Hawaii is an eclectic mix of cultures, combining traditions and ways of life from throughout Polynesia.  At the Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu you can explore eight island villages and exhibits representing the Islands of Aotearoa New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii, Samoa, Marquesas, Rapa Nui, Tonga and Tahiti.  Collectively, they create the way of life and unique experience that is Hawaii.

The Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu Experience

During my visit, I opted for the package that included an ambassador, the Ali’I Luau and HA Show.  The personal touch of a visit to Polynesian Cultural Center is enhanced when you opt for the Ambassador led tour.  With this ticket type, you’re given a friendly, knowledgeable guide who leads your small group from village to village.  If you have the time and money, this is the way to go!

Not only do you get access to more firsthand knowledge, but you also get more one on one time at each village.  Still, it can be difficult to visit all of the cultural center’s villages in one day. So, be sure to plan ahead and have an agenda before you enter the park.  This way you can make the most of your day at one of Oahu’s finest attractions.

Rainbows of Paradise canoe pageant is one of the highlights of a visit. Held around noon each day, the pageant showcases the songs and dances of each island culture on boats that float through the Center’s winding lagoon.  Be sure to head to the lagoon a bit before the show starts so you can get a prime viewing spot of the Polynesian spectacular.

hawaii_2012_round_2_2268 Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu

Immersive, engaging and educationally entertaining, a day at the Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu is an excellent introduction to the history as well as the traditions of Hawaii.  To fully explore all the attraction has to offer I recommend spending a full day at the park.  Generally speaking, this will provide enough time to visit the different sections of the park. Each is dedicated to a different Polynesian Island, with an atmosphere all it’s own. Accordingly, it’s easy to learn firsthand from the native people of each island with interactive demonstrations.

At the Tahitian village I shook my hips as I learned native dances and tried my hand a spear throwing. Then, at the Samoan village I learned the skill of fire making and how to crack a coconut using a small pebble. Meanwhile at the Islands of Aotearoa I got a Maori tattoo (don’t worry they wash off!) and tried the art of twirling poi balls.  Of course, at the Hawaiian village I brushed up on my hula skills and find out why the hula plays an important part in Hawaiian heritage.  These are just a few of the things to do at Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu.  As you can see, whether it be through costume, food, music, or ritual, each aspect of Polynesian culture is presented.

807 Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu

At the end of an activity filled day, I head to the Ali’I Luau.  Luaus are of course a staple of Hawaii attractions. However, I must say this luau is extremely well done. Moreover, the food is some of the best I’ve had at Hawaiian luaus.  Plus, the entertainment showcases not only the history of luaus and importance of the royal ceremony but adds some adorable kids who are already pros at the art of dance and showmanship.

There’s a short break before HA! starts. Take this time to shop at the open market.  Art work, coconut candles, handmade jewelry and many other Hawaiian handicrafts are available for purchase.  Gather up some souvenirs before HA: Breath of Life begins.  Ignited by fire, song and dance, this symbolic story is a tale of birth, death, love and family.  Be prepared for not only an emotional, Broadway-style saga but a stunning show unlike any other you’ll see on the islands.

My day of discovering Polynesian culture was aided by my ambassador, the entertaining and delicious Ali’I Luau and simply stunning HA night show.  As a result, I was very pleased with my package purchase. Make a day of it and explore all this enthralling Oahu attraction has to offer.  It’s worth every penny and I’ll certainly return to learn more about the Polynesian heritage of the islands.


Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Hawaii to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.