It took us a couple of hours to drive to the Polynesian Cultural Center on the northeast side of the island, the wet side and that included a stop at several food trucks along the way. If you have the chance, make sure you stop at some of the shrimp trucks – the shrimp is grown locally along the eastern coast of O’ahu. This side of the island is beautiful, more beautiful than I could imagine. Since we were staying on the dry side, everything was brown and very little vegetation. This side was all green, tall mountains and the folds in the mountains covered in greenery was stunning. Photographs do not do it justice particularly mine from inside our car.
Parking at the PCC is $8 but if you stay only 2 hours, present your parking ticket on the way out and they will refund you half your parking fee. We thought for sure that we would be out in two hours but that never happened. I had mixed feelings about the PCC – was it going to be hokey, Disneyland-ish or a real look into the cultural differences and similarities of the various Pacific Islands and the Islanders. Would it be very crowded, something Blogger Hubby would not like and too hot. We were pleasantly surprised on all accounts. Since we booked our tickets through the Travel and Leisure Office at the military base at Schofield Barracks, we needed to go to the “Will Call” office to pick up our physical tickets. There is a savings this way so if you are active duty military or retired, make this extra step and go to the Travel and Leisure Office (formerly MWR) and see all that is available to you and take advantage of it.
As we entered the PCC we were given a schedule of the various shows. The first one that I wanted to see was the Canoe Pageant along the lagoon. The PCC includes 6 islands of the Pacific: Hawaii, Tonga, American Samoa, Fiji, Tahiti and Aotearoa (New Zealand). As each canoe entered the lagoon area, there were 3 female dancers and 2-3 male dancers. They were dressed in their native garb. Music played and the female dancers danced first. The males would then join them though one male might be beating the drums. Once that canoe left, another came and so on and so forth. It was, in my opinion, very interesting to watch.
From that show we walked to the Fujian (is that a word?) show. Along the way were various huts with an education component to them. The Fujian show was great as they enlisted 3 volunteers from the audience. The main Fujian played his big drum, making loud noises. He then would take one volunteer at a time and have them copy what he was doing. To say that it was hysterical would be an understatement. How he knew that the volunteers from Australia, Tennessee and California would be as funny as they were was remarkable. In fact, at one point during the show the Fujian tried hard to hold back his laughter and finally told the gentleman from Tennessee that he was suppose to be the main performer, not the volunteer!
We next went to the hut in Tahiti where we learned how to play the hollow bamboo stick (one end was covered), how to say “Bula” in Fijian and listened to stories. During the day we also saw a scaled down though still extremely large replica of the sailing catamarans that was used to sail the Pacific; how they navigated the seas; their heritage and commonality of language among the islanders; we tasted fresh poi; visited a mission home, saw the quilts that were made in Hawaii; how to start fire using two sticks and the husk(for lack of a better word) of a coconut; how to crack a coconut very easy; how to get the mild out of the coconut by scraping the meat out, putting it in the husk, twisting the husk and using it as a strainer; how to climb a palm tree and so much more.
We wished we had gotten there earlier because there was so much to see. Everything was quite walkable and not huge like some parks are. The PCC is owned and operated by Brigham Young University and the employees are students at BYU or former students. They reminded us several times, though in a gentle way, that by our purchases we are helping to offset tuition for those employees who work there. Their college is right behind the PCC. There is a luau at the PCC but it didn’t appeal to us because of the large number of guests that it could accommodate. We walked away very happy with our decision to go to the PCC and would recommend it if you want a feeling of the flavor of the islands then you need to go visit the PCC. I am not sure I would take young children though. As a side note: earlier that morning, Blogger Hubby had seen a strange boat in the waters off of our condo. It had red sails and appeared to be an old fashioned style boat. While we were listening to the talk about the sailing ships of yore, our narrator mentioned that there are 7 of these wooden catamarans and one is currently in the waters sailing around the islands saying goodbye before they head around the world. We went to her after and asked if it had a red sail. She showed us the picture of it and it was what Blogger Hubby had seen earlier in the morning.