Where can you listen to heart-pumping drums, learn hula and eat to your heart’s content—all in one place? At a luau, of course! According to our 2019 Readers’ Choice Awards, these are the five best luau on the Big Island.
1. Legends of Hawaii Luau, Hilton Waikoloa Village
With a local artisan market, interactive cultural education stations, an unlimited walk-up bar and a show with live music, hula and fire performers, it’s no wonder that our readers love the Legends of Hawaii Luau at the Hilton Waikoloa Village. Before the show, visitors can indulge in a decadent dinner buffet, featuring kalua pork with local ohia honey mustard and plum sauce, kiawe-smoked brisket paired with a lilikoi (passion fruit) tamarind barbecue sauce, an array of cold salads and more. Alii (royalty) benefits include premier seating, family-style pupu, desserts and coffee/tea service tableside.
Pricing: $140 adults; $75 children (ages 5 to 12); children 4 and under are free. For Alii (royalty) seating, add $30. Show only: $65 adult; $45 children (ages 5 to 12). Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays, 5:30 to 8 p.m., 69-425 Waikoloa Beach Drive, Waikoloa, (808) 886-1234, hiltonwaikoloavillage.com/dining/legends-of-hawaii-luau.
2. The Mauna Kea Luau, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel
Created for Newsweek magazine in the 1960s, the Mauna Kea Luau continues to wow modern audiences with hula, fire dance and food. The buffet will please every palate with choices such as teriyaki short ribs, a smoked Hawaiian fish platter with wasabi horseradish cream, kalua turkey and an extended dessert list featuring sweet potato haupia (coconut pudding), chocolate lava cake, lilikoi cheesecake and more. Hawaii residents receive a 20 percent discount when purchasing food-only tickets.
Pricing: $117 adults; $59.50 children (ages 5 to 12); children 4 and under are free. For premium seating, add $20. Show only: $52 adults; $32 children (ages 5 to 12). Tuesdays and Fridays, 5:30 to 8 p.m., 62-100 Mauna Kea Beach Drive, Kohala, (808) 882-5707, maunakeabeachhotel.com/dining/big-island-hi-luaus.
3. Voyagers of the Pacific, Royal Kona Resort
At the Voyagers of the Pacific Luau at the Royal Kona Resort, visitors can partake in group hula lessons, a lei-making workshop, kakau (tattoo) demonstrations and a show that celebrates Polynesian history and culture, culminating in a Samoan fire knife ritual. After the kalua puaa (roast pig) is unearthed from the imu (underground oven), visitors can enjoy a buffet dinner and complimentary bar while watching the sunset over Kailua Bay.
Pricing: General seating: $104 adults; $54 children (ages 6 to 11); children 5 and under are free. Online pricing: $78 adults; $41 children (ages 6 to 11). For premium seating closest to the stage, add $7 (paid at the door). Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 4:45 to 8 p.m., 75-5852 Alii Drive, Kailua-Kona, (884) 734-3370, konaluau.com.
4. Island Breeze Luau, Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel
Held on the shores of Kamakahonu Bay and Ahuena, Kamehameha the Great’s former estate, Island Breeze Luau’s newest production, “He Ohana Kakou” (We are Ohana), honors the stories and cultural traditions passed down by families throughout the Polynesian islands. Take a trip back in time while watching the arrival of King Kamehameha’s royal court on an outrigger canoe, greeted by a conch herald and oli (chant). Head down to the Island Breeze Luau with your own ohana for a night of traditional arts and crafts, a hula lesson and a buffet fitted with kalua pork, Island fish, Kona coffee barbecue chicken and more.
Pricing: $104.83 adults; $53.56 children (ages 5 to 12); children 4 and under are free. For Hanohano (preferred) seating, add $19.27 for adults or $14.07 for children (paid at the door). Tuesdays, Wednesdays (during summer), Thursdays and Sundays, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., 75-5660 Kopiko St., Kailua-Kona, (886) 482-9775, eventsbyislandbreeze.com.
5. Sunset Luau, Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa
Visitors to the Sunset Luau at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa are treated to a feast prepared by executive chef Jayson Kanekoa, using only the freshest and finest local ingredients. From a J.A. Farms garden salad and Waipio Valley poi to Keahole shrimp and grilled chicken dressed with Hamakua mushrooms, you’ll have a happy belly while enjoying songs and dances from Hawaii, Tahiti, New Zealand and Samoa.
Pricing: $117 adults; $58.50 children (ages 6 to 12); children 5 and under are free. For premium seating, add $30. Mondays and Wednesdays, 5 p.m., Waikoloa Beach Drive, Waikoloa, (808) 886-8111, waikoloabeachresort.com/index.php/things-to-do/event-detail/1470/sunset-luau.