Thursday, March 19 - The North Shore and The Polynesian Cultural Center
Despite our best efforts in staying up Wednesday night as late as possible, our body clocks were still working on eastern time and we awoke in time to see the sun rise over the beach at Waikiki. It always amazes me how by the first light of day there are already surfers waiting out in the water to begin their day.
Today's trip took us west on Interstate H-1, then north on H-2 to the Kamehameha Highway which circles the island of O'ahu. Our first stop was by the roadside in the middle of the pineapple fields owned by the Dole Corporation. Once of our readers sent me an e-mail asking for a photo of a pineapple growing, a request we are now able to satisfy.
Our first prolonged stop of the day was near the north shore town of Haleiwa at the Haleiwa Beach Park and Haleiwa Alii Beach Park.The waves were good today and surfers were out in good numbers. The view of the waves rolling into shore while looking south along the coast was amazing.
A leisurely drive around the north end of O'ahu landed us at our primary destination for the day, the Polynesian Cultural Center, located in Laie. The Center opens at 12:30 p.m., so we timed our arrival to coincide with that time.
The Polynesian Cultural Center is operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The Mormons. The Mormons have a strong presence in Hawaii and no where stronger than in the town of Laie where in addition to the Polynesian Cultural Center you can also find the BYU - Hawaii Campus as well as the Hawaii Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The vast majority of the workers at the Polynesian Cultural Center are students at the BYU - Hawaii Campus. The students are natives of the island groups represented at the Center. They work part-time at the Center to pay their way through college. There are seven island groups represented at The Center, the islands of Aotearoa (New Zealand), Fiji, Hawaii, Marquesas, Samoa, Tahiti, and Tonga. Each island group presents demonstrations of some aspect of the culture of their islands. These demonstrations are ongoing throughout the afternoon. For example, today the Hawaii cultural demonstration included a half hour exhibition of hula and instruments used in hula. There was also a demonstration of how poi is made and its significance in the culture of Hawaii.
We'll be doing a much more detailed feature on the Polynesian Cultural Center later in the year.
Much like in Waikiki last night, we were struck by the small crowds at the Polynesian Cultural Center. I had the opportunity to speak with a female student from New Zealand who told me that crowds have been down for quite some time. In fact today's small crowd was still better that a few weeks ago when things were "really dead". Aside from a number of Japanese tour groups and a few groups of senior citizens from the mainland, there were not that many other folks to be seen. The advantage of this was that the cultural demonstrations were easily accessed and great seats were available.
We elected not to stay for one of the dinner options or the evening show "Horizons". Our bodies were telling us that we were getting pretty tired and we still faced a 90 minute drive back to Waikiki.
We arrived back at our hotel around 6:00 p.m., ate dinner at the Oceanarium at the Pacific Beach Hotel. (Be sure to get the Shitome - it's wonderful.) After dinner it was crash time. We were exhausted.
Tomorrow we'll be visiting the Bishop Museum in Honolulu along with some fellow Guides at The Mining Company. Be sure to stop in tomorrow for our report.