Looking for a luau near your hotel in Waikiki Beach? While there’s no shortage of luau options on Oahu, there’s only a handful of venues located in Waikiki Beach. Although many venues outside Waikiki offer roundtrip transportation, this can greatly increase the luau’s total cost and turn an evening event into an all-day or all-afternoon affair.
If you’ve got a tight schedule or a tight budget, then finding a luau in Waikiki Beach is a must.
Unfortunately, staying close to “home” comes with a trade-off: bigger venues that can feel a bit touristy. For intimate, culturally centric, family-style luaus you will need to travel outside of Waikiki and should expect to pay more for the experience. However, if you’re willing to sacrifice a little in this department, you can save yourself some time and money and still get to experience a Hawaiian luau while you are here.
If staying in Waikiki Beach is important to you, here are a few great options:
Best Resort-Style Luau: Waikiki Starlight Luau
The Waikiki Starlight Luau is located at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, which is centrally located in Waikiki Beach. The luau is held outdoors on the Great Lawn, a large grassy area overlooking a calm man-made lagoon. It’s a great spot to watch the sunset and enjoy an evening under the stars.
This luau has all the bells and whistles of a traditional resort-style luau: guests are welcomed with live Hawaiian music, a fresh flower lei, and a Mai Tai. Then, the evening unfolds in three parts: pre-dinner cultural activities, buffet-style luau dinner, and an after-dinner Polynesian show. The cultural activities include a group hula lesson, an imu (the traditional luau in-ground oven) demonstration, and temporary Polynesian tattoos for the kids. The buffet offers traditional Hawaiian foods, local favorites, and kid friendly options. The evening show features a lineup of talented performers and dancers representing the various Polynesian islands, but the star of the show is the finale: the fire-knife dancing performance.
The Waikiki Starlight Luau’s Polynesian show consistently receives rave reviews from past guests and the walkable location and pretty waterfront setting can’t be beat. The upgraded seating package, which will put you closer to the stage and allow you to eat sooner, is highly recommended.
Pros: Convenient location, picturesque outdoor setting, spectacular performances
Cons: Can seat up to 300 guests, long lines
Bottom line: Great option if you want the traditional resort-style luau experience in a pretty waterfront setting.
Best Non-Traditional Luau: Rock-a-Hula
If you’re looking for a luau near your Waikiki hotel and having an educational experience is not top priority, then Rock-a-hula might be the best option for you. An evening at Rock-a-hula combines an upscale luau themed buffet with a spectacular Las Vegas-style stage production. It’s the largest and most popular show on Oahu and unlike anything else on the island.
Located in the Royal Hawaiian Center, Rock-a-hula is easily within walking distance of most resorts in Waikiki Beach. The event also doesn’t start until 5:30 pm, which makes it easy to coordinate with daytime activities.
The Hawaiian luau buffet is held outdoors, under a large tent on the terrace, making it one of the few rainproof (and least likely to be canceled) luaus on Oahu. There’s live Hawaiian music, hula dancers, and one of the best-rated luau buffets in the area featuring a variety of traditional Hawaiian foods and local favorites.
After dinner, guests move inside to the Royal Hawaiian Theatre for the lively Rock-a-hula show. Starring two exceptional tribute artists paying homage to Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson. The show also features many talented local performers and musicians, Hawaiian music, Polynesian dancing, including a thrilling fire-knife performance at the end. It’s a truly unique and eclectic extravaganza, and it’s easy to see why it has become the biggest and most popular show in Hawaii.
Is it a bit touristy? Sure, but will you still have a great night and feel like your time/money was well spent? Yes, especially if you love live music and just want an easy, fun night out without having to leave Waikiki.
Pros: Convenient location and schedule, rainproof, low-price, high-quality buffet, fun vibe, and Las Vegas caliber entertainment.
Cons: Lacking in cultural activities, touristy.
Bottom line: Cheesy, but easy; overall most bang for your buck.