The Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) is a family-friendly cultural village in north Oahu that pays homage to the native inhabitants of the Pacific. Located about 1 hour from Honolulu, the exciting exhibition is among Hawaii’s most popular attractions. Kids and grown-ups can enjoy scheduled performances, not to mention the evening extravaganza and bountiful buffet.
Since the Church of Latter-Day Saints founded the PCC in 1962, it’s welcomed over 32 million visitors (about 700,000 each year). The non-profit organization resides on a lush 42-acre plot owned by the Brigham Young University (BYU), whose students comprise the vast majority of the staff. A large portion of the profits goes towards funding educational initiatives – here’s your chance to support the local economy while enjoying a fun-filled family day out on Oahu.
Polynesian Cultural Center in Honolulu – one of the highlights of 10 Best Family Things to Do in Honolulu and 10 Best Things to Do in Oahu (Read all about Honolulu here)
What are the highlights and features of the Polynesian Cultural Center?
The Polynesian Cultural Center houses 6 villages representing the most prevalent Polynesian people, each showcasing cultural presentations throughout the day.
Watch Maori warriors dance the Hakka, Hawaiian musicians strum the ukulele, or Samoan tribesman scale towering palm trees. In the Fijian village, dancers pound their derua bamboo sticks, while soulful singers belt out love ballads while shimmying their hips in Tahiti. Visitors in Tonga glide through a lagoon on a traditional outrigger canoe.
Each presentation lasts 20 minutes or so, giving you plenty of time to chat with performers or explore the village before the next show.
If you fancy a souvenir, the vibrant Hukilau Marketplace sells exotic Polynesian handicrafts, from jewellery to garments and rich woodcarvings. There’s even a Polynesian Football Hall of Fame honouring the finest gridiron players of the Pacific.
A smorgasbord of dining venues caters to every taste, from classic American comfort food to Mexican treats and exotic Polynesian snacks. Don’t miss the Ali’i Luau buffet, a lavish evening feast where guests hear tales of Hawaiian royalty while enjoying tasty traditional food.
What to see at the Polynesian Cultural Center?
The Polynesian Cultural Center typically runs 2 special performances to complement the village exhibitions.
The evening extravaganza is Hā–Breath of Life, which features over 100 costumed performers. Something of a Pacific island saga, themes of family, culture, tragedy, and tradition are portrayed through song and dance. State-of-the-art special effects and piercing surround sound enhances the energetic production, while mesmerizing fire-twirling displays make for a memorable event. It costs extra, but many visitors rate Hā–Breath of Life as the main highlight.
During the day, Huki: A Canoe Celebration encapsulates the adventurous ocean-faring spirit of the Polynesian people. Visitors line the PCC lagoon shores at 2.30 pm to watch exuberant performers portray local myths while floating on traditional double-hulled canoes. The unique spectacular is included in the standard entry ticket.
Good to know about the Polynesian Cultural Center
The Polynesian Cultural Center is in the small seaside village of Laie, about an hour’s drive from Honolulu. Be sure to check out the Hawaii Temple while you’re there. The fastest way to arrive is by following the coast along the Kamehameha Highway, where you’ll enjoy sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean. Alternatively, take the inland route, stopping off to see the pineapple-clad Dole Plantation and the gnarly surf breaks of the North Shore beaches.
If you don’t have a car, a shuttle service runs from Waikiki Beach, which you book in conjunction with your ticket. Another option is to do the PCC Circle Island Tour. The full-day trip covers the top Oahu attractions in the morning before arriving at the Polynesian Cultural Center at midday and then brings you back to Waikiki after dinner.
The Polynesian Cultural Center offers packages to suit a different range of budgets, from standard tickets to add-ons that include transfers, meals, the Hā–Breath of Life performance, and/or the Ali’i Luau buffet.
Polynesian Cultural Center in Honolulu
Location: 55-370 Kamehameha Hwy, Laie, HI 96762, USA
Open: Monday–Tuesday from 11.45 am to 9 pm, Thursday–Saturday from 11.45 am to 9 pm (closed on Wednesdays and Sundays)
Phone: +1 800-367-7060