My friend and I booked this luau online prior to the trip, which was simple. We got picked up and dropped off right from the hotel, which was convenient because we didn't want to navigate dark and winding roads along the coastline back to Waikiki (plus we drank Mai Tais and Lava Flows all night).
This luau has great activities and entertainment - you arrive, receive a lei and a drink, and you can partake in a variety of fun things before dinner. We made our own orchid leis and anklets, played "island bowling", and took a fun but too short paddle on an outrigger (with a handsome male guide!).
The imu ceremony was pretty typical - the only problem was it was dusk and the lighting around the area was poor so photos didn't come out so great. The meal was just average, for me the best items were the salad with lomi lomi salmon on top, the purple (taro) rolls, and the coconut cake. The pork was very salty, and the fish and rice were bland. We opted for the sit down package, and we wished we just saved our money and went with the buffet so we could have loaded up on more salad and rolls and cake and left everything else!
The show was very nice, though by the end you are sick of hearing the entertainers call you "Cousin"...enough already! The hula dancers - male and female - are definitely eye candy! The fire dancer was great!
So, our first time in Hawaii, you gotta do a luau! I hear they can be pretty pricey! Fortunately for us, we happen to join a huge group in Waikiki for a conference and I think the price was pretty good. Anyway, we went to Paradise Cove. The location is great! The dancing show was great! The food, so-so. They pack in a lot of activities you can participate in prior to dinner and it was well organized. The entire area is sandy or with dirt, so you'll get your toes dirty. The sunset was absolutely beautiful.
This luau is located next to Ko Olina beach resort and the sunset views over Paradise Cove was beautiful.
There are several luau packages to choose from and we bought the package that included a la carte service although there is an option for self-serve buffet. We went on a Friday night and there were hundreds of guests there. The buffet line looked very long, so I think for us, the upgrade was worth it. The ticket included hotel pick up and drop off and we were greeted at the venue with leis and mai tais. Before the luau begins you get to participate in cultural games and activities which was pretty fun. During the dinner there was also a show including singing and dancing from various Polynesian cultures which was great. The fire dancing was terrific!
We walked down Kuhio Ave to the Mandarin Hotel to meet our shuttle bus to Paradise Cove Luau. Our host for the evening was "Cuzin Ryan." He was very interractive with the crowd on the bus, personally introducing himself to every passenger and told us to come directly to him with questions or concerns at any point in the evening. He designated us the "Sexy Bus." The drive to the luau was about 25-30 minutes, at Ko Olina resort on Oahu's leeward side. After disembarking, we lined up for our first Mai Tai, served in a cup about the size you'd get on an airline. But not to worry - our package included unlimited Mai Tais! After downing that first drink, we stood in line to receive leis and the obligatory photo with "Natives" in traditional hula wear. We ended up buying the photo. I'll spare you the details on the activities, you can see their website for yourself. I do have to say the food was pretty good, especially the Kalua pork! Yes, I tried the poi just because we're in Hawai'i and I wasn't impressed. The entertainment during the dinner show was excellent as well. We were returned to the Mandarin Hotel around 10:00pm as Cuzin Ryan entertained us all the way home, even playing the ukulele for us.
Paradise Cove Luau. This is a side trip, not in Honolulu. Book this through Diamond Head Travel or another local tour group. A tour bus will get you at your hotel and take you back at the end of the evening. There are activities to participate in before the meal. This is my niece and my daughter rowing an outrigger canoe with one of the Paradise Cove entertainers.
Beautiful setting. Great show. Good food. Fine entertainment.
Yes it's touristy, but how can you not do a luau in hawaii? A thing to do once - if only to get a get sunset view and yummy buffet meal! Get there as early as you can - I didn't have much time to do all the activities that stop after sunset.