Mark Loproto
Posted on May 8, 2019

The Best Luau on Kauai: Luau Kalamaku

The Best Luau on Kauai: Luau Kalamaku

by Mark L., Last Updated, January 1, 2024


sunset and stars on a road outside of Lihue, on the island of Kauai.
Everything seems a little more magical on Kauai!

If you want the real Hawaiian experience, start with a luau.

After all, you wouldn’t fly to Rome and skip the Coliseum. And if you traveled to Japan, it would be weird to skip out on a traditional tea ceremony. So if you go to Hawaii and don’t experience a luau…did you even go? Sure, soft white sand and perfect weather are the main attraction for most pleasure-seekers, but there are many more wonders to explore.

One of the best ways to get an authentic Hawaiian experience is with a traditional luau. It’s the perfect way to experience a cultural phenomenon that developed in this gorgeous tropical paradise.

Meanwhile, luaus on the laid-back and quirky island of Kauai, are just a bit more, well, magical. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Kauai’s Luau Kalamaku is one of the most special luau experiences you could hope for.


What Makes Luau Kalamaku the Best Luau on Kauai?

Kauai’s Luau Kalamaku is located on the historic Kilohana Estate just a few minutes outside Lihue.

For many visitors, luaus are an introduction to Hawaiian history. The typical luau brings to life key moments of ancient Hawaii and the Polynesian voyagers who first settled on the islands. Luaus and luau performances typically showcase early Hawaiian foods and customs, and traditional music, dance, instruments, and costumes of early Polynesians.  

Luau Kalamaku takes this Hawaiian history lesson a step further by giving visitors a glimpse of plantation life as well. As it is set on Kauai’s historic Kilohana Plantation, this only makes sense. Before the luau, guests can either tour the grounds on foot or by an antique wooden train. Or they can wander through the restored mansion that has been converted into shops.

After touring the grounds prepare for a luau feast, complete with an imu ceremony, traditional Hawaiian cuisine, and an open bar. THen after dinner enjoy of performance of Luau Kalamaku’s award-winning show featuring Polynesian dancing, live music, fire-knife dancing, and flaming poi balls!

Why settle for a sub-par luau when the best luau on Kauai is eager to welcome you?


Explore Kauai’s Historic Hilohana Plantation

Agricultural lands at the Kilohana Plantation, from aboard the train tour
See the whole estate on the optional train tour.

Kilohana Plantation was established in the late 1800s when Albert Wilcox, the descendant of early missionaries, purchased a 700-acre tract of land. In the 1930s, Albert’s brother Gaylord took over operations of the Grove Farm Plantation, expanding the plantation to 23,000 acres. Sugar plantations were a major contributor to the local economy, and were the driving force behind much of Hawaii’s early immigration. 

Gaylord built an elegant 16,000-square-foot mansion, the first of its kind on Kauai. The Art Deco-influenced English Tudor manor retains much of its original beauty. Over the years, the owners have lovingly restored the structure to its original glory.

Today it is open to the public and home to the Shops at Kilohana. The shops are built into the bedrooms, sunroom, living quarters, and sitting rooms. This is a great opportunity to do some shopping for locally made souvenirs. You can browse through crafts, jewelry, and art boutiques, or sample locally distilled rum. All while you appreciate this lovingly restored historic home. You can also meet local artisans at the outdoor craft fair. 

The grounds have only been open for public enjoyment since 1986. As you stroll through the manicured pathways of the estate, you’ll encounter quaint vistas that give you a glimpse into what the Hawaiian plantation era was like. Meanwhile, the agricultural land remains a working farm today. It’s home to a 60-acre orchard, and assorted crops and livestock. Some ingredients served at the luau are grown right on the property.


All Aboard the Plantation Train Tour

A train engine and passenger car at former sugar plantation.

Guests can also explore the gardens and grounds on foot or hop aboard the open-air wooden train for a guided tour of the plantation. From the train, you’ll get to see most of the 100-acre+ plantation and learn more about its history. During the tour, the train also climbs through a rainforest and makes a stop to let passengers feed and pet the farm animals. 

As the antique wooden train whisks you around you’ll hear the full story of the plantation from the fun and knowledgeable conductor and guides. Learn about the fascinating history of the ranch as you chug along among rows of fruit trees, tropical wildflower beds, and rare hardwood trees. 

The train arrives back at the “depot” just in time for the torch lighting, imu ceremony, and the start of the luau feast. The train ride requires an additional fee, but there just isn’t a better way to take in the otherworldly beauty of the setting. 

Once you’ve explored Kilohana, it’s time for the luau that awaits. This tropical celebration features a lavish luau dinner, an award-winning production, and an open bar!


Enjoy a Luau Feast and an Open Bar

Feast on delicious island cuisine
A luau feast awaits at Luau Kalamaku!

One of the highlights of any luau is the preparation of the imu, a traditional fire pit used to bake a whole pig, together with local vegetables and side dishes. Lava rocks line the pit and keep the heat going for hours, producing juicy, tender meat with a subtle flavor.

Dinner is served buffet style, with seating located inside an open-air pavilion. Hula dancers and musicians will perform while you dine on kalua pork, poi, and other local favorite

The luau menu is sure to satisfy even the pickiest eater. It features traditional luau favorites such as kalua pig and lomi lomi salmon. However, as you fill up on Hawaiian cuisine and enjoy flavorful tropical drinks, be sure to save room for dessert! There’s a banana cream tart, a pineapple inside down cake, and everyone’s favorite: Haupia (coconut pudding).

These dishes reflect the eclectic quality of Hawaiian cuisine, combining Asian, European, and Polynesian styles to produce unique flavors. Fresh salads, vegetables, and tropical fruits make for a colorful plate to please the senses. 

Of course, there’s rice, poi, mashed purple sweet potatoes, and other staple foods that make for a happy, full belly. But make sure you leave room for dessert! Pineapple upside-down cake and haupia, a delicious pudding made from coconut cream, are just two of the sweet options to end your meal. 

And don’t forget about the open bar which is unparalleled in selection and quality.

As dinner draws to a close, turn your attention to the stage.


Luau Kalamaku’s Award-Winning Show

Fire knife danceer performs, placing two flaming blades to his mouth
You’ve never seen a show like this before!

Get ready for an unforgettable show. The evening performance includes hula, fiery poi ball twirlers, fire-knife dancing, and the musical rhythms of Polynesia.

This is a heartwarming original theatrical production that tells a story. The story culminates with a thrilling dream sequence that features flaming fire poi balls and traditional fire knife dancing. You’ve never seen a luau show like this before!

Watch the tale of the brave Polynesian adventurers who sailed the open ocean to arrive on the pristine shores of the Hawaiian Islands. The thrilling story tells of the first voyages from Tahiti to Kauai, from the viewpoint of a goddess, a prince, and a fire-breathing dragon.

Of course, the show wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t include a spectacular fire-knife performance and flaming poi ball dances. The extraordinary skill and traditional moves that will send chills through your body.

Ancient as the tale may be, Luau Kalamaku uses state-of-the-art stage equipment and multimedia to captivate the senses.


Need We Say More?

Listen to the call of the handmade drums! Every true Hawaii vacation should include an authentic luau experience. You can trust us when we say that while every luau is special, Luau Kalamaku comes in head and shoulders above the others.  while the performances are simply the best on Kauai. And you’ll remember the ono (delicious), food for years to come too!


Click here to book the best luau on Kauai, Luau Kalamaku!

Luau Kalamaku dancers smile on stage in elaborate costumes.

Hawaiian Luaus: 10 Reasons Why You Should Go Hawaiian Luaus: 10 Reasons Why You Should Go

by Suzanne G., March 20, 2024 You may have heard that Hawaiian luaus are touristy, expensive, and even a little

Hawaii Travel Tips for 2024 Hawaii Travel Tips for 2024

Hawaii Travel Tips for 2024 by Suzanne G., February 23, 2024 No matter what some headlines might say, Hawaii is

How to Find the Best Luaus on Oahu How to Find the Best Luaus on Oahu

How to Find the Best Luaus on Oahu by Suzanne G., Last Updated January 28, 2024 What are the best


Get started by Picking Your Island

We Compare The Best Luaus On The Island So You Can Choose The One That's Best For You

To top