One of the first reservations I made when we planned our trip was a luau. I already knew I wanted to go to a luau while we were there, but when I asked EJ what he wanted to do on our actual anniversary, he said that he wanted to celebrate at a luau. So I booked it for the night of our two year anniversary!
I narrowed it down to two choices for an authentic luau: Old Lahaina Luau and The Feast at Lele. I ultimately chose Old Lahaina Luau because their reviews were better, even though the cost was a little more. I wanted to get what I paid for and have an amazing anniversary dinner with my husband. EJ actually is the one that paid for it, so I’m glad we got his monies worth =D
Our anniversary is on June 1, and I booked the luau tickets around early April. We chose “traditional seating” where you sit on pillows eat at a low table. I chose this mainly because it was closer to the stage than the “tables and chairs” seating, better view for the show! I think the earlier you book, the better the seats. The hostess said we had really good seats!
We semi-dressed up, or I did, although I don’t think there was a dress code. Some people were in jeans and shorts, some men were in dress shirts, some hula shirts. And the ladies were in dresses to tank tops. I guess you wear what you feel like wearing.
We got there around 5:30pm to look around take pictures. I don’t think the doors officially opened until 5:45pm. On the way in, your host greets you with a flower lei and a drink (Mai Tais or fruit punch)! They show you to your table and your waiter (waitress) explains the schedule of events for the night. Even though it’s buffet-style dining, your waiter is still responsible for getting your drink orders throughout the night and accommodate any requests you may have.
The luau also provides demonstrations and crafts before dinner starts. We watched a local guy cut a coconut in half with a rock. Some local ladies told us the story of paper stamping. There were people playing a kind of bowing game (Ulu Maika) where you roll a rock between two stakes stuck up in the ground. There were many others we didn’t get a chance to watch, but they all seemed very interesting. There are also photographers that are posted in certain areas to take professional shots that you can buy after the show.
Around 6pm, they start the ceremonial digging up of the pig, I don’t remember what the official name of it is. If you want to get up close and see all the details, I suggest you get to the pit early to get a front row view. Ask someone where the pit is when you get there and linger around that area. They will make an announcement when it starts.
Dinner started around 630pm. Since we were in the “traditional seating” area, we were at one the first tables to get called up. I grabbed all my luau favorites: poke, seaweed salad, kalua pork, chicken long rice, lomi salmon, and mac rice! I’m not a fan of poi. They had it and a local told us to put it on the kalua pork to neutralize the saltiness. EJ tried it, but I didn’t bother. There were a lot of other items too for those that aren’t adventurous eaters: mixed green salad, fried rice, mahi mahi, grilled chicken, dinner rolls, etc. I didn’t bother with much of those items because I can get that anywhere. When you’re in Hawaii, eat as the locals do!
You can basically go up to get as many servings as you like, they just ask that you wait until all the tables get their first plate. After that, it’s every man for himself. I went up for a second plate of poke, but I was stuffed after that. I knew I should have passed on the bread and fried rice, but I love carbs!
The dinner show started around 7pm. The show told different stories about the islands, its history, and its people, through traditional Hawaiian/Tahitian/overall Polynesian dancing. I was amazed at how the girls could shake; the guys were pretty amazing as well. Most of them looked college-age. They all danced beautifully, and you can their passion for it in their facial expressions. This wasn’t just a job to them. I suppose for some it’s a way of life. They work to tell the tale of their people through dance.
After the show, our waiter gave us “parting gifts.” I forgot what he called them officially, but it was basically a slice of banana bread. It was delicious. It was the first time I’ve tried it with oatmeal. That changed up the flavor a little bit. And we also took that time to take pictures with him and give him a tip. I completely forgot what him name was though. If he ever sees this post, thank you so much for your hospitality and the blurry pictures you took of us haha.
On our way out, I took some pictures with the male dancers. It was too tempting not to =) And there is a table set up with the professional pictures already developed so you can just choose which ones you like and pay per picture, or choose a package.
I would give this luau a 10/10. I didn’t realize at the time, but this was EJ’s FIRST EVER luau. He didn’t tell me until that night when we were driving back to the hotel! But I’m glad I got to experience it with him, and on our anniversary night too! So I dedicate this post to him. He told me after that he loved it. I hope we get to go to another one in the future.