The Feast at Lele.
I had read at www.adventuremaui.com that this was the best luau in all the islands - so I booked it. While it was a glowing endorsement saying that it was the best luau in all the islands, the description at the website still did not do it enough justice. The food and entertainment were fantastic. The luau provided a history of the migration of Polynesian people throughout the South Pacific, and eventually to Hawaii. They provided food from New Zealand, Samoa, Tahiti, and Hawaii. There were three delicious dishes from each region, as well as two or three songs and dances from each of the areas. In addition to more food than anyone could possibly eat, all drinks (including alcohol) were free. The Hawaiian band was outstanding.
We arrived at Old Lahaina Luau at 5:10 pm and the parking lot was already full. They told us to park at the overflow parking lot at the Cannery Mall across the street but we were able to find some street parking that was a little closer instead. Once we parked, Chris just changed his shirt right there and we went inside.
The luau area was absolutely gorgeous! It was very open, intimate, and looked out to the ocean with sail boats in it. When you arrive, you are greeted with a fresh orchid lei, offered a mai tai or non-alcoholic drink, and then taken to your seat so you know where it is. Before the luau began, we walked around the oceanfront area of the luau, where they had professional photographers taking photos and crafts people making and selling crafts, like nut leis and wooden tikis. I sat down and learned to make a fresh plumeria hair pin for my hair and it was so beautiful! We then took some photos with the professional photographers.
At 5:45 pm, people starting to gather around the imu, the traditional Hawaiian underground oven, signaling that they were going to unearth the pig. Two employees unburied the pig from the mound of dirt, which looked like a lot of back-breaking work, and then placed the cooked pork into a big metal pan. You could see the steam rising as they unburied it and the meat was already falling
off the bone when they moved the pig to the pan. It looked and smelled delicious!
Once the kalua pork was out of the imu, we took our seats and dinner started. The food was served at a buffet and it was all-you-can-eat. The menu included Kalua Roast Pork, Laulau (Pork wrapped in Luau leaf steamed to perfection), Poi, Ahi Poke (marinated raw Ahi tuna), Big Island Sweet Potato, Grilled Tenderloin Steak, Chicken Long Rice, Island Style Chicken, Maui Style Mahi-Mahi, Stir Fry Vegetables, Local Style Fried Rice, Island Crab Salad, Taro Leaf Salad with Coconut Sauce, Pohole Salad (fern shoots), Lomi Lomi Salmon (raw salmon mixed with tomatoes and onions), Banana Bread, Fresh Island Fruit, and taro rolls. The food was MUCH better than the Polynesian Cultural Center’s luau. My favorites were still the ahi poke, lomi lomi salmon, and chicken long rice.
The hula show began at 6 pm. The show was wonderful! It displayed different types of hula with men and women, lots of costume changes, and some live Hawaiian music! It was beautiful and lasted until 8:15 pm, which was just the right length! Unlike Polynesian Cultural Center’s show, I didn’t get bored and I was entertained the entire time! Hula dancing is truly a beautiful art. I’m glad I got to see such talented performers. Dessert was served around 7:40 pm while the show was still going. They bring a tray of desserts to your table and included tropical fruit tarts, brownies, chocolate-cups filled with creme, and haupia, which is like coconut jello.
Video of Old Lahaina Luau hula show
When the show ended, the MC asked honeymoon and anniversary couples to dance on the stage and we were tipped off by one of the professional photographers that was the signal to beat the rush and buy our photos now. So we snuck away from our table to the back of the luau, where they had table with all the photos. I believe the photo package we purchased was $40 for four 8×10 photos, not a bad price compared to the cruise ships!! The dancers were around to take photos with, as everyone was leaving the luau.
When coming to Hawaii, there are many luau options on different islands. After reading quite a bit about the different luaus, we picked Old Lahaina Luau because it was highly recommended by “Frommer’s Hawaii”, featured on Travel Channel, and called “the most authentic Hawaiian luau” and “best luau in the Hawaiian islands” by several travel editors. We are very happy we chose this luau and had a wonderful time!! I would highly recommend it to anyone.
The Old Lahaina Luau offers two seating categories, either cushions with low tables near the stage, or conventional tables.If you can get the low tables with cushions, go for it, you'll have a great time with what is reputed to be the most honestly Hawaiian luau available. The setting is beautiful, the food is good, and it's nice not to feel surrounded by a corporate hotel host. BUT! ... we opted for the conventional tables for comfort. Aaarrghh! After dinner, the waiters came around and cleared our tables and moved us to plain chairs on the very extreme side. It was very difficult to see the stage over other guests and from that angle. It would be like spending big bucks for a Broadway show and being seated behind a pillar. We moved our chairs a few feet to a vaguely better position, and were chastised for doing so by the staff. My son and I wound up sitting on our chair backs (OUCH) just so we could see. At the end, when applause was invited for the cast, musicians, and drummers the drummers were a surprise -- we had never seen them from our vantage point. I would pay maybe $25 for this dinner and the seats we had, but $70 was ridiculous. Very, very disappointing. Caveat emptor!
This is one of the best rated Luau's in all of Hawaii. I agree with the ratings! Don't miss this experience if you get to Maui!! Expensive, but well worth the cost. You start off with drinks (open bar), then the meal (more than you can eat), then the show. The show consists of dancing girls and guys in hula costumes from various time periods in the history of Hawaii. The language and the music is wonderful. The trajic stories will bring a tear to your eyes. The guys will enjoy watching the girls dance and the girls will enjoy the guys dance. See travelogue on our Maui page.