The Polynesian Cultural Center

The Polynesian Cultural Center is the #2 attraction on the island of Oahu and I dare say has the best show in the entire state. With over 42 acres, 7 villages, an IMAX theatre, canoe and tram rides, luaus and an evening show featuring over 100 dancers it rivals any amusement park, museum or show in Vegas any day.

polynesian cultural center

It is also a great opportunity to learn about different Polynesian cultures and how Hawaii fits into the mix. It is authentic, very well done with the majority of the employees being students at nearby Brigham Young University.

Options and General Information

 


How It Works Video

It's big and it can be confusing how it works but basically from 12-5pm you tour the villages; from 5-7 pm you have dinner (luau or buffet) and from 7:30-9pm you watch the "big" show, HA. Watch this video I made to get a better idea:

 

 

Polynesian Cultural Center Activities

During the day from 12:00pm-5/6:00pm...

Visit 7 villages representing Samoa, Hawaii, Tahiti, Fiji, Aotearoa (New Zealand) and Tonga. People from these actual countries teach you about their culture.

polynesian cultural center hawaii samoa

The idea is to learn about different aspects of Polynesian culture. For instance, each culture has its own mini village with a fully reconstructed house decorated with typical furniture, dishes and clothing.

In some instances you'll learn how a typical person from that culture would eat, sleep and live and what the social hierarchy is.

polynesian cultural center hawaii new zealand demonstration

They also have singing and dancing native to the culture and demonstrations of daily village life as well as cultural activities that you can participate in. Examples would be canoe paddling, learning how to climb a coconut tree and various arts/crafts.

polynesian cultural center hawaii village house

At 2:30 pm there is a canoe pageant parade at the canal that runs throughout the property. This is not to be missed.

Again, actual people from these countries come out of tunnel and perform the native dance of their country while trying to keep their balance on top of a raft.

polynesian cultural center hawaii parade

Off to the side there are live musicians and singers performing making this a truly special experience.

Afterwards you can continue to walk around the villages and even see an authentic Polynesian sailing vessel that the ancient Polynesians used to cross the Pacific Ocean.

Today it is still in active use by the University of Hawaii students.

polynesian cultural center hawaii canoe ride

Other activities include taking a tram tour of the nearby surrounding town of Laie, watching a movie in the IMAX theater or a taking a canoe ride.

The grounds are extremely lush and tropical. Generally you spend the day touring the villages either guided or unguided.

polynesian cultural center hawaii sailing vessel

Pictured above: Active sailing vessel at the Polynesian Cultural Center.


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Dinner

Dinner is served from 5-7:00pm. Depending upon the package you choose it'll either be a luau with traditional Hawaiian food such as Kalua pork and poi or the prime rib/seafood package with an array of foods to choose from buffet style.

Pictured below is the buffet dining room.

polynesian cultural center hawaii dining room

See the Luau and BBQ lunch buffet menu here

See the Ambassador Prime Dining and Island Feast (Alii/yellow seats) menu here

*Note

  • Lunch is not included and is available for an cost of approx $15
  • Even though it says Alii Luau this is the same menu for the Ambassador Luau as well
  • Alcohol is not served because it is run by the Mormom faith

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The HA Breath of Life show

The HA show is located in an indoor/outdoor style theater with "exploding" volcanoes and waterfalls. With over 100 dancers and 10 fire dancers I think it is the best show in the entire state and rivals a Las Vegas production.

polynesian cultural center hawaii fire dancers

Tucked away in one of the rocks onstage are the musicians. I never get tired of this show which changes on occasion.

The choreography representing the 7 different cultures of Polynesia are very authentic and their costumes intricately made.

polynesian cultural center hawaii ha theater

HA tells the story of a young man who was born in an island village, raised and educated in the ways of his culture, Eventually he falls in love and ultimately becomes a man through his acts of bravery.

There's incredible dancing and live music throughout the show. The show begins at 7:30 pm and ends at 9:00 pm with a short intermission.


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Hours, Location, Getting Here

Polynesian Cultural Center Address

The Polynesian Cultural Center is open Monday-Saturday 12:00 pm-9:00pm. Closed Sundays. Please be aware that alcohol is not served because it is run by the Mormom faith. Address is 55-370 Kamehameha Hwy  Laie, HI 96762. Phone number is 808-293-3333. Parking is $8 cash if driving.

Polynesian Cultural Center Taxi

  • If you need transportation there are 2 options in Waikiki: pick up between 10-10:30am or 12-12:15pm. It takes an hour to get there. Expected return is about 10:30 pm to Waikiki (you're probably on the bus & leaving by 9:30pm). Add $22 per person for roundtrip transportation.

  • A taxi one way would cost about $100-$120

  • The city bus is not feasible in my opinion. It would take about 2 hours one way. Cost is $2.50 exact change for adults. There is also only 1 bus that leaves there after the show. It's on a dark road outside the center in the country. If you miss it you're looking at a $100 taxi.

 

Polynesian Cultural Center Tours

It basically breaks down into 2 main packages if interested in maximizing your experience and time here. Most people do 1 of the 2 packages below which include the villages during the day, dinner and the "big" show HA at night.

polynesian cultural center hawaii demonstration

For the most part all packages give you access to the villages, canoe rides, canoe pageant parade, dinner & a show.

It's how you experience these things that differentiate the packages. I'm focusing on the main features and differences below.

polynesian cultural center hawaii tonga

There's a $40 approximate difference between the 2 main packages. The Super Ambassador is also explained below and costs approximately $100 more. See Seating Chart for the show HA in the evening. They assign the seats when you make your reservation.

Ambassador (green seats)

  • Guided villages tour of 15 people or less (42 acres & all villages run on a schedule); canoe rides & canoe pageant parade included in admission
  • Dinner (luau or buffet; your choice & cost is same)
  • Seating in the premium green area closest to the stage during HA show
  • Optional backstage tour
  • Optional tour of the town of Laie
  • Souvenir DVD
  • Dessert during intermission

*This is my favorite package

Ali'i (yellow seats)

Self-guided villages tour (you're given a map and a schedule); canoe rides & canoe pageant parade included in admission

  • Optional tram tour of Laie
  • Dinner (luau or buffet; your choice & cost is same)
  • Seating in the yellow area

Super Ambassador (red seats)

  • Private guide to all the villages
  • Private canoe ride/tour
  • Reserved front row seating for all village performances
  • Own private VIP gazebo to watch the Canoe Pagent Parade
  • Dinner-luau or buffet in VIP dining section
  • Very front row during the "big" show HA
  • Optional private backstage tour
  • Optional private tour of the nearby town of Laie
  • Souvenir DVD & booklet
  • Dessert during intermission

Polynesian Cultural Center Prices

Book a Luau package

Book the "Ambassador" Prime Rib Package


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Other Package Options

See Seating Chart for HA show in the evening

Late Entry

  • Entry allowed at 4:00 pm (1 hour to check a village or so)
  • Dinner (luau or buffet; your choice)
  • Choose from the yellow (Alii package) or the green seats (Ambassador package); receive the same benefits of each package as described above
  • If taking transportation Waikiki departure is between 2-3:00pm; return to Waikiki the same as everybody else at approximately 10:30pm

Book the Late Entry/Twilight Package


Villages (Admission) only

  • Attend the villages only during the day; no dinner or "big" show HA
  • Canoe rides & Canoe Pageant parade included in admission
  • Optional tram tour of Laie
  • Transportation available from Waikiki: 10-10:30am or 12-12:30pm; Leave the center at 6:00pm. Arrive back in Waikiki about 7:00pm

Island Luau (orange seats)

  • *New package
  • Self-guided villages tour; includes canoe rides & Canoe Pageant parade
  • Samoan style luau
  • Primarily Samoan style food
  • 14 minute viewing of the Hawaiian Journey movie
  • *Note: not available for online booking yet; call them to schedule

 

PRICING & AVAILABILITY for packages just descibed above including options without dinner or just the HA show.


 

Circle Island Tour Combo-Option 1

  • Your day starts with an approximate 8am pickup in Waikiki
  • Small motorcoach transportation (20/25 people instead of large motorcoach)
  • Arrive at the center at 12:00pm and tour the villages, then have dinner, then see the show
  • Choose from Alii (yellow seats) or Ambassador (green seats) as described above
  • Choose if you want to have a luau or a buffet dinner; cost is the same

Book Circle Island Tour and Ali'i Luau (yellow seats)

Book Circle Island Tour and Ambassador Buffet(green seats)

 


Circle Island Tour Combo-Option 2

Experience 3-4 hours at the Polynesian Cultural Center as part of a circle island tour. Start your day at 8:15 am and get back to Waikiki around 5:30 or 6:00 pm. Learn more and book...


 

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Breath of Life Oahu Coupons

Polynesian Cultural Center Coupon

This is the "big" show HA at the end of the evening that I keep referring to. The Go Oahu card gives free admission to this when you purchase a 3, 5 or 7 day island activity pass.

It's a bonus activity. Use it. It's a good deal. I've described what the package/day would look like below. If you don't want the show HA and are ok with general admission the Go Oahu card gives you this.

Waikiki Gateway (grey seats)

  • Villages, dinner and the "big" show HA
  • Walk around on your own
  • Sit in the grey seats
  • Luau not available with this package; buffet only
  • Cheapest way to have villages, dinner and the show

 

 

Tips

  • Don't schedule an early morning activity such as Pearl Harbor the next day. Expected return to Waikiki is 10:30pm.
  • REST the next day. You'll be tired-in a good way. Don't schedule much if anything the next day-maybe a brief, late afternoon activity such as a helicopter ride, surf lesson or sunset cocktail cruise.
  • Wear comfortable shoes-not the day for heels ladies. Take a hat for sun shade during the Canoe Pageant parade. It's mostly exposed to the open sun.
  • Take cash-$10 cash for parking if driving out on your own
  • Return to Waikiki via the north shore route (83 to H2; then H2 to H1). Why? The other way down the windward coast is very dark and winding. Kind of scary if not familiar with the roads.
  • Make a reservation if doing dinner. Don't just show up. They do sell out of the luau sometimes. Would suck to drive an hour and not get in.
  • If you are there no later than 1:30pm then you should still have plenty of time to see most things. For super-short attention span people who are driving then go at 2:30/3:00 pm.
  • Don't forget it's CLOSED ON SUNDAYS.

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