Trip Date 08/14/2017
Posted On 05/05/2018 12:03:03
Destinations | Review | Hawaii | Maui | Luau | Old Lahaina Luau | Imu | Buffet | Hula | Romantic Travel
Before heading west to the islands, we did extensive research on Maui's lu'aus - comparing prices, locations, customer reviews and the various packages available. Since we've been married, Scott and I have attended two lu'aus and we have such wonderful memories of Paradise Cove Lu'au on Oahu, and not so fond memories of Waikiki Starlight Lu'au. We knew what we were looking for - we wanted to experience the best Maui lu'au for us, and to leave with great memories - after all, we might never get to another lu'au! Our research pointed us in the direction of Old Lahaina Lu'au, and since we wanted to ensure our choice of seating, we made reservations back in early May.
You can't go to Hawaii without attending a Lu'au, right? If you are considering devoting one of your evenings in Maui to a luau, read on for an overview of our experience at Old Lahaina Lu'au (1251 Front Street; Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii 96761).
Entering Old Lahaina Lu'auWe arrived about 30 minutes before the 6:15 PM check-in time, and had no trouble finding an on site parking space. As there was already a crowd forming, and we did not bring any printed vouchers, we decided to check-in early. The check-in process was very smooth - we provided our name to the first greeter that we we saw and were given a password and directions on where to pick up tickets. Within just a few minutes, we had our tickets and program in hand and were waiting for the event to begin.
A little earlier than expected, the gates opened and hosts began offering Mai Tais or punch to those of us in line. As we walked through the gate, we were individually greeted with a fresh flower lei and then personally escorted to our reserved seats. (We had chosen table seating at $120.00 per person plus optional gratuities and were assigned to "P-C-4 Seats 2 and 4" - the first row of table seating to the right of center stage and immediately behind guests with mat seating.) Our escort did a great job of explaining the timeline of the evening events, acquainting us with the Old Lahaina Lu'au grounds and answering a few questions that we had.
Exploring the Grounds at Old Lahaina Lu'auWe walked around the grounds pausing at the various displays designed to teach a little Hawaiian history (wood carving, hula dancing, paper/cloth dyeing, etc.) while listening to the band playing Hawaiian music and sipping our adult beverages. Although professional photographers were on sight (no obligation to purchase), as usual, we chose to photograph our memories on our own.
Just before the 6:45 PM Imu Ceremony starting time, we joined the many other guests gathered near the imu pit so that we'd have a good view as the layers were removed to finally expose the cooked pork.
The ceremony ended just as the sun was going down, so before returning to our dinner table to meet our table mates, we enjoyed the beautiful sunset.
Dinner Buffet at Old Lahaina Lu'auWhile waiting for dinner, we met and visited with the other 6 people at our table - a mom celebrating with her son who just graduated from high school, a couple on their honeymoon and a couple celebrating one year of marriage. Once escorted to the "eating house", we chose from a large selection of traditional Hawaiian cuisine served buffet style including:
- Fruits and Salads: Island Crab Salad, Pohole Salad (greens, onions & tomatoes in vinaigrette), Lomilomi Salmon (tomatoes, onions & salmon), Poke 'Ahi (marinated raw ahi tuna with onions) and Fresh Island Fruits
- Breads: Banana Bread and Palaoa (dinner rolls)
- Vegetables and Sides: Stir Fry Vegetables, Fried Rice, Sweet Potatoes, Mea'ai Ola Pono (taro, sweet potato and tofu with pineapple salsa and garlic chili vinaigrette), Lu'au Kalo (taro leaf stew) and Poi (steamed, mashed taro root)
- Entrees: Pua'a Kalua (imu roasted pork), Laulau (taro leaf wrapped pork), I'a (Maui style fish), Pipi Ko'ala (grilled beef steak), Chicken Long Rice (shredded chicken, onions, ginger and rice bean noodles in broth) and Moa (marinated chicken with pineapple and sesame seeds)
The dinner feast included unlimited return trips to the buffet (although due to the timing of dinner and the entertainment, a return buffet visit would have required missing a part of the show) plus an assortment of island desserts delivered to our table:
- Hawaiian chocolate chili pepper brownies
- Passion fruit cake
- Lavender lemon shortbread cookies
- Haupi (Hawaiian coconut pudding)
A variety of drinks flowed from the open bar during dinner as well as throughout the entire evening including sodas, juices, wines, beers and mixed drinks. We tried both a Mai Tai (just ok) and a Lava Flow (Pi'a Colada infused with strawberry) which we really enjoyed.
Entertainment at Old Lahaina Lu'auThe evening on-stage entertainment began at sunset and continued through the end of the Lu'au. The narrated performance followed the timeline from past to present starting with the history of the Polynesian migration and moving forward to the ancient Hawaiian Hula which evolved into the more contemporary style Hula.
The lu'au ended just after 9:00 PM with the hosts and performers all around the venue thanking everyone in attendance and wishing all guests a pleasant evening.
The entire evening was very enjoyable and we were extremely happy with our choice. Plus, we knew that we would certainly enjoy the surprise gift of banana bread as it would be perfect for a morning breakfast!
Reservation Tips for the Old Lahaina Lu'auAdvance reservations are needed to attend the Old Lahaina Luau:
- As seating is assigned and all tables accommodate eight people, it's best to make one reservation for your entire group to ensure that you are seated together.
- Before either calling (800-248-5828) or making an on line reservation, consult with any travel companions to decide on your seating preference - either traditional Hawaiian mat seating (closest to the stage but seated on mats at low tables with your legs crossed) or conventional tables and chairs (in rows behind those with mat seating).
- To help ensure that you get the best seating of your preferred type, make your reservation as early as possible as seating is assigned based on reservation date and seating preference. (For groups of 15 or less, cancellations can be made until 10:00 AM on the day of the scheduled luau.)
Dining on the Island of MauiAfter planning your evening luau, read our post titled "Reviews: So Many Maui Restaurants, So Little Time" for suggestions of restaurants to consider checking out during your stay on Maui.
Hawaiian Lu'ausWhich of the many lu'aus offered on the Hawaiian Islands is your favorite - and why?
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Old Lahaina Luau, Lahaina, HI, United States
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