What’s the Best Luau for Teetotalers?

Woman holding two plates of food at a luau

What’s the Best Luau for Teetotalers?

by Mark L., February 13, 2019

A Polynesian staff member teaches a family how to play a traditional Polynesian instrument.
Lots of alcohol-free fun at the Polynesian Cultural Center

There are many common staples you’ll see at most Hawaiian luaus. Food and entertainment tend to be at the top of everyone’s list. But for many, alcohol is also a key element. That might explain how they convince all those straight-laced dudes to get onstage to dance a wobbly hula!

Drinking and even drunkenness at luaus are pretty pervasive. Many luaus hand you a Mai tai the moment you arrive. Likewise, open bars or complimentary drinks are a common practice. But what if you don’t drink alcohol, and prefer to avoid places where it’s all around you?

If you’re staying on Oahu, then we recommend the Polynesian Cultural Center’s Gateway Buffet package, Oahu’s driest feast! This family-friendly venue doesn’t serve alcohol. Instead, the PCC focuses on food,  entertainment, cultural education, and creating a fun atmosphere.

The Polynesian Cultural Center: the Best Luau for Teetotalers

Canoe Passengers ride to a new island village at the alcohol-free Polynesian Cultural Center, the best luau for teetotalers.
Ride to a new village in style!

The Polynesian Cultural Center’s Gateway Buffet provides all the fun and entertainment that you expect from a Hawaiian luau, without the booze. And with everything the package includes, you probably wouldn’t notice its absence, even if you did drink.

The PPC has so many attractions in its 40+ acre complex (food, exhibits, games, crafts, activities, entertainment) that it would be impossible to see it all in one day. Fortunately, you don’t have to.

The Gateway Package includes a three-day pass – so you can set your own pace and visit again if you’d like.

Explore the Islands of Polynesia

Children learn to weave a basket from coconut fronds from a man at the Polynesian Cultural center.
Learn to weave, hula, or play the ukulele

The park’s main attraction is the “Islands of Polynesia.” Guests can explore on their own and immerse themselves in the distinct cultures of six different Polynesian island villages. Hawaii, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Tahiti, and Aotearoa (New Zealand) each have their own exhibits, cultural activities, and presentations for guests to explore and experience.

There’s also an exhibit for Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and a Mission Settlement, depicting the daily life of the early missionaries. Free weaving and ukulele lessons are available in the settlement.

There are many other attractions besides the villages too. Hands-on activities, games, and crafts are scattered throughout the park. You can see an Imu oven up close, get a temporary Polynesian tattoo, or give spear-throwing a try. Guests can catch a canoe ride from village to village or check out the double-hulled, hand-carved canoe, modeled after ancient sailing canoes, that is on display.

If that’s not enough to keep you occupied, there’s also a marketplace featuring local vendors, a 4D immersive film, and the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame is also located on the grounds.

Feast at the Gateway Buffet

Dining Hall Luau and Buffet at the Polynesian Culturaal center
The dining hall’s massive murals

The Gateway Buffet is massive in comparison to other luau buffets, in the best possible ways. Housed inside an open-air dining hall, with floor-to-ceiling murals, and serenaded by live Hawaiian music, you’ll be glad you chose this one.  

You’ll be impressed by the buffet’s variety and options. There is a Poke bar, a salad bar, And a dessert bar. But of course, the star is always the slow-roasted Kalua pork. There are also chicken, beef, and fish entrees, and several kid-friendly menu options.

You’ll enjoy traditional Hawaiian luau foods such as poi, a purple paste made from pounded taro root which is a Hawaiian staple. There’s also Lomi lomi salmon and Haupia (coconut pudding for dessert. All this, plus a wide variety of side dishes and salads to round out the meal.

And finally, end the day with a viewing of “Ha: Breath of Life,” PCC’s award-winning stage production!

Stage performance of "Ha: Breath of Life" at the Polynesian Cultural Center.

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