If you are looking to embrace the culture and atmosphere of Hawaii, one of the best experiences is a luau, and one of the best luaus is the Old Lahaina Luau. It is steeped in authenticity and worth every penny. That is, depending on your expectations.
Just like driving the Road to Hana is about the journey, scenery and stops along the way (not specifically Hana town), attending Old Lahaina Luau is about the overall experience.
To set the scene, the luau location is right on the ocean in Lahaina, with pretty grounds and a spectacular view. This luau was specifically designed and laid out to host a warm and welcoming event, even though it seats 500. Seating allows for a traditional experience – you can sit on cushions at a low table closer to the stage– or you may choose seating at a table with chairs. The seating is tiered in a semi-circle, so you are assured of a good view no matter where you are. Both seating options are the same price. The sound system is well done, with the speaking vocals coming through clear, even in the back.
On the ocean side, there are different cultural activities to experience before the show begins. Get there at the recommended time, find your seats, then walk around the grounds and absorb the culture. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and participate in hands-on activities.
This is a one-price luau meaning the entire experience is included in the ticket price. Some luaus offer multiple add-ons, so while the basic price may be low, by the time you add to your experience, you’ll think you should have had a PhD, and may find you break your budget.
The ticket prices for Old Lahaina Luau are: Adults: $229.17 with taxes; Children: $139.58 including taxes. Understandably, this cost can add up, especially for families. But consider this. Everyone should attend a Hawaiian luau once in their life. Other luaus are similarly priced or even more. For example, an adult ticket for Drums of the Pacific Luau is 222.10, but jumps up to $274.98 for seats near the stage. The Luau at Grand Wailea starts at $265, or $325 for premium seats, plus the parking fee.
Here is the part about expectations. If you go to any luau expecting a fancy $200 meal, you likely will be disappointed. Consider the laid-back style of gatherings in Hawaiian history; outdoor social events where people gathered and shared a large feast, where they celebrated barefoot with mele (chants/songs) and hula. If you go expecting to see, smell, hear and embrace Hawaiian history and cultural traditions, activities and food, you are bound to have a wonderful experience at Old Lahaina Luau.
Trying traditional Hawaiian dishes should be the name of the game if attending a luau, but if that is not you, there are plenty of food choices so finding something you like shouldn’t be a problem. In our opinion, the food is tasty and plentiful. Among the offerings are kalua pork, teriyaki chicken, mahi mahi, poi, lau lau, an assortment of poke and cold salads as well as mashed purple sweet potatoes and delicious desserts. Soft drinks and juices are available as well as an open bar throughout the evening. See the full menu here.
This luau is the most popular one on Maui so it often books up months in advance. We recommend making reservations as soon as you know your travel dates. Seating assignments are made in the order that tickets are booked, so book early.
Just before the luau starts (around 6 p.m.) you’ll want to find a spot around the cooking pit for the Imu ceremony. This is the unearthing of the luau pig and a highlight of Maui luaus.
The show is spectacular at this luau. It is not overly produced, with the focus on the traditional hula dances of Hawaii. Because of the focus, there isn’t a Samoan fire dance as there are at other luaus that prioritize entertainment over authenticity, and highlight dances from different Polynesian islands.
While this luau is very good, in our humble opinion, and the most authentic, you may want to try others that offer different experiences. Here are some luaus that receive high ratings:
Royal Lahaina Luau (the most affordable)
We frequently get asked if Old Lahaina Luau is worth the price. In our opinion, yes, it is, at least once in your life. Aloha and happy feasting!