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Places On Oahu: The Polynesian Cultural Center

Basic Information

Picture from the Polynesian Cultural Center

Narrative

One of the biggest attractions on the Hawaiian island of Oahu is the Polynesian Cultural Center located on the northeastern corner of the island in Laie:

I had many local people tell me it is worth visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center at least once.  So I recently decided to go with my kids to check out the PCC.  As always it was a beautiful drive up the Windward Coast of Oahu to Laie.  The PCC was very easy to find since it is well signed and located right off of Highway 83.  There is also plenty of parking at the cultural center so it was nice to not have to battle for parking for once at a tourist attraction on Oahu.  After parking we walked over to the ticket counter to purchase tickets.  This is where I got a bit of sticker shock.  The cheapest tickets are for general admission which is $59.95.  The kids price is $47.96.  There are much higher ticket packages that can be bought.  All the ticket packages can be viewed at this link.  After paying for a lunch ticket as well the cost ended up being well over $200 for myself and my two kids to visit.  Once inside we found they were putting the money to good use because the grounds of the Polynesian Cultural Center are quite beautiful:

Picture from the Polynesian Cultural Center

There are canals, flowers, waterfalls and various “villages” of different Polynesian cultures that can be explored within the cultural center.  However, before we started exploring the site we went over to their lunch buffet area to eat:

Picture from the Polynesian Cultural Center

The tables were setup in a stadium seating configuration because this is also the location where the nightly luau dinner show is held:

Picture from the Polynesian Cultural Center

The food they had at the buffet was okay, but I did not think it was worth the price we paid:

Picture from the Polynesian Cultural Center

After eating lunch my kids and I walked over to the Samoa village and they happened to have one of their daily shows going on:

Picture from the Polynesian Cultural Center

The show was actually quite good and informative about traditional Samoan culture:

Picture from the Polynesian Cultural Center

The performers were quite good and my kids had fun watching them:

Picture from the Polynesian Cultural Center

Another area we enjoyed was the Maori village:

Picture from the Polynesian Cultural Center

My kids were a bit scared at first of the Maori because of the facial tattoos they had, but eventually they warmed up to them.  The Maori performers were quite nice and I spent quite a while talking to them about my experiences in New Zealand.  They seemed to enjoy hearing an American’s perspective of their country awesome country.  At the Maori village they have a few buildings that show various traditional Maori items:

Picture from the Polynesian Cultural Center

For example here is one of their primary weapons which is lined with shark’s teeth:

Picture from the Polynesian Cultural Center

This next picture is from the Tahitian village where they had a number of their famed drums on display:

Picture from the Polynesian Cultural Center

Here is the Tonga village display where there really wasn’t much to see:

Picture from the Polynesian Cultural Center

The Hawaii village puts on a really good hula show that explains the history of hula.  I did not realize that for traditional hula the performers keep a very stern face because to smile would be an insult to the Hawaiian gods:

Picture from the Polynesian Cultural Center

The modern hula with smiling dancers is a style that developed as part of Hawaii’s transformation into a tourist destination.  This next picture shows a replica of a traditional Polynesian voyaging canoe that was used to cross the vast distances of the Pacific Ocean:

Picture from the Polynesian Cultural Center

There was even a missionary village on display that had its own chapel:

Picture from the Polynesian Cultural Center

It makes sense that there was a missionary village at the Polynesian Cultural Center because the whole site is run by Brigham Young University-Hawaii that is located in the town of Laie.  Mormon missionaries arrived in Hawaii in 1850 and from humble beginnings expanded their religion in Laie to where today it includes the university and the PCC:

Picture from the Polynesian Cultural Center

The biggest highlight at the Polynesian Cultural Center is when they do the Canoe Parade.  In the main lagoon canoes from each Polynesian island each take turns rowing in and dancers and musicians conduct a performance native to their island.  Here is a canoe with Samoan dancers:

Picture from the Polynesian Cultural Center

This next canoe had Maori performers:

Picture from the Polynesian Cultural Center

Here is the canoe with Hawaiian hula dancers:

Picture from the Polynesian Cultural Center

The stars though of the Canoe Parade where the Tahitian performers with their fast upbeat drum playing and dancing:

Picture from the Polynesian Cultural Center

Something else that my kids really enjoyed was fishing.  There was a display where kids were given a stick with string, a hook and bait to catch fish with.  My kids were excited when they caught a little fish:

Picture from the Polynesian Cultural Center

Something else my kids had fun with was riding on a free canoe tour of the PCC:

Picture from the Polynesian Cultural Center

From the canoe we could further appreciate how beautiful the grounds of the Polynesian Cultural Center are:

Picture from the Polynesian Cultural Center

Another really fun thing that my kids enjoyed was watching the IMAX movie inside this volcano display:

Picture from the Polynesian Cultural Center

The IMAX movie showed various aerial scenes of Oahu and the chair had mist of water that would spray on the audience when flying over the ocean and the chair would move with the screen as well.  It was a lot of fun to watch the movie.  After watching the movie we decided to call it a day and go home.  On the way out we walked through the gift shop and noticed they had this display showing the history of Hawaii’s famed ukulele:

Picture from the Polynesian Cultural Center

Picture from the Polynesian Cultural Center

When next walked through the shopping village located adjacent to the Polynesian Cultural Center:

Picture from the Polynesian Cultural Center

Picture from the Polynesian Cultural Center

The village was quite nice, but the typical tourist items for sale were quite expensive compared to other places you can buy the same stuff for cheaper prices:

Picture from the Polynesian Cultural Center

Conclusion

Overall we had a good visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center, but I understand now why locals say to visit the PCC at least once because of the price.  It costs less to get annual family membership combined to both the Bishop Museum and the Honolulu Zoo then it does to visit the Polynesian Cultural Center once with my two kids.  At the Bishop Museum you can learn much more about Hawaii and then at the PCC.  The Honolulu Zoo may not have as nice of grounds as the PCC, but my kids have more fun outside at the zoo than the PCC.  So even though we had a good time at the Polynesian Cultural Center we won’t be repeat visitors unless the prices come down.

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