Boom! 5 Local Tips for Picking an Oahu Luau That No One Else Will Tell You
Is this really a "must do" activity?
OK so you're planning your trip to Hawaii and you're thinking:
"I really have to do a luau!"
You've started doing some research, reading reviews, looking at different websites, & you cant still make up your mind.
OK well let me tell you a secret:
You don't really have to do a luau.
Seriously just look for something else to do. Still want to do a luau? OK. Well let me tell you my personal experience of when my friend came to town and wanted to do a luau. Not wanting to discourage him to do it, I went along and made sure he had fun. I made him do all the activities. I volunteered him to do hula dancing in front of hundreds of people. I made sure I was silly, had some drinks, and really got into it. And I know he had fun and a memory of a lifetime.
So what's the bottom line?
I meet so many travellers that spent so much time researching, reading tons of reviews on yelp and tripadvisor, only to end up having a terrible time because they went in it with the wrong attitude.
I call this the "Jaded Reviewer Syndrome."
What is JRS?
Well think of it like this:
There's a movie you have been really excited about seeing, you've bought your tickets in advance and you're pumped. Now, are you going to go and read 15-20 movie reviews before you see the movie? If so, don't you think you will go into that movie with a mindset of analyzing it instead of enjoying it?!?!
That's what Jaded Review Syndrome is, and it's guaranteed to ruin your experience.
So bottom line is:
If you have a local friend, tell him or her to choose a luau for you. And if you don't know anyone, keep reading.
I've made it really simple for you to choose one by thinking about factors that have very little to do with the luau itself and instead are about what really should matter to you.
Time is money. Chances are you spent a lot of money and time to get to Waikiki. You probably want to cram in as much fun as possible. What if I told you you could spend 3-4 hours on a crowded bus to go to a luau? If this sounds like a terrible option for you (listen to your gut) then the best thing you could do is pick the luau below. Why? Because its in Diamondhead, which is the neighborhood right next to Waikiki, and therefore probably a really nice short walk from the hotel you are staying in. Don't want to walk? Take an Uber or Lyft, it will probably cost you less than $10 each way (Most other luaus charge extra for transportation anyways, so this will save you money as well.) Never heard of Uber or Lyft? Well, download one of the promo codes to get some free rides around town.
Guess what? You're in luck. The cheapest Luau in Oahu also happens to be the highest rated luau on this island! Easiest. Decision. Ever. Luaus are like airlines; they charge you more to get a better seat, to get more drinks, even to have "better service." Well even if you wanted to get all the upgrades, this will be the cheapest and best option. If you have your own car, or more than one person in your party to where lyft or uber is a cheap option then this is the luau for you! The drive over to the location is perhaps my favorite scenic drive on the island of Oahu.
#3: THE COMBO PACKAGE
Want to kill 2 birds with one stone? (disclaimer: no birds have been killed in the writing of this travel blog) Then the Polynesian Cultural Center is for you. There is so much things to do and see there or if you want you can do an island tour and finish it off with the luau. If you want to make this an "all day thing" then this is the way to go.
Polynesian Cultural Center Luau
Luau & Circle Island Combo
#4: THE FANCY OPTION
OK so you are going with your significant other, maybe it's a special occasion like an anniversary or honeymoon and you want to make this into a fancy outing. This luau is the way to go. It is in a private estate in one of the most beautiful valleys on the island. It also happens to be close to Waikiki as well, so it is not going to be a whole day ordeal; you'll get picked up late afternoon and be back to Waikiki in time to go out and check out our nightlife.
Big Kahuna Luau
#5: THE KOOLINA OPTIONS
OK so you're not staying in Waikiki, you're at the Disney Resort or some other resort in Ko Olina. Well these 2 classics are just for you. Why? Well because you're really close and when its over you'll be back to the resort quick. Chances are you already have a car if you're staying way out there. I did the Paradise Cove Luau with my friend and had a blast, but Germaine's is fun as well.
Still Not Able To Decide?
If you made it down this far and you still can't decide then it probably means you don't want to do a luau. Here are three of MY favorite things to do on Oahu!
Circle Island Turtle Snorkel
Turtle Canyon Snorkeling Lunch Sail
Dolphin and Turtle Snorkel
OK so check out the more in depth info. about luaus in general below that I have gathered from research, doing them myself, & talking to other travellers & locals about their Oahu Luau Experience.
So, what's the deal with the luau food? Is it going to be good?
Ahhh yes, the food! Will you like it? Well here's the deal: the main challenge that ALL the luaus have is balancing authentic Hawaiian cuisine with the fact that many people are picky eaters. Yup that's it. So the bottom line is simple; if you're a picky eater, you may not like the poi, you may not like the lomi lomi salmon or even the haupia..... which is why all the luaus ALSO serve typical American food that the general public eats. So, if the #1 reason why you want to go to the luau is to try Hawaiian food, just keep in mind, you may not like it, but hey at least you tried something new right?
Is it going to rain?
Yes. Its raining somewhere on the island every minute of the day, so there's a good chance that it will rain during or at some point of your luau. Most of the times it stops within minutes, sometimes it goes on for a while. If I could predict or control the weather I would be SUPER RICH, but I can't. Look at each individual luau package to see what the weather policy is, but what I would say to you is that just have fun. So you get wet, its not a big deal, just enjoy your trip!
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