Looking for a great Hawaiian luau? Whether it’s your first visit to the islands or your fiftieth, attending a luau is at the top of most travelers’ wish lists. However, there are so many great luaus to choose from that travelers often don’t know where to start. Also, the planning process can get quite complicated, especially once you consider travel time and transportation costs, and trying to coordinate a luau with daytime activities can be challenging.
Fortunately, booking a simple luau doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming. If you want a luau that will be an easy, breezy experience, then Waikiki Starlight Luau is your best option. The Starlight Luau is located right in the heart of Waikiki and offers all the bells and whistles that you’d expect from a traditional resort-style luau. Starlight Luau is walkable from most hotels in Waikiki, has a picturesque waterfront setting, and consistently receives high praise from guests for its phenomenal Polynesian show.
The Details: Is the Waikiki Starlight Luau right for you?
Location: The Waikiki Starlight Luau is located on the grounds of the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort. The Hilton Village is a massive complex with over 3,000 rooms, so it is very easy to find and centrally located in Waikiki. If the Hilton Village happens to be too far to walk from where you are staying, you can always get there by hopping in an Uber, using public transit, or just drive yourself there if you’ll be renting a car (Hilton will validate your parking).
Setting/Atmosphere: The Waikiki Starlight Luau is set on the Great Lawn, which is an expansive grassy area that overlooks a man made lagoon and the Pacific Ocean beyond. It’s the ideal setting for a luau: outdoors, waterfront, you’ll watch a beautiful sunset and then the stars come out during the evening show (weather permitting, of course). When inclement weather occurs, the Waikiki Starlight Luau is usually moved inside to one of the resort’s ballrooms. While the indoor version is less magical, it is certainly a better alternative than having the luau canceled altogether (which often happens at other outdoor venues). The Waikiki Starlight Luau does not have an official dress code, but the overall vibe is resort casual. You’ll see lots of guests in maxi dresses and Hawaiian shirts here. Shorts and sandals are fine, but you may feel a bit out of place if you go too casual.
Schedule: Waikiki Starlight Luau operates Sunday through Thursday evenings, year-round. Check-in for the luau begins at 5 pm and the luau usually wraps up around 8 pm. It is a relatively short luau, which makes it easy to coordinate with the day’s activity without being too rushed or stressed. That said, seating is assigned at check in, so there’s a definite advantage to getting in line early.
Itinerary: Guests are welcomed with a Mai Tai and a fresh-flower lei. Live Hawaiian music is played throughout the event. There are a few activities available before dinner, such as a group hula lesson and a short demonstration about the imu – the traditional Hawaiian in ground oven. There is a luau buffet featuring traditional Hawaiian foods, regional cuisine, and some kid friendly options. After dinner, there’s a presentation of Voyage Across the South Seas, the Waikiki Starlight Luau’s trademark Polynesian show. The show features performers representing various Polynesian islands and ends with a riveting Samoan fire-knife dance.
Packages: The Waikiki Starlight Luau seats about three hundred guests, which is considered mid-sized by Oahu standards. There are two seating packages available, the more expensive package will put you closer to the stage and give you priority access to the buffet, a nice perk especially when the venue is at full capacity. (Whichever package you choose, seating within your chosen tier is assigned at check in.)
Cost: An adult “Golden Circle” level ticket at the Waikiki Starlight Luau is currently priced at $185. This includes a fresh-flower lei, a welcome Mai Tai, one additional drink ticket, the luau buffet dinner, and general seating. A “Diamond Premier” adult ticket is currently priced at $225 and includes all the same perks, plus an additional drink ticket, better seating, and priority access to the buffet.
Pros & Cons: Waikiki Starlight Luau
- Ideal Location. Starlight Luau is walkable from most hotels in Waikiki, getting there is a breeze even if you can’t walk, and it can save you transportation costs (and time) compared to luaus located outside Waikiki.
- Picture Perfect View. Waikiki Starlight Luau has an idyllic outdoor waterfront setting that is simply gorgeous (when the weather cooperates).
- Spectacular Performance. The Polynesian show and performers are top-notch, and there’s a thrilling fire-knife finale featuring multiple performers.
- Attention to Detail. Waikiki Starlight Luau has everything you’d expect from a resort-style luau: a fun lighthearted atmosphere, leis, tropical drinks, live Hawaiian music, hula lessons, imu demonstration, luau buffet dinner, Polynesian dancing, and a fire-knife performance.
- Cost. Unfortunately, there’s a premium to be paid for the Waikiki Starlight Luau’s oh-so convenient location.
- Feels a bit touristy. It’s just hard to not to feel like a tourist when on the grounds of a massive resort surrounded by hundreds of other tourists.
- Somewhat weather dependent. The luau continues on when there are passing light showers or moves inside during more severe weather.
- Not exactly exclusive. Luau grounds aren’t fenced in and hotel guests will often gather on the surrounding sidewalks during the evening show. The Hilton does not discourage this behavior, and some guests even have picnic dinners on the grass while enjoying the “free” show.
Bottom line: If you are looking for that traditional resort-style luau experience then the Waikiki Starlight Luau is probably a great fit for you. Although the Waikiki Starlight Luau does have its fair share of drawbacks these are all scenarios that you are likely to experience at other luaus as well. Overall, the Waikiki Starlight Luau’s stunning view and convenient location just can’t be beat. Click here to learn more or make reservations now.
If the Waikiki Starlight Luau just doesn’t sound like a good fit, then here are a few other alternatives that you might want to consider.
If you’re open to non-traditional luaus or are more interested in finding fun ways to spend your evenings in Waikiki, then you may want to check out the Star Dinner Cruise or the Rock-a-hula Luau Buffet & Show. Both are extremely popular evening activities and are great choices if you’re looking for a fun night out and want to stay close to Waikiki.
If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a luau that is smaller and more culturally immersive, consider Nutridge Luau, which is located just outside of Honolulu/Waikiki. Nutridge feels more like an intimate backyard-style luau, it has a beautiful view, lots of hands-on cultural activities, and they also offer round trip shuttle service for guests staying in Waikiki.