Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Immersing your kids in Polynesian Culture

Visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center in Oahu with your Familiy
By Mark Fitzgerald

Fijian Temple at Polynesian Cultural Center
Fijian Island area at PCC
The Polynesian cultural center is a wonderful place for your family to learn about culture, be entertained and live the island experience for a day.  It is a great destination for all ages.   The center is divided into the 7 islands of Polynesia.  There are 30 minute presentations to entertain you at each island, repeated as various times throughout the day.  In between the presentations there are activities, games and demonstrations in which you can participate.  The day is capped off with a luau buffet and evening spectacular show called the Ha: Breath of Life.

Cultural and Musical Presentation at the PCC
Musical and cultural presentation
If you are going as a couple I highly recommend upgrading to the Ambassador package.  It includes extras such as a guided tour, priority seating at the luau and show, a shell lei and other things that quickly pay itself off.  I think for a family you may be better off with the normal package.  All packages come with the opportunity to come back to continue touring the island presentations and activities t 3 days after your initial visit free of charge.  There is enough to do we found it a nice option.

To get the most of your visit with your family I recommend arriving at 11:45 to pick up your tickets.  I would work your way to the back of the park to Hawaii to begin with their 12:05 presentation.  Afterwards I would bring your family to the 12:30 Samoa presentation and the 1:00 Aotearoa (New Zealand).
The stage for the Ha: Breath of Life evening dance show
The stage for the Ha: Breath of Life evening dance show
At 1:30 I would seek out some food.  They have several “tastes of Polynesia” that were fun to try.  At $3 to $4 each they didn’t break the bank.  They included curry, sausage and rice, bread with a sweet coconut sauce and pineapple pies other interesting island treats.  As a side note if you want food in the park opens up 1 PM.  If you want to eat before that get it outside of the park gates in the Hukilau Market area.  About 2:15 or so wander over to stone benches along the river just by the Hawaiian Mission Settlement to watch the 2:30 Canoe Pageant.  This is a dance show that has people moving past you on canoes.

Activities at the Polynesian Cultural Center
Trying to start a fire
After the canoe pageant take the family the Hawaiian Journey Theater.  This is an IMAX movie that flies you through the island of Hawaii while rumbling your seat and slashing the cool ocean breeze on your face.  It is a nice break in the middle of the day to go inside a cool, dark theater.  At 3:30 return to the island presentations starting with Tahiti, followed Fiji at 4 and Tonga at 4:30.

This schedule will get you to all of the presentations but it doesn’t have to be that jammed packed.  There are children activities at each island if your young ones start to get restless.  There is also a canoe tour of the center and a tram tour of the city of Laie.

Bathrooms and water fountains can be found in the front and back of the park, as well as in the center by each of the buffet areas.

A map of the Polynesian Cultural Center and help you plan and navigate your day.
Map of the Polynesian Cultural Center
Map of the Polynesian Cultural Center

This video can help give you a feel for the evening performance, the Ha: Breath of Life.  I highly recommend splurging for their $5 Hawaiian Delight ice cream during intermission.

One last thing I like about bringing the family to the PCC is the social aspect.  The performers are students at the nearby Brigham Young University Hawaii.  They are here on scholarship and have the chance to work, preserve their culture and prepare for the future.  I feel good about being able to help and be entertained for a day as a reward.

At an hour away driving out to the cultural center isn’t hard and parking is free.  It is possible to take public transport but it is slow and on the way back will require a transfer.  You can also purchase transportation as part of your package when you buy tickets.  They will pick you up in the Waikiki area about 10 am and return you back about 10:30 pm.

Drive to the Polynesian Cultural Center

Their website is

Going on a family vacation builds memories, provides life changing experiences and helps teach about the world we live in. Take time to explore, enjoy and have fun. If the Polynesian Cultural Center sounded interesting, you may also like Kaena Point. You can also look at our entire list of Hawaiian Attractions.