When you tell people you’re coming to Maui, many will say – oh you have to go to a luau. What are they talking about, and should you go?
A luau is traditionally a social gathering to celebrate an important event. It centers around traditional Hawaiian food (kalua pig roasted in an imu, poi, lomi salmon etc), Hawaiian music and hula. Luaus had their beginning around 200 years ago when King Kamehameha II started loosening the societal rules regarding kapu (forbidden) foods and also men and women eating together.
Hawaii residents still celebrate important events with luaus – first birthdays, graduations etc. However it is more likely that you as a visitor will attend a commercial luau.
On Maui there are six such commercial events. In South Maui they are all in Wailea along the Wailea Beach Walk. The Andaz, the Wailea Beach Resort and the Grand Wailea all have outdoor oceanfront luaus at sunset.
Check the links for details. In this post-covid world the buffet lineups are a thing of the past. Rather you are served traditional food at your table. There is also a band playing Hawaiian music, typically some hula and a story/show.
In West Maui there are three more
If you haven’t looked at luaus since pre-Covid, you may be in for some sticker shock. Yes, they have really gone up in price.
Is there a cheaper way to see a luau?
How about free? I’m not sure I would spend this kind of money on a nice sit-down dinner and a show, especially with little kids. But, as I mentioned earlier, all three of the Wailea luaus are located right on the Wailea Beach Walk. On any given evening there are at least one if not two on. They usually run from 5-8pm-ish. Go for a nice sunset walk on the Wailea Beach Walk, enjoy the music, enjoy the show. Then go have a nice dinner.
A few nights ago I took this video walking past the Andaz.