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What to wear to a Luau

What to wear to a Luau

Are you heading to Hawaii and wondering what to wear to a luau? In this guide we will round up the expected Hawaiian Luau dress code along with some Luau outfit inspiration.

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But before we get onto our the specifics of what to wear we first thought it would be worth rounding up what a luau is and where you can watch one.

What is a luau?

Polynesian Cultural Center - Luau dress code
Luau dress code

In essence a luau is a traditional celebration party in Hawaii. Some types of celebrations that may be celebrated at a luau are:

  • birthdays
  • weddings
  • anniversaries
  • graduations

to name but a few contemporary examples but in the past they may have also be held at harvest time or after a victorious battle for instance.

Luaus usually have a dance component but also will have a feast.

The dance component is called a hula and is quite well known.

While the feast will usually consist of a boar or a pig will be served and it will be cooked underground. This type of traditional oven is called an imu.

However modern luaus and some of the more touristy luaus will also serve an array of foods, more than just traditional Hawaiian delicacies.

Where to see a luau?

Luaus can be seen on most of the larger Hawaiian islands. For instance we found many luaus available on the island of Oahu and they are also plentiful on the Big Island, Kauai and Maui.

Many hotels will host luaus but a popular choice is the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu, which is often cited as the most authentic luau in Hawaii.

For more information on what to wear on Oahu be sure to check out this post that includes, resorts, activities, Honolulu and Waikiki beach.

So now you know what a luau is and where you can see them, what should you wear to a Hawaiian luau.

What to wear to a Luau?

Couple on beach - what to wear to a luau in Hawaii
what to wear to a luau in Hawaii

In this section of the guide we will closely examine what to wear to a Luau for men, women and children referencing Luau dress codes in Hawaii.

Is there a Luau Dress Code in Hawaii?

I was surprised when we were looking to visit our first Luau to find that there is no strict Luau dress code in Hawaii.

However, there are definitely some things that I would not wear to a Luau.

Luaus are family affairs therefore I would not wear anything graphic or offensive. And I also wouldn’t dress too formally.

Although you should remember that luaus are celebrations, they are not categorised as formal affairs. AS you will be on the beach in the heat, the key is dressing for comfort but also looking nice.

I would also say that black is not really a color associated with luaus. Luaus are colourful affairs and you will often find that patterns are commonly worn at luaus.

So now you know the keys to a Hawaiian Luau dress code, we will tell you exactly what to wear.

Note: if you are traveling throughout the Hawaiian islands be sure sure to check out our other Hawaii posts:

What to wear to a Luau for Women

So now you know the dress code how does this translate to what to wear to a luau for women?

Personally my favorite thing to wear to a luau is

A Maxi Dress / Summer Dress

My preferred dress is a maxi dress but any summery dress works for a luau. Remember it does not have to be a formal dress. Sun dresses are fine and casual is not a problem.

I like to choose a dress that is colourful and patterned as this tends to be most in keeping with the celebration.

It doesn’t matter what type of sleeve your dress has so feel free to have a tank top style, tube style, spaghetti strap or long sleeves. All of these are acceptable.


It can get cool in the evenings when at a Luau in Hawaii therefore we recommend taking a pashmina with you.

Alternatively you can add a cardigan if that is more in keeping with you outfit.

However if dresses aren’t your think then you could consider:

  • a colorful tank top
  • blouse
  • capri pants
  • long trousers

I personally wouldn’t add jeans as I never find these comfortable on the beach but there is no rule against them.

What to wear to a Hawaiian Luau for men

AS I mentioned above, colorful and patterns are popular at luaus and this isn’t just for women. So men embrace your colorful patterned side with a Hawaiian shirt for instance.

This can be paired with a pair of shorts or chinos.

However if you don’t feel comfortable in a Hawaiian shirt you could wear a polo shirt instead.

What to wear to a Luau in Hawaii for kids

Luaus are a family friendly affair so it is absolutely fine to take children to a luau. But what should they wear.

I would say that the dress code for kids is similar to adults. Embrace the bright and colorful and make sure you kids are comfortable.

I would also take a top layer for them in case they get cold as the sun goes down.

Best Shoes for a Luau

When you are looking for the best shoes for a luau the key again is comfort. Think about the the fact that you will be spending time on the beach and there will be sand. Therefore if you don’t like sand in your shoes think about the type of shoe you are most comfortable in.

The shoes we would consider for a luau are:

  • sandals
  • flip flops
  • sneakers
  • boat shoes

All of the above are perfectly acceptable shoes to wear to a luau

Best Accessories for a Luau

When you are looking at accessories for a luau I would say you don’t have to worry too much.

As you will be on the beach I would not recommend taking expensive jewelry as you run the risk of losing it in the sand.

And remember at the majority of luaus you will be given a lei on entrance to your luau of choice. A lei is a flower garland you wear around your neck.

Also it is common to wear a flower behind your ear. The left ear means you are taken and the right ear means you are available traditionally.

FAQS about what to wear to a luau

Woman in Hawaii
what to wear to a luau in Hawaii

Is a luau formal?

Although luaus are a celebration, they are not a formal affair. Think casual, colourful and comfortable when putting together your luau outfit.

What should you not wear to a luau?

AS I mentioned above there is no strict luau dress code so there really isn’t anything you can’t wear. Although be sure your outfit is PG-13.

Things that can’t be worn include swimwear such as bathing suits in most luaus.

Also it should be noted that at Luaus such as that at the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu that shirts and shoes are required at all times.

Also anything with an offensive slogan or graphic illustration are not permitted and this includes in tattoos. If you have a tattoo of this nature it should be covered.

Do you have to dress nice for a luau?

Although Luaus are not formal I would recommend dressing nicely for a luau. A nice sun dress or chinos and shirt are the perfect luau outfits.

Can you wear jeans to a luau?

There are no rules against wearing jeans to a luau however I do not find jeans and denim to be comfortable on the beach so I opt for cottons, linens and chino fabrics when attending a luau or any other beach event.

So there you have it our ultimate what to wear to a luau guide. If you have any questions about Luau dress codes not covered here drop us a comment before and we will do our best to answer.