My favorite part about Hawaii (besides the beach) was going to the Polynesian Culture Center! It is this educational theme park about Hawaii and the other Polynesian islands. The islands they focus on are Samoa, Tahiti, Hawai'i, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Fiji, and Tonga. Also, in July they did an exclusive exhibit on the Cook Islands!
So the culture center provides buses that will take you from a nearby location of your hotel to the park. The ride there is about an hour away from Waikiki (with no traffic). The bus ride was actually pretty fun because of our tour guide that entertained us on the ride there. You should definitely try to sit near a window seat because the views were so pretty (you'll see more in my GoPro video)!!
When you first walk into the park there is a whole area full of stores and food trucks! Here are some of the restaurants that were there.
The cool thing about the Polynesian Culture Center is that pretty much everyone that performs or works there is a student at a college nearby. Tita's Grill is famous for their shrimp but they had a lot of other food there too!
I got the s'mores crepe with grilled Hawaiian sweet bread and both were so good!
Now getting onto the separate villages, we had about 6-7 hours to try to get to every single one. Which was really hard to do because each island offered a performance and activities to do afterwards. The first thing we did was go on a canoe that took you all the way to the other side of the park. I highly recommend it! The person manning the canoe was hilarious and gave you a summary on what each island had to offer.
The first island I went to was Samoa! Their performance was my favorite because of how funny it was. 😂 Samoa was very different from the others in terms of showcasing their music was a very small part of their show. For their activities they give samples of coconut bread!
After this I went over to the stage that was showing traditional Cook Island dances. The way the girls dance is really cool because their hula skirts has a kiriau hip belt so when they dance they have to move their hips crazy fast!
Then there was the Tonga village. They are known to be the friendliest island. But the most interesting fact about them is how they were never taken over by colonizers which I found so cool! It was really interesting seeing how colonizers impacted some of these islands. For example, in Hawai'i, because of the influence of Christianity, men started wearing trousers and dress shirts when they did hula.
As part of their performance, they played this stick throwing game and each round they would play the game faster and faster until someone drops a stick (which took a while for them to do)! The last island I got to visit was the island of Tahiti. This is where you can get an awesome warrior tattoo (the ink is super temporary). My tattoo meant "queen".
Now it was time for the luau! Once again, their luau is much more authentic because of the fact that the performers are actually from each island represented.
They performed traditional dances for weddings, how little kids are taught to hula, and brought out a pig about to be put in an imu (or underground oven) to make the famous kalua pork. 🐖 Now onto the buffet!
I got the sweet potato (with coconut on top), fried rice, green beans, and a salad. And to be honest eating a salad and enjoying it was probably the biggest accomplishment of my summer 😂 For my drink I ordered the mango smoothie inside of a pineapple and it was perfect! All of the food was great, there was a very limited selection of food to eat however, they probably have to feed 1,000 every day so I am not going to complain. But the best part was the dessert!
I got the chocolate cake, pineapple bar, ube bread pudding, and taro dinner roll. The pineapple bar was my favorite because it wasn't too sweet and you can taste fresh pineapple! 🍍 But since I physically can't control myself over bread, I probably got like 5 of the taro rolls! They were so soft and you can actually taste the taro! Taro is sort of like yuca, it is a root-based plant. Also, a very popular dish in Hawaii is "poi" and all that is is mashed taro.
Finally, the Polynesian extravaganza called "Hā: Breath of Life" was a play that incorporated every island to reflect each aspect of the story. It is a story that focuses on the importance of celebrating every accomplishment whether it is death, life, love, or in my case eating a salad! 😂 You aren't allowed to take pictures inside :( But all in all I strongly suggest that if you come to the island of Oahu, definitely invest in the tickets for the Polynesian Culture Center!