The Polynesian Cultural Center is a sort of living museum that brings to life the different Polynesian cultures that have been among the biggest influences of what is known as Hawaiian culture today.
It’s a fun and interactive experience that can be a break from the busy streets and beaches of Waikiki.
So if you’re looking to spend a day away from Oahu snorkeling spots or Oahu hiking trails, give a look to the Polynesian Cultural Center! Doing so can also allow you to have a better appreciation for the Hawaiian culture you see all around you during your vacation on the Hawaiian islands!
With so much to do, a trip to the Polynesian Cultural Center is a day-long commitment. There are hours of activities for you to spend your day from 12pm, when the activities start, until 9pm, when the evening show ends. It’s also a commitment because it’s on the other side of the island from Waikiki.
Here’s a list of all Hawaiian luaus on Oahu.
Now, on this page is a taste of what you can find with a visit to this cultural center!
Things to do at the Polynesian Cultural Center:
- Explore Polynesian village life
- Hands-on Polynesian village cultural activities
- Canoe ride through the islands
- Cultural shows in Polynesian island villages
- Canoe Pageant: Polynesian cultural shows on the river
- Polynesian Cultural Center luau dinner
- Ha Breath of Life: Polynesian evening show in the theater << There’s a video below so be sure to watch it to get a preview! It’s amazing!
- Hawaii souvenirs at the Hukilau Marketplace
And for more ideas on things to do in Oahu, here are some of the best activities on Oahu!
Explore Polynesian village life
There are 5 Polynesian cultures to explore on the grounds of the Polynesian Cultural Center. There’s Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Tahiti, and Aotearoa. (Aotearoa is the name the native Maori people call New Zealand.) These are all islands in the South Pacific, and cultures from these islands have had a lasting influence on today’s Hawaiian culture. You’ll get a glimpse of village life for each of the islands, including cultural traditions that date far back.
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Hands-on village activities
The hands-on village activities are another way to explore village life. Whether it’s practicing your skills at spear throwing or playing some Polynesian versions of board games, each of the different island cultures offers you opportunities to get involved! And, this is for kids and adults! Things to do for fun for the whole family on Oahu! 😉
Canoe ride through the lagoons
The grounds of the Polynesian Cultural Center is set up so that it feels like each of the Polynesian islands is actually on a different island when you are there. You can have a look at the Polynesian Cultural Center map to get a better idea of that. Notice all of the water.
This means that it can make for a peaceful canoe ride through the lagoons, passing by the different islands from a boat! There are group canoe rides and individualized canoe rides that you can take.
Cultural shows at the Polynesian island villages
Throughout the day, each of the different Polynesian cultures has a 30 minute culture show, displaying the dancing and music traditions from their islands.
This includes cultural dances…
…And it includes cultural music too, that you can take part in!
Canoe Pageant: Cultural show on the river
The canoe pageant is one show that you can’t miss… literally! 😉 Basically everything else at the Polynesian Cultural Center takes a break during the river show, which means the cultural show on the river is the only thing to see during the allotted time. The canoe pageant usually takes place around 2:30pm every day. During this time, groups from each of the Polynesian islands come out in succession and do a performance on a canoe that represents their island.
Polynesian Cultural Center luau
Attending a luau is something that’s on many people’s bucket list of things to do on Oahu during their Hawaii vacation. At a luau, you’ll get Hawaiian entertainment and Hawaiian food. You’ll get a chance to eat Hawaiian dishes that are on a traditional luau menu.
There are a number of different luaus on Oahu to choose from, but the Polynesian Cultural Center luau is the only one that will give you a chance to give you a better understanding of Hawaiian culture with all the cultural activities and shows that you can explore before the luau even begins in the evening!
Ha Breath of Life: Evening show
And as if all that wasn’t enough, your day ends with even more excitement!
Following dinner, there’s a theatrical performance with a story that brings together all of the Polynesian islands you learned about throughout the day. With 30-50 performers on the stage at nearly any given time, it can really bring to life that island village life!
You MUST watch this video below! It’s even better in person!
Hawaii souvenirs at Hukilau Marketplace
The Polynesian Cultural Center is also the perfect place to do your souvenir shopping! There’s the Hukilau Marketplace that’s located right in front of the entrance of the Polynesian Cultural Center. This means that even if you’re not interested in spending a full day at the cultural center, if you’re doing a road trip around Oahu, you can stop to check it out without buying Polynesian Cultural Center tickets.
Included with a visit to the Hukilau Marketplace is a chance to see Polynesian wood carvings made right in front of you!
Koa wood is native to Hawaii, and they also make for great wooden gifts!
Plan your luau on Oahu!
Here’s the list of Polynesian cultural fun on Oahu!
Here’s a list of ALL fun adventures on Oahu!
HAPPY POLYNESIAN CULTURAL CENTER PLANNING!
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- Snorkeling essentials for Hawaii
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more Hawaii travel tips:
-- Oahu travel planning map
-- 3 day Oahu itinerary
-- 2 week Oahu itinerary
-- Best short hikes on Oahu with amazing views
- BIG ISLAND:
-- Big Island travel planning map
-- 7 day Big Island itinerary
-- Best beach hikes on the Big Island with amazing views