The Polynesian Cultural Center

Learning about different cultures is one of the main reasons many of us travel. When we completely immerse ourselves in a culture that is new to us, it opens the doors to a life that we never really imagined. Sometimes it can be a bit mind blowing to know that there are different ways to cook food, make clothing and to

Milking a coconut
Traditional clothing made from tapa

even communicate with each other. Actually experiencing these cultural differences allow us to appreciate people from around the world and their history. Something that I think the world needs a little bit more of.

Even though Hawaii is a US state, it is still a part of the Polynesian subregion in Oceania. With over 1,000 islands in the Pacific Island, the Polynesian culture is ingrained in the history of Hawaii and the lives of the Hawaiian people. One of the best ways to experience the Polynesian culture is at the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) in Laie, Oahu.

The entrance into the Polynesian Cultural Center

On 12 October 1963, the PCC opened its doors to the public and thus opened the world to the Polynesian culture. The set up for the PCC is actually quite different and cool. The PCC is broken down into six different Polynesian regions for you to explore. The different island nations are:
– The Islands of Samoa
– The Islands of Aotearoa (New Zealand)
– The islands of Tonga
– The Islands of Fiji
– The Islands of Tahiti
– The Islands of Hawaii

People from the island of Aotearoa
Tonga during the boat parade

Not only do you see the different structures from the different Polynesian cultures but you get to talk to people from the different islands as well. The people that work at the different regions in the PCC are actually from their respective islands. These guys sometimes come over to Oahu to attend the local university, Brigham Young University and sometimes contribute/work at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as there is a close working relationship between the three. There is a bus tour you can do that takes you past the university and lets you explore the church.

Traditional Wedding

Here is my best tip for the PCC for you, get there early. When you buy tickets you are given a timetable of the day’s activities across the park. I struggled to see everything in one day because I wanted to see at least one demonstration in every part of the PCC. We were running between demonstrations to make sure we could get the best seats!

Traditional Hawaiian dancing

These demonstrations range from learning how to make fire by rubbing two sticks together, learning how to prepare food, watching people climb 40-foot coconut trees, see the haka be performed, learn the moves of traditional dances (including the hula), check out the range of clubs and weapons (they could be quite devastating!), arts and crafts (I got to make a little fish on a fishing rod out of a leaf!) and watch a traditional wedding. My favourite demonstration was the boat parade that happens in the middle of the day. I highly recommend getting a good seat for that one.

Climbing a coconut tree

To finish the wonderful day of Polynesian cultural immersion, you can have a delicious buffet dinner (there are three to pick from!) before you head off to the evening show – Ha: Breath of Life. This

is the perfect way to end the day as it is a combination of all of the different Polynesian regions performing their traditional dances (including

Make sure you get a good seat to watch the boat show!

fire twirling!) to create this beautiful story line. It is just a good way to see everything that you have experienced in one day into a story line that you can just sit back and enjoy! Just don’t forget to book early for the best seats.

Immersing yourself in the Polynesian culture at the Polynesian Cultural Center is a must when you travel to Oahu, Hawaii.


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  • travelwithtarah

    June 25, 2017

    Surprisingly, I have never heard of this before! I would think it would be more strongly advertised as it seems like a great way to get a feel for the culture in Hawaii! At least I know about it now!!

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      July 29, 2017

      It is definitely worth it! I get about not hearing about it but when you are in Oahu it is everywhere 🙂

  • The Roaming

    June 26, 2017

    This sounds like an amazing place to learn everything about Polynesian culture! We always try to immerse ourselves in the different cultures from places where we travel!

  • danik

    June 26, 2017

    Fantastic post and looks like a great place to learn about the culture. So want to dance now 🙂

  • paulandcarolelovetotravel

    June 27, 2017

    This is part of the world we would love to travel too. This looks like a great place to be educated, love learning something new when travelling!

  • kidsandcompass

    June 27, 2017

    This looks so interesting – I’d love to learn more about Polynesian culture. I know my kids would be really keen to visit here (as Moana hasn’t stopped playing in our house for weeks).

  • Garth

    June 27, 2017

    Hawaii is on our bucket list!! would love to visit one day when we can afford to. This place looks like a great place to learn about the Polynesian culture.

  • Kayla Manoe

    June 30, 2017

    I missed this when I visited Hawaii but I cannot wait to return to experience this! Their culture is so beautiful! Looks like there is so much to see! I would probably try and break it up so I can take in as much as possible! Great post Helana! xx

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