Choosing a Maui Luau

June 11, 2017

You can’t go to Hawaii and not go to a luau. I don’t care how touristy they are or how much of a rip off you claim they are. It’s Hawaii! It’s a luau! Live a little! I think I’ve made my opinion clear. So as I planned our Maui trip, I wasn’t prepared for the chaos of choosing a Maui luau. There are TONS located throughout Lahaina and Kaanapali alone. What are the differences? Why are some priced different? What am I guaranteed? HOW will I ever choose my Maui luau?! Don’t fret. This guide breaks down the 5 most popular Maui Luaus and explains the differences of each. 

I usually start researching these types of trip activities based on reviews (TripAdvisor, Yelp), webpages, and fellow bloggers’ posts. All of these reviews/stars I reference are accurate as of the time this article was posted! After my initial search, it is evident the most popular Maui luaus include: Old Lahaina Luau, Royal Lahaina Luau, Feast at Lele, Drums of the Pacific, and Grand Wailea Luau. Below I explain the differences of each of these top Maui luaus and how we eventually chose ours to book.

old lahaina luau
Photo courtesy of thesnorkelstore.com

old lahaina luau

  • TripAdvisor – 4.5 stars from 6,023 (68% gave 5 stars)
  • Yelp – 4.5 stars from 1108 reviews
  • Google – 4.6 stars from 368 reviews

The Old Lahaina is rated the best Maui Luau on TripAdvisor and the reviews rave that this is the most traditional luau you can see on the island. Many also appear to prefer that it is individually organized and not set up through a resort. A popular feature of this luau is that upon arrival there is time to explore the grounds. There are traditional Hawaiian games set up to play, you can learn a Hawaiian dance, traditional woodwork and kukui nut leis are for sale. Then you eventually find your seat – either at a long, shared table or the “traditional seating” you pay extra for. The traditional seating is when you are directly against the stage but sit cross legged on the ground for the entire duration of the show (something that did not sound appealing to me whatsoever).

The venue itself is beautiful and intriguing. So many of the reviews say the food is amazing and truly sticks to traditional Hawaiian staples. You also are given a fresh loaf of banana bread when you leave as well. For those on a honeymoon or even just on a trip with your spouse, the private serenade dance also is a favorite. By far the best rated and most popular Maui luau.

royal lahaina luau
Photo courtesy of royallahainaluau.com

royal lahaina luau

  • TripAdvisor – 4 stars from 1,278 reviews (38% gave 5 stars)
  • Yelp – 3.5 stars from 315 reviews
  • Google – 3.7 stars from 21 reviews

The Royal Lahaina Luau is the most affordable and was actually closest to where we were staying, making it a tempting option for us. However, it also did seem the “cheapest” in terms of quality. Just browsing its website compared to the other luaus I was underwhelmed. Other websites have long FAQ sections and seem to give an abundance of information (which I appreciate this) and this site doesn’t. Keep in mind: It does seem there are two websites for this luau. Make sure you use the official one via Myths of Maui website! Even Google images show the table set up seems much cheaper compared to other Maui luaus.

Our concierge was really pushing this one, but I couldn’t just hand her over some commission for a lack-luster luau. I suppose as a way to separate itself from the other Maui luaus, the Royal Lahaina pushes that it includes a Samoan fire knife finale. Nonetheless, this didn’t convince us because several other luaus now have the same thing.

feast at lele luau
Photo courtesy of vacatia.com

feast at lele

  • TripAdvisor – 4.5 stars from 1,529 reviews (64% gave 5 stars)
  • Yelp – 4 stars from 633 reviews
  • Google – 4.1 stats from 189 reviews

The Feast at Lele is only for fancy-pants. Just kidding! But it is definitely an up-scale Maui luau. While most other luaus serve their food buffet style, the food here comes out in several courses. You’re also sitting at more private tables; other luaus have you sitting at long, shared tables. This luau is actually set up by the creators of the Old Lahaina Luau and is not limited to the traditions of a Hawaiian luau, but also Tonga, Tahiti, and Samoa. Overall, it’s a much more private luau and you won’t feel like herded cattle compared to some of the other luaus.

drums of the pacific luau
Photo courtesy of drumsofthepacificmaui.com

drums of the pacific

  • TripAdvisor – 4 stars from 1,488 reviews (46% gave 5 stars)
  • Yelp – 3 stars from 288 reviews
  • Google – 4 stars from 81 reviews

Drums of the Pacific also boasts of a grand finale with a fire knife dance (similar to that of the Royal Lahaina) and unique drumming. Unfortunately, many of the reviews claim this is all a ploy. From many posts, it sounds like there is almost too much downtime beforehand and then not enough fire and drums during the show to make up for it. Another downfall is that this luau isn’t set directly next to the ocean. Overall, the staff is extremely accommodating. For instance, if an unexpected rain shower pops up, expect ponchos to immediately be handed out to everyone.

grand wailea luau
Photo courtesy of thehonuaula-luau.com

grand wailea luau

  • TripAdvisor – 4 stars from 465 reviews (37% gave 5 stars)
  • Yelp – 3.5 stars from 143 reviews
  • Google – 3.5 stars from 22 reviews

Grand Wailea Luau is on the beautiful grounds on the Grand Wailea Hotel. Unfortunately, this can be a tad detrimental to it because no one staying at the Kaanapali/Lahaina resorts wants to travel so far for their Maui Luau – especially when the majority have an open bar! Nonetheless, they get people and the show can seat hundreds of people. Many of the “pros” regarding this luau include the beautiful setting, the incredible fire dancing, and delicious food. Unfortunately, it’s not all happy thoughts.

The biggest complaints is that this luau doesn’t feel very authentic (at one point they have women doing aerial stunts and the skirts are neon colored). It also sounds like there is only one nearby bathroom with one stall available throughout the night which sounds like a disaster waiting to happen once the drinks start flowing. Another logistical issue is that you don’t get your table assigned until you check in that night. The last major complaint is unexpected. The Grand Wailea is a beautiful resort – and not cheap! At this luau, you have to pay $10 if you want a lei! I mean, honestly, how cheap are they going to be? You pay a lot of money for these luaus!

 

Do you guys ever start questioning the spelling of a word after concentrating on it a while? “Luau” is now tripping me out! 🙂 At the end of the day, all of these luaus overlap in similarities and then differ in other aspects. It depends on the atmosphere you desire and the type of show you’re looking to see. In the end, we attended the Old Lahaina Luau, mainly based on the amount of positive reviews. It was fantastic, but I can’t wait to return and compare it to a different Maui luau on this list!

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