Explore Oahu

Go Native: Getting the Authentic Hawaiian Experience

Head to the Polynesian Cultural Center to get an inside look at the South Pacific.

The Polynesian Cultural Center is Hawaii’s #1 paid attraction, and for good reason. This 42-acre site is the perfect way for visitors to experience the South Pacific cultures that have helped build Hawaii.HAWAII VILLAGE The all-new design of the village is reflective of the ancient Hawaiian practice of ahupua’a, a land division that usually extends from the uplands down to the sea. It’s often built around a stream, where almost all resources needed to sustain a community can be found. The village includes many new activities for children and adults, as well as interesting architectural displays and exhibits on ancient Hawaiian life. Hale Ali’i (chief’s house) overlooks the ahupua’a as it slopes down to the lagoon. Various huts showcasing tools, garments and weapons are on display throughout the village.

TARO AND FISH

Lo’i kalo (an irrigated terrace to grow taro) and loko i’a (fish ponds) are two vital elements in everyday Hawaiian life. The new Hawaii Village has a stream that originates from a waterfall near the chief’s house. This stream feeds several fish ponds, and as it passes through the terraces, it gathers nutrients and deposits them in the ponds, providing an important source of food for the fish. “These additions highlight the Hawaiians’ mastery of water usage and demonstrate how early Hawaiians were one with the ‘aina (land) and led a sustainable lifestyle,” says Raymond Mikaio, Hawaii Village manager. “The Hawaiians understood that respect for the land and effective management of natural resources were vital to a thriving, long lasting society.”

VOYAGING CANOE

Be sure to visit the Halau Wa’a (canoe house), which houses the impressive 57-foot voyaging canoe Iosepa. Learn how the ancient voyagers traveled across vast expanses of ocean in “Voyage of Discovery,” presented at 1 and 4 p.m. daily. The drama of this epic migration is a key part of the Polynesian Cultural Center experience. Another important aspect of these cultures were the use of local flora—used for daily living, as well as medicines. Learn about these and more aspects of Hawaiian life in the new Hale Hana.

ANCIENT GAMES

The most popular sites of the old village have also been expanded. Sway your hips in the new hula area, and enjoy expanded seating for “Rainbows in Paradise,”Hawaii’s only water-borne show. Try your hand at games like konane (Hawaiian checkers), ulu maika (similar to lawn bowling) and try your feet at tree-climbing. Learn spear-thowing, drumming, fire-making, canoe races and Samoan cooking, which you’ll be able to taste when you return later in the day.