While this does wrap up our series on Oahu luaus, the Polynesian Cultural Center offers much more than your typical luau. It is actually a full-day attraction, and one of the top places to visit on the island.
The Polynesian Cultural Center is a “living museum.” Upon arriving at the front entrance, you will be given a map and a schedule of island presentations so that you can plan your visit accordingly. If you opt for either the Ambassador or Super Ambassador packages, you will be treated to a guided tour. For any of the other packages, your afternoon will be self-guided.
There are seven villages, each set up to represent a different Polynesian culture; presently, 6 of these are open to guests (Marquesas is used for private functions). The villages of Tonga, Tahiti, Hawaii, Fiji, Aotearoa (New Zealand) and Samoa each have demonstrations, exhibits, games and activities going on throughout the afternoon. You can also enjoy a canoe ride, a tram tour of La’ie and a breathtaking “Polynesian Journey” film in the center’s new IMAX theatre.
At 2:30 PM, all activity in the villages pauses during the amazing “Rainbows of Paradise” canoe pageant. PCC performers float down the river on large rafts, showcasing the traditional songs and dances of Polynesia.
If you get hungry while exploring the villages, don’t worry – there are lunch and snack places available, not to mention some cooking demos!
Your dinner experience will vary based on the package you select. If you go with the most basic, you will get the free Gateway buffet, which features traditional Hawaiian fare. As of right now, there are two luau options – either the Ali’i Luau or the Island Luau (there are whispers that additional luaus are in the plans for the near future). With either one, there will be a buffet and live entertainment while you eat. The Ali’i Luau is a Hawaiian luau, whereas the Island Luau is currently in the style of Samoa. Then there is the Ambassador Prime Dining buffet, which includes prime rib and seafood served in a beautifully decorated, air-conditioned restaurant.
The Ha: Breath of Life evening show is one of the best exhibitions of Polynesian dancing on the island. Unlike a typical luau, this evening show has a back story to it – you are following the life of a Polynesian man, from his childhood to his first love to becoming a warrior and a leader. Each phase of his life takes place in a different culture, so you get to see the diverse dances and customs highlighted throughout the show. It is incredibly moving and so much fun to watch! Again, the package you choose determines your seats for the show, with the Super Ambassador and Ambassador getting the premium seats.