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
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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
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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