Waikiki to Polynesian Cultural Center
So you’ve decided to experience some Hawaiian culture during your Hawaii vacation on Oahu?
Or you’re highly considering getting those Polynesian Cultural Center tickets?!
Good! Here’s why. 😉
Part of the reason is because of the evening show! You MUST watch the video below! It’s even better in person!
The show was definitely a pleasant surprise for me. Within the first minute of the show starting, I was mesmerized! (This may sound a little dramatic, but it really was so much more than I was expecting!)
And then be sure to see my other top picks of the best things to do at the Polynesian Cultural Center!
A trip to the Polynesian Cultural Center is one of the many ways you can get a glimpse into Hawaiian culture on Oahu!
The two most convenient options for getting to the Polynesian Cultural Center from Waikiki are taking the shuttle provided by the cultural center or renting a car and driving yourself. After that, your choices become a lot tougher! You’ll essentially have to decide between time and money… and convenience.
And so, this is what’s covered on this page:
First, to get you oriented with the island of Oahu, the Polynesian Cultural Center is located in Laie.
Then, here are the transportation options you may want to consider for getting to the Polynesian Cultural Center from Waikiki:
- Option 1: Shuttle to Polynesian Cultural Center
- Option 2: Driving to Polynesian Cultural Center with rental car
- Option 3: Bus to Polynesian Cultural Center
- Option 4: Taxi to Polynesian Cultural Center
Map of Waikiki and Laie
If you'll be snorkeling on your next vacation, consider wearing these types of UV swim shirts, and also see some snorkeling essentials for Hawaii. And for Hawaii vacation ideas, see great short hikes on Oahu with ocean views, and great scenic drives to plan on Maui, and great areas to visit as you circle the Big Island, and great coastal hikes on the quiet island of Lanai!
Where is the Polynesian Cultural Center?
So as you can see from the map, Waikiki and Honolulu are basically on the southern side of the island, and Laie is on the northern side of the island.
The island of Oahu isn’t that large, so despite being on opposite sides of the island, the distance from Waikiki to Laie is about 35 miles. But while 35 miles might take you 30 minutes when you’re driving at home, island driving is much slower! 😉
A straight (and smooth) drive from Waikiki to Laie is about an hour.
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If you haven’t yet booked your tickets for the Polynesian Cultural Center, have a look here for some more options.
1. Shuttle to Polynesian Cultural Center
Bottom line: The shuttle costs around $22 round trip per person. Convenient option if you will be at the Polynesian Cultural Center for the daytime activities, luau dinner, and evening show.
One of the most convenient options is utilizing the shuttle transportation service that’s provided by the Polynesian Cultural Center.
This option is only available if you are planning for a full day at the cultural center.
To get there, you have the option of being picked up at around 10:00am or 12:00pm from a designated shuttle pick-up point in Waikiki. From the last Waikiki hotel pick-up point, which will be around 10:30am or 12:30pm, it will take about an hour to get to the Polynesian Cultural Center, depending on traffic. You’ll have a guide during your shuttle ride who will give you a bit of narration about points of interest as you pass them by.
To get back to Waikiki, the shuttle will leave shortly after the evening show which ends around 9:00pm. You’re given 20-30 minutes to get back to the shuttle in case you want to spend your last bit of time at the shops at the Hukilau Marketplace. So you can expect to be back in Waikiki between 10:30pm and 11:00pm.
No shuttles are provided by the Polynesian Cultural Center outside of these times, which is why the shuttle transportation option will only work if you’re spending the full day there. This includes the luau and evening show.
There are shuttle pick-up locations at a number of hotels around Waikiki, so you’ll be able to find a shuttle stop near you if you’re staying in Waikiki.
Among the Honolulu and Waikiki hotels included:
- Ala Moana Hotel
- Ilikai Renaissance Hotel
- Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel
- Waikiki Gateway Hotel
- Sheraton Waikiki Hotel
- Hyatt Regency Hotel
- Waikiki Beach Marriott Hotel
For a list of the shuttle stops and more information about this transportation option, see the map of Waikiki hotel stops for the Polynesian Cultural Center shuttle!
2. Driving to Polynesian Cultural Center with a rental car
Bottom line: Renting a car costs around $50 – 60 for your whole family. Parking is free at the Polynesian Cultural Center. You may have to pay for parking in Waikiki. Convenient, but night time driving may be an issue.
With the shuttle costing around $22 per person, if you have more than 2 people in your group, renting a car for a single day becomes an economical option with added convenience compared to the shuttle service. You will likely be able to find a one-day car rental for under $60… it might even be possible to find a car rental for around $40. (And don’t forget about gas costs!)
Renting a car also gives you the freedom to make stops along the way. Since the Polynesian Cultural Center doesn’t open until 12:00pm, you can start your day early in the morning to get even more activities in. This allows you the chance to stop off at any scenic overlooks you see, take a short hike in Kaneohe, or go for a short visit to a macadamia nut farm!
Similar to the shuttle, a straight shot with no stops between Waikiki and the Polynesian Cultural Center with no major traffic will usually take around an hour.
The one thing to think about in renting a car is how late you will be leaving the Polynesian Cultural Center at the end of the day. If you’re going to be staying for the evening show, consider that it means that you will be driving at night past 9:00pm on unknown roads. If you don’t consider that to be a problem, then renting a car may be your best option for getting to and from the Polynesian Cultural Center!
Another point of consideration: If you’re coming from the mainland and will be renting a car, it may also be a good idea to not go to the cultural center in the first couple of days of your arrival in Hawaii if you can help it. Keep in mind that you may suffer from jet lag! Depending on the season (daylight savings time or not), 9:00pm Hawaii time is 12:00am Los Angeles time is 3:00am New York time! And you’ll be on the road for at least an hour.
Polynesian Cultural Center parking
Polynesian Cultural Center parking is free, so once you get there you don’t need to worry about parking fees.
But, you may also want to consider where you’ll be parking once you get back to Waikiki at night. You might want to factor in any potential parking fees in Waikiki. Or you may want to think about returning your car that night… or maybe you want to keep it for a few extra days!
3. Bus to Polynesian Cultural Center
Bottom line: The bus costs $5 round trip per person and is the cheapest option to get to the Polynesian Cultural Center. It takes more time and is less convenient than other options.
The car rental and the shuttle are the best ways to get to the Polynesian Cultural Center. After that, your options become a bit more limited.
The bus on Oahu can be a convenient way to get around Waikiki and Honolulu using public transportation. Hanauma Bay by bus and Koko Head by bus can work out well too even though they are not directly near Waikiki. Although it will be a little slower than driving yourself, the Oahu bus can still be convenient for these places.
There is also island-wide bus service that includes transportation to the Polynesian Cultural Center, but the timings and distance can make it slightly less convenient than bus service around Waikiki and Honolulu.
So it is possible to get to the Polynesian Cultural Center from Waikiki by bus. It will take around 2 hours each way, and that doesn’t factor in time waiting for the bus. Depending on where in Waikiki you are catching the bus, you may be able to avoid bus transfers and ride just a single bus to get you to the Polynesian Cultural Center.
The best part about the bus is that it will cost you just $5 round trip per person!
If you’re making serious consideration for taking the bus, have a look at bus from Waikiki to Polynesian Cultural Center.
4. Taxi to Polynesian Cultural Center
Bottom line: A taxi will likely cost over $100 each way. This is your most expensive option!
There are taxi companies on Oahu that provide island-wide service, but the cost of a taxi from Waikiki to the Polynesian Cultural Center will be very high. The standard rate for taxis on Oahu, as determined by the Honolulu government, is $3.10 for the first 1/8 of a mile, and $0.45 for each additional 1/8 of a mile after that. (Subject to change, of course!) With this calculation, at a distance of around 35 miles between Waikiki and the Polynesian Cultural Center, the taxi cost is well over $100.
Other things to do in Oahu
If you’re interested in going to the Polynesian Cultural Center, you may like some of these Hawaiian culture activities in Oahu too! Many of the sites are easy stops to make alongside other nearby points of interest and are free!
To find more things to do in Oahu, use the Oahu vacation planning guide here! There’s an interactive Oahu map!
HAPPY POLYNESIAN CULTURAL CENTER PLANNING!
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