The Complete Polynesian Cultural Center Guide
Polynesian Cultural Center | Oahu, Hawaii's Top Attraction
Hawaii represents many attractions, including of course the luau and a fantastic stay at the beach. Among all the places in the Islands in which you have to pay to enter, the Polynesian Cultural Center is the most popular attraction. It attracts almost a million visitors each year. If you’re among them, you’ll need this handy Polynesian Cultural Center guide to help you through your experience.
Be aware, though, that this isn’t a place where you can enjoy alcoholic beverages. That’s not allowed, since the place is run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They’re also known as the Mormons.
In fact, when the PCC was established in 1963, it was just a way to help students at the nearby Church College of Hawaii, so that the students can get employments and scholarships. At the same time, the PCC was also a way to preserve and present the Polynesian culture and traditions. That school is now known as Brigham Young University Hawaii, and the PCC of that time has grown to be the number one paid attraction in the entire state.
So it’s strange that such a popular place in vacation state would be devoid of mai tais. But this lack of alcohol shouldn’t be a hardship; if you need to get drunk to enjoy a place, then it’s not really all that enjoyable, is it? It doesn’t take long for you to forget about having a drink here. There’s so much to do and so many things to see and experience. After you’ve spent time here, at least you’ll remember every minute!
What will you remember here, when you do get to visit? The place is popular due to its many unique attractions, especially for entire families. Here are some of the places you need to visit:
The 6 Villages
Each of these villages represents a different culture that defines Polynesia. You have the Islands of Hawaii, Aotearoa, Fiji, Samoa, Tahiti, and Tonga. Each village showcases their traditions and cultures through presentations, dances, and music.
Islands Of Hawaii
What do you feel when you’re in Hawaii? You’ll feel the warmth, so much different than some of the cold places in the world. It’s this warmth that what the Hawaiians regard as aloha. Why else would they use the same word as their typical greeting?
Hawaii is also the unceasing rhythm, like the constant waves upon the shore of the beaches. You’ll hear it too, in the swaying of a grass skirt or the pounding of poi. It’s there when you hear the strums of the ukulele.
All these feelings and experiences are yours as you visit the Islands of Hawaii village. Cultural presentations are given out throughout the day, and they each last 20 minutes. They also have “villagers” who can sit down and talk with you, to answer your questions and to tell you about their cultural backgrounds. They can discuss the spirit and culture of Hawaii at length.
And of course, there are the performances. There are dances and songs, while you can take lessons on hula available throughout the day. They’re held under an awesome shade tree, so that you’re able to enjoy the outdoors just a little bit more.
Island Of Aotearoa
This village represents the Maori of New Zealand, and for these people it’s all about family as the basis of their culture. Aotearoa means the land of the long white cloud, and you can interact with the villagers and ask about the name. Or ask about anything regarding the Maori for that matter.
There are cultural presentations too. You’ll have 20 minutes for each one, which are offered at various times through the day. These presentations give you a short overview of the Maori culture, with its emphasis on love and family.
So what can you expect when you enter this village? It begins with a formal welcome to the area, and right away you’ll be immersed in the Maori experience. You will see and feel for yourself the awesome power of the haka, which is a Maori war dance. Then there are the songs, which blend in harmony.
Would you like to learn the ancient games of skill and war that are still part of the education of Young Maori children? You’re invited to try your skill, and there’s no shame if you don’t perform well. Then you can watch how the lethal-looking weapons are made by Maori carvers and artisans.
You can join in the Maori brotherhood by looking the part, simply by getting some kind of facial tattoo. You’d need bravery for that, but then that’s what the Maori has also been noted for. They’re warriors.
But they’re also all about enjoying themselves, which is why there are cooking demonstrations in the village showing off Maori food. There are also the presentations of food preservation methods, to emphasize how they lived without a fridge.
Island Of Fiji
In the culture of Fiji, it’s easy enough to feel that everyone in the village is family. At the same time, they combine formality with amusement nicely, along with a sincerity that cannot be faked.
They accept life as it is, and you’ll know this in the 20 minutes of presentations that are frequently shown as the day goes. They know about the ups and downs of life, as you may hear them say that Na bula e vaka oqo – So na gauna draki vinaka, so na gauna draki ca. Life is like this—sometimes sun, sometimes rain.
As you enter the Fiji village, you’ll get a hearty welcome from the locals, even while the ladies greet you with traditional Fiji dances. Don’t worry as you get to participate when you’re invited to pound your beats with the derua bamboo stick.
Find the chief’s home too, where you can find out a lot about the village and the Fiji culture. But you can talk to any of the people there, and they’re very caring and friendly.
As you wander around, perhaps you’d like to try to get a tattoo. Don’t worry; it’s temporary so even your kids can get a thrill of getting a Fiji tattoo. They’ll also teach you how to make coconut oil, or perhaps you can take pictures with the breathtaking temple in the background that stands 6 stories high.
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Island Of Samoa
The Samoans are known for their generosity, as well as for their emphasis on respect and love. But they sure do know how to have fun! Samoans laugh easily, and they tend to joke around quite a bit. That’s why in the Polynesian islands the Samoan sense of humor is pretty famous.
You’ll love it her if you’re more likely to smile and laugh rather than be dour and broody. The villagers here are all smiles themselves, and they’re actually known in the region as “the happy people”. That’s not a bad reputation at all—who wants to be known as the grouchy people anyway? So give your feet a rest, sit on a log, and shoot the breeze with a Samoan. Even if you’re in a bad mood, the people here can get a smile out of you.
It’s not all about just talking or joking. You can catch one of the 20-minute presentations given out here every now and then through the day.
Once you’re done with that, maybe you can just walk around and marvel at the Samoan architecture. Some say that the Samoans are happy because the heat doesn’t bother them, and that’s because their buildings somehow have some sort of natural air conditioning.
Then you can learn many things involving fire. If you don’t know how to start a fire without a lighter or matches, the Samoans can show how with just 2 sticks. Then you can also learn how to twirl a fire knife.
If you’re hungry, there’s always food. But here you also learn how to cook bananas (yes they can be cooked) and you can weave fish too.
Experience All Of Polynesia in One Unique Place!
Island Of Tahiti
Do you know how many people go to Tahiti on honeymoons and romantic vacations? Probably a lot, and you can probably understand why when you visit this village at the PCC. You feel love all around you, and there’s beauty too. You see this in the awesome dance moves of the Ori Tahiti, which is a local dance renowned for its need for agility and speed.
Then you can hear the lilting voices of the people, and see their attractive faces. You can then begin to understand why they say in Tahiti that the life of the land is the life of the people.
Watch them as they dance. They shake their knees and hips in joyous celebration, and you can’t help but smile and join in. Music beats are also heard in their unique wedding ceremony, with an uber-romantic feel.
You’ll learn a lot here, about Tahitian royalty, their full body tattoos, and their underwater pearl farms. Then afterwards you can experience the Tahitian temple known as the marae. Here you have devotion and holiness that are also part of the culture.
You can just walk around and talk to the villagers, as they’re very friendly and quite enthusiastic talking about their traditions. You can listen to them for hours, with that intriguing French accent!
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Island Of Tonga
In Tonga, it seems like there’s no time in day for sad tidings. The people here tend to look at things with a “glass is half full” perspective. That’s why they have a saying about staying positive and counting your blessings. It’s all about the laughter and kindness, and you’ll certainly experience their hospitality.
Once again you have the cultural presentations available at different times of the day. These will give you an overview of the culture and it only lasts 20 minutes. And then you can have a lot of fun.
The Tongan presentation is something that you have to experience. Everybody seems to be laughing out loud, even while the people clap along the show. Not that you have to watch all the time, because of course there’s audience participation.
While you relish the island music that seems to make your legs and feet want to dance, you can learn how to dance even when you’re sitting down. Or perhaps you can pound the drums yourself as the cultural dances become even livelier.
If you’re the more outdoorsy type, then you may want to paddle the canoe that the Tongan used many hundreds of years ago. This outrigger canoe has a different design that many canoe fans will be interested in.
If you’re a landlubber, then maybe you can practice your skill in throwing spears. For those who want a less taxing game, there’s always lafo. This game is the Tongan equivalent of shuffleboard. Or you can check out how the Tongan royalty lived, when you visit the Queens Summer House.
Talk to the people here, and they’re more than friendly. They tend to offer very warm welcomes, with effusive greetings and open arms. They’ll treat you like family, because all honored guests are basically like family in their hearts.
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- Pearl Harbor & Arizona Memorial Limo Tour
- North Shore Tour
- Mini Circle Island Tour
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Explore the Polynesian Cultural Center’s authentic island villages and mingle with the natives from six Pacific cultures, plus enjoy a FREE Buffet Dinner at our Island Buffet restaurant.