A uniquely Hawaiian experience, attending a Polynesian luau should be part of any Hawaiian vacation itinerary. When planning my visit to Maui, I asked around to my travel friends and all recommendations pointed to Old Lahaina Luau as the best luau in Maui. They have an easy online reservation system, put on a show every night, and are conveniently located right behind the Lahaina Cannery Mall, which also happens to be a shuttle stop for many hotel shuttles. Open Bar + No Driving = Winning!
When making your reservation for this Maui luau, you will have two choices in seating. The “traditional” seats are in the front row around the stage, where you will sit cross-legged on cushions and dine from a low table. “Table & Chair” seating is also available, and as it sounds, you will be seated at a table with regular dining chairs. Both tables seat 8, and your party will be combined with others if you don’t have eight to fill a table. The price ($125/adult, $78/children under 13) is the same regardless of the seating style you choose. I was lucky to have a front row table/chair seating, otherwise I would have likely chosen traditional seating to be close to the action!
Upon arrival at the Old Lahaina Luau, guests are greeted with a fragrant floral lei, and offered a mai tai immediately. A guide will then show you to your table, and give you the layout of the luau grounds so you can explore a bit. There are craft vendors on-site, dancing and of course the beachside “imu” where the pig is roasted. My only disappointment of the evening was that I was told a later time for the pig to be unearthed, so by the time I wandered over there, the crowd was too dense for me to see. It’s a pretty cool experience, so definitely try to time it right so you can see this! (Photos from the Hale Koa luau on Oahu, 2008)
Old Lahaina Luau also provides a program/menu that is really well done. The program walks you through the various phases of the Polynesian performance, explaining the history and traditions behind hula dancing. It also gives you an overview of the menu, which is helpful as there is a TON of food to choose from! Also included is the all-important drink menu – beyond mai tai’s, you’ll find any combination of sweet alcoholic treats, including some frozen drinks as well! These are all included in your luau ticket! Just be sure to bring cash to tip your bartender and servers!
You’ll start off with a light appetizer (taro hummus, in our case) as the evening’s performances begin. Each table will then be led by their server to the buffet line to load up their plates full of delicious food like imu roasted pork, poke ahi, island style chicken, maui style fish, and so many side dishes. I was sure I’d go back for seconds, but ended up super full after the first run!
Not too full for dessert, of course! That coconut pudding had my name all over it!
Once everyone is served, the big performances begin. There are a couple of emcees narrating the dances throughout the night. Several performances tell the story of Pele, the fire Goddess, and her quest for love. Another performance depicts the arrival of the missionaries, who at one time banned hula. All of the evenings performances build up to a grand finale, a dance-off of sorts.
As the evening came to an end, our served gave us mini-loaves of delicious Hawaiian banana bread to take home, and then we were on our way. The luau ends around 8:30, so for those with the energy, there is still plenty of time to have a night out on the town. I already had a very full day, with an early morning start for the Ultimate Whale Watch snorkel trip, so I was tired and went home with my banana bread!
When it comes to Hawaiian luaus, you’ll have many options, often right at your own hotel, but I highly recommend attending the Old Lahaina Luau if you are in Maui. By all accounts, it’s the best luau in Maui!
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I received a discounted media rate in exchange for my review. These are solely my personal opinions and I was not financially compensated for this post.