• Polynesian Cultural Center

    February 21, 2013

    The final stop of our visit to the North Shore was at the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC), which, in a word, was awesome. Seriously. I wish Mal and I had given ourselves more time there to explore everything it had to offer. The place was amazing!

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    When we picked up our tickets at the entrance, Mal and I received a traditional kukui nut lei greeting. It was quite a warm welcome—in fact, all of the staff we encountered at the PCC was especially friendly and accommodating.

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    Then, we went to explore—my goodness, there was so much to see and do! The Polynesian Cultural Center is definitely a “must-see” if you visit Oahu.

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    There were multiple exhibits to learn about and interact with various Polynesian cultures, including Hawaii, Samoa, Maori New Zealand, Fiji, Tahiti, the Marquesas, and Tonga.

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    Mal and I watched an interactive demonstration where two audience members tried to make fire. They weren’t successful, but the Samoan men had no problem!

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    At the PCC, you can also try outrigger canoe paddling, which I thought looked like a ton of fun. Unfortunately, Mal and I didn’t have enough time to give it a try.

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    After exploring for awhile, Mal and I enjoyed a traditional luau for dinner.

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    As we entered Hale Ohana, we were each given a orchid lei and seated at long tables in front of a stage where we enjoyed various performers over the course of the two-hour event.

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    The luau began with the entrance of the king’s royal court, who portrayed the authenticity and excitement of luaus long ago.

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    While we watched, Mal and I shared a pina colada smoothie that was served in a pineapple. Yum!

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    After being introduced to the royal court, we watched a traditional imu ceremony. The ceremony involved removing layers of cloth and leaves from the underground oven to expose the cooked pork.

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    Then, the pork was removed from the pit and eaten at the luau.

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    After the imu ceremony, we were all invited to enjoy a buffet feast with all sorts of traditional fare, including shredded pork, chicken teriyaki, baked mahi-mahi, chicken long rice, Hawaiian poi, and sweet potato salad.

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    I filled my plate with a little bit of everything— I wanted to try it all! The pork was really delicious, especially with some Hawaiian hot sauce!

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    During dinner, we enjoyed a number of traditional performances.

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    After dinner, Mal and I attended the PCC’s Hawaiian dance show, “Ha: The Breath of Life.” I wasn’t able to take photos during the performance, so the PCC shared a bunch of photos with me for this post.

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    “Ha” included over a 100 performers, who danced, drummed, sang, chanted, and played with fire. It was quite an impressive show with a really moving story:

    Born just after his parents wash ashore, Mana begins a South Pacific odyssey that leads to becoming a warrior. In the process, he must prove his worthiness to wed the fair Lani by walking on fire. And, ultimately, he must battle to protect his new family from marauding invaders.

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    I really enjoyed my time at the Polynesia Cultural Center, and I definitely recommend visiting when you’re in Oahu. It’s truly an amazing place.

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    { 48 comments… read them below or add one }

    Avery @ Southern Belle Living Well February 21, 2013 at 10:10 pm

    It’s so beautiful there! I can’t get over how green it is. I’m not really “In the know” about Polynesian culture, but now I really want to go do some readin’ up!


    Ush February 21, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    I’d really like to visit Hawaii someday, but to be honest, places like this just scream “tourist trap” to me – everything seems like it’s been planned with tourists in mind, which to me makes it not authentic. I’m pretty well traveled and these are the types of places I always avoid.


    Rachel February 22, 2013 at 10:41 am

    I’m not Hawaiian, but I am a trained Hula dancer. The PCC is one of the most authentic, full day experiences you can have on Ohau. It’s a great way to learn about the various Polynesian cultures and experience a little of each of their histories. It may seem “tourist trap” but I definitely recommend it. It’s one of my “must do’s” every time I visit Hawaii.


    amy February 22, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    @Ush: @Rachel: Seconding Rachel, I’ve been to the PCC and it is a great experience. In some ways, it is like Hawaiian disneyworld, but it is educational and I believe it exists with a mission of keeping the Polynesian culture alive and educating the world about the history and culture of Polynesian peoples, while also providing higher education opportunities to the people of Hawaii. Many of the performers/workers are college students on scholarship, so they are earning a college degree while providing an educational/entertaining experience for the many, many tourists that visit Hawaii. Tourism is a huge part of Hawaii’s economy, and I was happy to support their economy while learning something and being entertained and also supporting the education of the PCC performers. I can’t wait to go back some day!


    amy February 22, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    @amy: Haha I just realized that the profile picture of me was taken in Hawaii. I think that was somewhere on Diamond Head!


    Hillary | Nutrition Nut on the Run February 21, 2013 at 10:57 pm

    What a neat experience! I went to a luau when I visited Hawaii… way back in 5th grade… it’s such a fond memory 🙂


    michelle kim February 22, 2013 at 1:37 am

    Oooh looks great! I always hear that the PCC is one of best places to go and that there’s lots of entertainment.
    The luau food looks so good!


    Nicole February 22, 2013 at 4:24 am

    All I can think about when I see the delicious smoothie is how much work and prep it must take to be serving drinks in pineapples!!


    Rebecca February 22, 2013 at 5:34 am

    I loved my time at the PCC, short as it was. I was fascinated to see the coconut retrieval demonstration. The fellas just bounded up the trees like they were ladders. Definitely a must see when on the island, pricey but well worth it.


    Tina February 22, 2013 at 11:34 am

    @Rebecca: That sounds so cool! I wish we had seen that!


    Mary February 22, 2013 at 7:17 am

    I agree with Ush, was your time there part of your trip, or by choice?


    Tina February 22, 2013 at 11:33 am

    @Mary: Part of my trip, and I really loved it!


    Anele @ Success Along the Weigh February 22, 2013 at 7:31 am

    I am SOOOOO glad you guys went there! It’s always pains me when people go to Oahu and don’t visit there because they think it’s going to be some boring educational thing. Those kids from BYU are passionate about representing the cultures and are so nice. I couldn’t help but smile looking at the pics of your luau since that’s where we went for our honeymoon. The show they do during dinner is so good. I was one of the people yanked up on stage at the Samoa exhibit the 2nd time we went and had a friend with us (talk about terror). It was to try the coconut water. The guy doesn’t work there anymore but he were so funny together that people asked me afterward if I was a plant.


    Anele @ Success Along the Weigh February 22, 2013 at 7:31 am

    @Anele @ Success Along the Weigh:

    * WE were so funny together. It’s still kinda early. 🙂


    Lindsay's List February 22, 2013 at 8:29 am

    you and mal are one good lookin’ couple!


    Jenny February 22, 2013 at 8:35 am

    This is very interesting. When we visited, we found the place to be a complete tourist trap. They don’t tell you that you have to pay at least $9 for parking, and the entire place is crowded beyond belief with school children visiting. The luau was a pretty boring buffet with not great dancing – if you visit any other luau you’ll see what you’re missing at PCC. And not to mention – NO alcohol anywhere on the premise because it’s run by BYU. The Ha breath of life show afterward dragged on – and in the middle they sell you a $7 “traditional Hawaiian dessert” – sherbert with canned mixed fruit. The whole thing felt ridiculous. Sorry to be such a downer about this, but I really expected a better experience there, and don’t want anyone else to be disappointed if they go.


    Ali @ Peaches and Football February 22, 2013 at 8:35 am

    What a fun experience!!! I think the PCC looks like a terrific way to spend the day – everything looks so lush and tropical and seeing a luau and eating all that terrific food, oh boy. Now I really want to go to Hawaii!!! 🙂


    Ashley @ My Food 'N' Fitness Diaries February 22, 2013 at 8:41 am

    I feel like I’m reliving our Oahu trip several years ago! I love the Polynesian Cultural Center too. Glad you guys had such a great time!


    Melanie @ Beautifully Nutty February 22, 2013 at 8:43 am

    So many wonderful things to see and do in Hawaii! Now I REALLY want to go!


    Jen February 22, 2013 at 8:46 am

    Food looks amazing! Question – how does your colitis respond to eating a wide variety of different types of foods out while on vacation?


    Tina February 22, 2013 at 11:36 am

    The food has been fine. Not so sure about the booze though! 😉


    Suzanne February 22, 2013 at 8:54 am

    The luau photos are just amazing! Look like you’re having a wonderful trip!


    Nicole @ Fruit 'N' Fitness February 22, 2013 at 8:59 am

    What a fun way to experience Hawaii, I love learning about different cultures when I travel!


    Stacey C February 22, 2013 at 9:02 am

    SO glad you are loving your trip! I went there 10 years ago on my honeymoon. I agree it’s for tourists…duh! It’s exactly what I expected and wasn’t disapointed because it’s built to educate/entertain. We were also invited to a traditional luau by some natives and similar elements were present. The PCC just pulls out all the bells and whistles to entertain the masses. I think it’s worth it if you realize it is what it is. Keep having fun!


    Vicki February 22, 2013 at 9:13 am

    I have always wanted to go to Hawaii. Seeing your wonderful posts makes me want to go even more.


    Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl February 22, 2013 at 9:21 am

    Seeing you wearing shorts and a tank top while I am surrounded by snow is making me BEYOND jealous!! 😉


    Shel@PeachyPalate February 22, 2013 at 9:22 am

    It looks gorgeous! You’re fitting in so much to your trip! The posts just keep on coming!


    Heidi February 22, 2013 at 9:37 am

    Wow! This looks absolutely beautiful! From the food- to the drinks- to the dancing, everything looks amazing! Glad you are having such a great time 🙂 It was 25 degrees when I left for work this morning, so I am totally living vicariously through you, haha. Enjoy!


    sara @ fitcupcaker February 22, 2013 at 9:45 am

    That place is beautiful! That drink was served in the pineapple how awesome! I am so jealous! Its rainy and icy here!


    hallie February 22, 2013 at 9:46 am

    Did you try the Poi? did you like it?


    Tina February 22, 2013 at 11:09 am

    I did, but I didn’t really like it.


    Elizabeth @ Positive Change February 22, 2013 at 9:51 am

    What a cool experience!


    Lauren @ Eat Like An Elephant February 22, 2013 at 9:56 am

    I was there when I went to Oahu, I second the recommendation!


    Kim February 22, 2013 at 10:06 am

    I went there when I went to Hawaii in grade 12… so quite awhile ago! I loved watching the dancing.


    Jenny@thewellnessjourney February 22, 2013 at 10:07 am

    Million dollar question – While in Oahu, did you have any Jack Johnson sightings?!?! #heaven 🙂

    The island looks beautiful! I’m sure it was hard to leave!


    Tina February 22, 2013 at 11:09 am

    I haven’t seen him, but I’ve heard a lot of his music! 🙂


    Jenny@thewellnessjourney February 25, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    @Tina: My daughter says she wants to marry him. (she’s 10) lol


    Ashley @ Coffee Cake and Cardio February 22, 2013 at 10:23 am

    What a neat experience!!!


    Tempie @ The Texas Peach February 22, 2013 at 10:28 am

    Wow, that does look like an awesome place! If we ever get back over to Hawaii, I’d definitely want to go there! We went to a luau when we were in Kauai several years ago, and it was a really fun experience.


    Anne February 22, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    When we went to the PCC, I wish that someone had told us that it was kind of like Disney World. I was expecting something a bit more quaint. Also, we got on a bus that we thought would take us around the park, but we ended up getting a tour of BYU Hawaii and a presentation on being Mormon. But hey, we saw a mongoose!


    Anna {Herbivore Triathlete} February 22, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    This looks like such an amazing experience. I wish I was somewhere tropical right now, it’s snowing and cold up here in the Northeast!


    Alyssa February 22, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    That looks like such an amazing time! I hope to go to Hawaii someday & I’ll definitely have to remember to go there.


    Annette@FitnessPerks February 22, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    I’ve heard how amazing it is there–how neat that you got to go!! The dancing & show looks awesome.


    Rynessa@eatrightnewsletter.com February 22, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    Wow, it’s so beautiful It’s always great to visit beautiful places but what really makes for an experience is being exposed to different cultures. They actually still have natives there


    Kate @ The Zesty Brunette February 22, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    I wonder if the show you saw “Ha”, is the same show that the whole family from the tv show Full House saw when they went to Hawaii for a couple of episodes. If I remember correctly, Uncle Jesse got up and played with the band. Maybe the Beach Boy’s were there too?


    Janny February 23, 2013 at 12:15 am

    Wow, it looks like so much fun! Love the shot of the fire rings!


    Alyssa February 23, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    We loved it too 🙂


    marie February 28, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    I attended BYU Hawaii and most of my Polynesian classmates worked there. The PCC was built (by the Mormon church) so those students had a way to pay for college, as well as keep the Polynesian traditions alive. Much of the profits are also used for scholarships to make up the difference for their education.


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