We celebrated Ianiv’s birthday in Hawaii with a trip to the Paradise Cove Luau. Though we knew Aiden would have enjoyed the music of the luau, we chose to have a date night on our own to celebrate Ianiv’s birthday – having two wonderful grandmas with us on the trip made such a thing possible!
There are 5 luau locations in Oahu, from what I can tell, and one was at our hotel, the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Starlight Luau. Though we could see from our hotel room that this luau was quite spectacular, with 5 fire dancers!, we wanted to get away and see another part of the island for our date night. We decided that a structured day at the Polynesian Cultural Centre was not right for Aiden at this age, so we passed on their luau as well, even though it is rated very highly. We chose the Paradise Cove Luau for what looked to be a good ‘experience’ along with the buffet and show.
Paradise Cove is located as part of the Ko Olina Resort on the leeward coast of Oahu. The area boasts a stunning sunset setting with a wide open space for activities before the luau including lei making, tattoos, canoeing, and games of skill. Periodically they draw your attention to a demonstration, including the Shower of Flowers. We were able to take some great photos throughout the evening, though we also did get sucked into buying a souvenir photo of us as a couple (yet to be scanned).
Before the buffet, the guests are gathered in an amphitheatre to reveal the roast pig and to watch some dancing – additional performances were shown during / after dinner, including a fantastic fire dancer. I did feel disappointed that Aiden was not there for that, although I was glad for the quiet time for the rest of the night!
The dining area itself was probably my biggest disappointment – I found the folding tables, chairs and plastic tablecloths a bit ‘cheap’ looking, though I’m sure it’s the most functional. Depending on your luau package, you either line up for a buffet or are served at your table. The food was ok, though not fantastic. I wasn’t feeling super great for this night, but I did find the buffet a little limited and would have liked to see a couple more dishes to round it out. The Kalua Pig was too salty for me, but I’m not sure if that’s atypical of the dish.
Overall, we enjoyed the experience of the luau, though neither of us were overly impressed by the meal. It did sound like the luau at our hotel had more ‘upscale’ food for the buffet. The location was beautiful and the activities were fun for all ages. We did get rained on a little bit during our meal, which would be a downside to any luau I suppose!
Since the Paradise Cove Luau is not in Waikiki, they offer a complimentary bus service that took us to and from our hotel. The bus driver offered his own form of entertainment for the trip, which was fun.
Have you ever been to a luau? What were your thoughts?