What To Do In Hawaii - Polynesian Cultural Center #travel #hawaii

Disclosure: I received entry at no charge in exchange for my honest review.
The Polynesian Cultural Center is, by far, one of the most wonderful places I've visited in Hawaii! We boarded a Polynesian Cultural Center tour bus in Waikiki, meeting our driver and a hilarious tour guide who called us all cousins. After a comfortable one-hour bus ride (with reclining seats and air conditioning) along the gorgeous windward side of Oahu, we arrived at the Polynesian Cultural Center around noon.
Hawaii has the best weather on the planet, and this day was perfect, the temperature around 84 degrees, with plenty of sunshine, cool breezes, and a few dotty clouds passing overhead. Above the lush greenery and tropical flowers, the tall trees gently waves their palms against a bright blue sky.
We checked in and met our two tour guides for the day. They called us cousins and ohana (family). Then we found out they were real cousins! They gave us each a Kukui Nut Lei, made of nuts from the kukui tree, the state tree of Hawaii. In ancient times, this type of lei was worn only by royalty.
Our tour guides led our hungry group of about 20 visitors past some beautiful waterfalls to the Hale Aloha, one of many wonderful places to eat at the Polynesian Cultural Center.
This was our beautiful view as we indulged in scrumptious foods from across the islands of Polynesia.
I don't think I've ever had chicken quite as delicious as the one I enjoyed there! By the way, the fresh pineapple in Hawaii is much sweeter than anywhere else.
But the highlight of any meal is, of course, the delectable desserts!
After a hearty meal, we sat back to relax in a large canoe. As our "driver" poled our canoe through the lagoon, our tour guides pointed out the different villages of the Polynesian islands that we would be visiting throughout the day.
The villages along the lagoon are designed to portray each of the islands accurately, preserving the distinct cultural heritage of Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti, Fiji, Aotearoa, and Tonga. Each of the six has very unique qualities to their homes, foods, dances, and dress. Here are some of my favorite photos from the canoe ride.

Walking through each of the villages is even more fun. We saw their boats, homes, tools, musical instruments, ornamental items, dishes, and so much more. Along the way, there are activities for all ages. Having tour guides tell us about everything along the way made the visit so much more meaningful.

We learned how to make poi, the Polynesian staple food made from the underground plant stem of the taro plant. We tasted the purple, starchy poi, which had about the same consistency of mashed sweet potato pudding. It tasted pretty good, a bit bland with a hint of sweetness.
Then we settled along the river for the Canoe Pageant, where we watched a parade of canoes, displaying the music, dance, and dress of the Polynesian islands. Their colorful costumes and animated dances were delightful. It was one of my favorite parts of the day!

During the parade, we heard a loud splash and discovered one of the dancers had ended up in the lagoon!

After the Canoe Pageant, we went to one of the shows, where a few people from the audience were able to get on stage and participate in the dancing and drum playing. It was roaring good fun and the music was lively!
I'm not so sure my husband would have learned how to hula dance if he'd known I was standing right behind him, catching all his island moves on video:

Afterwards, we learned some tricky dance moves with these soft bags that hung from long strings. I found it rather easy at first, twirling them both the same direction, but then we switched to twirling them different directions.
It was much like trying to pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time, and I ended up a pile of giggles after hitting myself in the head a couple of times. I finally got the hang of it, sort of.
We later settled into the shade to watch a fire-lighting race, which really lasted only a few seconds. I could hardly believe how fast these guys can light a fire. We were also told that Samoan men do all the cooking. That sounded fabulous to me!
Then they showed us how they climb, super fast up the coconut tree, to grab coconuts. Check out my video below! Every part of the coconut is used in island culture, including the husk, the coconut water, the coconut meat, the coconut milk squeezed out of the meat, and even the shell. Amazing!

In another area, we learned how to weave palm leaves and we each made a little fish. It isn't as easy as it looks! We sat cross-legged on woven mats that lined the floor of a large open-walled house, learning step by step how to weave them. In everything we did throughout the day, we were made to feel like family.
A grand buffet of many foods awaited us for dinner. We were greeted with warm aloha and beautiful flower leis. As we found our seats for dinner, they lifted up, from an underground oven, one of the largest pigs I've ever seen. It had been roasting all day long and the smell was intoxicating.
As we were laughingly encouraged to eat no less than seven plates of food, we were treated to a fabulous show of song and dance from across Polynesia. The keiki (children in Hawaiian) were absolutely adorable!

My most favorite part of the dinner show was this incredibly talented 9 year old who juggled firey batons:

We had a little bit of free time after dinner before the night show began, so we walked around the Hukilau Marketplace, looking in the many shops at all the wonderful island treats and treasures for sale.
As the sky darkened, we lined up to see Ha: Breath of Life. There are no photos or videos allowed in the show, so I had great expectations that it would be spectacular. I was not disappointed! The hour and a half night show is truly amazing. During intermission, we reveled in a Delight Dessert, which is a soft, sherbert-like dessert with tropical fruits. We had fabulous seats for the show, right near the front and center. I was entertained, surprised, delighted, and even nearly cried. I will remember it forever!
The Polynesian Cultural Center is an absolutely MUST-DO on the Hawaiian island of Oahu! It is a wonderful place for couples, families, students, seniors, or anyone who wants an authentic, memorable experience of the beautiful islands of Polynesia. There is so much to see and do that it could easily take two or three days to experience it all.
Visit www.polynesia.com to find out more and to buy tickets. I strongly encourage you to get one of the Ambassador packages because it comes with lots of great perks! Set up round trip transportation from a Waikiki hotel so you can enjoy the scenery on the way there, and relax in comfort (and nap a bit) on the way back. Our visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center was one of our most favorite days in Hawaii!
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