Top 10 Highlights of the Polynesian Cultural Center

By Andy Beth Miller

Long revered as being a Hawaiian hub of education, island culture, and heritage, Oahu’s Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) is also a place filled with family fun, exciting festivities, and near endless options for exploring the fascinating history of Hawaii’s Pacific Islander ancestors. And the best part? It’s all hands-on, meaning that you and the keiki (children) can truly experience what daily life was actually like for the first Polynesians arriving in Hawaii. Gathered here are our top 10 Polynesian Cultural Center highlights, so roll up your sleeves and get ready for a can’t-miss cultural immersion adventure!

1.  Visit the newly opened Tongan Village.

PCC Polynesian Cultural Center

His Majesty, King Tupou VI, King of Tonga, and Her Majesty, Queen Nanasipau’u, Queen of Tonga, on a specially constructed throne dais in front of the “fale fakatu’i” (Queen’s summer palace) in the Polynesian Cultural Center’s Tongan Village. Photo: Polynesian Cultural Center.

Begin by visiting the newly opened Tongan Village, where you will be introduced to Tongan ta nafa, or drumming on the oversized native drums the island is known for. Watch in amazement (or maybe even be called to join in the drumming onstage!) as you learn the simple yet graceful movements of the mauluulu sitting dance. Or try your hand at a Tongan shuffleboard game (called lafo) or tolo, underhanded spear throwing!

2.  Witness an exhilarating traditional war dance.

Photo: Polynesian Cultural Center.

Tatooed Maori warriors of the Aotearoa Village protrude their tongues while performing their stirring war dance – the haka. Photo: Polynesian Cultural Center.

More excitement awaits at the Aotearoa village, including a performance by the uniquely tattooed tribal inhabitants performing the haka, their exhilarating traditional war dance, complete with protruding tongues (just don’t forget to ask them the symbolic meaning for this seemingly strange gesture)!

3.  Prepare an authentic Samoan meal.

PCC Polynesian Cultural Center

See real-life living quarters, cooking huts and a chief’s home, all built without nails. And then, get a taste of real Samoan food, prepared throughout the day. Matter of fact, you can help prepare it. Photo: Polynesian Cultural Center.

Scintillating cuisine combines with tons of fun at the Samoa Village, where visitors will actually be able to prepare an authentic Samoan meal utilizing the spices, tastes and flavors unique to this fascinating people group.

4.  Shake it off with a Tahitian dance.

PCC Polynesian Cultural Center

Come enjoy an in-depth demonstration of both the women’s and men’s movements in their mesmerizing dances. In the process, they’ll get you shaking and shimmering yourself. Photo: Polynesian Cultural Center.

Try your hand (and move your hips!) at a native Tahitian dance demonstration, where you will learn how to shake, shimmy and sway to the island rhythms a la authentic Tahitian style.

5.  Throw a spear like a Polynesian warrior.

PCC Polynesian Cultural Center

Train with the pros. Learn to throw a spear from Maori warriors in the Aotearoa Village. Photo: Polynesian Cultural Center.

Embrace your own wild (and a lil’ rowdy) warrior within by partaking in the games and activities each village offers, including the chance to propel a native spear with all your might in the Aotearoa, Tongan and Tahitian villages—much like the Polynesian ancestors used to do.

6.  Make fire with sticks in the Samoan village.

While visiting these villages, you are leaving modern conveniences behind…including electricity. Dive into the experience by learning how the Polynesian ancestors kept warm, making fire with sticks, and literally light the spark toward channeling your inner outdoorsman.

7.  Launch out on a canoe ride.

canoe trip

Hop into an outrigger canoe like the islanders used centuries ago and paddle around our tropical lagoon. Photo: Polynesian Cultural Center.

Take a break from the landlubber activities and head to the waters, launching out on a canoe along the manmade village “lagoons.” You’ll forget you’re not somewhere far away upon the actual seas; it all feels so real!

8.  Find that perfect souvenir.

PCC Polynesian Cultural Center

What would most impress your friends back home? A hand carved Fijian warrior club? Well, that’s one idea. Photo: Polynesian Cultural Center.

With all the memories you are making, you’ll want a piece of this paradise to bring home with you, and the Polynesian Cultural Center’s marketplace makes finding that perfect souvenir easy and convenient. Browse around and bring back a keepsake that captures all you enjoyed while here in Hawaiʻi.

9.  Feast like royalty.

PCC Polynesian Cultural Center

The Alii Luau is a royal celebration of cultural heritage and delicious traditional food. Photo: Polynesian Cultural Center.

After a full day of village play, you’ll have worked up a royal appetite. But don’t fear, the authentic Aliʻi Luau Buffet at Polynesian Cultural Center offers dining fit for a king or queen, filled with mouthwatering island fare.

10.  Enjoy the grand finale – Ha: Breath of Life.

And now, with happy, full bellies and warm, filled hearts, enjoy the grand finale, the most spectacular evening show in the islands, “Hā: Breath of Life.” E Komo Mai, friends (welcome)!

Polynesian Cultural Center Information

Open: Monday – Saturday, 12:00-9:00pm
Closed: Sundays
Address: 55-370 Kamehameha Hwy., Laie, Hawaii 96762
Phone: 1-800-367-7060

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