Planning a trip to O’ahu and looking for kid friendly activities? If so a visit to the Polynesian Cultural center is a must. With this guide we will help you with your planning and share with you everything you need to know before making your visit.
Guide to Visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center With Kids
When we were planning our trip to O’ahu my Dad told me that I must add the Polynesian Cultural Center to my list of things to do with kids in O’hau. He has been to the island before (about 30 years ago) and he told me it was his favorite thing to do when there.
I always take the advice of my Dad when we are going somewhere he has gone and I am glad I did when it came to visiting the Polynesian Cultural center on our trip. The Polynesian Cultural Center is the perfect combination of fun and educational which is perfect for our homeschooling family.
We opted to only do the Island villages for our visit, but you can add on the “Ha” Breathe of Life show and the Luau.
What is the Polynesian Cultural Center?
The Polynesian Cultural Center is a top attraction on Oahu Island in Hawaii that is perfect for families. While visiting the attraction you learn all about the different Polynesian Cultures. With interactive live performances, hands-on activities, a Luau and night show there is so much to do that is fun for the whole family.
The Polynesian Cultural Center is run by the Church of Latter Day Saints (which as a heads up means there is no alcohol allowed on the property). They employ college students from the different Polynesian Islands to work there and share the history of where they are from while going to college at Brigham Young University Hawaii.
We took the time to talk to quite a few of the folks working there and they all had very positive things to say about the program. Every one of them told us that going to college at Brigham Young University and working to share the history of their home culture while working at the Polynesian Cultural Center is enjoyable and fun.
Is the Polynesian Cultural Center Fun for kids?
Yes! There are so many hands on activities that the kids can do, live shows, and more that it is a ton of fun for the kids! In this post, I am going to give you an in-depth look at visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center with kids and help you make the most of your visit.
My youngest thought learning about the dress of everyone in the different islands was super fun. She was also super happy when everyone she asked to take a photo with was happy to do so.
All of my kids loved how interactive, entertaining and hands on everything was while we explored the Polynesian village areas.
The Islands of Polynesia at The Polynesian Cultural center
There are 6 different Islands to explore when you are at the Polynesian Cultural center. Each Island has hands on activities, live shows, and more to explore. You will want to download the app or grab a map for exploring.
I will say we found it best to head to the Islands in the back and work our way forward then starting at the front. As most people walk in and go to the first Island area they see those front ones were crowded upon arrival but empty on our way out.
In each island area has a 20 minute presentation that is done thruout the day, check the daily schedule to see the times for each one. There are also buildings to explore in each Island village as well. Be sure to check them out as they are fun to check out and there is so much to see in the buildings.
As with all of the islands you will want to check out inside all of the buildings. There is so much to see in each of them.
Islands of Hawaii
In the Island of Hawaii you will learn about the Hawaiian Island culture. There is hands on games and live performances to watch.
Some of the fun activities that you can do while visiting the Islands of Hawaii Include:
- Learning about traditional games that are played and get to try playing them.
- Learn the History of the Hula in a live performance
- Learn how to Hula Dance
- Learn how fishing was done.
- The ancient Hawaiian kappa system.
- Taste poi and learn how to make it
- Learn about the art of lauhala weaving
Be sure to walk thru all of the buildings. There is so much to learn and to see when you walk thru them. Oour favorite was the Hawaiian house, it was fascinating to learn about things like how in the past meant and women in Hawaiin villages lived in separate houses.
You also want to make sure that you take the time to play the games. They are a ton of fun to play!
After watching the live preformance that tells you about the history of hula, teaches you old school hula dancing compared to the hula dancing of now you can take a hula lesson. This was something all of the kids ended up loving even the ones who said they didn’t think dancing was for them.
Aotearoa (New Zealand)
There is much to see when you step into the islands of Aotearoa. You will get to explore explore the world of the Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand.
Some of the fun activities that you can do while visiting the Islands of Aotearoa Include:
- Learn ancient games and dances including Maori Poi Ball Twirling and haka (the dance used in preparation for war).
- Learn how to carve weapons.
- Learn about cooking and food preservation.
- Learn about cultural tattoos, what they look like and what they mean.
The kids had a ton of fun learning how to preform Maori Poi Ball Twirling. The staff was super helpful in teaching the kids how it is done. They made it so much fun for the kids and made it such an enjoyable experience for the kids.
Be sure to also watch the demonstration of the war club and the haka which are war time rituals that are preformed by the indigenous people of New Zealand. This live entertainment is one that the kids will love for sure, you get to see a fierce-looking Maori warriors do an ancient ritual.
Out of all the Islands my kids have said the time we spent in Fiji was their favorite. Here you will learn about the Fijian temple, and the importance of religious practices, making coconut oil, and more. We we able to do more activities in this area then any of the others which might have something to do with it.
Some of the fun activities that you can do while visiting the area of Fiji Include:
- Learn how to make coconut oil
- Make an oil cloth painting
- Get a tattoo (temporary)
- Watch a live preformance
Learning how coconut oil is made and its importance was an awesome hands on experience. They are super involved with the audience, and my son even got to drink the coconut water from a coconut they opened.
Be sure to stop and get your tattoo. They are washable, but each one has a different meaning and they will tell you what the meaning is and you get to pick the one that you want.
Islands of Samoa
In this area you will walk thru a replica Samoan Village. You will learn many things about how life is in a Samoan village and how they live. Be sure not to miss the man who climbs the tree, it is impressive!
Some of the fun activities that you can do while visiting the area of Samoa Include:
- Learn how to make coconut milk.
- Learn about the above ground cooking method used.
- Learn how they make their plates.
- Learn how to start a fire.
The live show was hilariously entertaining. While learning about how food is cooked in Samoa (which is done above ground, which is different from many other Polynesian Island cultures) the jokes kept coming. Learning how plates are made with plants and watching how easily it was made was fascinating.
As I said earlier, I highly suggest adding Samoa to the end of your day since it is the first village that you come to when you arrive and most people stop here first so early in the day it was much fuller then later in the afternoon when we visited.
The Island of Tahiti is a place of fun and music. From dancing to music and making leis this area of the Polynesian cultural center. There is lots of hands on activities for the kids to enjoy and the adults too.
Some of the fun activities that you can do while visiting the area of Tahiti Include:
- Learn Spear Throwing
- Taste Coconut bread
- Watch a wedding reenactment
- Pole fishing
- Learn about the baking method used for baking coconut bread
The kids loved watching how the coconut bread was made, and tasting it was an awesome treat as it was delicious! They even have the recipe posted on a posted so you can make the coconut bread at home too.
Islands of Tonga
This Island area is a great place for learning. We learned that Tonga is the last remaining monarchy in Polynesia ruled by a King. If you are wanting a live entertainment experience that involves the audience, this is a great one. Audience members are asked to join in the fun.
Some of the fun activities that you can do while visiting the area of Tonga Include:
- Spear Throwing
- Watch a drum show
- Join in the musical preformance
- Paddle a native-style outrigger canoe like the islanders
- Learn to play lafo, a Tongan shuffleboard game
- Weave a fish from coconut leaves
Throwing spears was one of the kids favorite things about visiting the Tonga section at the Polynesian cultural center.
Like all of the villages be sure that you take a walk thru all of the buildings, we loved checking them out and there is so much to see and do in side of them.
Where to Eat at the Polynesian Cultural Center
If you are not staying for the dinner and show in the evening the best place to grab dinner is the food trucks in the front entrance area. We tried a few different trucks, since no one wanted the same type pf food and everything was delicious.
I highly suggest trying a Loco Moco at the food trucks, my 6 year old and I shared it and it was one of the best meals that we had in O’ahu!
Tips for Visiting
Wear comfy shoes. You will be doing a lot of walking, make sure that you are wearing shoes that are good for walking and are comfortable.
Drink water. It is hot and being outside you will be in the sun. You can bring water with you in with you.
Sunscreen. Hawaii sun is bright and hot. You may not think you need a ton of sunscreen but I am telling you to take the advice and put sunscreen on before leaving your hotel room and throughout the day all day long while you are in Hawaii.
Don’t rush. It can be overwhelming once you get in and see all that there is do to, instead of rushing thru everything I suggest breaking up your trip to a 2 day adventure.
Helpful Questions Answered
I am sure you have some questions about visiting the Polynesian cultural center so I have done my best to include any questions I thought people might have that will make planning your trip easier.
Where is the Polynesian Cultural Center located?
The Polynesian Cultural Center is located on the Hawaiian Island of O’ahu in the North Shore area of the island.
What are the Polynesian Cultural Center hours?
The Polynesian Cultural center is open Monday thru Saturday, The Islands are open from 12:30-5pm each day. After the Islands close the night show and Laua are open until 9pm.
How much time should I plan to spend to spend at the Polynesian Cultural center?
This is a full day activity, you will want to spend at least the full 5 hours they are open on one day there. However, we found that it took us 2 days to see most of it and we could have for sure added a third day to our plans and had plenty to do.
How many days should I plan for when Visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center?
I suggest spending 2 days at the Polynesian Cultural Center to see and do everything that involves the islands.
How long are my Polynesian Cultural Center tickets good for?
When you buy your ticket you actually get entry into the Polynesian Cultural Center for 3 days. After the first day, the next 2 days that you visit head to the ticket counter and they will issue you another ticket for that day.
Does the Polynesian Cultural Center have parking?
Yes! There are 2 parking lots and plenty of parking. There is also no charge for the parking. If you have an electric vehicle they also have electric vehicle charging spots that you can use as well.
How much does it cost to visit the Polynesian Cultural Center?
There are different packages that you can purchase for your visit. Depending on what package and what you want to do when visiting will change the cost. We opted to just explore the Islands and not do the night show or the Luau. You can order your tickets online here.
Polynesian Cultural Center Packages
Island Of Polynesia Tickets. Adult tickets are $66.95 and child tickets are 55.95. You get a self-guided experience through 6 island villages where you can visit the islands at your own pace. You also get a Free preselected digital photo from your visit.
Islands of Polynesia & Hā: breath of life package. Adult tickets are $119.95 and child tickets are $95.96. Along with being able to explore all of the islands of Polynesia and the free photo you will get Bronze level seating at “HĀ: Breath of Life” evening show.
Gateway Buffet Package. Adult tickets are $139.95 and child tickets are $111.96. Along with being able to explore all of the islands of Polynesia and the free photo. You will get Silver level seating at “HĀ: Breath of Life” evening show along with a buffet dinner.
Aliʻi lūʻau package. Adult tickets are $184.95 and child tickets are $147.96. Along with being able to explore all of the islands of Polynesia you will get a group guided tour and a free photo. You will get Gold level seating at “HĀ: Breath of Life” evening show and the Aliʻi Lūʻau buffet with dinner entertainment.
Super ambassador lūʻau Package. Adult tickets are $242.95 and child tickets are $194.96. Upon arrival you will get a Ivory kukui nut lei at arrival and flower lei greeting at the Aliʻi Lūʻau. Along with being able to explore all of the islands of Polynesia you will get a private guided tour of the Islands. While exploring the islands you will get reserved seating at village presentations and a reserved canoe ride. You will get the free photo and a Free Smoothie at Aliʻi Lūʻau. You will get premium seating at “HĀ: Breath of Life” evening show and the Aliʻi Lūʻau buffet with dinner entertainment.
Can I get Discounted Tickets to the Polynesian Cultural Center?
There are some discounted ticket options for visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center. I will say that even if you do not qualify for any of the discounted ticket rates that visiting is well worth the money. If you are wanting to stick to a budget in Hawaii you can make visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center a 3 day trip and have plenty of new things to do and see and makes it a very budget friendly activity for kids in Oahu Hawaii.
- Military Discount. Head to the ITT office near Pearl Harbor and you can repurchase Polynesian Cultural Center tickets at a discounted rate.
- Tripster. You can purchase tickets online at Tripster for discounted tickets.
I hope this guide for visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center with Kids helps you see just how much fun you will have when you visit. I also help it hopes you with planning your visit!