During our week on Maui, we took in two Luaus. Call me a sucker for the Hawaiian combination dining and entertainment experience, I just love the luau! Many of the local hotels feature them, timeshare companies give them away... and tour operators package them with snorkel and dive trips. I often wonder if anyone really ever pays full price for them. For us, we got one with our Molokini snorkel trip and the other for free for taking a timeshare presentation for a new resort over on Kauai. This review overviews the two experiences we had with our Maui luaus.
Hyatt Regency Resort Luau and Hyatt Resort – Kaanapali.
"Drums of the Pacific" is supposed to be one of the best luaus in all of Maui. Of the two we did, we enjoyed this one the best. Both the meal and the entertainment were outstanding! Included were all the mai tai's you can handle. Keep a close eye on them, however. They do creep up on you!
As guests arrive, the first stop is for the obligatory photo as you get "lei’ed" with seashell lei. Once inside what appears to be a large picnic area, folks find their own tables. Here, you could choose to be close to the food, the bar or close to the stage. We couldn’t agree so we sat pretty much in the middle.
People at luaus are friendly so you don’t have to worry about sitting next to strangers as you won’t be strangers for long! There is entertainment to keep people interested in order to avoid boredom. Of course some would say that is what the bar is for.
Before dinner, everyone is invited to the imu pit where the pig is cooked in the ground. Having been there for the better part of the day, the pig is brought up from the ground on what appears to be chicken wire mesh. You can see the meat just falling away from the bones. And the smell... mmmmm good! It is amazing how the ancient tradition of cooking kalua pork has been passed on from generation to generation and is now an island tradition at the luau.
Once dinner begins, groups of tables are invited to the buffet. In addition to the pork, there is a beef teriyaki dish, baked fish, chicken, veggies, mashed potatoes, rice and the world famous poi. While the butt of many jokes, if you have never tried poi, you really must just to say you have. Rather bland and with no real flavor, poi is a staple in the Hawaiian diet. Light desserts including white coconut cake and bread pudding are also included on the buffet. After everyone makes their way through the line once, you are invited back for seconds if you have room. One trip through is all that we ever do and this night was no exception.
As people are eating their meals, the show begins. The dancers tell stories of their ancestors of the Pacific Islands. The choreography is beautiful as are the costumes. My favorite is always the Wedding Dance. Handsome young man, beautiful young lady dressed in white... it is just a lovely, romantic dance.
2006 prices are $76 for adults, $58 for teens, age 13-20 and $45 for kids under 13, keikis under six eat for free. For more information, check out their website at: www.best-luaus.com/Drums%20of%20the%20Pacific/ .
Old Lahaina Luau
Old Lahaina Town
This luau, while fun, was a bit more touristy than the one at the Hyatt. They seemed to herd people in like a cattle call and in general the staff were not quite as friendly. We also felt like we were packed in very tightly, without a lot of space or room to move around at our tables.
The buffet was very similar to what was provided at the Hyatt Regency. We enjoyed the food, just fine, but there wasn’t enough for a second trip to the buffet. Not an issue for us, as we were full after the first trip but others in our area were not happy that they didn’t get dessert the first time through and when they went back, there was none left. We also felt that the drinks were expensive and watered down.
The show was also not as entertaining. It was shorter than the one at the Hyatt and the performers not as good. I didn’t time the length of the show, but it seemed to also be shorter. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t horrible and had we not been to a really GOOD luau earlier in the week, we probably would have thought the Old Lahaina Luau was just fine.
Of the two luaus we did on Maui, we would recommend the one at the Hyatt even if it may be $10-$20 per person more! If however you are a large family, with kids, it probably isn’t worth the difference in price, if you are paying for it.
More information may be found at: www.oldlahainaluau.com. (I couldn’t find current pricing online.)