Polynesia on no budget – Hawaii’s Polynesian Cultural Center

What do you do when you want to take a tour of the Polynesian Islands but you’re not rich? You do what I did – you go to Hawai’i and while you’re there you visit the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC), a forty-two acre cultural theme park on the island of O’ahu.

The PCC showcases the individual cultures of seven of the approximately 14 South Pacific island groups (including Hawai’i) that make up Polynesia. The day long experience is an educational, entertaining, and interactive experience that provides for plenty of opportunity for audience participation.

In addition to the cultural experiences in the villages, you will get to experience an authentic luau dinner (except for the General Admission ticket), and two excellent performances with your admission to the PCC – the Canoe Pageant and the day’s grand finale show, “Hā: Breath of Life”.

Village Highlights


Hawaii Alii
The Hawaiian traditional dance, the hula, is not what most people think it is. Find out what it really is, along with the correct pronunciation of Hawaiian words like ‘ukulele and Honolulu, as well as learning the origin of the Hawaiian people, and other interesting and fun facts when you visit the Hawai’i village.

The singer Shakira said “hips don’t lie”. This is definitely so in the case of Tahiti’s traditional dance the otea, which was once banned by Christian missionaries. As with all the PCC villages, you’ll learn a little about Tahitian history and culture, but you may also get a dance lesson and chance to perform the otea for the audience.


There’s coconut water and coconut milk. Do you know the difference between the two? Learn about Samoan culture and the many (many!) different uses of coconut during a funny, and fun, presentation at the Samoa village.

The cultural presentation at the Fiji village is not only educational, it’s also a lot of fun because audience participation includes everyone. Did you know that the men of Fiji were known to be fearsome warriors? Watch the video to get an idea about why.


The Tonga village kept the funny and fun theme going. Got drums?

Aotearoa (New Zealand)

Surprise! Did you know that New Zealand is a Polynesian island? It is, and its indigenous people are the Maori.

The Marquesas and Other Polynesian Islands
Unfortunately, when I visited the PCC, there were no cultural presentations scheduled for the Marquesas Islands. Also, at the present time the PCC has yet to have representation of 7 other islands that make up Polynesia – the Cook Islands, Niue, Wallis and Fortuna, Tuvalu, Tokelau, Pitcairn, and the Truant Archipelago.

Getting there

The Polynesian Cultural Center is located in the small city of Laie on the windward side of the island of O’ahu, about an hour’s drive north of Honolulu and a short drive from the island’s famous North Shore. It opens at 11:45 a.m. Monday through Saturday with the Island Tours and Hawai’i village presentation beginning at 12:05 p.m. Tickets range from $50 to $152 for adults and $40 to $107 for children ages 5-11. Be aware that the least expensive tickets don’t include the luau dinner or admission to the grand finale show “Hā: Breath of Life”.

I recommend renting a car and leaving early to drive to the PCC so you’re able to stop and sight-see. The two lane road to Laie, Kamehameha Highway, is on the coast and at some points literally just a few feet away from the Pacific Ocean – the landscape and ocean views are absolutely stunning, so you’ll definitely want to stop and take pictures on your way to the Center.

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Photo and video credit: Rosalind Gash