Go PolynesianO‘ahu

Photo: PCC

Founded in 1963, and Hawai‘i’s No. 1 attraction since 1977, the Polynesian Cultural Center celebrates the Aloha State’s diverse Polynesian background with award-winning performances and interactive attractions.

PCC’s signature attraction is a group of six villages and two exhibits highlighting islands from Fiji to Samoa, where hundreds of Polynesian islanders share their customs and traditions with visitors. Hands-on activities include playing Hawaiian games, throwing Tongan spears, paddling outrigger canoes, cooking and sampling Samoan dishes, getting temporary tattoos, twirling Maori poi balls and joining a Tahitian wedding party, among others.

The vibrant cultures come to life in the villages as Samoans share how homes are lashed together without nails using coconut fiber rope in Samoa. Maori villagers recount their history and legends captured in the intricate details in meeting houses built by master carvers using traditional logs brought in from New Zealand. Fijians invite you into the chief’s home. Tahitians help you tamure (dance). Tongans bring beautiful artistry into making bark cloth and communicating with drums. And Hawaiians teach hula in an anciently patterned setting. Guests are treated to the colorful and spirited Pageant of the Long Canoes (Hawai‘i’s only water-borne show) on the lagoon each afternoon at 2:30 p.m. Discover why Hawaiians revere these islands in PCC’s immersive giant-screen HAWAIIAN JOURNEY cinematic experience at Hawaiian Journey Theater, which is modeled after a volcano complete with lava tube, and features unique special effects and the largest screen in Hawai‘i.

As the sun sets, PCC offers up award-winning dining and show options. PCC’s most popular dining option is the ALI‘I LUAU, which won the prestigious Kahili Award (people’s choice) for preserving Hawaiian culture. The lu‘au includes a lei greeting, royal

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court, imu roast pig, Hawaiian Wedding Song for newlyweds and anniversary couples, beautiful hula and more. You can get your roasted pork carved right off the pig, sample Hawaiian poke (a raw fish dish) and poi, and much more. Other dining options include the Island Buffet or Prime Dining in the Gateway Restaurant.

Guests may also discover a variety of new food experiences at HUKILAU MARKETPLACE, PCC’s newest addition, that evokes the spirit of old La‘ie when the Hawaiian and Samoan residents put on a hukilau “down in old La‘ie Bay.” Here, more than 40 vendors and eateries offer regional products and ‘ono (delicious) treats. The new POUNDERS RESTAURANT serves exceptional lunches and dinners. Parking and admission to Hukilau Marketplace is free. It’s open daily (except Sunday) from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. For more info, go to hukilaumarketplace.com

The excitement continues into the evening with the unforgettable performance of HA: BREATH OF LIFE, the People’s Choice winner for “Best Live Show.” A cast of more than 100 performers traces the birth, coming of age, romance, tragedy and triumph of Mana and his family through fire, song and dance.

Over the years, more than 33 million people have passed through its gates. PCC begins tours and cultural presentations at noon, six days a week. (It’s closed Sundays, Thanksgiving and Christmas.)

Visitors can choose from a variety of packages to take advantage of any or all of the center’s opportunities. Call for reservations and specific show times. It’s all just a scenic hour’s drive from Waikiki at the Polynesian Cultural Center in La‘ie, located on O‘ahu’s North Shore. For more info, go to: polynesia.com.

Polynesian Cultural Center (808) 293-3333

Photo: PCC