I recently went to the Paradise Cove Luau in Hawaii and wanted to share all about my experience. After all, there are dozens of luau to choose from on Oahu, and you want to make sure you visit the right one.
There is a lot to love about Paradise Cove Luau, but also some things to consider when deciding if it’s right for your vacation. Here are a few highlights of this fun activity:
- It’s right by the ocean, which is surprisingly rare for Oahu luau.
- It’s in Ko Olina, over 30-40 minutes from Waikiki (and will take even longer during rush hour).
- There are lots of great activities and food, which I’ll share more about ahead.
- It can feel somewhat crowded, but the staff manages it very well.
Keep reading to discover more about Paradise Cove Luau, including crowd level, menu, activities, and my own personal experience and advice for visiting.
Paradise Cove Luau is located on the island of Oahu, in the upscale resort area of Ko Olina. This is where you’ll find the Four Seasons and Disney’s Aulani Resort, but it’s 30-40 minutes away from where many visitors stay in Waikiki.
Is Paradise Cove Luau worth the drive from Waikiki? You’ll make that decision for yourself based on the info I’ll share below, but I didn’t mind taking the drive to enjoy such a fun, immersive experience.
Transportation to Paradise Cove Luau
You can drive yourself to Paradise Cove Luau (they have lots of parking), or add round-trip shuttle service to your booking for an additional fee.
What to Expect for Your Visit
When I visited the luau, there were six buses bringing people in. However, there was additional space where they could seat even more people. Even with its smaller crowd that evening, there were lines at the bar and popular activities.
The luau is on a 12-acre property, allowing space to escape the crowds and enjoy the setting. It’s a beachside luau, so we could watch the sunset from the sand while we waited for dinner to begin.
Arriving to the Luau
Driving into Ko Olina was a great experience, as it’s such a pristine, upscale setting. It’s a completely different ambiance from the rushed crowds of Waikiki or the rustic charm of the North Shore.
The staff at Paradise Cove Luau moved the guests through the arrival line surprisingly fast, considering the number of buses there. You’re greeted with a lei and a Mai Tai (alcoholic or non) and then swept into the beautiful grounds.
Before the evening’s meal and music, there are traditional Hawaiian games, such as spear throwing, rolling stone disks, and dart sliding. The activities are fun for children, especially after the long bus ride from Waikiki hotels to Ko Olina.
The pre-dinner time allows everyone to move around the Paradise Cove Luau grounds before sitting again to eat and watch the singers and dancers. We watched demonstrations on tying a sarong and saw a professional climb a coconut tree. We decided not to wait in line to get a temporary Polynesian tattoo, but it was fun to see the different designs they offered. Then we wandered around the marketplace area next to the dinner tables.
The oceanside setting set the stage for canoe rides and a re-creation of a traditional hukilau — pulling giant fishing nets from the sea. The constant activity allows you to choose which event to participate in, and you’ll need to choose because there isn’t time to do all of them before the imu ceremony signals that dinner is ready.
There is a bar at Paradise Cove Luau, though their drink ticket options are a little different than other luau. Instead of getting a certain number of drinks, you get basically a gift card to use during your visit. You can use that to buy alcohol, nonalcoholic beverages, a souvenir photo, or merchandise in their marketplace.
The lowest-level adult card allows for two alcoholic beverages, but it’s nice you can use it for other items if you’re not a drinker. The lines at the bar made it difficult to get a drink without focused effort, so I spent my time at the amphitheater surrounding the imu (underground fire pit), where the hog for the evening meal was roasting.
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The ceremony at the imu took place at sunset, providing a dramatic backdrop for the dancers portraying the Hawaiian royal court and for the lifting of the hog. This was the highlight of the evening for the locals in our group, although visitors were entertained by the songs and dancing that followed the meal.
Paradise Cove Luau Menu
The food is ample and tasty. There was lots of local Hawaii fare like kalua pork, lomi lomi salmon, poi, rice, and mac salad. More conservative eaters may enjoy the fish, chicken, vegetables, and pineapple.
There really is something for everyone, and it all tasted fresh and thoughtfully made, despite how many people they needed to feed.
Food is served buffet-style, though higher ticket options include table service.
Once everyone was seated for dinner, it was time for entertainment. As it got dark and the lawn was illuminated by starlight and torches, we were treated to the Paradise Cove Hawaiian Revue. There were lots of different songs and dances representing Polynesian cultures.
And if you’re looking for an Oahu luau with fire knife dancing, Paradise Cove Luau is a great option.
Despite the large crowd, I could see the entertainment stage well and enjoy all the performances.
Is Paradise Cove Luau Worth It?
I’ve been to multiple Hawaii luau, and I think Paradise Cove is one of the best ones on island. Despite the large crowds, the service and ambiance feel inviting and personal. The spaciousness and oceanside setting set this great place apart, and the food tastes good.
You wouldn’t want to go to Paradise Cove Luau if you didn’t want to drive (or ride) out to Ko Olina or if you were looking for a smaller or more romantic spot. When you plan your vacation with Hawaii Aloha Travel, we’ll help you choose a luau that’s right for you based on our own experiences and expertise.
As for Paradise Cove Luau, I think the young boy seated near me provided the best recommendation. After being pulled reluctantly from the games to eat, and picking warily at his food, he willingly went up on stage for a hula lesson and applauded throughout the entertainment. He then turned to his father to ask, “When is our NEXT luau?”