Rock A Hula – Everything to Know About this Waikiki Variety Show

Rock A Hula
Hawaii Aloha Travel > Blog > Rock A Hula – Everything to Know About this Waikiki Variety Show

Rock A Hula is a vibrant stage show in Waikiki that boasts awesome performances, from Elvis impersonations to Samoan fire knife dancing. But there’s a lot to know before booking your seat at this attraction – especially if you’re wondering if Rock A Hula is worth it. 

Here are the ins and outs of this Hawaiian luau and show, along with our thoughts on it. Read along to learn more!

What is Rock A Hula?

Rock A Hula (or, Rock-A-Hula) is a Hawaii variety show in Waikiki (on the island of Oahu). You have two options for how to experience it: book their luau dinner & show OR just attend the show. We’ll get more into the details of that later so you can pick the option that’s best for you. 

The show highlights Hawaii’s history beginning in the 1920s, so most of it is through the lens of tourism in Hawaii. It’s a different angle than many Hawaii performances, and it’s a lot of fun. There’s hula, an Elvis impersonator, colorful costumes, fire-knife dancing, and beautiful music. 

You’ll experience it all in a large, air-conditioned concert hall, complete with a live orchestra and comfortable seats. 

Rock A Hula opened in 2011 has pretty much stuck to a steady, tried-and-true formula: fun music and dancing that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s cheesy and entertaining. 

This fun thing to do in Waikiki feels like a hidden gem because it’s not heavily advertised. In fact, I had been to the Royal Hawaiian Center many times without even knowing that Rock A Hula was there!

Is Rock A Hula a Luau?

Rock a Hula is not necessarily a luau. You can attend just the stage show without any food. However, there is a luau dinner option that we’ll discuss below. 

This is nice because if you’ve already booked a luau during your Hawaii vacation (or would simply rather eat dinner somewhere else), you can still enjoy the show. 

What to Expect

Many luau and shows in Hawaii are leaning into an authentic, historic experience. This is awesome and a great testament to how tourism is focusing on the deep history of the islands. If you want a serene luau in an ocean setting, then Rock A Hula is NOT for you. 

BUT, if you want to have fun, be entertained, and experience Hawaii the way tourists did for decades, then Rock A Hula is the perfect show for you. 

You’ll sit in an air-conditioned theater and enjoy a 70-minute song-and-dance production that captures the magic of traveling to Hawaii. 

It’s nice because the classic theater-style seating allows you to see the show a lot better than other luau performances where you watch from your dinner table. 

Highlights include Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley impersonators, a hula troop, fire knife dancing, Tahitian-style dancing, beautiful vocalists, and tributes to movies and TV shows filmed in Hawaii. 

Rock A Hula is family-friendly, and kids tend to enjoy the lively, fast-paced show. Afterward, you can stick around for a cast meet-and-greet. This is your chance to get a photo with “Elvis” while you’re in Hawaii. 

Rock A Hula Dinner

Like I mentioned, you can just go to the Rock A Hula Show, OR you can also book their pre-show luau dinner.

So, if you’ve decided that the show sounds like it’s right for you, your next choice is deciding whether you also want to have dinner as part of your experience. 

Dinner is a luau-style buffet with many Hawaiian favorites, like roasted pig, lomi lomi salmon, and coconut haupia. But they’ve also got crowd-pleasing options like beef, fish, and chicken, along with rolls and salad. 

This won’t be the best dinner you’ve ever had, but there are lots of food choices available. 

The luau buffet also includes a Mai Tai and a hula performance. 

Dinner begins before the show in a separate area. Afterward, staff will direct you into the theater to take your seats for the show. 

Rock a Hula Dinner
photo courtesy of Rock-A-Hula

Is It Worth It To Add on the Luau at Rock A Hula?

The luau dinner costs an additional ~$50 for adults and an extra $30 for kids. That’s similar to a casual sit-down dinner in Honolulu, though the luau’s dessert and mai tai add to that value. 

You’ll eat in an open-air seating area that’s nicely decorated but doesn’t have much of a view. 

The dinner runs smoothly. I don’t know if you’ve ever got caught in a crowded luau with poor flow, but it can definitely ruin your entire experience. That’s not how it is at Rock A Hula. They seem to manage the flow of people well. 

So, should you book just the Rock A Hula show, or go to the luau dinner too? 

If you aren’t going to any other luau buffet during your vacation, then the one at Rock A Hula is a great option. It’s also easy to show up for dinner and then go straight to the show. No need to time a separate dinner perfectly. And, if you’re traveling to Hawaii with a group, a pre-fixe dinner menu is handy and easy to split the bill. 

BUT, if you are already going to a luau buffet, you can probably skip the one at Rock A Hula. And if you have somewhere else where you’d like to have dinner, it’s nice to be able to go to just the show and choose your own eating spot. 

In our opinion (and hearing about the experience of others), the luau dinner is just fine, and you likely won’t regret booking it. But it’s not going to be the best meal you ever had, either. 

If you want a simple luau buffet in Waikiki, you can also book the Rock A Hula dinner only (without the show). That’s probably their least popular package, but it could be a good choice for anyone looking for a taste of the islands without any hassle. 

Costs & Other Details

Rock A Hula is located in the Royal Hawaiian Center, right in the heart of Waikiki. The theater seats over 750 people, but it still feels intimate enough. 

The show costs about $80 for adults. The buffet dinner + show is $130. Here are some additional costs you may want to plan for:

  • Parking: Validate your parking ticket with the show to get discounted parking at the Royal Hawaiian Center. You’ll likely be parked there for about 4 hours if you stay for dinner and the show. 
  • Tips: If you join the buffet dinner, you’ll want to plan to tip your server
  • Additional drinks: Additional cocktails are available to purchase during dinner, and there are bars inside the theater if you’d like to enjoy a drink during the show. 
  • VIP upgrades: There are a couple of VIP options for anyone who books the dinner and show. If you’re on a budget, don’t sweat it – you can have a great experience with the standard tickets.

The show runs almost every night at 7:30 PM, and the luau begins at 5:30 PM. 

Fireknife dancing
photo courtesy of Rock-A-Hula

Rock A Hula Is Perfect For…

  • Anyone looking for a family-friendly activity after dark.
  • If you love vintage-style Hawaii and kitschy entertainment.
  • You’re looking for entertainment in the AC and in comfortable chairs.
  • Families or couples who have gone to more traditional luau and are looking for something different for their next trip. 
  • Travelers on a moderate budget who are choosing only a few paid activities during their Hawaii vacation.

Rock A Hula attracts travelers (and kamaaina!) of all ages and backgrounds. The people who typically skip this Waikiki luau are foodies, people who prioritize authentic Hawaiian cultural experience, and folks who are on a tight budget for their trip. 

How to Book Rock A Hula

You can book Rock A Hula tickets through their website, but we recommend you work with Hawaii Aloha Travel for your full vacation plans. Our team of local experts can provide personalized recommendations for luau and other entertainment. Plus, we can make sure it fits into your overall vacation plans. 

So whether you want a perfectly timed dinner-and-a-show, or simply want to leave the planning up to the experts, we’ll be here for you.

And if you’ve ever been to Rock A Hulal, let us know what you think! 

All photos courtesy of Rock-A-Hula

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