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Is the Tahiti Nui Luau in Hanalei, Kauai Worth It?

Are you looking for the best luaus in Kauai? Keep scrolling for my honest review of the Tahiti Nui Luau in North Shore Kauai.

I’ve been to a LOT of Kauai luaus. As a former professional hula dancer, I truly love attending luaus and being immersed in Hawaiian culture.

We stayed in North Shore Kauai during our last trip which gave me the perfect excuse to check out the Tahiti Nui Luau. It’s been on my bucket list for years but this was the first year that it worked for our itinerary.

Keep scrolling to read my honest Tahiti Nui luau review.

What is a Luau and What Can You Expect at One?

Before we dive into this Kauai luau review, I figured explaining a bit about Hawaiian luaus might be helpful.

A luau is an evening event that features Hawaiian food, music, and hula dancing. It usually lasts a few hours and includes hands-on activities, demonstrations, and audience participation.

But they aren’t all the same. The Tahiti Nui Luau is pretty small and takes place indoors next to their restaurant.

Where is the Tahiti Nui Luau on Kauai?

The Tahiti Nui Luau is located in North Shore Kauai, about an hour from the Lihue Airport. The address is 5122 Kuhio Hwy, Hanalei, HI 96714.

There is limited free on-site parking in their closest lot as well as an overflow lot across the street.

If you get there early, you can check out the local galleries and nearby boutiques!

What to Expect at the Tahiti Nui Luau


We arrived about 10 minutes before the luau started, and it was sort of weird. We basically just waited in a fenced-off area outside next to the restaurant.

There wasn’t anyone there to let us know what was going on and the doors stayed shut until exactly 6 p.m.

At 6 p.m. the doors opened and people gently pushed their way to the front (there was no line) and someone started checking names off a list to enter.

Guests had the option of a mai tai or fruit punch as soon as they entered. There was no lei greeting or photo op.

Image of sliced pineapple at the Tahiti Nui luau
The pineapple was on the table when we arrived.

Live Music and Imu Ceremony

There weren’t really any pre-show activities like they offer at other luaus. They did have a fabulous musician who played while people enjoyed their cocktails and found their seats.

Image of a Hawaiian musician at the Tahiti Nui luau
Here’s the musician who played when we arrived.

Then, they invited everyone to come outside to watch the imu ceremony. This is where they take the roasted pig out of the underground oven.

Image of an imu ceremony at the Tahiti Nui Luau in Hanalei Kauai
They uncovered the imu before dinner.

They told us that there are no longer any local pig farms, so they didn’t do a whole pig but chopped-up pieces that were in aluminum trays. That was kind of weird.

But after the ceremony, they offered tastes of the roasted pork and it was SO tasty!


This was a buffet luau so they invited us up table by table to get our food. There was a great assortment of kalua pork, fish, teriyaki chicken, poi, salad, macaroni salad, and more.

My friend is vegetarian and gluten-free and she was able to find enough stuff at the buffet. They also offered to grab her something from the kitchen if she wanted.

The buffet was set up in a convoluted way. We walked around the table and then had to snake back for dessert, which meant a tight squeeze.

But the food itself was really, really good! I saw lots of people get up and go back for seconds.

Luau Show

The show was about an hour long and it kicked off with a man blowing a conch shell.

Then, the dancers came up to perform hula kahiko, which is the ancient style of hula dancing.

Image of women dancing hula with feathered gourds
It was fun to watch hula dancing with implements.

Later, they performed the modern style of hula called hula auana. This included hula implements like uli uli (feathered gourds), ipu (gourd drum), and pu ili (split bamboo).

Hula Lesson

My friend and I went up on stage to participate in the audience’s learning of how to hula dance. I always think this is a fun time!

Image of two women learning hula at the Tahiti Nui luau on Kauai
My friend and I enjoyed learning hula on stage.

They taught us the hukilau (which is popular for luaus) and we had a great time!

Tahitian Dancing

There was also a section of Tahitian dancing, which is always exciting! The costumes were great and the drumming was excellent.

Tahitian dancing at the Tahiti Nui Luau on Kauai
Here’s the Tahitian dancing.

The dancers were really talented and the entire audience was mesmerized.

Tahitian Lesson

There was a bonus audience participation. This time, the dancers came into the audience to select participants.

Image of Marcie Cheung learning Tahitian dancing at the Tahiti Nui luau
My dress doesn’t show my epic hip shakes!

I was selected along with some guys. It was a lot of fun and the guys were quite entertaining!

Fire Dancing

The show ended with Samoan fire knife dancing. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it performed indoors for a luau, so that was cool.

Image of fire dancing at the Tahiti Nui luau
Here’s the fire knife dancer.

The chief did a great job and the audience was really into it!

Why We Chose Kauai’s Tahiti Nui Luau

We mostly chose it because it was just 10 minutes from where were staying in Princeville. We really didn’t want to drive for an hour or more to do a luau in Lihue or Poipu.

Plus, it’s an indoor luau, and since we were visiting Kauai during the rainy season, I figured it was the safest bet.

How Does the Tahiti Nui Luau Compare to Other Kauai Luaus?

This is definitely one of the smallest Kauai luaus I’ve been to. It’s also indoors, which is hard to find.

There were minimal dancers, but they were really talented.

If I had brought my kids, they probably would have missed having pre-show activities and might have gotten a bit bored. They also would have asked why we didn’t get leis.

But I went with a group of 8 women, and the drinks were flowing, and the food was great!

It rained during our luau and it was great to not have to stress about it being canceled due to weather.

Tahiti Nui FAQs

What exactly is a luau?

A luau is a traditional Hawaiian feast with hula dancing, Polynesian music, and Hawaiian food.

What kind of food is served at this luau?

This luau had roasted sweet potatoes, macaroni salad, lomi lomi salmon, kalua pork, chicken, rice, salad, and more.

What should I wear to this luau?

Since it’s indoors, you can wear whatever you like. I wore a dress with a sweater. Most people wore dresses or Aloha shirts.

How long does this luau last?

The entire thing is 2 hours long.

Do I need to book tickets in advance?

Yes, since they only operate on Tuesday and Wednesdays, it books up quickly.

Are vegetarian or special dietary options available?

Yes, they can accommodate people with dietary restrictions.

Is transportation provided to and from the luau?

No, you’ll need to figure out your own transportation.

So, Is the Tahiti Nui Luau the Best Luau on Kauai?

If you are looking for a laid-back luau in North Shore Kauai with really good food, this is a great fit!

It’s perfect for honeymooners, families with babies, and all kinds of adults.

It’s not my top pick for families with kids simply because there aren’t pre-show activities or a more elaborate show.

But, I thought it was a great value for the price and it was a really fun time!

Looking for more Kauai luau reviews? Check out my reviews of Smith Family Luau, Luau Kalamaku, Luau Ka Hikina, Ahi Lele Fire Show, and Auli’i Luau.