Luaus are one of those big touristy attractions near the top of everyone’s lists when it comes to things to do in Hawaii. After living on Oahu for a year, we’ve been to two luaus. Both times were when we had friends visiting. Our goal is to try to go to all of the luaus that the island has to offer to see which we like best. For now, this is a comparison of the Paradise Cove luau and the luau at the Hale Koa hotel.
Paradise Cove: I bought the standard tickets for $49.00/adult and $37.00/child 4-12 through the Leisure and Travel office on post. Each ticket included entrance to the luau, a shell lei, mai tai greeting, credit for two alcoholic drinks, activities, entertainment and dinner. Luaus at Paradise Cove (in Ko’Olina) happen seven days a week from 5:00-9:00pm.
Hale Koa: Since the Hale Koa, in Waikiki, is strictly for military, I was able to buy the tickets online for the same price as they would have been had I gone to the Leisure and Travel office. Both Veronica and Adriana could have gone for free, but I decided that an extra $10.00 each would be worth it for them to have their own seat and plate. Each ticket at the Hale Koa included everything that Paradise Cove offered, minus the drink credits. The luau lasted from 5:30-8:30pm and only happens on Mondays and Thursday.
Paradise Cove: Since I bought the cheapest package, our seating was off to the side. Seating was first come, first serve, which worked in our favor since we were there pretty early. Although our seats were off to the side of the main stage, we still had a great view. The only down side to our seats was that they were uncovered. Not sure what would have happened in the event of rain, but with the sun blazing, it was pretty toasty.
Hale Koa: Seating for this luau was assigned when I purchased the tickets. The website automatically gives you the best possible seats for your group, although you have the option to change them. I’m pretty sure that all tickets for the Hale Koa luau are the same price, however there is a lower section closest to the stage and a slightly elevated section behind it.
Paradise Cove: I thought Paradise Cove had far more activities prior to dinner to choose from. There was a canoe trip, spear throwing, lei making, tattoos, palm crowns. There were also a ton more people at Paradise Cove, so sometimes the wait got to be annoying. For the Imu Ceremony (where they take the roasted pig out of the ground), we sat in a large theater type thing and they brought the pig around for everyone to see.
Hale Koa: We made crowns and orchid bracelets before sitting on mats on a large grassy area for some entertainment. The guy running things was pretty funny. After he climbed the palm tree, we were directed back to the Imu Ceremony where we were able to stand and watch before heading to our tables for dinner.
Paradise Cove: With the standard tickets, dinner was buffet style. Each row of tables was released one at a time to go get food. On the menu was: salad (green, macaroni, potato), rolls, fish, pork, rice and probably a few other things that I’m forgetting. Plus a dessert table with a bunch of assorted treats.
Hale Koa: Dinner at the Hale Koa was delivered by a waitress. We started off with three different salads and fresh pineapple at the table. Then, we were each brought out a plate which included: the best Kalua pork I’ve ever had, fish, chicken, beef, rice, potato, and this awesome fried banana thing. For dessert we each got a coconut custard thing and a piece of coconut cake.
Paradise Cove: The shows at both luaus highlighted the culture and dancing of the Polynesian Islands. The show was a little long for our liking and the kids were ready to go by the end.
Hale Koa: We enjoyed the shorter highlights of each different culture. At the end of the show, they did a really touching tribute to the troops. Overall, we enjoyed the show part at the Hale Koa better.
We really weren’t able to choose which luau we preferred. We loved both of them for different reasons. With the kids though, the Hale Koa is probably the better option. We have a few more visitors lined up, so we’ll see how other island luaus compare.
Have you ever been to a luau?