Are you looking for the best luau shows in Waikiki that offer something special? Keep scrolling for my honest review of the Rock-A-Hula show on Oahu.
This Rock-A-Hula review was written by Hawaii travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.
My family LOVES going to luau shows in Hawaii. I was actually a professional hula dancer for 20 years so I admit that it takes a lot to impress me.
The Rock-A-Hula Show has been a staple in Waikiki for years and years, but I’ve never had a chance to go.
So, on my recent trip to Oahu with my 9-year-old, I figured we better check it out for myself so I could report back to you!
Want to skip all the planning and just access my detailed Oahu Itinerary complete with daily schedules, kid-friendly activities, and travel hacks? Click the button below.
What is a Luau and What Can You Expect at One?
Before we dive into this Oahu luau review, I figured it might be helpful to explain a bit about Hawaiian luaus.
A luau is an evening event that features Hawaiian food, music, and hula dancing. It usually lasts a few hours and can include some hands-on activities, demonstrations, and audience participation.
But they aren’t all the same. This Rock-A-Hula show brings back a bit of glitz and glamour of a true dinner show.
Where is the Rock-A-Hula Show on Oahu?
The Rock-A-Hula show is located in the heart of Waikiki at the Royal Hawaiian Theater. The address is 2201 Kalakaua Avenue, Bldg. B, 4th Floor, Honolulu, HI 96815.
It’s within walking distance of most of the hotels and resorts in Waikiki. That’s how we got there.
Where to Park for the Rock-A-Hula Show
There is a parking garage at the Royal Hawaiian Center parking structure (you can get there from Royal Hawaiian Avenue). Rock-A-Hula will validate your parking for a discounted rate. Check current parking rates here.
What to Expect at the Rock-A-Hula Show
The Rock-A-Hula Show is on the top floor of building B of the Royal Hawaiian Center. We popped into a few of the shops before we headed up to check-in.
We headed right to the box office to grab our tickets and then we headed over to the photo cut-outs to take some fun photos.
There are a few pre-show activities that happen after you sit down at your table but before the buffet line opens.
Hula dancers came into the outdoor covered dining area and performed a few numbers for us.
There was also an ukulele player who walked around and sang a few songs (including Happy Birthday to several people at our table)!
And there was an opportunity to learn a few hula moves. A bunch of us stood up and danced a full hula in front of the other diners.
There’s a pretty extensive buffet dinner. The main area has salads, rolls, sweet potatoes, lomi lomi salmon, noodles, rice, teriyaki chicken, fish, and more.
Then, there’s a separate area with a roast pig. It’s done more Asian-style than kalua pork. My son basically ate a plate full of pork for dinner.
There’s also a roast beef carving section, which was pretty tasty. I made sure to grab lots of horseradish to go with it!
For dessert, there’s a buffet table with fruit, haupia, and chocolate cake. There’s also a separate area for a make-your-own sundae with gelato or sorbet and a bunch of different toppings.
After dinner, you’ll head into the theatre for the show. You CAN bring your drinks with you or swing by the bar on your way for a refill. Their lobby bars are open throughout the show if you want a refill.
What’s really cool about Rock-A-Hula is that it’s a journey through some of the main milestones on the timeline of Hawaii’s history.
It kicks off with the boat days of the 1920s when ladies would dance on the docks and men would swim up to the ships.
Then it heads into the 1940s and 1950s with grass skirts and hula implements.
There’s a big section for an Elvis tribute artist to come out and do a long set based on the Elvis Aloha from Hawaii concert that is fully entertaining.
Of course, he did come out in his famous white jumpsuit and he came into the audience and handed out souvenir scarves to lots of lucky ladies (myself included)!
Then, a Michael Jackson tribute artist performs some of his greatest hits. A lot of the dancers did 80s-90s dancing which was super energetic.
It was fun to see the mix of hula/Tahitian dancing along with Michael Jackson’s songs.
Apparently, this tribute artist is one of the few endorsed by Michael Jackson’s mom!
There’s also fire knife dancing, which is always a huge hit at Hawaiian luaus. It was mesmerizing to watch!
And the show ends with a song from Disney’s Moana and a huge finale. We thought the show was epic and we’d go back to see it again.
At the end of the show, guests are invited to take photos with the tribute artists as well as some of the dancers.
Why We Chose Oahu’s Rock-A-Hula Show
My family loves attending luaus when we travel to Hawaii. We usually do at least one per trip because it’s something everyone enjoys.
But, we like to check out luaus in Hawaii that offer something special or unique.
When we heard that this Oahu show highlighted tribute artists (like Elvis and Michael Jackson) in addition to Hawaiian entertainers, we knew we wanted to experience it for ourselves.
How Does the Rock-A-Hula Show Compare to Other Oahu Luaus?
This is definitely more of a glitzy show than a traditional luau. There are big screens with videos that play to enhance what’s happening on stage.
The emcee, a Hawaii recording artist, has a fabulous array of sparkly costumes and the show is NON-STOP. Some of the costume changes are only 20 seconds long!
Is the VIP Green Room Worth the Extra Money?
We thoroughly enjoyed the green room experience.
After we checked in, we were escorted into a green room that was inspired by Elvis’ actual green room.
A photographer was there to snap photos of us on a replica couch that Elvis had. These photos were part of the package and were delivered to us at dinner.
They served us champagne (non-alcoholic was also available) and light snacks before we got a private backstage tour.
The tour was SO fascinating! It reminded me of backstage tours we’ve done for musical theater. We got to see costumes, dressing rooms, lighting, and so much more.
There were lots of great photo ops throughout the tour. I thought it was cool to try on costume accessories and get to explore backstage.
We also were first to go through the buffet AND we got front row seats to the show. Check the latest rates and availability.
Rock-A-Hula Show FAQs
Can we just go to the show and skip dinner?
YES! One of the coolest things about the Rock-A-Hula show is that you can just purchase tickets for the show. This is great for families with picky eaters.
Can we just go to dinner and skip the show?
Yes, that’s another option! If you just want to eat luau food, but don’t want to see the show, you can just get tickets for the buffet dinner. BUT, the show is really, really good.
Can I bring my own food/drink?
No, outside food and beverages are not allowed.
Are there kid-friendly meal options?
There isn’t a specific kids buffet but a few items that kids might like include teriyaki chicken, white rice, fried noodles, rolls, and the dessert buffet.
Are there allergy-friendly alternatives?
Yes! Head over to this page to find out about their vegan and gluten-free buffet options.
Are there discounts for members of the military or kama’aina?
Yes, there are special package rates to guests with a valid military or Hawaii ID. Check HERE for these discounts.
Are strollers allowed?
Strollers are allowed, but there are some restrictions if you plan on doing the backstage tour for the Green Room Waikiki Luau Buffet & Show Package. We saw some staff members helping people with their strollers inside the theatre, too.
Are there assigned seats inside the theatre?
Yes. Your seat depends on the ticket package you’ve selected. Upon entering the theater, an attendant will escort you to your designated seat.
How long is the show?
The Rock-A-Hula show is about 70 minutes and it goes from 7:40 pm – 8:50 pm.
Can I take photos/videos during the show?
You bet! Photo-taking is allowed during the show, you just can’t use your flash. Video is prohibited.
Is the Show Suitable for Children?
Yes! The music isn’t too loud and there are enough things going on across the stage to keep kids engaged.
So, Is Rock-A-Hula Show the Best Luau on Oahu?
If you’re looking for a fully entertaining show in Waikiki, it doesn’t get much better than the Rock-A-Hula show.
The show quality honestly exceeded my expectations and my son and I were fully engaged.
Plus, with it being held in Waikiki, it’s really easy for people to just walk back to their hotels/resorts.