The Polynesian Cultural Center is one of Oahu, Hawaii’s top tourist attraction as well as a family favorite. During the two years that we lived in Hawaii we visited the cultural center numerous times and were able to experience everything that it had to offer. From the Ali’i Luau to the epic Ha: Breath of Life show, this tourist attraction is perfect for anyone that is wanting to experience and learn more about the Polynesian culture.
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WHAT IS THE POLYNESIAN CULTURAL CENTER?
The Polynesian Cultural Center is a tourist attraction located in Laie on the island of Oahu. It specifically designed so others can learn more about the different cultures from the various Polynesian island and villages. It also offers shows, a luau, cultural village experiences, shops, and much more.
VISITING THE VILLAGES AT THE POLYNESIAN CULTURAL CENTER?
The main reason to visit The Polynesian Cultural Center is to experience a glimpse of the culture for each of the different Polynesian islands. I never knew how diverse and unique each island was till I came here. From their style of dances, to their clothes, and even some of their lifestyles. You just have to experience it for yourself to really get the feel for it.
I am going to briefly go over each of the islands and my experience at each one of them.
THE POLYNESIAN CULTURAL CENTER: VILLAGE OF HAWAI’I
The village of Hawai’i goes over the local customs, dances, and story of the Hawaiian islands. You can learn how to dance their local dances during your visit to the village of Hawai’i as well as play ancient games and even learn how the Hawaiians fish without a net. We learned the art of weaving
Presentation Times: 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, 4:00, 5:00
THE POLYNESIAN CULTURAL CENTER: VILLAGE OF AOTEAROA
The village of Aotearoa is based out of the island of New Zealand located in the southern hemisphere of the Pacific Ocean. When visiting the village of Aotearoa at the Polynesian Cultural Center you can watch the Maori warrior dance called “the Haka.” You can also view their unique Maori tattoos and learn their significance in the Polynesian culture for the Aotearoa village.
Presentation Times: 1:30, 3:30, 4:30
THE POLYNESIAN CULTURAL CENTER: VILLAGE OF FIJI
The village of Fiji is based out of the island of Fiji located in the South Pacific a little north of New Zealand. When visiting this village during your visit you can learn about their mighty warriors and see why they are so feared amongst the other tribes. You can also witness local dances and other cultural aspects of the village.
Presentation Times: 1:30, 2:30, 3:30, 4:30
THE POLYNESIAN CULTURAL CENTER: VILLAGE OF SAMOA
The village of Samoa is located northeast of Fiji in the South Pacific Ocean. This was a fun village for us as we got to see the local Samoans climb a palm tree with just their hands and feet and bring down coconuts. During your visit you can enjoy local Samoan songs and dances and feel the vibe of the happy village people of Samoa.
Presentation Times: 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, 4:00, 4:30
THE POLYNESIAN CULTURAL CENTER: VILLAGE OF TAHITI
The village of Tahiti is part of the French Polynesian islands in the South Pacific. When visiting the village of Tahiti you can learn about their local dances. Love is their second language so don’t miss the proposal and wedding that happens at this village. You can also learn about pole fishing, how to throw a spear at a coconut, Tahitian pearl farms, Tahitian royalty, and even visit the marae which is a Tahitian temple.
Presentation Times: 1:30, 3:00, 4:00
THE POLYNESIAN CULTURAL CENTER: VILLAGE OF TONGA
Tonga is another fun village to visit (they all are to be honest). The village of Tonga is located in the South Pacific as well at the island of Tonga. When visiting this village you can definitely dance to their foot-stomping island music and the beat to their drummers. You can also learn about lafo which is a shuffleboard game that tests your skills on how to throw a spear.
Presentation Times: 1:30, 2:30, 3:30, 4:30, 5:00
THE CANOE PAGEANT WITH NATIVE VILLAGE DANCES
The canoe pageant happens on the river in two locations. You can stand by river to watch the whole pageant but I recommend grabbing your bench or a shaded spot before the crowds arrive. The event starts at 2:30 at both locations. The two locations are between Hawaii and Tahiti and on the lagoon by Samoa. The canoes will be going around each with a different village on them with performers from each village. As each canoe enters and passes by, the performers will be dancing and showing off beautiful dresses, clothing, and other cultural items that will be worn by the performers themselves. The overall show is amazing and I highly recommend taking the time to watch it.
THE POLYNESIAN CULTURAL CENTER ALI’I LUAU AND DINNING SHOW
We did the luau once with my father and mother in-laws and absolutely loved every minute of it. The food was delicious and there was a wide variety of dishes to pick from. The dinner show was also amazing. My daughter always loved going to the luaus because she always went on stage to dance when they let people go on stage. If you decide to do the luau make sure to enjoy every aspect of it and be open to trying a new dish that’s within your diet. You will be surprised as to how amazing something tastes even if it looks different then the normal food you are used to eating.
Throughout the day you can find lunch and snacks at the snack bars. If you don’t want to do the luau but still want to dine, I would recommend the Gateway Buffet located in the PCC as well.
THE POLYNESIAN CULTURAL CENTER: HA: BREATH OF LIFE SHOW
After the luau and dinner we headed to the Ha: Breath of Life Show. We only did this show once and I honestly regret not doing it more. It was by far my favorite part of the entire experience at the PCC. The storytelling and overall performance was absolutely amazing. If you have the chance to experience this show, don’t miss out!
Note: No photography was allowed during this show.
BOOKING TIP: This show is only available when you purchase an exclusive or VIP ticket. View your ticket options below for more details.
SHOPPING AT THE POLYNESIAN CULTURAL CENTER
There are various shops found inside The Polynesian Cultural Center where you can find souvenirs, local art, snacks, jewelry, clothing and more. You can shop at some of the kiosk found throughout the park or you can visit their individual shops (listed below) for a wider variety of goods.
HUKILAU EXPERIENCE AND MAHINALANI ART GALLERY
The Hukilau shop has a wide variety of souvenirs for you to choose from. Attached to it is the Mahinalani Art Gallery where you can find local art of all types. These pieces are perfect to display around your home or to gift to someone who loves art.
Located close to the entrance of the park.
THE POLYNESIAN HALL OF FAME STORE
This hall of fame store honors the Polynesian athletes in the NFL and NCAA who represent the islands through their outstanding sportsmanship. You can find team sports shirts, sports memorabilia, and other items.
Located by the Polynesian Hall of Fame.
This is a very unique shop to visit, resembling a Hawaiian volcano, you can find some one of kind art pieces, ceramics, woods, and even clothing.
Located inside the Hawaiian Journeys Theatre complex.
BEST TIPS FOR VISITING THE POLYNESIAN CULTURAL CENTER
- Arrive early and make sure to check your tickets before entering the park.
- Dress comfortably and wear comfortable walking shoes. There will be a lot of walking at this attraction.
- Stay hydrated throughout the day.
- Bring snacks.
- Have a map handy and/or their phone app. I would recommend checking out their phone app before going to the park so you can plan ahead.
- Prepare for rain.
- Bring sunscreen and sun protection such as sunglasses and a hat.
- Bring your camera and extra batteries and memory card.
- If visiting with young children make sure to bring a small stroller and extra drinks and snacks.
HOW TO GET TO THE POLYNESIAN CULTURAL CENTER
There are several ways of getting to The Polynesian Cultural Center. It all just depends on how you plan to get around the island but here are some options you can look into.
- Driving a car rental.
- Taking a shuttle bus.
- Planning your trip with Aloha Circle Island Tours.
- A taxi.
THINGS TO DO IN LAIE – NEAR THE POLYNESIAN CULTURAL CENTER
If you are wanting to explore more of Laie besides just visiting The Polynesian Cultural Center, I would recommend going to Laie Point. The view here is pretty. This is actually the spot where they cliff jump in the movie ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall.’ You can also visit the Laie Hawaiian Temple and even go swimming at Hukilau beach.
WHERE TO STAY AT NEAR LAIE
I personally never stayed at Laie and only visited but if you decide to find a place to stay here I would recommend checking these out for your stay:
TRAVELING TO OAHU, HAWAII DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC: RESTRICTIONS AND TRAVEL TIPS
Before traveling make sure to know what the requirements are to visiting the islands of Hawai’i. You can learn more about traveling to Hawaii during the pandemic here. Also due to the pandemic, the number of people entering the attractions is limited so it’s important to reserve your tickets in advance if you plan to visit any attractions. When outdoors make sure to always keep a safe distance from others to prevent exposure. The requirements and restrictions are constantly changing so I always recommend that you do your own research prior to traveling to make sure you have the most up to date information which you can find here.
OTHER THINGS TO DO AROUND THE ISLAND OF OAHU
Oahu so much to do. There is definitely something to keep you busy every day of your visit. Whether it was going to the beach, hitting the hiking trails, snorkeling, or trying a new restaurant, there was never a dull moment. Here are a few of our favorite things to do around the island:
- Visiting Pearl Harbor
- Visit Byodo-In Temple
- Eating Acai Bowls at Hale’iwa Bowls
- Eating shaved ice at Matsumoto
- Hiking to Makapu’u Lighthouse
- Hiking to the Lanikai Pillboxes
- Enjoying the flowers and waterfall at Waimea Valley Falls
SUMMARY OF THE POLYNESIAN CULTURAL CENTER
Well I hope that this travel guide will help you make the most of your trip to The Polynesian Cultural Center. Here are a few things to remember while we recap real quick:
- Remember to plan ahead and make reservations prior.
- Stay hydrated during your visit and bring plenty of snacks.
- Don’t forget to bring sunscreen and a camera.
- Enjoy the luau and a show.
- Don’t miss the canoe pageant.
- Enjoy the culture and what each island has to offer.