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55-370 Kamehameha Hwy
, HI 96762
Offers shows, exhibits, activities, and a luau for an authentic look at Polynesian culture. One of the most popular tourist attractions in Hawaii. Located on Oahu's North Shore.
General: Classes & Workshops
General: Cost: Paid
General: Good For Rainy Days
General: Has Gift Shop
General: Kid Activities
General: Movies / Plays / Theater
General: Performing Arts
General: Photo Opportunity
Tours: Full Day
Tours: Self Guided
Cultural & Historical: Museum / Art Center
Water Activities: Kayaking / Canoe
The Polynesian Cultural Center is a massive place and one of Oahu's most popular attractions. If you have any desire to learn more about the Polynesian people, and you really should, then this is a must try experience. They really have plenty to see and do for all ages.
What Is It?
I've seen many asking if this is Hawaii's Disneyland and it is nothing of the sort as it's not a theme park at all. But it's also nothing like a "look but don't touch" museum either. It's something in between and very unique.
Within the Polynesian Cultural Center, or PCC as it's often called, you'll find several different experiences in terms of dining, education, activities, and entertainment. The main area of the PCC is called the Village Experience and what this article will cover. Other entertainment options at the PCC include the Ali'i Luau Buffet and Ha: Breath Of Life show so you can click those links to learn more about each.
It's easy to see why some make the Disney comparison here, because the Village Experience is sort of a park with multiple themed "lands" within it. Specifically, the lands here are the Polynesian Islands which include Aotearoa, Fiji, Hawaii, Marquesas, Samoa, Tahiti, and Tonga.
Each of these island "lands" will showcase the people and culture from that island. For example, enter Samoa and you'll be treated to a demonstration (by actual Samoans) that covers all of the uses of the coconut (food, drink, oil, and so much more) as well as how to harvest them and crack them open.
Then they'll show you how to start a fire with two sticks. Yes, you even get to try it yourself. And yes, the islanders will make it look infinitely easier than it actually is.
Kids will love making headbands or decorative fish out of palm fronds. There's something for everyone.
In the middle of the day you'll see a sort of canoe parade where each island is represented, comes out on their canoes, and sings and dances. Once that is over you'll even have a chance to hop on a canoe and cruise around the river, a favorite for most kids.
You'll find plenty of snack shops and restaurants within the PCC property. Within the main Village Experience area, there are several counter service snack and meal options to be had. Many will offer something safe and standard like a hot dog along with something that matches a native island food.
If you're looking for buffet style dining then check out the Island Buffet or Prime Dining Buffet which are located in the same building but the Prime Dining Buffet will offer a slightly higher end dining experience.
The Hukilau Marketplace, located right outside the entrance gates and just steps away, offers several quick serve food options along with Pounders which is a table service restaurant.
Planning & Preparation
Planning a trip might seem confusing but I find it's easiest to understand when broken down into the main four things that make up the PCC.
The island lands, which is what this article covers and really the heart of the PCC experience.
Ha: Breath Of Life
An all ages evening show that tells a classic story of love and life.
Choose to eat with luau entertainment at the Ali'i Luau Buffet, eat without the luau at the Prime Dining Buffet or Island Buffet, grab quick serve items in the Village Experience, or dine at Pounders or one of the quick serve places at the Hukilau Marketplace.
This is the PCC's marketplace with many shops and food offerings to choose from. Disney fans would compare this to a tiny Downtown Disney type of experience. The marketplace is free for all to explore, no tickets required.
Now that you understand your options, you'll basically select a ticket package that offers the Village Experience along with the dining and entertainment options of your choosing.
When preparing for a visit to the PCC understand that this is really a full day event. If you're driving up from Waikiki (see Waikiki Guide) or even the Ko Olina Resort then plan on it taking a good 1.5 hours (possibly more if traffic is bad) each way. If you're seeing the Ha: Breath Of Life show (and you really should) note that it ends at 9:00 pm which means kids are going to be tired by the time you get back to your hotel.
You cannot bring food into the PCC, though you can bring water in so pack in a bottle for everyone so you have some to get you started and drink throughout the day (cold water and drinks are sold throughout the property).
It gets hot in Hawaii and while there are plenty of shaded areas in the PCC, there are also many hot and sunny areas. Bring a hat, sunglasses, and wear comfortable clothing. You'll also want to bring sunscreen to help Protect Yourself From Sunburn & Skin Cancer and be sure to reapply often. Wear comfortable shoes because there is a lot of walking.
Members of the LookIntoHawaii.com team were invited to this experience by the PCC. Note that all experiences and reviews by our team are completely honest and unbiased.
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