Want to attend a luau on Kauai but are having a hard time deciding? Find out 6 of the most exciting Kauai luau experiences for families with kids of all ages. Keep scrolling for all the info!
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Hawaii is famous for its luaus and you’ll find them on every island. But there’s something different about a Kauai luau.
Traditionally, luaus start with a dinner that includes Hawaiian dishes like kalua pig cooked in an imu, haupia, and poi. After dining, guests enjoy live music and hula performances that tell stories about the islands.
You might have a hard time choosing the best luau for your big trip to the Hawaiian islands. That’s completely normal.
I’ve used my experience of traveling to Kauai and attending luaus to good use. Below you’ll find a list of Kauai’s best luau options for everyone!
Get all your Hawaii luau questions answered HERE
Don’t have time to read a bunch of Hawaii blog posts and reviews? Here are some of our top picks for visiting Kauai.
Popular Kauai Tours/Activities
- Na Pali Coast Snorkeling Tour (this one also goes to the forbidden island of Ni’ihau)
- Kauai Helicopter Tour (this is the BEST way to see waterfalls on Kauai)
- ATV Tour to a Private Waterfall (this is a romantic adventure that feels like a secret getaway)
- Mountain Tubing (this is a low-key adventure down an old sugar cane canal)
- Luau Kalamaku (you can do a little train ride and feed farm animals before the luau)
- Book a Photo Shoot (this is a Hawaii souvenir you’ll treasure forever)
Favorite Kauai Resorts/Hotels
Want to skip all the planning and just access my detailed Kauai Itinerary complete with daily schedules, kid-friendly activities, and travel hacks? Click the button below.
How to Choose the Best Kauai Luau
When traveling with a group or family, it can be difficult to make everyone happy. When choosing a Kauai luau, consider each family member.
Hawaii is home to all types and forms of luaus and some aren’t exactly kid-friendly. If you’re after an authentic luau experience, Kauai is the place to be!
Think about what else you’re looking for in a the luau. Are you ok with a large luau and family-style dining? Would you prefer kid-friendly performances and activities?
These are just a few of the things to consider when deciding which luau to attend.
Finding a Luau in Poipu, Kauai
Poipu Beach is located in southern Kauai. It was named as America’s Best Beach by the Travel Channel.
The beach is perfect for all types of activities including swimming, snorkeling, boogie-boarding and surfing. And it’s home to some of the best luaus in Kauai!
The Grand Hyatt Luau is perfect for experiencing and learning about Hawaii’s culture.
Performers use vibrant songs and dances to tell stories of Hawaii’s rich history and voyages through the South Pacific. There are hands-on cultural activities, and the feast features local Hawaiian delicacies.
Come to this luau if you are interested in island traditions and culture.
When you attend the Grand Hyatt Kauai Luau they’ll give you a traditional lei. There’s also an open bar and an all-you-can-eat buffet for dinner.
And it’s great for kids, with Hawaiian arts and crafts and even hula lessons geared towards children.
Auli’i Luau is Kauai’s only oceanfront Luau. It’s also one of the most popular Kauai luaus among younger crowds.
We went to the Auli’i Luau and, I have to say, it’s what you think of when you imagine a traditional Hawaiian luau!
Everyone there makes an effort to make guests feel welcome from the moment you arrive.
Most guests feel the aloha spirit through the celebration and musical performances. And the highlight of this luau are the award-winning hula dancers of Urahutia.
Next, the exciting pahu drums beat to the pulse of the waves nearby and the fire knife dancers take that stage!
But one of my favorite parts of the Auli’i Luau is the buffet dinner.
Among the dishes are the fish, poi, and the traditional slow-roasted pig that truly melts in the mouth. Also, guests can enjoy delicious cocktails inspired by the Hawaiian spirit.
I think the Sheraton puts on one of the best luaus in Kauai! You can read my full Aulii Luau in Poipu review.
Finding a Luau in Lihue, Kauai
The Plantation Owners Dinner begins with a large feast. It takes you to a culinary journey back in time!
You’ll feast on a traditional dinner at Gaylord’s Restaurant at Kilohana’s. The feast consists of a four-course meal that highlights local island cuisine.
After you’ll take a torchlit walk to a pavilion to attend the outdoor show.
Live Hawaiian music and graceful hula dancers grace the stage. They’ll tell the tale of the Kalamakū, an epic voyage along the sea roads of Polynesia.
Watch fire poi ball twirlers and fire knife dancing. Trust me, you’re kids won’t get bored at this luau!
Luau Kalamaku includes a fresh flower lei greeting, champagne toast, the 4-course meal at Gaylord’s, and complimentary drinks. You also enjoy premiere seating during the show.
I brought my kids here a couple years ago and you can read our full Luau Kalamaku review.
Book your discount Kauai luau at Gaylord’s
The Kauai Luau and Sunset dinner is a great option if you are interested in authentic luaus with lots of history and storytelling. Check out the latest prices and more details.
It’s put on by The Smith Family Garden Luau which was named Ultimate Kauai Guidebook’s “Best Luau on the Island.” This is possibly the most popular luau in Kauai.
Dinner begins with a traditional imu ceremony, which I’m finding isn’t something you see at as many Hawaiian luaus these days.
This is a tradition where a roast pig is removed from an underground clay oven is often put aside to focus on the hula show.
After the ceremony, the buffet dinner features island favorites, besides pork. You can try dishes like Teriyaki beef, mahi-mahi, and poi. There’s also an open bar and non-alcoholic drinks, too.
You’ll eat at long tables, family-style, so guests can interact with each other.
Next, you’ll head to a torch-lit amphitheater for the show.
The Smith Family Garden Luau has been in the business for over 50 years, passing the tradition down 4 generations. The family believes that while food is the heart of the luau, music is its soul.
The luau begins just after sunset and starts with songs and dances, They’ll cover the Polynesian cultures and history that make up Hawaii. Local tribes perform traditional Hawaiian songs.
The night continues with Hawaiian hula and Tahitian drum dances. And finally, the Samoan Fire Knife dance tells the tale of all the people who have come to call Hawaii home.
You can read our full Smith Family Luau review.
Book your discount Lihue Kauai luau
The Hawaii Alive Luau Show and Dinner at the Royal Sonesta Kaua’i Resort Lihue is one of the island’s longest-running shows.
You can enjoy Hawaii’s culture every Monday evening at this world-class resort in Lihue (formerly the Kauai Marriott).
This luau starts at 5:30 PM and is about 3 hours long.
First there’s a buffet east prepared by Kukui’s Restaurant. It includes Kalua pork, Huli Guli chicken, Lomi salmon, coconut glazed sweet potato. For dessert, enjoy Hawaii treats like haupia and sliced Hawaian fruits.
Note that your ticket includes one standard alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink per person. And at this Kauai luau children age 5 and younger attend for free.
After dinner, guests proceed to the secluded Niihau Court where the Hawaii Alive Luau show takes place. This luau is perfect for kids because the performances are electric, lively and educational.
Also, don’t forget to bring your grass skirts. This show is all about audience participation and you might just get to hula!
Slightly North of Lihue is the Luau Ka Hikina (formerly Luau Makaiwa). It’s held at the Sheraton Kauai Coconut Coast Hotel in Kapaa.
This fun Kauai experience includes an impressive torch lighting ceremony, amazing food, and a spectacular show.
You can choose between general admission or upgrade to VIP seating. Kids ages 3 and younger are free.
It’s super easy to get to from any East Shore hotel or vacation rental home. Check out my full Luau Ka Hikina review.
Kauai Luaus on the North Shore
Some of the best luaus are on North Shore Kauai. This is where we go when we’re looking for an intimate and culturally-rich experience.
The first North Shore luau is Tahiti Nui Luau, dubbed the best in the North!
This luau is definitely more of a party vibe. Younger crowds can enjoy this luau every Wednesday, with free Mai Tais for an hour before the dinner and show.
Tahiti Nui’s luau night is in tribute to their legendary Aunty Louise, the better half of Tahiti Nui’s founder.
This is an intimate, local luau where you feel like you’re part of their family!
Before the show, food is grilled and served in front of you and it feels so welcoming that you think you’re part of the island.
You’ll enjoy a dinner that includes staple Hawaiian dishes like fresh fish, pineapple upside down cake, teriyaki chicken, and pork.
But this luau buffet is a little different because it’s served by the staff.
Every part of the night is laid-back, friendly, and welcoming. Tahiti Nui always makes sure that guests feel comfortable and educated without all the glitz and glamour of more touristy shows.
This luau is perfect for travelers who would truly love a local experience rather than a polished one. It definitely made me nostalgic for the old days of Hawaii.
You can see the Ahi Lele Fire Show is at the Anaina Hou Community Park every Wednesday.
It’s been named “Hawaii’s only exclusive fire show and Polynesian culinary experience.”
Come to this luau if you want to experience true North Shore culture. this starts with the amazing Hawaii-made craft brews and cocktails made with local spirits!
This dinner is different than the rest. It’s served tableside and you get a salad, entree, and dessert. You’ll choose from a menu that of course includes the traditional Kalua pork.
After dinner, the luau show begins with a story of the history of fire in Polynesia. Then, the Tahitian dancers in costumes dance to the beat of the drums. This show is beautiful and truly fascinating.
My boys loved the dance group swaying to the music, teaching them about fire’s important role in Tahiti, Samoa and Kauai.
FAQ about Kauai Luaus
What Do You Eat at a Luau?
At most traditional Hawaiian luaus, you’ll find the following items:
This is the most well-known Hawaiian luau food. It’s a whole pig that’s been roasted underground in an imu.
The pork is so tender that it falls right off the bone and shreds. Very flavorful!
You can try it at home with my Instant Pot Kalua Pork Recipe!
At whatever luau you choose, they’ll probably make some sort of joke about poi tasting like wallpaper paste. That’s just to scare you away! It’s actually delicious.
Poi is mashed and fermented taro root. It helps bring out the flavor of fish and meat, so be sure to combine them and use it more like a condiment!
Chicken Long Rice
If you have a picky eater in your family, chances are they’ll like Chicken Long Rice!
It’s long noodles with bits of chicken sprinkled in. It tastes a little like chicken soup, without the soup.
Huli Huli Chicken
If you like barbecue chicken with an island twist, you’ll love Huli Huli Chicken!
You might also see roadside stands around Kauai selling Huli Huli Chicken.
This is a super traditional Hawaiian food, but not all luau menus have it. It’s super rare, so if you see it, try it!
It’s usually made with pork or fish wrapped up in ti leaves and steamed.
Lomi Lomi Salmon
This is very similar to ceviche. It’s chopped up raw fish mixed diced tomatoes and onions.
Yes, it’s just what it sounds like! It’s basically macaroni noodles with a lot of mayonnaise and usually some shredded carrots.
This is another option for picky eaters. Personally, I love mixing in a bit of Huli Huli Chicken when I eat it. So tasty!
These little white squares are like a creamy coconut jello. They are cold and make a refreshing palate cleanser! Plus, kids usually enjoy eating it.
WHAT TO WEAR TO A LUAU?
Most luau will give you either a shell lei or a purple orchid lei as you arrive.
If you think you’ll be taking a lot of photos, you’ll want to keep in mind so the lei will stand out against your dress.
But you don’t need to buy a new dress! Look in your closet for something brightly colored. Or a white dress always looks nice.
For shoes, I tend to always wear sandals. You probably won’t want to risk heels, especially if the luau is on grass or near the beach.
Men often get a shell lei, purple orchid lei, or sometimes they get a black kukui nut lei.
Men can easily pair Aloha Shirts with khakis or linen pants.
Hawaiian Clothes for Kids
And don’t forget about your kids! While they can wear anything they like, it’s so much cuter if they wear Hawaiian print!
Did You Find a Kauai Luau for Your Trip?
As I mentioned earlier, the right luau will be different for every family.
Most of Hawaii’s luaus are fun, but authentic, local experiences are rare. Kauai definitely offers all of this.
I hope that my list helped you decide which Kauai luau to add to your list!