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To luau or not to luau?

Belmar, New Jersey
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To luau or not to luau?

We will be in Waikiki for one week and then Aulani for the week at the end of August. I have a family of 4 so a luau will be a pricey night for us. I have narrowed it down to 3 options:

1) Ka Wa’a at Aulani... we are big Disney people, and it would be convenient while staying at Aulani. It will cost us $466. Kids activities sound fun for my girls, and they have a separate table at the buffet with kids food, which is a plus. My 11 year old is considered an adult and will cost $50 more than a kid’s price!

2) Paradise Cove Luau. Short walk from Aulani, seems to have good reviews. They also have kids activities. It will cost us $344, $122 less than Aulani.

3) Skip the luau completely and attend some free hula shows (Royal Hawaiian Center and Kuhio Beach) and save money.

I know the luau is an important part of visiting Hawaii, and I’m really torn. We can budget to make it happen, but saving money works for me too. We will be there for 2 weeks so we’ll be spending plenty of money! What is the best option? Any other suggestions?

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Waikiki
Waikiki
Oahu, HI
Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa
Aulani, a Disney Resort...
5,739 Reviews
Oahu, HI
Paradise Cove Luau
Paradise Cove Luau
2,330 Reviews
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Royal Hawaiian Center
Royal Hawaiian Center
609 Reviews
Oahu, HI
Kuhio Beach
Kuhio Beach
484 Reviews
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Hawaii
Hawaii
United States
24 replies to this topic
Oahu, Hawaii
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1. Re: To luau or not to luau?

It depends on what you expect to get out of a luau. I've had fun when I've gone but at the end of the day they're basically a buffet with Hawaiian-style food and a hula show that often is kinda cheesy. At least when talking commercial luau of the sort you're speaking of.

So anyway, they can be fun and most people I've spoken to have generally had a good time but I wouldn't necessarily say they're an absolute must-see.

If I were going to recommend one, I might actually suggest the Polynesian Cultural Center. I just checked their prices online for their Ali'i luau tickets. If you book online 10 days in advance you get a 10% discount. Also their 'kid' cutoff is at 11 so you'd pay 2 adult tickets and 2 kid tickets and the price comes out to $406 (so $60 less than Aulani).

And at least at PCC you get a lot more than just the luau. There's the different villages during the daytime with demonstrations and shows and interactive activities, there's the luau dinner itself, and then there's the HA: Breath of Life show.

The downside is that it's a long drive from Ko'Olina and a long day so that might not really work for you either but it's something to consider!

EDIT: and then I went back and saw you'd be in Waikiki part of the time. PCC does offer a shuttle option from/to Waikiki so you wouldn't have to drive at least if you didn't want to. (and of course it's a shorter drive from Waikiki than Ko'Olina)

Edited: 11 June 2018, 07:54
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Polynesian Cultural Center
Polynesian Cultural...
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Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa
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Waikiki
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2. Re: To luau or not to luau?

Another vote for PCC!

About the same price as any other luau venue in Hawaii and far more entertaining.

The drive to PCC is OK, as you can tour the island on the way, making some stops at beaches or other attractions. The drive back is OK as all you do is follow other cars.

PCC's best value is the Admission/Evening Show package with the buffet. There is entertainment all day long except for from 6pm to 7:30pm. The evening show, Ha: Breath of Life is the best Polynesian show in Hawaii.

The Ali'i Luau does have entertainment. The Admission/Evening show with the buffet does not. But with all of the daytime shows, the canoe pageant, canoe rides and the evening show, you'll have plenty of entertainment.

Plus the Ali'i Luau starts at 4pm now. If you get the Admission/Show package, you can stay in the villages until 6pm and still make the buffet. So two extra hours in the park.

For about $15, you can get upgraded seats for the evening show is seats are available. Ask at the reservation desk. No big deal if you don't get upgraded seats. The stage is huge with over 100 performers.

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Hawaii
Hawaii
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Belmar, New Jersey
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3. Re: To luau or not to luau?

Thanks! I did some research and we actually decided not to visit the PCC. It’s a long day and I think the kids will be too tired and cranky. We want to stay closer to the resort or skip it.

Dallas, Texas
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4. Re: To luau or not to luau?

I’ve been to PCC several time and also Toa Luau. As others have said PCC has the best Polynesian entertainment and its fun visiting the villages but if you are looking for something more intimate the Toa luau is great. The entertainment was excellent as was the food and they really encourage everyone to participate. It is located on the Waimea Valley grounds so you get admission to Waimea Valley included on the same day as the luau. Your kids might enjoy the walk to the waterfall and the opportunity to get in the falls. The current schedule looks like it’s available on M, T, and W. The least expensive silver tickets are $88 for adults and &75 for kids age 5-12 so it’s $326 for 2 adults and 2 kids

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Waimea Valley
Waimea Valley
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5. Re: To luau or not to luau?

I've read that about 50% of Hawaii visitors attend a luau.

You know your budget and everything else you want to do.

So not a big deal if you don't attend a luau!

There are several free hula or Polynesian shows in Waikiki.

Hula Mound on Kuhio Beach 3-4 times a week is good.

Best free one is Rockin' Rainbow Revue at Hilton Hawaiian Village on Friday evenings! Fireworks on the beach after the show!

But I am not seeing Rockin' Rainbow Revue on HHV's site any more. I sent an email a few days ago (no answer so far) asking about the show.

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Waikiki
Waikiki
Oahu, HI
Kuhio Beach
Kuhio Beach
484 Reviews
Oahu, HI
California
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6. Re: To luau or not to luau?

Hmmm ... there are a bunch of free hula shows. I would go that route. I would opt for free and flexible - but would require a bit of research on your part to know the whens and wheres. (We will help you, of course, because we are nice.)

I think you are on the right track. With so many other options - is a full hula show what you want?? Priority? And only you know how quickly your kids will run-out-of-gas sitting through the show.

Belmar, New Jersey
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7. Re: To luau or not to luau?

I really appreciate the input! Coming from NJ his could be a once-in-a-lifetime trip so I want to make the most of it. But the more research I do, the more I feel it’s not 100% necessary to experience the luau. We have a little over 2 months before our trip. Do you think it would be possible to book a luau when we’re there or will they be booked?

California
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8. Re: To luau or not to luau?

<<Do you think it would be possible to book a luau when we’re there or will they be booked?>>

Impossible to say. August is a busy month. But you won't want to grab any 'ol luau from some street hawker at the last minute.

There is SO much to see and do on Oahu. So very easy to fill your days and nights. Please don't worry.

Please tell us again where on Waikiki you are staying.

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Oahu
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Kapaa, Hawaii
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9. Re: To luau or not to luau?

We didn't go to a luau our first visit to Hawaii. We lived in Hawaii for almost a year before we ever went to one. I love going to them go to the one at the Aulani for sure since you already decided against the Polynesian Cultural Center. Just don't go to Paradise Cove, it's lame!,

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Hawaii
Hawaii
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Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa
Aulani, a Disney Resort...
5,739 Reviews
Oahu, HI
Polynesian Cultural Center
Polynesian Cultural...
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Paradise Cove Beach
Paradise Cove Beach
319 Reviews
Oahu, HI
Belmar, New Jersey
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10. Re: To luau or not to luau?

Were staying at the Hyatt Regency for the first week, then Aulani for the second week.

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Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa
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