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10 Best Luaus and Places for Traditional Hawaiian Food on Kauai



Hawaiians are known for a love of food and for great celebrations including dance, entertainment, and yes, tons of food. Luckily for visitors looking for an ono (delicious) meal and awesome entertainment, Kauai is home to some wonderful luaus that take place all over the island. Those who want to get a real taste of Hawaii can do so by trying succulent kalua pig, fresh spiced lomi lomi salmon, thick and fresh poi, or a sweet and firm piece of coconut haupia, all while watching hula dancing and fire show.

Visitors staying on the North Shore will find the Mediterranean Gourmet Luau and Luau Paina O Hanalei to be convenient options. Both provide an abundance of traditional Hawaiian food and dancing. While the former is near the end of the road on the ocean, the latter takes place high on the bluff of Princeville.

On the east side is Smith's Tropical Paradise Luau, one of the best options on the island for Hawaiian food and culture. Nearby in Lihue is the Grand Hyatt Luau is one of Kauai's longest standing, and is renowned for its extravagant display of culture and food.

Remember that luaus aren't just about wonderful and very filling food - a night at a Polynesian luau is about entertainment and celebration. Dancing, fire swinging, song, and other celebratory methods are found at each and every luau. A local staple even for birthdays and graduations, the luau is a not to miss activity.


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This is a local style spot that serves up fresh fish and seafood to take home and cook as well as eat there and take out dishes. Very local and Hawaiian food like lau lau, kalua pig, and other local favorites that can be pretty darn good. There's a good chance you'll be the only visitors in line here, but there's nothing wrong with that. You know the the quality of the seafood is good for locals, it must be good. A great place for a plate lunch to eat on site or take home a slab of fish if you have a kitchenette at the hotel.

Recommended for Luau because: Koloa Fish Market serves up some of the freshest and most traditional Hawaiian food on Kauai.

Jade's expert tip: Try the kalua pig, it's really good and always a great idea to try truly local dishes.

Read more about Koloa Fish Market →


Kilauea Fish Market
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There's a whole lot more than fish in store is the market's motto, and they're right! In addition to fresh local fish, they have Hawaiian food, an ahi fajita burrito, fish tacos, salads, plate lunches and great specials, along with grass fed beef. Seating is outdoor picnic table style, and you'll find a mix of locals and visitors enjoying fish. Price can vary depending on market price, but you can get a great meal for a generally affordable price. Very casual and ideal for lunch or to pick up a fresh slab of fish to cook back at the condo.

Recommended for Luau because: Located in lush Kilauea, the fish market serves fresh local fish in a number of healthy ways.

Jade's expert tip: Try a plate lunch to experience local food.

Read more about Kilauea Fish Market →




A hit with locals and visitors, the Hanalei Taro & Juice Co. is a spot that all visitors need to stop at and enjoy. Very local style, the restaurant is a local style lunch wagon resting roadside in Hanalei. Serving traditional Hawaiian food, but with a modern twist, this is your best bet to fill up on taro, the root crop that sustained Hawaiians for generations. Here you can find taro and many other healthy ingredients prepared with a modern twist, such as a taro smoothie, Hawaiian plate lunches, taro hummus, taro veggie burgers, and even taro acai bowls- the list goes on. A perfect place for those who enjoy a traditional diet and vegetarians too, the wagon will give you a taste of Hawaii's unique array of food. The lunch wagon run by the same family who runs the historical Haraguchi rice mill and their farms, and the taro and other ingredients are locally grown.

Recommended for Luau because: Hanalei Taro & Juice Co. is well known for serving up quick yet healthy meals.

Jade's expert tip: To taste a modern twist on a Hawaiian staple, try the taro smoothie.

Read more about Hanalei Taro & Juice Co. →


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Gaylord's at Kilohana


The flavor of old Hawaii runs strong at this circa-1930 Tudor estate, which was once the home of a sugar plantation executive. These days, the mansion and its surrounding 35 acres have been opened to the public as a series of quaint shops and this delightful restaurant. The dining room affords wonderful views and also allows diners to indulge in such fare as fresh seafood, steaks, lamb, and kalua pork. Lunch adds in lighter dishes, including sandwiches and salads, and the courtyard makes an ideal place to relax with a cool drink and good company. As one of Kauai's more upscale eatery, Gaylord's is perfect for a date night or nice family dinner.

Recommended for Luau because: Gaylord's luau is as good as the restaurant, but serves all things Hawaiian on the beautiful property.

Jade's expert tip: Make sure to make reservations for the luau rather than the restaurant.

Read more about Gaylord's at Kilohana →


Luau Kalamaku


Luau Kalamaku is an unforgettable experience that is a "must-see" for any visitor to the islands. Your cultural journey begins with craft demonstrations and Hawaiian games followed by the traditional Imu Ceremony. While enjoying your sumptuous buffet, hula dancers and musicians will delight you with an exciting luau show. The skies darken and lights dim as dancers take the stage to share an ancient Hawaiian legend. The legend, Kalamaku, expresses the Polynesians' amazing and dangerous journey from Tahiti to Kauai. Guests can choose between just watching the show or the show and meal combo. Located on the east side, so it's close to many of Kauai's hotels.

Recommended for Luau because: Luau Kalamaku is renowned for their spectacular hula show as well as their traditional Hawaiian food.

Jade's expert tip: Guests can choose between just watching the show or the show and meal combo.

Read more about Luau Kalamaku →


Surf to Sunset Oceanfront Luau


Partaking of a luau is de rigueur for first-time Hawaii visitors, and this oceanfront extravaganza on Poipu Beach is an ideal introduction to traditional Polynesian food and culture. As guests arrive, they're presented a lei and invited to view artisans at work. Then, the blowing of a conch shell marks the beginning of the festivities, and a royal processional kicks off the spectacle and the entertainment. Of course, the highlight is the food: kalua pig, poi, pineapple, poke and all the other authentic dishes. Plenty of song, dance, and exotic demonstrations also conspire to make the evening an unforgettable event.

Recommended for Luau because: Surf to Sunset Oceanfront Luau takes place on the beautiful grounds of the Sheraton and offers great food and entertainment.

Jade's expert tip: This is a convenient luau option for visitors staying in Poipu

Read more about Surf to Sunset Oceanfront Luau →


Smith's Tropical Paradise Luau


The beautiful gardens surrounding this luau make for a magical setting, and one that you'll want to explore before the night kicks in. When the conch is blown and the roasted pig set out, the feast begins. The buffet ensures that you won't go hungry and includes lomi salmon, mahimahi, chicken, beef, macaroni salad, and plenty of vegetables and desserts. A full bar is available throughout. The dramatic production that follows features a wealth of color, music, dance, and spectacle that represents the whole of the Pacific world. A wonderful environment, and Hawaiian culture and tradition can be explored via the luau, Hawaiian village and other resources.

Recommended for Luau because: Smith's is a valued resource for Hawaiian culture and traditions.

Jade's expert tip: Check out some of the nearby sacred Hawaiian places along the river before going to the luau.

Read more about Smith's Tropical Paradise Luau →


Pa'ina o Hanalei


From their position along the shores of Hanalei Bay, visitors give themselves over to the charm of this delightful luau. Festivities begin with the call of the conch, at which point the kalua pig is premiered in ceremonial style. It headlines the buffet, which also features grilled fish and chicken, fresh salads, local vegetables and fruits, and great desserts like pineapple cake and coconut pudding. The Polynesian review that succeeds it includes fire dancing, along with music and spectacle based on a variety of Hawaiian traditions. The views from the bluff are spectacular and this is the only luau in Princeville.

Recommended for Luau because: Located in beautiful Princeville, Pa'ina O Hanalei is renowned for it's abundant Hawaiian food and awe inspiring entertainment.

Jade's expert tip: Bring a camera for the fire dancing.

Read more about Pa'ina o Hanalei →


Grand Hyatt Kaua'i Luau


This hotel-sponsored luau provides a healthy dose of spectacle, music, and authentic Hawaiian foods. The evening show, Havaiki Nui, begins with a torch-lighting ceremony on the edge of the ocean, heralded by the call of the conch shell. As it progresses, the luau showcases native crafts and costume, along with music and dance performances from cultures throughout the Pacific. The menu includes traditional fare like kalua pig, fresh fish, lomi salmon, and haupia (coconut pudding). Centrally located in Lihue, this is easily reached by a short drive from visitors staying on the east, south, or west sides of the island.

Recommended for Luau because: This luau is one of the oldest and most respected on Kauai, renowned for it's traditional Hawaiian food and amazing entertainment.

Jade's expert tip: Come hungry because there's a seemingly endless array of food.

Read more about Grand Hyatt Kaua'i Luau →


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Meet Jade Eckardt

Raised on the Big Island of Hawaii, Jade has traveled the world and doesn't intend to stop, yet the Hawaiian Islands are still her favorite place. She spent seven years living on Oahu and...  More About Jade

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