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Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii
With humble beginnings, the Polynesian Cultural Center started out with college students at the local university trying to earn their tuition. It has since become the highest paid visitor attraction on Oahu. An hour's drive from the hustle and bustle of Honolulu, the Center is located on the North Shore on the country side of the island. The drive itself is priceless, passing through the scenic grandeur of the Ko'olau mountains, straddling the ocean on one side and tropical rain forests on the other. The winding road also passes by Chinaman's Hat, a small island near the picturesque Kahana Bay.
Each Polynesian Culture has a village where you can get involved. 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 too if you like.
Try to twirl the poi balls, play a stick game, or get a temporary tattoo at the Maori village. Play a 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.
Children can get involved making crafts in the villages. 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.
Children and adults can learn the basics of ukulele playing near the large canoe, Iosepa.
Canoe Tours and Pageants
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 on 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.
You can experience authentic Polynesian food at the various diners, learn about underground cooking or feast at the 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 Brigham Young University Hawaii, where it all started, and learn of the history of the center. You can also visit the local temple and visitor's center in the community of Laie.
The Polynesian Cultural Center experience culminates in a large theater including state of the art light and sound show entited "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.
Of interest, the Polynesian Cultural Center is dedicated to preservation of the cultures of the islands of the Pacific. The main workers are still the students from the nearby Brigham Young University – Hawaii. Many of these students return to their homelands to become leaders and share the skills they have learned. The center is considered one of the world’s most successful them attractions, and was built in 1963 by Mormon labor missionaries (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).