Visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center

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The Polynesian Cultural Center is one of Hawaii’s top attractions located on the North Shore in Laie next to the Brigham Young University Hawaii campus.
We were able to visit a few different times – once with my parents in September, and then again briefly with our friends who came in October. Sam also had an aunt visit and we split time attending between Sam, Rachel, and I.
Dates We Visited: Fall 2017 (Sept, Oct, & Nov)
Ages of Children: 12, 10, & 7

Background & History
The PCC started as away for students to earn money for their education and to preserve the cultures and crafts from their home islands in Polynesia. It still employs  mostly students who are enthusiastic and excited about helping visitors get a taste of their cultures!
One of my favorite activities was talking with the students – finding out where they were from, what they were studying, and their plans for after school. Most students are on a work/study program where they return to their country of origin after they graduate.

There are many different packages you can buy when you visit the PCC.  When we visited with my parents we chose to do the Ali’i Luau package which included the Islands, a Luau dinner, and the night show. It was pricey (about $500 for all 5 of us) but totally worth it.
The Islands
The Polynesian Cultural Center opens at 11:45am which allows the students employees to complete their classes in the morning. Its definitely worth it to be there right from the beginning as there is so much to do! Each of the Islands (there are 6) has a cultural presentation at various times during the day, and when they aren’t doing a presentation, there are activities to do in each village.  We got a schedule when purchasing our tickets and then it takes some planning to make sure you don’t miss anything!
Even though it was expensive, the tickets do come with a “return within 3 for free” deal where you can come back to the islands anytime within the next three days at no charge. Totally worth planning to take advantage of that!
We learned about coconut oil, threw spears, started fires, saw Tahitian dancing (crazy shaking hips!), played Hawaiian checkers, had an Ukelele lesson, watched the Haka, and got tattoos.

Our favorite presentation by far was Tonga – it was lively, energetic, and just plain fun. They include audience participation which also adds humor. We also enjoyed the Hawaiian presentation as they have some pretty amazing Ukelele players!

At 2:30pm everyone takes a break and there is a Canoe Pageant that runs down the river through the villages. Its best to try and get seats in the shade as the sun gets pretty warm when you sit there for awhile! Totally fun and a great way to get an overview of all the islands.

The Samoan presentation with Chief Kap was also a favorite. He’s made quite a few YouTube videos and is just as fun in person as online. We made small toys out of coconut leaves which the kids loved, tasted fresh coconut water, and watched a young man climb a palm tree.

Luau Dinner
Since we were not ambassadors, our dinner was scheduled for 4:30 (the other group was at 6:00). It was a little early, but we managed to make it work. We received leis on the way in, and then were shown to our table. All of the dinners are buffet style with amazing Hawaiian food, but if your kids are picky eaters they may not enjoy it. We also loved the entertainment as it was very different than the show later that night.

“Ha: Breath of Life” Evening Show
The evening show is a beautiful, symbolic story about a young Polynesian boy that grows up through the islands.  There’s music, dancing, and our favorite: FIRE. The production quality was amazing, we were entranced the entire show, and wished that we could have gone back again!
Photo courtesy of the Polynesian Cultural Center as no photos are allowed of the show.
We loved the PCC and are extremely happy with our time spent there. We did manage to see just about everything in two days (there’s also an IMAX film that’s beautiful!) and would definitely recommend a visit if you are headed to Oahu!
Check out the rest of our photos below:

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