While my mom and sister were here visiting, T and I took them to the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) up in North Shore. The PCC is something that has been recommended to me plenty before by a lot of different people, so we made sure to plan a whole day just for it. Not going to lie, this isn’t a cheap adventure. Our tickets in advance cost $85 per person, but that did include a buffet meal. The cheapest tickets only cost $60 a person. Which still doesn’t make it a cheap trip, but once you’re there, there is a lot to do!
Of course on the way up to the North Shore, the views alone are worth the trip.
Once you arrive, you enter a little “village” type area, with food and beverage vendors, as well as little gift shops. Since we got there around lunch time, we did grab some crepes, and a soda, but anticipating a buffet dinner, we kept our lunch light.
With tickets purchased in advance, we could continue right into the actual “islands” area. The outdoor center is divided into 6 different island villages to explore -Hawaii, Samoa, Tonga, Aotearoa, Tahiti, and Fiji. You can wander through these villages at your own pace, but every half hour or so there is a scheduled program at each that you can catch if you prefer to stick to a set schedule, which is what we did. During these presentations, you were treated to songs, chants, dances, and explanations of different aspects of that island’s culture. You also got to see some cool things like men climb coconut trees, fire dances, and basket weaving. At 2:30 however, every village is present at the Canoe Pageant where they perform traditional dances and chants on canoes traveling through a river area.
The PCC was founded by Missionaries in 1963. Because of this there was a religious aspect that I wasn’t expecting. Particularly Mormon, so no alcohol was served on the premises, and some of the workers were quite pushy about going on the tram tour (which took you to different religious sites on and off the premises). Even though we aren’t religious, we still respected the religious history of this site, we just chose to skip the tram tour.
As for the buffet dinner, I’d say don’t waste your money on it. It was indeed a buffet, but it had limited options to chose from. Since we were visiting the day before Thanksgiving, they served a lot of Thanksgiving foods, instead of traditional Hawaiian or the other island foods. It was also incredibly crowded, and the lines were long to enter because they don’t open the buffet for seating until 5 on the dot. So after visiting all the islands, everyone was hungry and waiting in line right away for the buffet, making it a long wait. There was a lot of fresh fruit (as is expected here), and a salad bar. The desserts were also good. We just weren’t impressed by the main courses offered.
Although I loved the experience of visiting the different island villages here, this adventure is definitely a one-time thing. Not only because of the price, but also because I feel like if you went again, you’d see the same songs, dances, and scripts used. It’s obviously a touristy place, so as a local I only see myself going this once. But I definitely do recommend going if you are in the area, it was a cool experience! Because I don’t anticipate returning, I did make sure to get plenty of souvenirs. But once again, the gift shop was quite pricey. I got 3 postcards, a book about all the islands (for my classroom), a magnet, and a small ceramic turtle trinket all for about $25.
Until the next adventure,