fun outing for you and your little ones, Marcie!
    What an experience it would to experience the Kilohana Plantation Railway first hand. Being a heritage enthusiast I would love to get a peek into Kauai’s Hawaiian heritage. Someday, for sure!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Hawaiian culture is alive and well on Kauai! I think you should definitely plan a visit there someday!

  9. Renee Smith Reply

    We just got back from Kauai and went to this very Luau. It was beautiful! I didn’t know about the train ride though. Wish I’d seen this post before we went. I know my 4 year old would have loved a train ride.
    Kauai is our favorite island. Can’t wait to go back some day!

    • marciecheung Reply

      I’m glad you enjoyed it as much as we did! You’ll just have to go back soon! You can do the train ride on it’s own throughout the day. Kauai is a gorgeous island!

  10. This train ride seems amazing. Just like a perfect family outing where you ride on train, step down at stops, feed animals, eat and dance. I love Moana too and would love to take this train ride some day.

  11. How fun! My guys totally would have loved this when they were smaller-they will probably love it now too;). We still haven’t been to Kauai but I totally want to visit!

  12. The train ride looks super fun! And the views with animals grazing are stunning. I’ve never heard of this fun train ride for kids so thanks for the suggestion!

  13. Getting a fresh lei and a train ride sounds like fun. The wood carving to watch is wonderful and such talent. Sounds like a day we would totally enjoy.

    • marciecheung Reply

      It’s a really fun way to experience Hawaiian history and culture on Kauai!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Haha! Do it! You can take your mai tai on the train!

  14. This is exactly what I needed to see! The family and I have been to the Big Island, but we were thinking of changing it up and going to Kauai next year instead. We live in the Pacific Northwest, so Hawaii is our closest escape to paradise!

    • marciecheung Reply

      We live in Seattle, so I love that we have so many direct flights to Hawaii! And I’ve heard Southwest is launching direct flights soon, so it may be even cheaper 🙂

    • marciecheung Reply

      I’ve been learning SO much about trains lately 🙂

  15. I don’t know about kids but this seems the sort of activity even I would love going for! The train ride, the views, the food and the luau of course, look absolutely stunning. Thanks for sharing, this is pretty informative!

  16. How great that you’re a professional luau dancer. This train ride seems really entertaining as an adult. And the luau at the end is just a really neat bonus. No wonder your little one has been asking to go back.

  17. Taking a train through the countryside in Hawaii would be so perfect. Beautiful vistas, super relaxing, and looks like there was good food as well. Amazing trip!

    • marciecheung Reply

      It was great to see Kilohana Plantation from a train!

  18. How interesting! Sounds like it was such a great time for you and your family. I love that your children enjoyed the experience with you. Always a plus for a mama.

    • marciecheung Reply

      I thought they’d melt down during the luau, but they were both so engaged!

    • marciecheung Reply

      I hope you can check this one out if you make it to Kauai!

  19. Hawaii is one of the places on my bucket list for sure. I’d love to have the same luau experience as you did! I know the train ride is geared towards kids but I think that would be amazing to try. I love how happy everyone looks!

    • marciecheung Reply

      It’s actually fun for adults, too! Plus, if you’re also doing the luau, you can take your mai tai on the train!

  20. As I was reading your post, I have my nephew on my mind. He would definitely love this kind of adventure. He’s 4 yrs. old by the way,. Like your son, he loves watching theatrical shows and feeding animals.

    • marciecheung Reply

      I’m sure your nephew would love this experience! Sounds right up his alley!

  21. Your trip looks like it was so much fun. I think it was so cute that your 3.5 year old kept nudging about it and that you finally got to go. Annnd that ube potatoes??? Yes puh-lease!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Right? They were soooooo yummy! I’m glad he persuaded me to take him!

  22. Blair villanueva Reply

    That smile on his face – precious!
    Obviously, he had fun riding the train and the performances. I wish to partake too!

  23. Wow, what a great way for the little ones to enjoy a fun filled day trip. Your toddler clearly seems enthralled with the views outside during the train ride. The purple potato mash is something I have never had, sounds pretty interesting.

  24. Kilohana Plantation looks like a magical place. Looks like fun was had by all; the food and the train ride look like the best parts to me:)

    • marciecheung Reply

      It’s a fun place for adults, but truly magical for kids!

  25. Oh this place would be perfect to take my goddaughter and her friends. Have never actually been to that region so it would be a memorable trip. The food looks delicious too!

  26. 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.

    • marciecheung Reply

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

  27. 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.

  28. 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!

    • marciecheung Reply

      I’m taking a bit of a break from hula dancing at the moment, but you never know 🙂

  29. This looks like a fun thing to do, especially with younger children! Would love to check it out 🙂

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