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Demonstration at the Polynesian Cultural Center / Michal Pechardo on Unsplash

Demonstration at the Polynesian Cultural Center / Michal Pechardo on Unsplash

Polynesian Cultural Center Travel Guide

Shaka Guide

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As the Hukilau gained popularity in Hawaii in the early days, it soon became clear that a bigger and more permanent venue was not only possible but was necessary. The Polynesian Cultural Center opened in 1963 and quickly became one of the largest attractions in Hawaii - with cultural performances and entertainment not just about Hawaii, but also Tahiti, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, and New Zealand.

If you’ve never been to the center, we highly recommend that you plan a visit and stay for the luau and night show - where 100-plus dancers perform on stage and end with a jaw-dropping fire knife dance! It promises to be an unforgettable experience for your Hawaii vacation and is perfect for both couples and families.

About the Polynesian Cultural Center

Here's an interesting fact about the Polynesian Cultural Center: it employs students at the nearby Brigham Young University, many of whom come from the various Polynesian islands that the center features.

By doing this, the students are able to pay for their education and the center has an air of authenticity to its performances and displays.

So if you do visit the center, keep in mind that most of its employees are actually college students and you are supporting their education.

The Polynesian Cultural Center is one of the most educational, entertaining, and authentic attractions in all of Hawaii.

Between the true-to-life luau experience and Polynesian village reconstructions, the cultural center is a remarkable establishment.

If you’re more interested in fulfilling and authentic experiences than touristy "recreations," the Polynesian Cultural Center is for you!

Keep in mind that the Polynesian Cultural Center can be an all-day event.

If you’re looking for help managing your time at the center, Shaka Guide has you covered, especially if you’re hitting it along the route of our Circle Island Tour.

Check out our Tips for Your Trip and Luau sections for more info.

Polynesian Cultural Center Hours and Parking

The Polynesian Culture Center is open Monday through Saturday from 12:45 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., excluding Wednesdays Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.

There is plenty of free parking.

Polynesian Cultural Center Tours and Prices 

Super Ambassador Luau Package — $289.95 for Adults, $231.96 for Children

  • Personal Tour guide
  • Front Row Seat at HĀ: Breath of Life Night Show
  • VIP Canoe Tour
  • VIP Kukui Nut Lei Greeting
  • Reserved Seating at Village Presentations

Ali’i Luau Package - $194.95 for Adults, $155.96 for Children

  • Self-guided Experience Through Villages
  • Canoe Tour
  • Decent Seating at HĀ: Breath of Life Night Show

Gateway Buffet Package -  $144.95 for Adults, $115.96 for Children

  • Self-guided Experience Through Villages
  • Buffet Dinner
  • General Seating at HĀ: Breath of Life Night Show

Islands of Polynesia - $89.95 for Adults, $71.96 for Children

  • Entrance to villages and all their attractions

People in traditional dress on boats in a river, showcasing cultural heritage and scenic beauty.
Daniel Ramirez from Honolulu, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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Activities at the Polynesian Cultural Center

Visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center is a true adventure. The attractions featured are masterfully true to the islands and cultures they represent.

The entire establishment is completely focused on authenticity, which sets the center apart from many other experiences on Oahu.

From the Luau and “Breath of Life” show to the village recreations and warrior dances, the Polynesian Cultural Center brings to you the real Polynesia. 

1. Island Villages 

The Polynesian Cultural Center’s main attractions are the six island village recreations.

These villages are delightfully accurate and each offers an array of activities.

Village cultures include Tonga, Tahiti, Samoa, Aotearoa, Fiji, and Hawaii.

Each village hosts several presentations and shows throughout the day. 

Your ticket grants 3-days of access to the villages, so you can come back the next day and catch anything you missed!

2. Learn to Hula

Throughout the day, the Hawaiian village offers culturally accurate hula lessons with talented professionals.

The experience differs greatly from what you might have learned from many popular interpretations of hula. 

Other Activities in the Hawaiian Village

While you’re at the Hawaiian village, make sure to check out the other attractions that are available such as learning to fish without a net, sampling poi, playing ancient Hawaiian games, and learning to weave with lauhala leaves.

"Villagers" in the area are happy to teach, talk, and answer any questions you have about growing up in Hawaii, too.

3. View a Haka Warrior Dance

The Haka is an awesome display from the island of Aotearoa, the proper native name of New Zealand.

The Haka dance was performed by Maori warriors on the battlefield before entering combat and at ceremonial events.

The Haka represented a tribe’s pride, history, and ancestors. 

Other Activities in Aotearoa

Also at Aotearoa, you can learn about the meaning and artistry behind Maori Tattoos, which can cover the whole face and body.

These tattoos, also called Ta Moko, represented rank, social status, strength, prestige, and ancestry in ancient Maori culture.

You can also test yourself with Maori games and recreational fun taught to Maori children such as twirling poi balls

4. Witness the Power of Fiji’s Feared Warriors

The culture of Fijian warriors is among the most renowned to have ever existed, and the village’s demonstrations reflect this.

You’ll be transported to another time as you marvel (or cower) at the intense exhibition of strength and skill.

Other Activities in Fiji

The Fijian skyscraper is a six-story temple and a testament to the beauty of Fijian architecture.

As you gaze up at the impressive structure, you can play the derua - a Fijian percussion instrument made of bamboo.

After that, head over to the interactive village chief exhibit, learn to make coconut oil, or get a traditional - and temporary - Fijian tattoo.

Don't forget to pay your respects to the village chief!

5. Watch a Samoan scale a 40-foot Coconut Tree

The Samoan sense of humor is renowned throughout Polynesia, and the Polynesian Cultural Center’s Samoan presentation will show you why - it’s hilarious!

During the presentation, you’ll see how fire, milk, and food are made with a single coconut.

But the highlight has got to be the coconut tree climbing event.

You won't realize how tall 40 feet is until you see someone climb it barefoot in person!

Other Activities in Samoa

Throughout the village, you’ll also learn several other useful skills such as how to crack a coconut with a rock or start a fire with just two sticks.

There are also trainers to teach you with the basics of fire knife twirling.

If you’re feeling culinary, you can learn about Samoan food preparation such as how to weave a fish in banana leaves or how to cook the bananas themselves.

Make sure to also take note of the unique domed construction techniques and natural air conditioning system. 

6. Watch an Ori Tahiti Dance

The Ori Tahiti dance is known for the remarkable speed, skill, and agility of its performers.

The dance is representative of the love and happiness that flows through Tahiti, and the dancers’ fast-paced moves are a magical sight to see. 

Other Activities in Tahiti

After the dance, be sure to check out all the other educational and entertaining activities in the Tahitian Village.

Learn about the underwater pearl farms of Tahiti or the significance of Tahitian tattoos.

You’ll also experience a Tahitian love story and walk in the presence of the village’s royalty.

7. Outrigger Canoe Pageant and Canoe Rides

You can board the canoe ride just outside the Tonga village, which takes you around the cultural center’s lagoon.

If you’re able to make a 2:30 p.m. show, the canoe pageant is also quite the spectacle.

A parade of canoes passes along the lagoon, each one representing a different Polynesian culture.

Other Activities in Tonga

You can also take part in spear-throwing, toy building, and the “Tongan Shuffleboard” game at the Tongan village.

Toys are constructed from coconut fronds by hand. The performance is one of the most entertaining at the center, perhaps second or third only to the hilarious Samoan presentation and the Breath of Life show.

8. Luau

The Polynesian Cultural Center’s luau is one of the most well-known in Hawaii.

If you’re looking for a luau to experience during your stay on Oahu, this is a great one to go to since there are luaus at the PCC all year long.

The luau takes place between 6 pm to 9 pm so you’ll need to purchase an admission package, which is a noon-to-night experience. 

It's important to note that you can’t expect to experience our Circle Island Tour, the villages, and the center’s luau in a single day.

If you’d like to experience the Luau and our tour, we’d recommend stopping by the center along our driving tour, finishing your tour, and then coming back for the luau at the end of the day.

Your ticket will get you into the villages for two more days, so you can always come back to visit the rest of the cultural center.

Of course, the Circle Island tour app is good for life after your purchase. So feel free to come and use it another day. 

9. HĀ: Breath of Life

The centerpiece of the Luau (besides the amazing food) comes near the end of the night.

The "HĀ: Breath of Life” show is the largest and most impressive presentation that the center has to offer.

It features over 100 Polynesian performers and multi-media such as animations, traditional entertainment, storytelling, special effects, dance, surround sound, and more.

Tips for Polynesian Cultural Center

  • You can save 15% by planning your visit at least 10 days in advance.
  • If you’re stopping by the center on our Circle Island Tour but want to spend more time than you have available, your ticket gets you into the villages for three days. So feel free to continue your visit for a couple of days after your initial stop along our tour.
  • Transportation from Waikiki is available for about $30-40 depending on your package

Want to visit the Polynesian Cultural Center?

It's a stop on our Grand Circle Island Tour!

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We hope that we’ve given you all the information you need to make the most of your day. Your vacation is extremely important to us so if you have any questions feel free to reach out at aloha@shakaguide.com.

 

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