There are certain things you can expect at any Hawaiian Lu'au: All-you-can-eat grinds, all-you-can-drink tropical cocktails, a lei greeting, dancing, singing, and steep prices. But some Maui lu'aus shine brighter than others, and if you're willing to spend the money and time on this once-a-vacation activity, you may as well attend one of the greats.
The award-winning Old Lahaina Lu'au ranks number one for overall authenticity in cuisine, entertainment, and decor. Check-in is just before sunset. Arrive early to allow ample time for roaming the oceanfront, where Hawaiian crafters weave hats and trinkets out of coconut palms, carve wooden tiki sculptures, and unearth the kalua pig from the "imu," or underground oven. Take a moment to snap that holiday-card worthy photo on the water's edge at sunset. Friendly servers wrapped in colorful sarongs invite you to the buffet, abundant with savory and exotic local dishes such as laulau, pohole salad, taro leaves, lomi lomi salmon, and poi. The show incorporates traditional Hawaiian chant, percussion, dress, and dance while representing the evolution of the Hawaiian hula from ancient to contemporary times. Seating is family style, so you'll likely share a table with strangers, but there's no such thing as a bad seat in the space, and remember, it's all about aloha.
The Feast at Lele also tops the list of Maui lu'aus, but for entirely different reasons. The lu'au takes place on the beach at 505 Front St. where the royal family of Maui would feast and entertain. The history of the space befits the lu'au's upscale ambience. Each party is granted a private table and seating is limited, allowing for a more intimate experience. The show and gourmet cuisine incorporate five Polynesian island nations: Tahiti, the Cook Islands, Samoa, Hawai'i, and Aotearoa New Zealand. Each artfully crafted, culture-specific dish is served course by course, accompanied by corresponding entertainment. The on-point staff provides explanations of each dish upon delivery and ensures speedy drink service so that you'll never have to leave your seat during this Polynesian journey. The show culminates with fire dancing – a flashy show of heat and light that won't be found at every lu'au.
The Myths of Maui lu'au at the Royal Lahaina Resort deserves mention for being family friendly. Children ages 11 and under may attend for free with each full paying adult, and there's even a keiki buffet for finicky eaters. The Honua'ula lu'au at the Wailea Beach Marriot Resort & Spa stands out as the only lu'au in South Maui, sparing Wailea and Kihei vacationers the 40 to 60-minute drive to West Maui.
- The Old Lahaina Lu'au:
- Location: Lahaina, Maui, Hawai'i 96761
- Admission: $92 adults; $62 children
- Phone: 808-248-5828
- Website: www.oldlahainaluau.com
- The Feast at Lele:
- Location: 505 Front Street, Lahaina, Maui, Hawai'i 96761
- Admission: $110 adults; $80 children
- Phone: 866-244-5353
- Website: www.feastatlele.com
- Drums of the Pacific Lu'au:
- Location: Hyatt Regency Maui, 200 Nohea Kai Drive Lahaina, Maui, Hawai'i 96761
- Admission: $89.58; $63.54 ages 13-20; $51 ages 6-12; Free for ages 5 and under
- Phone: 808-667-4727
- Website: www.maui.hyatt.com
- The Myths of Maui:
- Location: Royal Lahaina Resort, 2780 Kekaa Drive Lahaina, Maui, Hawai'i 96761
- Admission: $92 adults; Free for ages 11 and under (with each full paying adult)
- Phone: 808-661-9119
- Website: www.hawaiihotels.com
- Ka'anapali Sunset Lu'au:
- Location: Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, 2605 Ka'anapali Parkway Lahaina, Maui, Hawai'i 96761
- Admission: $89 adults; $43 ages 6-12; Free for ages 5 and under
- Phone: 808-877-6852
- Website: www.sheraton-maui.com
- Location: Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, 3700 Wailea Alanui Drive Wailea, Maui, Hawai'i 96753
- Admission: $97.92 adults; $51.04 ages 6-12; Free for ages 5 and under
- Phone: 808-875-7710
- Website: www.honuaula-luau.com