When planning for a vacation in Hawaii, try not to skip the luau. The luau is essential in getting that traditional Hawaiian experience. It is where you will be adorned with leis, sip Mai Tais, watch hula dancers, eat local Hawaiian food, and learn about the rich Hawaiian culture. When we returned to Hawaii for the second time, we joined the Old Lahaina Luau in Maui and it’s definitely one of the highlights of our trip!
We arrived at the Old Lahaina Luau grounds by 4:30 pm even though we were asked to check in at 5:15 pm. Since we arrived early, parking was not a problem for us. During check in, we were given a personalized leaflet with name, date of luau, seat assignments, and the list of drinks.
Leis and Mai Tais
In my opinion, Hawaiians give one of the warmest welcomes. With their sweet alohas, we were adorned with beautiful leis and offered glasses of Mai Tais and juice.
Each party was accompanied by one of the crew and assisted to their assigned seats. When making a reservation, you have the option to choose between traditional seats or table and chairs. With a traditional seat, you get to have the best view of the stage. However, you have to mind that you will be seating cross-legged on cushions and dine from a low table for 3 hours. Table & chairs may not be as close to the stage as traditional seats but you still get a great view of the performances. It might not sound as good as the traditional seat but it is more comfortable and convenient.
Each table is for 8-9 guests. Whether you choose the traditional seats or table and chairs, you will most likely be dining along with other luau guests. Don’t be shy. Start a conversation. Remember, you’ll be dining with them for 3 hours! Getting to know those in our table made our luau experience even more enjoyable. Two pairs from our group were actually locals! Isn’t that already a sign that we were in the best luau in Maui? 🙂 Even the locals preferred celebrating their special occasions in Old Lahaina Luau than anywhere else.
Activities Prior to the Program
While others get settled at their tables, we were also free to roam around the beautiful oceanfront venue. There were games, a totem pole, and a collection of local wooden crafts for sale. If you fancy a drink, the bar opens as soon as you get in.
The Unearthing of the Roasted Pig from the Underground Oven
The program started with the invitation to watch the digging of the roasted pig or the Pua’a Ka’lua from the underground oven or as Hawaiians call it, imu. The crowd formed a large circle around the imu as the roasted pig was dug from the ground. The roasted pig was wrapped in large leaves and was cooked slowly, sealing its flavors for hours, underground. This glorious Pua’a Ka’lua was the centerpiece of the luau.
Watching the reveal of the roasted pig made us eager for the feast to start. Our appetites were already high but each table had to wait to be called for the buffet. In the meantime, our server for the night brought us drinks and some appetizers to share. Even though our server had several tables to attend to, he was quick in getting and serving our orders.
The Feast at Old Lahaina Luau
The menu for the night was diverse and since it’s a buffet, you could come back for your favorites. There were also many options for vegetarians!
These are my favorite picks:
Lomilomi Salmon – Salted salmon with tomatoes and onions
Island Crab Salad – Refreshing salad made of crab, shrimp, peas and chestnuts
Maui-Style Fish – Chef’s special preparation with fresh seasonal ingredients
Grilled Beef Steak
A big advantage of sitting with the locals is getting their opinions. For example, they told us how much they love the taro dinner rolls with butter on it. We tried and they’re not kidding, it tasted good! You could find the violet bread rolls on the pile of dinner rolls.
Vegan options include Poi (steamed and mashed taro), taro leaf stew, sweet potato mash, stir-fry veggies, garden salad, fresh fruits, and a dish made of taro, sweet potato and tofu patty.
Our dinner ended with a platter of assorted desserts per table. Each dessert had a unique, distinct flavor. They were so delicious, we finished them all!
Drum, Hula and Storytelling
Aside from the food, you should join this luau in Maui to watch the remarkable performances. The night was filled with entertainment! They played the drum and presented their traditional drum dance and different hulas while narrating stories from Hawaiian mythology and Hawaii’s rich history.
It was beautiful to see the different kinds of hula. The movements and pace vary on the emotions and stories being told. The hula (including its costumes and accessories) changed as the history of Hawaii changed. The luau did an excellent job with its smooth transitions and keeping our attention the whole evening. The performers were also extremely talented! We could feel the intensity and the emotions while the stories were being told and interpreted through their respective dance.
A Night of Celebrations
The food, stellar performances, and beautiful ambiance easily made Old Lahaina Luau one of the highlights of our Maui vacation. Despite the large crowd, it left us with a unique and intimate experience! It was a night that celebrated special occasions and honored Hawaiian traditions, culture, and history.
At the end of the evening, we were given a surprise gift. We each had a banana bread to take home!
Prices for 2018 (including tax)
Adults (13 and up) – $125
Children (3-12 yrs old) – $78.12
Free for infants (0-2 yrs old)
*Check Old Lahaina Luau for updated prices
1. Make an advance reservation
Because of Old Lahaina Luau’s popularity, seats get easily sold out. It’s better to reserve your seats at least a week before your preferred date. During peak season like December and Christmas, you have to reserve immediately. We went there on a weekday on December and it was packed!
*You could book online through their website.
2. Parking is limited but there is additional parking space across the street at the mall
If you want a good parking, arrive 30-45 minutes before the call time.
3. Consider riding the Uber/taxi or stay at a hotel in Lahaina
It’s open bar. 😉
Find good hotels in Lahaina here.
4. Bring an insect repellent
Since the luau is held during late afternoon to evening, there will be a lot of insects!
5. Bring a light jacket or a cover-up
Old Lahaina Luau grounds is located along the oceanside. It gets chilly as the event progresses. A light jacket or a cover-up could come in handy.
6. If you want to get a good view of the roasted pig from the imu, go to the pit early
Once they invite everyone to the pit for the digging of the roasted pig, it gets REALLY crowded. To get a good view, go there several minutes after finding your assigned table.
7. Getting seconds
If you’re planning to get a second plate, you should do it before the performance starts. Once it begins, there will not be any break and you might have a hard time leaving your table. Before you know it, your server will be announcing the last call for food and drinks.
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