“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!
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
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 luau guests were already eating salad and fruit.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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
- They get to ride a train! That is a winning activity all in itself.
- Do your kids enjoy Moana? Then the story in Lu`au Kalamaku will captivate their attention.
- There are tons of food options for even the pickiest of eaters (including mini desserts.)
- Children have the opportunity to feed pigs.
- The luau has an intermission that is perfect for potty breaks or leaving early.
- 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