Are you considering booking a luau in Hawaii but not sure where to start? Look no further! In this video, “6 Questions to Ask BEFORE Booking a LUAU,” a Hawaii concierge shares informative insights based on common queries and misconceptions from visitors. The video covers crucial topics such as the definition of a luau (it’s a feast, not just a show), pricing factors, dietary restrictions, included amenities, and the best luau venues for different preferences and group compositions. Don’t miss out on these valuable tips before planning your unforgettable luau experience in Hawaii.

If you’re curious about the cost of luaus, factors such as location, luau size, and seating options can influence the pricing. The video mentions the increase in pricing due to the surge in tourism after the travel restrictions were lifted in 2022. Prices have significantly risen over the years, with an example of luau prices at the Grand Wailea on Maui going from $112 in 2016 to $265 at present for general seating. It’s essential to check if alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks are included, as not all venues serve alcohol. Additionally, verifying the location and considering individual preferences and group dynamics can help you find the best luau experience. Examples of popular luaus include the Royal Hawaiian luau in Waikiki, the Polynesian Cultural Center luau, and Paradise Cove, which is family-friendly and located on the beach.

What is a Luau?

Definition of a luau

A luau is a traditional Hawaiian feast that typically includes food, cultural activities, and a show. It is a celebration of Hawaiian and Polynesian culture, showcasing dances like hula, Tahitian, and Tongan, as well as fire knife dancing. While luau is often associated with a free Polynesian show, it’s important to note that not all activities labeled as “luaus” include a free show. The main focus of a luau is the food and the overall experience.

Clarification about the free Polynesian show

Although some visitors may be under the misconception that a luau is a free Polynesian show, it’s important to clarify that a luau is a paid event that includes much more than just the show. While there are free Polynesian shows available in places like the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center and the International Marketplace in Waikiki, a commercial luau typically offers a more immersive experience with a full meal, cultural activities, and a showcase of different Polynesian dances.

How much does a luau cost?

Factors affecting the cost

The cost of a luau can vary depending on several factors. Some of the main factors include the location of the luau, the size of the event, the seating options available, and the package inclusions. Luaus in popular tourist areas like Waikiki tend to be more expensive than those outside of those areas. Additionally, larger luaus that can accommodate more guests are often able to offer lower prices compared to smaller luaus. The seating options and package inclusions can also affect the price, as more premium options may come with additional amenities and perks.

Impact of location and size

The location of the luau plays a significant role in determining the cost. Luaus in popular tourist areas like Waikiki or on the beachfront tend to have higher prices due to their prime locations. On the other hand, luaus held in other locations may offer more affordable options. The size of the luau, in terms of the number of guests it can accommodate, can also impact the cost. Larger luaus that can host more guests often have the advantage of being able to offer lower prices due to the higher volume of attendees.

Seating options

Many luaus offer different seating options, ranging from general seating to premium or VIP seating. General seating is often the most affordable option, while premium seating may come with more amenities and perks. The seating arrangement can vary, with some luaus offering tiered seating that provides better views of the stage. It’s important to check the luau’s seating options and consider what kind of experience you’re looking for before booking.

Package inclusions

Luaus often offer different package options that come with varying inclusions. Higher-priced packages may include benefits such as better seating, additional drink tickets, fresh flower leis, souvenir photos, and more. It’s important to review the details of each package and consider what is most important to you in order to make an informed decision.

Surge in pricing after travel restrictions were lifted

After the travel restrictions in 2022 were lifted, there was a surge in tourism to Hawaii. This increase in demand led to a notable increase in pricing for various activities, including luaus. The influx of visitors resulted in higher prices for luau tickets. For example, the Grand Wailea luau on Maui saw an increase in pricing from $112 per person in 2016 to $265 per person at present for general seating. It’s important to factor in these pricing trends when considering booking a luau.

Are there options for dietary restrictions?

Variety of dietary options

Many luaus offer a variety of dietary options to accommodate guests with different restrictions or preferences. While luau menus often include pork dishes, they also typically offer other food options such as chicken and fish. Some luaus may even provide specialized menus for vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, and nut-free diets.

Vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, and nut-free options

If you have any dietary restrictions, it’s important to check the luau menu before booking. Most luaus will post their menus on their websites, allowing you to review the food options available. In some cases, you may need to request specific dietary options at least 24 hours in advance. Checking the menu beforehand can ensure that you choose a luau that can accommodate your dietary needs and ensure an enjoyable dining experience.

6 Questions to Ask BEFORE Booking a LUAU | From a Hawaii concierge | OAHU

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Are alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks included?

Checking for availability of alcohol

It’s important to check if the luau includes alcoholic drinks, as not all venues serve alcohol. Some luaus, like the Polynesian Cultural Center, do not serve any alcohol on their premises. However, many luaus on Oahu offer both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink options. The availability of alcohol and the specific drink offerings can vary, so it’s recommended to inquire beforehand.

Inclusion of non-alcoholic drink options

For those who prefer non-alcoholic options, many luaus offer a range of non-alcoholic drinks such as fruit punches, mocktails, and tropical beverages. These options ensure that even guests who do not consume alcohol can still enjoy refreshing and flavorful drinks during the luau. Some luaus may provide drink tickets that can be used towards both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, while others may offer separate options for each.

Is transportation provided?

Availability of round-trip transportation

Some luaus offer round-trip transportation as part of their package. This can be a convenient option, especially for visitors who do not have access to a car or prefer not to drive. However, not all luaus provide transportation, so it’s important to check if this service is included before booking.

Associated fees

If transportation is provided by the luau, there may be additional fees associated with it. The fees can vary depending on the distance to the luau venue and the type of transportation provided. It’s recommended to inquire about the transportation fees beforehand to consider them when budgeting for the overall cost of attending the luau.

Where is the luau located?

Importance of verifying location

When booking a luau, it’s crucial to verify the location. Not all luaus are held on the beach or oceanfront, contrary to popular belief. Some venues may be located inland or in different parts of the island. Verifying the location beforehand ensures that you have a clear understanding of where the event will be held and can make informed decisions regarding transportation, accommodations, and nearby attractions.

Not all venues are on the beach or oceanfront

While beachfront luaus can offer a picturesque setting, not all venues prioritize oceanfront locations. Depending on your preferences, you may find luaus in various settings, including gardens, resorts, or cultural centers. Each setting offers a unique atmosphere, so it’s important to consider what kind of experience you’re looking for when choosing a luau venue.

What kind of experience are you looking for?

Considering individual preferences

When selecting a luau, it’s important to consider your individual preferences and what kind of experience you’re looking for. Different luaus cater to different audiences, so understanding your preferences can help you choose a luau that suits your needs and expectations.

Composition of your group

If you’re traveling with a group, it’s essential to consider their preferences as well. Luaus can cater to various age groups and interests, so choosing a family-friendly luau or one that offers activities for children may be ideal if you’re traveling with kids. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a more adult-oriented experience, luaus that focus on cultural authenticity and traditional performances may be a better fit.

Family-friendly options

For families with children, selecting a family-friendly luau ensures that everyone can enjoy the experience. Family-friendly luaus often offer interactive activities, children’s entertainment, and a welcoming atmosphere for kids. These luaus may provide child-friendly food options and have a relaxed ambience that appeals to families.

Adults-only settings

If you’re traveling without children or prefer an adults-only setting, there are luaus that cater specifically to adults. These luaus often have a more sophisticated ambiance, offering an immersive cultural experience combined with high-quality food, drinks, and entertainment. They may feature more traditional performances and showcase the depth of Polynesian culture.

Beach settings

Luaus held on the beach or oceanfront can provide a unique and scenic experience. The sound of the waves and the golden sunset create a captivating backdrop for the luau festivities. If you’re specifically seeking a luau in a beach setting, it’s important to research venues that offer this experience, as not all luaus take place directly on the beach.

Examples of popular luaus

The Royal Hawaiian luau in Waikiki

The Royal Hawaiian luau, located in Waikiki, is one of the most popular luaus in Hawaii. It offers a captivating setting with oceanfront views and a beautiful sunset as the backdrop. The luau showcases authentic Polynesian dances, live music, and a delicious feast featuring local Hawaiian cuisine. With its prime location in the heart of Waikiki, it provides a convenient option for visitors staying in the area.

The Polynesian Cultural Center luau on the North Shore

The Polynesian Cultural Center is a renowned cultural attraction on the North Shore of Oahu. It offers a full-day experience that includes traditional activities, interactive exhibits, and various Polynesian village tours. The center also hosts a luau that provides an immersive cultural showcase, featuring authentic Polynesian performances, traditional food, and a unique ambiance. The Polynesian Cultural Center is a family-friendly option that offers an educational and entertaining experience for all ages.

Family-friendly option: Paradise Cove on the beach

Paradise Cove is a family-friendly luau located on the beach, offering a memorable experience for visitors of all ages. The luau includes activities like traditional Hawaiian games, lei-making, and hula lessons. Guests can enjoy a buffet dinner featuring a variety of local dishes, including options for those with dietary restrictions. The highlight of the evening is the Polynesian show, which showcases dances from different Pacific islands and ends with a thrilling fire knife performance.

Pricing trends in luau activities

Significant increase in prices over the years

The pricing for luau activities has significantly increased over the years, especially after the surge in tourism following the lifting of travel restrictions in 2022. As demand for luaus increased, prices were adjusted to accommodate the higher volume of visitors. It’s important to factor in these pricing trends when budgeting for a luau experience.

Example: Grand Wailea luau pricing

The Grand Wailea luau on Maui serves as an example of the price increases seen in recent years. In 2016, the luau charged $112 per person for general seating. However, in subsequent years, the prices steadily increased. By 2019, the price had reached $130 per person. At the time of this article’s writing, the general seating price has further risen to $265 per person. This example illustrates the significant upward trend in luau pricing.


Booking a luau in Hawaii can be an exciting and memorable experience, but it’s essential to consider several factors before making a decision. Understanding the definition of a luau and the difference between a luau and a free Polynesian show can help set accurate expectations. Factors such as the cost, dietary options, drink inclusions, transportation, location, and individual preferences should all be taken into account. By considering these factors and exploring popular luaus, you can make an informed choice and enjoy a fantastic luau experience in the beautiful islands of Hawaii.