At the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie, visitors to Oahu have the unique opportunity to learn about the culture and people of Polynesia, not from books, films or television, but from the actual people who were born and live in the area's major island groups.
Polynesia - Just the name evokes images of tropical islands, palm trees, crystal clear waters, exotic cultures, beautiful women and strong bare-chested men. Most people, however, know very little about Polynesia. With over 1,000 islands located within a triangle from New Zealand east to Easter Island and north to Hawaii, Polynesia covers an area more than twice the size of the continental United States.
Within this "Polynesian Triangle" are over 25 separate island groups and as many different cultures as you'll find anywhere on Earth. Some of these cultures date back almost 3,000 years. During those years, the Polynesians mastered the art of ocean navigation guided by the stars, the weather, the birds and fish, the color and swells of the ocean and so much more. This expertise in navigation allowed them to migrate across this vast area of the Pacific Ocean.
The Polynesian Cultural Center
Founded in 1963, the Polynesian Cultural Center or PCC is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the cultural heritage of Polynesia and sharing the culture, arts, and crafts of the major island groups to the rest of the world. The Center has been Hawaii's top paid visitor attraction since 1977, according to annual state government surveys.
Since its opening over 33 million visitors have passed through its gates. The PCC has provided jobs, financial assistance and scholarships to over 17,000 young people from over 70 different countries while they attend Brigham Young University-Hawaii. As a nonprofit organization, 100 percent of PCC's revenue is used for daily operations and to support education.
You can read more of the Center's background in our feature on the The History of the Polynesian Cultural Center and Mormonism in Hawaii.
Students from the Actual Islands Share Their Culture
About 70 percent of the PCC's 1,000 employees are Brigham Young University-Hawaii students from the actual islands represented at the PCC. These student employees work up to 20 hours per week during the school year and 40 hours a week in summer, in accordance with U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Service regulations governing foreign students.
The Polynesian Cultural Center features six Polynesian "islands" in a beautifully landscaped, 42-acre setting representing Fiji, Hawaii, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Samoa, Tahiti and Tonga. Additional island exhibits include the great mo'ai statues and huts of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and the islands of Marquesas. A beautiful manmade freshwater lagoon winds throughout the Center.
Iosepa: Voyage of Discovery
In 2008, the Center completed Iosepa: Voyage of Discovery. At the centerpiece of the new attraction is BYU-Hawaii's Iosepa canoe, an all-wood, double-hulled Hawaiian voyaging canoe, originally carved and launched in La'ie, Hawaii. When the Iosepa is not out on instructional sails, it will be housed in the Halau Wa'a O Iosepa, or Iosepa canoe house of learning.
The award-winning Ali'i Lu'au takes guests on a nostalgic trip back in time to learn about the royalty of Hawaii while enjoying traditional Hawaiian lu'au food and entertainment, cultural demonstrations, and service with the Aloha Spirit in a beautiful tropical setting. It's the islands' most authentic Hawaiian lu'au.
Ha: Breath of Life
Ha: Breath of Life, is the PCC's new spectacular 90-minute evening show that replaced the long running Horizons: Where the Sea Meets the Sky which had been a visitor favorite at the Polynesian Cultural Center since 1996. The $3 million show utilizes exciting new technology and showcase a newly redesigned stage in the Pacific Theater, a 2,770-seat amphitheater with fiery volcanoes, brilliant fountains, multilevel stages and numerous special effects.
Rainbows of Paradise Canoe Pageant & IMAX™ Theater
The Center also stages a daily Rainbows of Paradise canoe pageant floating cultural show and special events throughout the year.
The PCC is home to Hawaii's first and only IMAX™ Theater, featuring Coral Reef Adventure which takes viewers on a tour of the reefs of the South Pacific and demonstrates their value to the people of Polynesia.
Every October, the PCC features its own Halloween spectacular, the Haunted Lagoon where visitors board a double-hulled canoe for a 45-minute ride that revolves around the legend of the Laie Lady, the restless, vengeful spirit of a young woman dressed in white who fell into insanity following tragedy many years ago.
Pacific Marketplace features an exciting shopping experience filled with authentic Polynesian handicrafts as well as a wide variety of souvenirs, gifts, clothing, books and music by local artisans.
For More Information
This is a brief overview of some of what the Polynesian Cultural Center has to offer. If you'd like to find out more about the PCC, check out these other related features:
- The History of the Polynesian Cultural Center and Mormonism in Hawaii
- Polynesian Cultural Center Villages Photos with pictures of each of the Polynesian Villages at the Polynesian Cultural Center
- Polynesian Cultural Center Canoe Pageant Photos with pictures of the Rainbows of Paradise Canoe Pageant at the Polynesian Cultural Center
You can also visit the Polynesian Cultural Center's website at www.polynesia.com or call 800-367-7060 for more information and reservations. In Hawaii call 293-3333.