on May 4, 2007
When I last visited Oahu at age 7, I remember my mother wanting to visit the Polynesian Cultural Center. I wondered why we would want to go anywhere that wasn’t Disneyland. I am now the same age as my mother was way back then and I finally discovered what it was that she wanted to see. The Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) is run by Brigham Young University, Hawaii. The university students benefit from the center proceeds, and they also staff the park. In 2007, the PCC celebrates its 40th Anniversary.Located on the east side of Oahu, the PCC opens at 11am, which seems late. However, this allowed us to explore the northeast part of the island beforehand. We made our way to the PCC by 2pm, and unfortunately, we did not have time to see the IMAX show, nor fully explore the park. We purchased tickets for the Ali’i Luau package, which included seats to the Horizons show, the Ali’i Luau dinner, the IMAX show, and admission to all 7 villages in the PCC. Normally, tickets for this package run $80 per adult/$56 for children 3 to 12. But we saved 5% by booking online. We strolled around the villages featuring cultures from Hawaii, the Marquesas, Fiji, Samoa, Aotearoa (Maori New Zealand), Tahiti, and Tonga. At the Aotearoan village, we learned how to twirl poi balls, (much harder than it looks). Afterward, we joined the interesting presentation in the Maori meeting house. In the Samoan village, we learned how to make firestarting-kindling out of rubbing two sticks (of the same wood) together very quickly. Later in the afternoon, we sat along the banks of the river to watch the fascinating Rainbows of Paradise canoe pageant. Flat barges with a steerer, propelled the vessels out in front of us. Performers sang and danced as the barges glided past us. At one point, a livelier barge rocked back and forth, eventually toppling over its steerer and sending him splashing into the water.After the show, we continued to explore the villages. We participated in a weaving class, where we made palm leaf fishes. This activity will delight children and the young at heart. Finally, we caught a boat tour of the center. Starting at the dock by the Marquesas, we sailed past a few villages while our guide steered us along. For Japanese visitors, the PCC has boat tours conducted in Japanese. We disembarked by the PCC entrance, which fit in perfectly with our plans as we had to make our way to the Ali’i Luau for dinner.As we reluctantly halted our tour of the PCC, I realized what attracted my mother to this place. An educational and entertaining park allowed us to immerse ourselves in the island cultures of Polynesia. What better way to enhance a vacation in Oahu, an island paradise in itself?
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