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Bucket List Travel: Visit the Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii

A Must See Destination in Oahu, Hawaii

Visit Polynesian Cultural Center Travels with BibiPhoto by Daniel Ramirez on Flickr

If you are looking for unique things to do in Oahu, be sure to add the Polynesian Cultural Center to the top of your list! Considered by many to be a bucket list destination, the Polynesian Cultural Center is a must-see for anyone visiting Oahu, Hawaii.

With numerous cultural exhibits and fun things to see and do,  your whole family is sure to have a rewarding and exciting experience at the Polynesian Cultural Center.

If you need a place to stay in Oahu, you might consider these awesome locations.

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The center is like a Polynesian theme park and living museum rolled into one fantastic location.  You can find it on the North shore of Oahu, Hawaii, in Laie.

The property occupies over 42 acres and is owned by Brigham Young University – Hawaii.  Most of the center’s performers are students from the university.

The Polynesian Cultural Center first opened its doors in 1963 as a way for students at the adjacent Church College of Hawaii (now Brigham Young University Hawaii) to earn money for their education and as a means to preserve and portray the cultures, art, and crafts of the people of Polynesia. Prior to this great event, the town of Laie hosted weekly hukilaus, a community fish fry meant to entertain, instruct and support the community.”  Polynesian Cultural Center 

Plan on about an hour or so drive from Waikiki to reach the Polynesian Cultural Center.  You’ll know you have arrived when you spot the large totems in front of the parking lot.  Upon arriving, you should head to the admission area where you either pick up or buy your tickets.

You will then be directed to follow the yellow flowers painted on the ground to a small kiosk.  Here you will be given a map to the entire center.  This map also has the show schedule so you can plan your village visits accordingly.  Additionally, if you have children in your party, they will be given “passports,” where they can collect stamps at each village.

There are live shows at each village! The main attraction is shown by the lagoon where they showcase all the cultures in a very entertaining and educational manner.  This is only performed once a day at 2:30 p.m.

The Lagoon PageantVisit Polynesian Cultural Center Travels with Bibi

All Photos by Daniel Ramirez via Flickr cc 2.0

We were advised to secure our seating well before the show started.  You’ll want to be comfortable and the shady areas fill up fast.

The show begins with a narration on how the Polynesian Islands came to be.  The show begins with the legend of Maui and some may even feel as if they are watching Moana Live.  The cast performs on top of outrigger canoes.

After Maui, then the other islands are featured, showcasing their extravagant culture and attire.

 There are multiple villages to visit
  1. Aotearoa
  2. Fiji
  3. Hawaii
  4. Rapa Nui
  5. Samoa
  6. Tahiti
  7. Tonga
Visit Polynesian Cultural Center Travels with Bibi
Tahiti Village Show

Each village has its own 10-20 minute show where specific islands are showcased, sometimes complete with props and audience participation.  You will get a good glimpse into their history, language, and culture.

Did you know that Tonga is the only island not colonized by anyone? They still have a monarchy whom they revere so much that they dare not look or speak to them, or even walk too close to their shadow.

It is a truly enjoyable and educational experience to learn about the history and rich culture of each island.  Coming to the center also supports the students’ educations.  Most of the cast (students) are from different islands showcased in each village.

If the shows aren’t enough, there are fun and exciting activities after each presentation. Two activities you can try are spear throwing and canoe paddling. This keeps the whole family, especially the children, entertained.

Visit Polynesian Cultural Center Travels with Bibi
Hale Mua (Men’s Work House)

In addition to the shows, there are huts that illustrate more of Hawaii’s history through pictures and materials depicting the life of their ancestors.

Visit Polynesian Cultural Center Travels with Bibi
Hale Noho (Family Dwelling)

The property is beautifully laid out!  There are always fascinating things to explore.  You will never go hungry either as shops and restaurants are located everywhere.

You have the option of purchasing just the ticket to see the shows and walk around the center.  If you have an appetite for more, you can include a luau with your show.  Either way, it’s an all-day affair so plan to be at the property for at least 5 hours, not including the drive.

Visit Polynesian Cultural Center Travels with Bibi
Samoa Tree Climbing Show
Hours:

Monday-Saturday, 11:45 am – 9:00 pm
Closed Sundays, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day

Location:

Polynesian Cultural Center
55-370 Kamehameha Hwy.
Laie, Hawaii 96762

Tickets:

The prices range from $89 – $289 for adults and $71 – $192 for children

See the prices for the full day package options here.

This cultural center is a wealth of information. Polynesians have a very rich culture and it’s fascinating to discover their legends while gaining a deeper understanding of their culture.  I highly recommend it!

Author Bio: Cristy Murray is a mom of 2 active boys, wife and Nurse Practitioner. She shares the reality, joys and struggles of being a working mom and wife. In her blog ALASKAMOMLIFE.COM, she writes about Mom-Life and Wellness and aims to help working mothers stay healthy, fit and find the elusive work-life balance. Get her free eBook “Get more ENERGY” here!

Have you ever been to the Polynesian Cultural Center or any other fun destination in Hawaii? Let us know in a comment below.

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16 Comments

    1. I visited many, many years ago and it was so lovely. The flowers sweetly scented the air everywhere we went, especially at night. I loved it!

  1. That’s a great post on this exotic part of Hawai….nice pictures and the write up clearly talks about the enjoyment you must have experienced….nice share.

  2. This looks like the perfect place to go to learn about the culture of the island. We did not go when we visited, but didn’t have kids at that time. I think the kids will really enjoy this, next time we will go as a family.

  3. I can definitely see why this is a bucket list destination, what a fun experience! I absoluely loved your photos, beautiful!

  4. My wife and I have been planning a trip here. We had wanted to go years ago but some events came up. This post really sparks my interest to try to make it happen for us in the next couple of years. It looks so cool!

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