Paradise Cove Luau vs Polynesian Cultural Center: Which is Better?

August 26, 2022

Sparkling waves of the Pacific Ocean, soft black sand beaches, and the gentle swaying of palm trees. Oahu truly is the tropical oasis you’ve been dreaming of. Uncover even more Hawaiian culture and island beauty when you attend a traditional luau.

Paradise Cove Luau vs. the Polynesian Cultural Center: follow along to discover which is better!

From the lush flora and fauna of the Waimea Valley to riding Outrigger Canoes, every luau on the island offers something special.

Tantalize your taste buds with morsels of Kalua Pig and fluffy taro rolls, or try your hips at hula. Explore the diverse cultures of island nations such as Samoa, Marquesas, Tonga, and Tahiti, or commemorate your aloha adventure with a tasty Mai Tai.

There’s no better way to usher in your Oahu getaway than with an authentic luau's feasting, festivities, and flair.

Oahu Hotels and Resorts

Unless you’re lucky enough to call the Aloha state home, you’ll need to secure some lodgings to enjoy your Luau experience fully. Relish every moment of your tropical vacation when you reserve any of our Oahu hotels.

Whether you are seeking accommodations near the North Shore or want to work on your tan on stunning Waikiki Beach, we offer a plethora of options when it comes to Oahu Hotels and Resorts. Enjoy ocean views, luxury spas, and state-of-the-art fitness centers when you book with Tripster. 

Planning a more romantic rendezvous? Carve out plenty of couple time in Oahu with our Complete Guide to Romantic Things to Do in Hawaii

Aerial View of the Pool and Ocean at Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort - Oahu, Hawaii, USA

photo credit: Waikiki Resort Hotel via Facebook

Paradise Cove vs. Polynesian Cultural Center Luau

Let’s get one thing straight; there’s no such thing as a lousy luau! Traditionally, Luau’s are vibrant feasts held to celebrate significant community achievements and milestones.

Related Post: 10 Things to Do in Honolulu Every Visitor Should Know About

While today’s festivities may have slightly strayed from those of their ancestors, they still contain plenty of stories, food, music, and dancing. Depending on your tastes, time constraints, and personal preferences, you may opt for Paradise Cove over the Polynesian Cultural Center:

Paradise Cove Luau

Listen up for the bellow of the Conch shell as both malihini (guests) and kama'aina (locals) gather for this customary Hawaiian affair. The Paradise Cove Luau has been delighting guests for over 20 years with its pageantry, time-honored techniques, and tasty mai tais.

Sitting on 12 oceanfront acres of the beautiful Ko Olina Resort in Oahu, the Cove contains an unparalleled luau experience. Enjoy an evening of brilliant sunsets, lively music, and authentic crafts and games. Wander through a replicated Hawaiian village, witness the Shower of Flowers, and test your net fishing skills.

close up of Fire Dancer at night at Paradise Cove Luau in Oahu, Hawaii, USA

photo credit: Paradise Cove Luau via Facebook

Watch in awe as you witness award-winning performances, and glimpse into the lives and practices of these island tribes. Then, embrace the underground cooking techniques of the Imu ceremony, or test your warrior skills via spear-throwing.

Related Post: Insider's Guide to Paradise Cove Luau

Working up an appetite? Refuel with local favorites such as Beer Battered Island Fish, Lomi Lomi Salmon, and creamy macaroni salad. Choose from three expertly curated package options:

  • Hawaiian Package - the standard Paradise Cove experience includes a welcome Mai Tai and shell lei greeting, wing seating, a Cove Card,* buffet-style Hawaiian luau dinner, and nightly entertainment.
  • Orchid Package - includes the same perks as the Hawaiian Package, plus preferred seating for the show.
  • Deluxe Package - the most inclusive package, deluxe guests will enjoy a fresh flower lei or Kukui Nut lei greeting, souvenir arrival photo, table service, special souvenir gift, and front row seating.

Psst..want to save some dollars? Utilize our Ultimate Guide to Paradise Cove Luau and preserve that vacation budget!

*Please note that each Paradise package option includes a "Cove Card.” These cards are loaded with specified dollar amounts (based on your level of package) that can then be used towards the purchase of drinks at the bar, photographs (excluding bird vendor), and merchandise from their marketplace.

Hula dancer performing at Paradise Cove Luau in Oahu, Hawaii, USAPolynesian Cultural Center

Calling all Moana fans! Dive into the fascinating practices, customs, and traditions of Aotearoa, New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii, Samoa, Marquesas, Rapa Nui, Tonga, and Tahiti when you visit the Polynesian Cultural Center. Immerse yourself in Hawaiian and Polynesian cultures when you spend a full day at the island’s top-paid attraction.

Related Post: Oahu on a Budget: How to Save BIG With a Go City Pass

Situated on over 40 sprawling acres, this interactive institution is equal parts theme park and living museum.
Guests from all over will meander through eight simulated tropical villages, numerous exhibits, IMAX shows, and the dazzling HaBreath of Life show. In addition, visitors can sample poi, learn a Tahitian dance, or rock a temporary tattoo.

performers at Polynesian Cultural Center OahuWitness a Polynesian canoe up close, conjure fire, or attempt to catch a fish. For a full-fledged luau escape, purchase a ticket with access to the mouthwatering Ali'i luau buffet. Load up on fresh poke, Huli Chicken, and creamy Ube Ice cream.

Select any of the following exclusive ticket options:

  • Day Experience Admission - short on time? If you already have a date for dinner, day admission allows you to experience the best of the center, minus the buffet and show. Wander through the villages, take in an IMAX, and cruise along in a canoe. 
  • Day Experience Admission & HA Evening Show Package - tuck into an island buffet, soak in the Long Canoe Pageant, and marvel at the Ha Breath of Life show with this full-day package. Full transportation from your Waikiki hotel is available for purchase. 
  • Ha Breath of Life (Show Only) - just came for curtain call? Settle in for a dazzling production of drama, storytelling, and ancient Polynesian themes with the Ha Breath of Life show. 
  • Exclusive Gateway Buffet Package - want to make the most of your time at the PCC? Spring for the A-list ticket when you revere your exclusive package. Relish immersive island traditions, including games of skill and canoe paddling. Finally, select one of two dining options. Feast away at the award-winning Alii Luau buffet with live entertainment, or break bread at the family-friendly Gateway Buffet.  

Want a first-hand look at the mysteries and customs of Polynesia? From cracking a coconut to temporary Maori tattoos, our intrepid journalist takes you through a full day at the Polynesian Cultural Center

performers on a boat in costumer at Polynesian Cultural Center in Oahu, Hawaii, USA

photo credit: Polynesian Cultural Center via Facebook

Paradise Cove Luau vs. Polynesian Cultural Center Luau Vacation Packages

An island vacation shouldn’t break the bank! Save your hard-earned dollars for more Mai Tais and beachside massages when you take advantage of the following sizzling vacation packages:

Polynesian Cultural Center Vacation Package 

Save up to 50% off retail rates when you combine your Polynesian Cultural Center visit with amazing Hawaii lodgings.

Related Post: The Best Beaches on Oahu: A Local's Guide

Paradise Cove Luau Vacation Package

Get up to ½ off regular retail rates when you bundle your Paradise Cove Luau experience with your choice of Oahu accommodations. 

beach during sunset at Paradise Cove Luau

photo credit: Paradise Cove Luau via Facebook

Other popular Hawaiian Luau Options

Toa Luau

Polynesian dancing, colorful costumes, and stunning nature trails oh my! Explore the natural abundance of the Waimea Valley when you book a Toa Luau tour. This family-friendly performance includes admission to the fragrant botanical garden, a bountiful feast, and plenty of cultural demonstrations.

Observe cooking on hot coals, chow down on homemade Haupia, or go for a dip in the refreshing Waimea Falls. 

Ready to explore even more Oahu adventure? For a much-needed luau respite, why not try tackling the waves of Hawaii with Jet Skiing in Oahu?

Ka Moana Luau

Become part of the Oahu Ohana (family) when you dine at the Ka Moana Luau. This award-winning spectacular features fresh farm-to-table cuisine, breathtaking ocean vistas, and the Polynesian sword of fire! Revel in the incomparable Makapu`u coastline as you practice your ukulele and hula skills.

Let your tastebuds rejoice as you try mouthfuls of succulent Kalua pork, Mahi Mahi, and Poi. All ingredients are sourced from the local farmers and partners of the Waimanalo community. Don't forget your luau ticket also grants you admission to Sea Life Park.*

Related Post: Ultimate Guide to Ka Moana Luau Promo Code, Tips, and Discount Tickets

*Your Sea Life ticket is valid for redemption same day of the luau or within seven days after your luau date.

photo credit: Ka Moana Lu’au via Facebook

Germaine's Luau

For almost 50 years, Germaine’s Luau has captured the attention of the adoring public. This long-lauded show has been called ‘America’s Best Luau’ and has even been featured on Good Morning America. Soak in the serenity of this private Waikiki beachfront as you are welcomed with a Shell Lei.

Feel your hunger pique as you catch aromatic whiffs of the Kalua Pua’a (roasted pig) and island fish. Then, wash it all down with unlimited soft drinks, coffee, and tea. 

Related Post: Oahu's Windward Coast: Must-See Sights & Stops

Coupons, discounts, and feasts, oh my! Save those pennies when you take advantage of all our Germaine’s Luau tips and tricks.

photo credit: Germaine's Luau & Special Events via Facebook

Waikiki Luau

Looking for a Luau on a budget? Head to the Royal Hawaiian Theater for an epic evening of entertainment, island delicacies, and drinks. Kick off your Waikiki Luau with a complimentary Mai Tai as you practice your hula moves and revel in the live music.

An ideal Luau for busy vacationers, the Waikiki performance clocks in at just an hour and 45 minutes. Devour tender roast beef, teriyaki chicken, Limu tofu, and more. But save a smidge of room for dessert, as you must sample the decadent Chocolate Dobash Cake.

Curious about more Oahu options, like the Diamond Head Luau or the Aha Aina Luau? Check out the full range of Tripster Luau offerings

photo credit: Ka Moana Lu’au via Facebook

Paradise Cove vs Polynesian Cultural Center

Still wondering who comes out ahead in the battle of the Polynesian Cultural Center vs Paradise Cove

From the stirring Shower of Flowers Show to the moving family values of the Ha Breath of Life performance, each Luau spectacular displays something different.

Those short on time or yearning for a more compact luau experience may prefer the Paradise Cove show. However, visitors with their sights set on a full-day interactive island journey will relish the opportunity to tour numerous villages and work on their fishing techniques at the Polynesian Cultural Center. 

Related Post: The Best Snorkeling in Oahu: Your North Shore Guide

Both luau adventures overflow with Hawaiian and Polynesian spirit, pride, and culture. Whether you are craving fresh fish poke, fluffy taro rolls, or a side of native storytelling, Oahu’s Luaus deliver!

Need even more Oahu vacation inspiration? Check out our sizzling Oahu Vacation Packages and prepare for your own Aloha state escape.  

Tell us, Paradise Cove vs Polynesian Cultural Center: Which Would You Pick?

Leave us a comment below!


isis with mural in background

Written By Isis Maya

A New York native, Isis-Maya spent most of her professional life working in TV production until a vacation whisked her away to Central America and her love o ...

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