So here's a question we sometimes get - what is a luau, and should we bother going?

A luau is a traditional Hawaiian feast, typically scheduled to celebrate an occasion (such as a baby's 1st year birthday luau). It will include lots of food and music and sometimes hula.

There are several good tourist-oriented luaus on Maui. These will typically be served buffet style, include an imu-roasted pig and other Hawaiian ethnic foods and include a cultural presentation in form of song and dance. Usually they take place next to the ocean at sunset. They are really neat. Our first year on Maui we attended three (yes three) with family who visited us. Three luaus (all at the Grand Wailea) in four months was a little much. But the food was awesome!

Picture taken at the Honua'ula luau in Dec 2010.
It's a fun way to experience a bit of Hawaiian culture (even if it is totally geared to tourists). If you don't care so much about the food but want a bit more of the culture, check out the 'Ulalena show in Lahaina. It's an indoor (no ocean setting) live show with song and dance, definitely worth seeing!

According to online polls the most popular luau is the Old Lahaina Luau which takes place near the Lahaina Cannery Mall at 1251 Front Street. Friends just went on Sunday and said it was very well done. Keep in mind, from Kihei/Wailea you need to plan on at least an hour's drive to get there. Please do not drink and drive.

Closer to home, we currently have two luaus in Wailea. The Grand Luau at Honua'ula (at the Grand Wailea hotel) is on an oceanfront lawn. The second is the Te Au Moana Luau at the Wailea Beach Marriott. A friend posted a recent review with lots of pictures for the Marriott luau.

There goes the Honua'ula's imu pig to be carved for dinner - yum!
Yet another option which is a sit-down dinner as opposed to buffet is the Feast At Lele (also in Lahaina).

How to choose? Read up on the different luaus - Tripadvisor is often a great source of information. Look at the pictures and read the reviews. Our friends really enjoyed the Old Lahaina Luau, however, they preferred the Honu'alua luau which they had seen two years ago as it included fire dancers (they have boys).

So how do you book a luau, and do you need to book ahead? Yes! If this is a must-do on your list, please book ahead! Luaus are typically not held daily, and particularly in high season you may be out of luck if you wait until you arrive on Maui to book. Luau tickets are typically in the $100+ range which usually includes a large buffet dinner (come hungry), drinks and entertainment. You can either book directly or through a concierge which may offer special deals. Do be wary of 'luau tickets for $20', there will usually be a hitch, such as a time share presentation involved. Some people don't mind, others do. Costco offers discounted tickets for the Honua'ula luau (Grand Wailea). You can buy these online or in the store, but then will have to call the resort to confirm a date.

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