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When we lived on Oahu we lived a short walk away from a very popular luau. Whenever visitors were in town, we’d book tickets, head over and enjoy the buffet food and mai tais. Since then, we’ve learned a lot about luaus and have gotten to see firsthand the varying levels of quality and experience you can receive.
If you’re eager to enjoy a luau, we have a list of the best luaus on Oahu, which will hopefully be worth your time and your money. Traveling to other Hawaiian islands? See our 14 Best Luaus in Hawaii (our honest review).
Best Luaus on Oahu
We will start with the best show located on Oahu’s North Shore in Waimea Valley. Then take you around the island for the best luaus on Oahu.
See the Google Map below to see where the luaus are located. Many include transportation from Waikiki.
Toa Luau on Oahu’s North Shore
Coming on the scene in 2021, Toa Luau has become one of the best luaus on Oahu. And a great price. Located in Waimea Valley on Oahu’s north shore, you can experience fun Hawaiian activities like games and coconut husking and then sit back for the excellent show and good food. This luau is good for families as they have a 1:00 PM show so you can get back to Waikiki before bedtime.
Choose from three luau packages and show times (1 PM and 5 PM). Tickets include drink tickets and then a cash bar.
- Cultural activities and games
- Entrance to Waimea Valley Botanical Garden and waterfall swim included
- Kava ceremony (traditional Polynesian drink)
Why we love it: Waimea Valley alone is worth a visit for the gardens and waterfall swim. The activities and Polynesian show make this one a lot of fun for the family.
Location: Waimea Valley, North Shore Oahu
Length: 3 hours
Days: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday
Price: starting at $115
Toa Luau does not provide transportation from Waikiki or other areas of the island. There is parking available at Waimea Valley.
Chief’s Luau for the Fire-Knife Show
This is the big fire dancing show on Oahu brought to you by World Fire Knife Dancer Chief Sielu. Chief’s Luau is popular for the entertaining MC. Laughs, Samoan fire-knife dancing, and Polynesian dancing are all top-notch in this Polynesian show.
This luau has the drawback of being located 45-minutes west of Waikiki at a waterpark. But transportation options are available from Waikiki. Don’t let the waterpark scene ruin your experience. The food is also not as good as other Oahu luaus.
- Fire-knife dancing
- Kukui nut lei greeting
- Gates open at 5 PM for interactive Hawaiian activities
- All-you-can-eat Hawaiian buffet
Why we love it: This luau is a fan favorite for the production quality. This is one of the few luaus where the jokes and story-telling are as entertaining as the dancing.
- Location: Kapolei, Oahu
- Length: approximately 4 hours
- Price: starting at $164
Polynesian Cultural Center
If you search for a luau on Oahu, the first one that always gets mentioned is the Polynesian Cultural Center. It’s a popular favorite for a reason. This isn’t just a luau, it’s a full-day experience.
You can spend the day enjoying activities in the six Polynesian Island villages.
The luau packages get a little confusing (at least for us at first) see below is an overview of the areas and events at the Polynesian Cultural Center.
Hukilau Marketplace is a dining and shopping area at the front of the Polynesian Cultural Center. Entrance is free and a reservation is not required.
The Gateway Buffet is a dinner package but does not include a luau show. Open from 4:30 to 7:00 PM, the buffet is served in a large hall. The feast includes traditional luau food, but no luau dinner show like traditional dancing and storytelling.
The Ali’i Luau is a traditional all-you-can-eat luau buffet. While you dine, the MC tells stories of Hawaii with live music and dancing. This is their most popular luau experience.
Don’t know what luau and dining option to choose? See our Ali’i Luau vs Gateway Buffet: How to Decide.
HA: Breath of Life is the big evening spectacular after the Ali’i Luau or Gateway Buffet. Sit in a large auditorium for a theatrical show of lights, dancing, and singing.
You can purchase ticket packages that combine these events. The most popular is the all-day experience of the Polynesian Island Villages, Ali’i Luau, and ending the day with HA: Breath of Life show.
The full-day event goes late so do what is best for your family as you will still have a long drive back to your resort on the other side of the island.
- A full day of activities in six different Polynesian Island villages (ex: basket making, making fire, bow and arrow shooting, getting a fake tattoo, so many more)
- A separate luau and buffet dinner. The food is quite good
- An evening show, Ha: Breath of Life, featuring over 100 performers
Why we love it: We were skeptical when we first arrived (it can feel a little like Disneyland), but this was truly an immersive day. You can spend the entire afternoon enjoying cultural activities and then opt to stay for the luau and evening show. The food is great and plentiful and everyone is exceptionally friendly!
- Location: Laie, Hawaii
- Length: 8.5 hours
- Price: starting at $140
- Save 10% on select luau packages when you use the booking button below
Queens Waikiki Luau
This is a solid recommendation for anyone who wants to experience a luau without having to leave Waikiki. While it’s not a luxury luau (it’s located in the middle of the International Marketplace Mall), the price reflects that. But the service, entertainment, and experience are excellent.
Plus, you can choose to upgrade to front-row seats if you want to be closer to the action or get a better deal by choosing a table in the back. You won’t get a sunset view but you will have a great night in Waikiki.
- Convenient location in the middle of Waikiki at the International Marketplace
- 3 ticket levels based on seating location, number of drinks included, and lei type
- Fire-knife dancing
Why we like it: If you are looking for a budget-friendly luau option without leaving Waikiki, this is the one for you. Plus, you usually don’t have to book out weeks or months in advance as you do with many of the other luaus in Hawaii.
- Location: International Marketplace
- Length: 2.5 hours
- Price: starting at $107
Oahu Luau FAQs
Are the luaus outside?
Most Oahu luaus are covered. Chief’s Luau isn’t covered but the others on this list are for the dining experience.
Rain or shine, luaus will go on. They will continue with the show if the rains come so be mentally prepared. They do their best to keep you comfortable.
Are luaus worth it on Oahui?
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 Oahu luau for families
While all luaus on Oahu are family-friendly, there is one that stands out. The Polynesian Cultural Center Luau is made for families (except no private nursing locations) with the educational experience through Polynesia and the luau storytelling. Children dance in the luau and they get the kids in the audience to participate.
FYI, no alcohol is served at the Polynesian Cultural Center.
Is it better to go to a luau on the Big Island or Oahu?
While both islands have great luaus if given the choice, going to a luau on the Big Island 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 and pre-show entertainment, 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, 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.
Oahu 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 Honolulu Museums like ‘Iolani Palace, Queen Emma’s Summer Palace, or Bishop Museum.
- Hula dancing lessons are available at resorts and at shopping centers like the Royal Hawaiian Center
- See our 23 Best Things to Do on Oahu with Kids
- See our 40 Things to Do on Oahu
And if you are interested in all of our other favorite activities on Oahu, be sure to check out our full list of Oahu tours & activities. From the best surf school in Waikiki to a discount on helicopter tours, we have you covered!