Polynesian Cultural Center on the North Shore, Hawaii


Guest Post: Ruth Elayne Kongaika


I live next door to one of the most popular destinations in Hawaii. It had very humble beginnings and is now considered the favorite attraction on Oahu. The Polynesian Cultural Center gives an in depth experience with seven Polynesian Countries. These include Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Tahiti, Aetearoa, Marquesas, and the host islands of Hawaii. You can spend a whole afternoon and evening getting familiarized with the cultures and traditions of these Polynesian identities. There is something for everyone at this attraction.

Each Polynesian Culture has a village where you can observe and participate. There are demonstrations by native Samoans, who show you how to start a fire by rubbing sticks together, cut a coconut in two with a rock, and climb a coconut tree.

You can try to twirl the poi balls, play a stick game, or get a temporary tattoo at the Maori village. Play the log drum in the Fijian village or learn basic hula steps in the Hawaiian village. You can also observe Hawaiian quilting and learn about local root crops.

Fijian Dancers at the Polynesian Cultural Center, HawaiiChildren and adults can make crafts in the villages, like woven hats. They can also fish from the pier at the Tahitian Village or learn how to make a fragrant lei. One game everyone enjoys is the shuffleboard in the Tongan Village. Tiki and other wood carving demonstrations by skilled Polynesians can also be enjoyed. You can learn the basics of ukulele playing near the large canoe, Iosepa.

Large canoes drift leisurely over the lagoon guided by a university student with a long pole. Guests are entertained and educated as they pass under several bridges and past the Polynesian villages.

Every day at 2:30 pm there is a canoe pageant. Each Polynesian culture is represented by dancing and singing on the canoes as they are maneuvered around the lagoon. It is a very colorful and exciting show, not to be missed. Visitors are encouraged to capture photos of their experiences throughout the center up until the night show.

There is an exhibit of the Iosepa, a working double hulled canoe made for the center. It is patterned after those used by the ancient Polynesians to navigate the South Pacific.

Part of Canoe Pageant at the Polynesian Cultural Center, HawaiiYou can experience authentic Polynesian food at the various diners, learn about underground cooking or feast at the Ali’i Luau. Light snacks and drinks are available also. Fine dining starts at 5:00 pm, which includes lobster and other delicious favorites.

You can purchase souvenirs to remember your experience at the Polynesian Culture Center at several different shops.

You can take a tour of the nearby community, including Brigham Young University Hawaii, where it all started, and learn of the history of the center. You can also visit the local LDS Temple and visitor's center in the community of Laie.

The Polynesian Cultural Center experience culminates in a large theater including a state of the art light and sound show entitled "Ha, Breath of Life". This masterpiece tells the story of a young boy, Mana, and his experiences of growing into manhood in the Polynesian Islands. It has received rave reviews.

Front Entrance of the Polynesian Cultural Center, HawaiiThe Polynesian Cultural Center is dedicated to the preservation and perpetuation traditions and culturs in the islands of the Pacific. The majority of the employees are the students from the nearby Brigham Young University – Hawaii. Many of these students return to their homelands after graduation to become leaders and share the skills and knowledge they have obtained. The center is considered one of the world’s most successful theme attractions, and was built in 1963 by Mormon labor missionaries (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).

The main website for the Polynesian Cultural Center is:



Ruth Elayne Kongaika was raised in the mainland, USA, but has been living in the South Pacific for the past forty years. She enjoys trying to capture the beauty of the Polynesian islands through her photography, painting and writing. She has a blog which shares some of her art and favorite subjects at:


email: kongaikr@byuh.edu


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