The Polynesian Cultural Center is a must see when you visit the island of Oahu, Hawaii. This is an immersive experience in Polynesian culture. It was voted by USA Today, Trip Advisor, and Star Advertizer as Hawaii’s Best Tourist Attraction in 2019.
Not only do you get to learn about the Hawaiian Islands but other Pacific Islands are represented. There are representatives from Tonga, Fiji, Cook Islands and many more islands of the Pacific.
What I love about the Polynesian Cultural Center is that it really benefits the community. It is a non- profit organization. The majority of the employees that work here are college students at Brigham Young University Hawaii.
The students are given scholarships for their schooling and in return they represent their culture and work at the center. Most of the students are from small islands and the university allows them to get a great education and then go back and make a difference in their homeland.
Let’s explore everything there is to do at the Polynesian Cultural Center so you can plan the perfect trip!
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Directions to the Polynesian Cultural Center
Address for the Polynesian Cultural Center:
Give yourself plenty of time to get to the North Shore if you are coming from Honolulu. It will take between 60-75 minutes depending on traffic. Commuter traffic is heavy between the hours of 3:30 pm- 6:30 pm.
Shuttle service from Waikiki is available. As you purchase your tickets online you will have an option to add transportation to your Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) tickets. You may have to call the reservation center to reserve your time.
There are two options for shuttle service: Motor- coach and Mini- coach. Motor-coach ($27- round trip) has designated pickup sites near some of the hotels in Waikiki. Mini-coach ($37 – round trip) will pick you up directly from the lobby of your hotel.
Parking at the Polynesian Cultural Center
Parking is free! The parking lot is very large. There is a shuttle service between the parking lot and the Hukilau Marketplace, which is the access point to PCC.
Hours and Admission to the Polynesian Cultural Center
(Mon – Sat) Closed Sundays
- Islands 11:45 am – 6:00 pm
- Huki: A Canoe Celebration 2:20 pm – 3:00 pm (Amazing! You do not want to miss this)
- HA: Breath of Life Evening Show 7:30 pm – 8:45 pm (Fire Twirlers)
- Hukilau Marketplace 11:00 am – 9:30 pm (Some of the restaurants in the marketplace close earlier)
There are a lot of different packages to pick from. We went with the admission and show package, which is the lowest priced package. I do not recommend that. Personally, I would recommend doing the most popular package, AlI’I Luau Package, which will give you a much nicer dinner with a show while you eat.
If you want a tour guide there are other packages available. I tend to be a more self guided type of person.
Free “3 Days” Re- Admission
You can receive re-admission to the Island Villages with your purchase of a full day package. Just head to the ticket office for redemption. We didn’t have enough time to take advantage of this offer. I would have liked more time to explore the islands a little more than the 1 day that we were able to go. We didn’t get to see everything.
If you need a ticket with transportation I do have an affiliate link with a company I really like.
How Long Should I Plan to Stay at the Polynesian Cultural Center?
Plan to stay the entire day. But since PCC doesn’t open until 11:00 am, you could get something else in beforehand. We were able to go on an early morning snorkeling expedition and still have time to get dressed and get there by opening time.
There are so many activities and shows at each island village location. You will be busy from the time you enter until it closes. The island village closes at 6:00 pm. You will than eat dinner at your location of choice. To finish things off, there is a show, HA: Breath of Life Show which is in a huge arena and ends at 8:45 pm.
Starting your Tour of The Polynesian Cultural Center
Since the Huklau Marketplace opens up 45 minutes before the PCC, you may want to get an early
lunch in. There are a number of food options, which are described in detail later in this post.
As you enter the Polynesian Cultural Center you will see that there are villages located through the entire area. Each village represents a Pacific Island culture. You can start at any village you would like.
As you visit each village there will be shows, crafts, or presentations to help immerse yourself in the culture. Your brochure as well as signs at the PCC, will indicate the times for shows. These are offered on the hour.
These shows are so fun! You need to be there a little early so that you can reserve your seat. One that we loved pulled people out of the audience and had them dancing and drumming. It was really funny! Most of the shows have crowd involvement so they are interactive.
One thing you do not want to miss is the Huki: A Canoe Celebration. This is a river boat show that starts at 2:20 pm. Be sure to schedule your day around this show.
Huki: A Canoe Celebration
This experience reminded me a lot of the water shows at Disney World (think Fantasmic and
Rivers of Light). I think the reason for that is it tells a story on a grand scale with great effects.
A story is told of how the Polynesian Cultural Center was formed and how the Pacific Ocean pulls us together as one family. It was a great story and impressive show.
There are currently six, permanent Island areas to visit at the PCC: Hawaii, Tonga, Aotearoa, Samoa, Fiji, and Tahiti. Here is a sampling of what you can do in each.
As you visit each village there will be shows, crafts, or presentations to help immerse yourself in the culture.
Top Things to Do:
- Learn to do the Hula
- Learn How to throw fishing nets the island way
- Watch how poi is made, and try a taste yourself
- Try Ancient Hawaiian games
Top Things to Do:
- Take a Canoe Ride
- Weave a fish from coconut leaves
- Compete in a Spear throwing contest
- Learn about tapa cloth
Top Things to Do:
- Cook up a Samoan dish in the outdoor kitchen
- Learn how to crack a coconut and milk it
- Make fire the Samoan way
- Learn how to spin a fireknife
Top Things to Do:
- Team building activity called Maui Matau
- Maori stick game
- View traditionally carved Waka Taua War Canoe
- Make a fish hook necklace
Top Things to Do:
- Learn how coconut oil is made
- Play a derua bamboo instrument
- Get a Fijian warrior tattoo
- Check out the temple
Top Things to Do:
- Taste coconut bread
- Fish in the lagoon with bamboo poles
- Learn a dance
- Spear throwing
- Witness a wedding ceremony and renew your own vows
The Cook Islands area was a temporary offering at the Polynesian Cultural Center. They were a special guest when we visited. They put on a very impressive show. There was lots of dancing, which I loved.
Unique Attractions to Also Check Out
These are daily activities that are included in your admission and that are worth checking out!
This is a movie all about Hawaii. We tried to catch the last showing but ran out of time!
Laie and Temple Visitor Center Tour
Take a ride around the little town of Laie, BYU Hawaii and the beautiful Laie Temple Grounds and Vistor Center. The tour operates every 20 minutes from 3:00 pm – 6:40 pm. You will see the tour
option near the entrance to the PCC.
Take a ride through the lagoon from the comfort of this 30 passenger canoe. Tours operate from 12:00 pm- 1:45 pm and then at 3:05 pm – 6:00 pm.
Learn to play a new instrument! The Ukulele lessons are available throughout the day.
Polynesian Football Hall of Fame
This is a fun museum that showcases all the Polynesians who have went on to play football after leaving the island.
Food Choices at the Polynesian Cultural Center
If you are looking to eat before you head into the village there are some good choices available in the Hukilau Marketplace.
We decided to try out Pounders for a lunch option. It is located in the Hukilau Marketplace. It is a nice sit down restaurant. We thought the food was really good.
Roulotte Food Court
If you are not in the mood to eat at a sit down restaurant but still want to grab lunch, this area is perfect. There are lots of food trucks that you can order food a la carte. We didn’t try any as we wanted to eat at Pounders.
There are several places to get snacks around the Polynesian Cultural Center. Aunty Emily’s Bakery, Tutu’s Sweets are both located in the Hakilau Marketplace. In the island village there are snack shacks in Tonga, Samoa, Aotearoa, and Hawaii.
If you buy a package ticket it will usually include dinner. There are four options for dining that you choose as you purchase your ticket. I thought my package included a luau but I was wrong!!! Don’t make the same mistake I did. The buffets do not include a dinner show which is the luau.
This is me kinda disappointed that I had purchased the buffet and not the luau. I didn’t realize that the show HA: Breath of Life was after dinner (I thought that was the luau). The food was not great.
Prime Rib Buffet
The prime rib buffet was in the same location as the island buffet but was separated by a barrier. I’m sure it tasted a little better than the Island Buffet.
AlI’I Luau and Dinner Show
The Hale Aloha and Hale Ohana are your other options for the dinner and dinner show. This is what I will do next time!!
Evening Show: HA: Breath of Life
This night time show is held in a large arena. It is a full theatrical production. The story is of about a boy named Mana who grows and learns life long values and becomes a man. The show has a very impressive ending.
There are so many fire throwers you can not count them. The last 30 minutes was my favorite. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to take pictures or film during this show.
Plan A Visit to The Polynesian Cultural Center
Where to Stay
There is a Marriott Courtyard right next to PCC. You can walk from the hotel to PCC. We thought it was very convenient. Also, Turtle Bay Resort is on the North shore and is really nice and not too far away.
Hopefully, this information helps you plan a trip to the Polynesian Culture Center! Just a re-cap, I think the most important things are:
- Dedicate your entire day to PCC
- Upgrade to the Dinner Show
I hope you have a wonderful time at PCC! If you are planning your Hawaii trip and are looking for a great Oahu Itinerary, or the Best Hikes in Oahu, Best snorkeling in Oahu, or planning to visit Pearl Harbor, or the Dole Pineapple Plantation I have you covered. Have fun reading all the exciting things there are to do on the Island of Oahu.
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I put together this awesome Free food guide of the best places to eat on Oahu. You have to eat while your are on vacation right?!! I will email you a copy. Click – Free Oahu Eating Guide