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Let us share the best-reviewed and researched luaus on Kauai so you can pick the right one for your vacation. After living in Hawaii for five years, we have the pleasure (and disappointment) of attending a lot of luaus!
Luaus are tough to recommend as visitors to Hawaii have a range of expectations based on the price and the experience. If you’re on the fence about a luau, see our Kauai Luau FAQs below.
If you’re eager to enjoy a luau, here are the best luaus on Kauai for your dollars and vacation time.
Traveling to other Hawaiian islands? See our 14 Best Luaus in Hawaii (our honest review).
Best Luaus on Kauai
Kauai has a lot of luaus but we whittled down the list to the top three best luaus on Kauai. Starting on the East Coast, near Kapa’a, and finishing on the South Shore at a resort luau. You won’t be disappointed with these Kauai luaus.
See the Google Map below to see where the luaus are located on Kauai.
Smith Family Garden Luau at Fern Grotto
50 years ago, grandpa started the Smith Family Garden Luau. The whole family gets involved to share recipes on the gorgeous grounds of the Wailua River Valley. This luau has a 4.7-star review on Google which is the highest we have seen. They must be doing something right with their traditional Hawaiian buffet and hula show.
- The Rhythm of Aloha Show
- Buffet luau dinner
- Shell lei greeting
- Narrated tram ride across 30 acres on the sacred Wailua River Valley
Why we love it: this is a great way to visit the beautiful Wailua River Valley during the day and see the grounds come alive with torches and hula shows.
- Location: Wailua River, Kapa’a
- Length: 3 hours
- Price: $125
Luau Kalamaku near Lihue
Luau Kalamaku centers on a theatrical show of a family voyaging across the Pacific from Tahiti to Hawaii. Located in a large outdoor pavilion at Kilohana Plantation, the theater show with Tahitian drumming, Samoan fire dancing, and Hawaiian hula make for an immersive experience.
- Open bar and full buffet
- Theatrical luau
- Explore 60-acre plantation
- Fire dancers and fire poi ball twirlers
Why we love it: The plantation grounds where the luau is located are beautiful and Henry loved going on the plantation train ride. You can spend the afternoon at Kilohana Plantation and then stay for the luau.
- Location: Lihue, Kauai
- Length: approximately 3 hours
- Price: starting at $146
‘Auli’i Luau at Poipu Beach
Located on one of the best beaches on Kauai, the ‘Auli’i Luau aims to produce a show as spectacular as its background. The native Kauaian director strives for authenticity in the performance which is held 2-3 nights per week.
- Beachfront location on spectacular Poipu Beach
- The choreographer and director is a native of Kauai
- The online waitlist makes signing up easy
- Premier and standard seating are available (premier is closer to the stage with a separate entrance line)
- Open bar and buffet dinner
- Fire-knife dancing
- Shared tables so you’ll be sitting with other attendees if your party doesn’t fill a table
Why we love it: Poipu Beach is a spectacular setting, so it makes this luau feel incredibly special. And having a native Kauaian as a choreographer and director is pretty incredible.
- Location: Sheraton Kauai, Poipu
- Length: 2.5 hours
- Price: $179 for standard seating, $25 upgrade for premier seating
Kauai Luau FAQs
Are Kauai luaus worth it?
It depends on what your expectations are. Luaus can be a great experience that is a memorable part of your vacation. Or, they can be a disappointment and something you wish you hadn’t done. But the key is to know what you expect and what you’ll enjoy.
If you go to Vegas for the shows, then a luau is up your alley so find your type and book early! If you’re not worried about the price and want to just enjoy an evening show, you’ll probably love a luau.
But if you’re on the fence, here are some reasons most people end up feeling disappointed.
- The high price
- They expect that the food will be better. But these luaus cater to 100+ people, often buffet style, and include traditional dishes, so this probably won’t be the best meal you have on the island.
If you expect a gourmet meal for the steep cost and you don’t care as much about the entertainment, a luau might not be the right activity for you. But don’t worry, we’ve included some alternatives below.
Best Kauai luau for families
While all luaus on Kauai are family-friendly, there is one that stands out. Smith’s Family Luau was started by a local family and the family still runs it today. They know how to make your family experience that unique Kauai aloha.
Is it better to go to a luau on Kauai or Oahu?
While both islands have great luaus if given the choice, going to a luau on Kauai is a better option. You can find a good luau that is conveniently located near your vacation rental or resort, so you don’t have to travel too far.
While Oahu has excellent luaus, some of the best are located away from where most people stay, so you’ll have to spend extra time and effort to get to and from your luau. For example, Toa Luau is incredible, but it’s located on the north shore of the island. If you’re staying in Waikiki, the drive to the luau will take you approximately an hour. Same with the Polynesian Cultural Center, it is located on the North Shore so it is a 60-minutes away.
What to expect at a luau?
A luau has two main components: the feast and the entertainment. Most luaus follow the same format, which includes arrival with a lei greeting and pre-show activities, a dinner (buffet, family style, or plated), and then the main luau show. Luaus typically last 2-3 hours, though the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu is a full-day affair.
Traditional luau food
Luau food includes traditional Polynesian canoe crops and new dishes brought by missionaries, whalers, and plantation workers from all over the world. For example, a luau will always include poke, poi, kalua pork, Lomi lomi salmon, and lau lau. Learn more here about these dishes.
One of our favorite parts is the unearthing of the pig from the imu (underground oven).
On the entertainment front, most luaus feature dancing from a mix of Polynesian islands. Fire-knife dancing is a Samoan tradition, not Hawaiian. It is fun to see the various dancing from each Polynesian nation. But some luaus, like the Old Lahaina Luau on Maui, is strictly Hawaiian in dancing, food, and storytelling.
Here are luau traits to pay attention to when booking:
- Price – luaus range from $115 to $280 plus taxes and fees. Most luaus will cost you $180 per person. Prices have increased this year.
- Hawaiian or Polynesian dancing – if you want to see fire dancing, then check out a Polynesian show.
- Food – the more expensive luaus will be table service with some showcasing a chef’s skill. Larger luaus will be buffet service.
- Drinks and Cocktails – in our experience, table service luaus include an open bar with cocktails, beers, and wine. Large luaus will include drink tickets and a cash bar. Expect long lines at the bar for large luaus.
- Location – beachfront, sunset views, small grass lawn at your resort, and amphitheater performance at a luau venue are all possible locations to choose from.
- Activities – partake in coconut husking, a hula lesson, lei making, spear throwing, and other cultural activities before or during the dinner show. The large luaus typically include a fun assortment of activities for you and your kids.
Kauai Luau Alternatives
If you are a first-time Hawaii visitor and can’t get into a luau, we say don’t sweat it. We have a list below of alternative cultural and entertainment activities. For a deeper cultural experience, try one or more of the following activities:
- Take a Hawaiian outrigger canoe ride
- Visit one of the wonderful Kauai museums like the Kauai Museum in Lihue or Kikohana Plantation with historical tours of the old plantation, or Wai’oli Mission House and Church on the North Shore
- Hula dancing lessons are available at resorts and at shopping centers
- See our 35 Things to Do on Kauai for more ideas
And if you are interested in all of our other favorite activities on Kauai, be sure to check out our full list of Kauai tours & activities. From Wailua River kayaking and waterfall swimming to zipline courses, we cover the best of the best.