Oahu’s Polynesian Cultural Center is a major draw for tourists to the island – in fact, it’s now Hawaii’s top paid tourist attraction. It’s a one-stop-shop for cultural information and displays about not just native Hawaiian peoples but the peoples of the Central and South Pacific, and is perhaps most famous for the Polynesian performance which is staged six nights a week.
The Polynesian Cultural Center is only about an hour’s drive from Waikiki, making it an easy outing that’s fun for the whole family. There are canoe rides for visitors, an IMAX theater and the afore-mentioned Polynesian show, “Ha: Breath of Life.” It’s gotten rave reviews, and it’s performed every night except Sunday, when the center is closed. There’s also a traditional luau which visitors can participate in, sampling traditional Polynesian food – including poi and poke.
The following countries each has their own traditional “village” in the Polynesian Cultural Center:
- Aotearoa (now called New Zealand)
Because of the sheer size of the Polynesian Cultural Center, you might feel rushed trying to pack it all into one visit. But with their “Free Within Three” offer, you don’t have to – it allows you to return to the center within three days of your first admission free of charge. Ask about it when you purchase your tickets.
The history of the Polynesian Cultural Center might be a bit surprising to those who are unfamiliar with it – it’s located on land owned by Brigham Young Unversity Hawaii, where most of the performers actually go to school. If performers work a certain number of hours while they’re enrolled, they’ll graduate from college without any student debt. Some of the profits the center brings in are applied to scholarships at BYU Hawaii, as well.
Location: 55-370 Kamehameha Highway, Laie, Hawaii (HI) 96762; tel – toll-free from the mainland U.S. at 800-367-7060, on Oahu, 293-3333
Transportation is available to and from the Polynesian Cultural Center, or you can do your own driving. Parking is $5 per vehicle.
Hours: Open Monday-Saturday (closed Sundays, Thanksgiving and Christmas); hours vary depending on exhibit/performance. See list of hours of operation here. If you are visiting during the month of October, you may want to check out the Haunted Lagoon, which takes over the park once the sun goes down… if you dare!
Admission: Admission prices vary depending on what exhibits/performances you include in your package. You can find out more about the packages available here.
Here’s a behind the scenes look at the Ha: Breath of Life show, which takes place each evening at the Polynesian Cultural Center.