Is The Food At PCC’s Ali’i Luau Any Good? (My Honest Review)

Wondering if the food at the Polynesian Cultural Center’s Ali’i Luau is any good?

Wondering if it’s worth the money to splurge on the Ali’i Luau experience over the Gateway Buffet dinner at the Polynesian Cultural Center?

In this post, I’ll share with you everything we ate on our most recent visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center in 2024.

We personally thought the food was great, but I’ll describe our luau experience in more detail so you can ultimately decide if it’s right for you.

This post may contain affiliate links. You won’t be paying a cent more, but in the event of a sale, the small affiliate commission I receive will help keep this blog running/pumping out useful and free content. Thanks a lot!

What To Expect At The Ali’i Luau At The Polynesian Cultural Center

The Ali’i Luau is a traditional luau set up, where a couple hundred people will attend and dine around the main stage. When you arrive, you’ll get lei’ed and have the option to take a group pic (for purchase).

Upon getting seated, you’ll get a fun little welcome drink! Ours was a non-alcoholic pina colada inside of a pineapple. The food is served buffet-style for about 30 minutes before the entertainment begins.

Polynesian Cultural Center Ali'i Luau Welcome Drink

In terms of food, you can expect typical luau buffet-style food such as taro rolls, multiple types of poke, Imu Pua’a Pork (a pig cooked onsite IN the ground), pan-seared local fish, teriyaki brisket, huli chicken, fried saimin, salads, assorted fruits, and desserts.

If you’re vegan or vegetarian, there’s stuff you can eat too!

Vegan options include Tofu Poke, Pulehu Broccolini (Gluten-free), Hekka a, Uala Hasselback (Gluten-free), Vegetarian Fried Rice, Pickled Cucumber w/ Kahuku limu, Sweet Potato Salad, Poi, and Kabocha Pumpkin.

There’s also a whole salad bar at the Ali’i Luau.

The salad bar has all kinds of fixings including sunflower seeds, mushroom slices, garbanzo beans, olives, cherry tomatoes, corn, red onions, cheese, ham, bacon bits, cucumber, and croutons.

Along with the food is a side of live entertainment. The entertainment usually lasts around 30 to 45 minutes and is comprised of a mix of professional performers (hula dancers and young kiddies) and bits where the host calls people up to the stage to dance.

Everything I Ate At The Ali’i Luau Buffet

Polynesian Cultural Center Super Ambassador Package Luau

Alright, let’s get to the fun stuff, what the food actually looked and tasted like!

Let’s start with the hot foods. Pictured here are the following:

  • Teriyaki brisket
  • Pipikaula (beef short ribs)
  • Pan-seared local fish
  • Crispy garlic shrimp
  • Chicken and squash
  • Hulihuli chicken
Polynesian Cultural Center Ali'i Luau Food
Polynesian Cultural Center Alii Luau Review

Half-pictured here is the veggies section, consisting of things like lomi lomi salmon, pickled cucumbers, kabocha squash, broccolini, Okinawan potato salad, fried rice, steamed rice, fried saimin, and more.

Then, there’s the cold section. The poke bar was impressive because it basically tripled in size compared to when I last experienced it. This time around, there was Spicy Salmon Poke, Kimchi Tako Poke, Tofu Poke (located at the hot foods bar), and Shrimp Poke.

Polynesian Cultural Center - Alii Luau Food Poke

The PCC website’s sample menu notes “Ahi Shoyu Poke, Spicy Local Fish Poke, Tofu Poke (Vegan), and Ulu Uala Poke”. This menu was not exactly what we had in our luau, so do take it with a grain of salt as the poke offered during your visit may be based on what’s available that season.

Overall, the poke was very fresh and pretty darn good, especially the spicy poke.

At the Ali’i Luau, you’ll also find a couple of other stations serving fish, fish jerky, and the main attraction … drumroll please…. the Imu Pua’a Pork!

Polynesian Cultural Center - Alii Luau Fish
Polynesian Cultural Center - Alii Luau Food Pig

The kalua pork was truly amazing. The first time I tried the buffet back in 2015 or so, I remember it being just okay — nothing special.

This time around, each bite we had was SO tender and juicy! We even got seconds, and even then, the pork was so good! Not a dry piece whatsoever.

If you’re able to get in line early, definitely try to get a piece of pork skin. It was so flavorful and crunchy. I’ve gotta say, we were all really impressed with how the pork tasted. To the point where we’d say it was a top 3 highlight of the luau!

The next call out is this basket of taro rolls. I know, you probably don’t want to get full off of bread, but these soft and fluffy taro rolls are so worth the calories and the stomach space! These rolls are another top 3 luau food for us.

Polynesian Cultural Center - Alii Luau Food Taro Rolls

For those of you who are craving veggies while in Hawaii, this is your chance to stock up on unlimited salad! We were only able to fit in one plate of salad before moving on to the rest of the luau offerings.

Polynesian Cultural Center Ali'i Luau Salad Bar

At this point, we all had full plates and had to start eating before exploring the luau more.

We started with a plate of raw salad to get our greens in, then moved on to more vegetables (like that yummy broccolini) before diving into the meats and seafood.

As you can see below, we opted for a little bit of everything, including a little cup of poi.

Polynesian Cultural Center Super Ambassador Ali'i Luau Package
Luau Highlight #3: The Okinawan potato salad was so good!

Papu and I were really impressed with the potato salad, taro rolls, poke, garlic shrimp (in Papu’s words, this was “top quality”), and kalua pork. From our past experiences, the pork served at luaus are never really that good, being either too salty or dry. The pork at Ali’i Luau was perfect!

After my first plate, I was feeling EXTRA bloated. I had very little stomach space left and two options: eat a boatload of desserts or eat a boatload of fruits.

Everyone in the group chose to fill up on desserts. I chose to gorge on papayas, longans, and kiwis! These fruits are usually quite expensive back home, so I needed to fill up while I could.

The papayas were to die for! Hawaii’s papayas are truly nature’s masterpieces. Well, at least in my eyes.

Polynesian Cultural Center - Alii Luau Dessert

Is The Ali’i Luau Worth The Money?

If you’ve never done a luau before, I’d say that the Ali’i Luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center is worth the money.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Let’s break down the experience and compare prices with other luaus on Oahu.

Comparing PCC with other luaus

If you’re looking primarily for a luau experience

Let’s consider other luau experiences and their prices:

Luau ExperienceCost (Adults)Length of ActivityLuau EntertainmentExtra Evening ShowAlcoholLei Greeting
PCC Ali’i Luau$1958 hoursYesYesNoFresh flower
Paradise Cove Luau – Orchid Package$1754 hoursYesNoYesFresh flower
Germaine’s Luau – Original Package$1562.5 hoursYesNoYesShell

If we divide the overall ticket cost by the number of hours you’re spending at each experience, this is what it looks like:

  • PCC Ali’i Luau: $24/hr
  • Paradise Cove Luau: $44/hr
  • Germaine’s Luau: $62/hr

This means when you look at how much you’re paying per hour (for fun and entertainment), PCC is the cheapest.

And the winner for “value” is… The Polynesian Cultural Center! You really get more bang for your buck at PCC.

Quality of the food

Okay, it’s a good value. But is the food actually good?

A few years ago, I would have told you that PCC is a “decent” option, but not the greatest. However, they’ve recently really stepped up their menu and the food quality is great now.

Honestly, the food was REALLY good! Having done the same luau back in 2015-ish and once again in 2024, I found the food to be immensely better than it was when I first went years ago!

I did this luau with three other people (two are really judgy and picky when it comes to food) and we all agreed the food was pretty darn good for being a buffet-style meal.

I’m a huge fan of seafood so I was so happy to see so many seafood-based dishes rather than mostly chicken/pork dishes. There was also a huge selection of vegetarian and vegan dishes, which made it apparent that PCC went out of its way to consider other diets for the Ali’i Luau experience.

While the food is great, please note that alcohol is not available at PCC. If you’re looking to drink mai tais and pina coladas alongside your meal, you’ll want to look elsewhere. You’ll find soft drinks and tea, but no alcoholic drinks.

👉 Looking for a luau that serves alcohol? For a traditional luau experience with alcohol, we think there are better ones out there like Paradise Cove Luau and Toa Luau.

The attentive staff is great

Many staff members at the luau monitored the tables and the food, making sure guests could access everything they needed in a short amount of time.

Having so many staff members manning the buffet area made us also feel more at ease because it meant that there were fewer chances of spreading germs throughout the buffet (i.e. people/kids weren’t accidentally dipping their hands into the food or dropping entire spoons into the food).

Needless to say, they did a wonderful job keeping everything organized and well-maintained all the way until the end of the buffet!

You get lots of extra experiences with your admission

If you’re looking for a jam-packed day of immersive fun, learning, cultural activities, and entertainment with a luau, PCC is unbeatable and 100% worth the money.

Other luaus usually only come with food and a Polynesian show while you eat. A small number of them will MAYBE hands-on activities. Those hands-on activities may last an hour, but nowhere as long as the 5 hours you get at PCC’s Islands of Polynesia.

And we haven’t even touched on the Hā: Breath of Life evening show.

If this show were to be on New York’s Broadway or Las Vegas’ Strip, it would easily cost $100+ for tickets. The fact that the show is included with many of the ticket packages at PCC makes PCC even more worth the money.

Which PCC Package Is The Best?

If you’ve made up your mind to visit the Polynesian Cultural Center, I’d recommend you at least opt for the Ali’i Luau Package. This is our go-to package whenever we visit with friends.

We’ve never tried the Gateway Buffet, but being $50 cheaper than the Ali’i Luau Package, it could be a more budget-friendly option to the Ali’i Luau. Just note that instead of live entertainment during dinner, you’ll get live music only.

And if you’re celebrating something special (like a birthday, honeymoon, anniversary, etc.), I’d say splurge and go for the even more premium Super Ambassador Package. We opted for this package on our latest visit as it was my cousin’s 35th birthday and we were treated like royalty! It was amazing.

🎟️ Book your Polynesian Cultural Center tickets on the official site here.

I hope you found this Polynesian Cultural Center review helpful. If you’re looking for additional Oahu travel tips, check out my other posts here:

What To Pack For A Week In Hawaii: 60 Essential Things To Bring

125 Bucket List Things To Do In Oahu, Hawaii

Go City Oahu Review: Is The Pass Worth The Money?

33 Fun and Free Family Activities In Oahu

Essential Oahu Tips For First Timers: Things You Need To Know

Oahu North Shore: 12 Stops For A Perfect Day Trip Itinerary

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Elle Leung

My name is Elle and I'm a travel blogger and adventurer based in California. I love helping people plan trips and create unique itineraries based on their interests and their budgets. I'm a huge fan of outdoor adventures and doing off-the-beaten-path things in my state (and all around the world too)!

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