Tips For Visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu

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Heading to Oahu and planning on visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center? These tips will help you make the most of your time, get the best value for your dollar, and let you know if it is worth the price. Read on to get these tips for visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center AND to save on your tickets!

When my family decided to take a vacation to Oahu, I knew that we had to visit the Polynesian Cultural Center. I researched, asked friends and family who had been, and laid out a plan… and thankfully, my Disneyland planning skills came into use.

There is so much to do and see that you will want to read all of these tips to plan ahead for your visit.

Tips for Planning Your Polynesian Cultural Center Visit

Hopefully, if you are heading to Oahu, and hoping to visit the Polynesian Cultural Center, you are finding this post several months in advance. Because that is how early you will want to purchase your tickets for your visit.

Tips On When to visit the Polynesian cultural center

When booking your Oahu vacation, and planning your visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC as it is often called), be sure to plan to give yourself a day of rest before heading to this attraction. The time change can wreak havoc on you, and since the center doesn’t open until the afternoon, you, and especially kids, may already be quite tired at this point.

The Polynesian Cultural Center is also closed on Sundays and Wednesdays, as well as on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

We flew into Oahu on Saturday, and we did the Polynesian Cultural Center on Monday. The day of rest really helped us be ready for this day.

How many days to visit the Polynesian Cultural center

If you want to do everything the center has to offer, you will want to spend more than one day at the Polynesian Cultural Center. We only had one day there, because, at the time, higher packages did not include the 3-day village pass (due to covid restrictions).

Now, most packages include up to 3 days to visit the villages, which will give you time to take everything in.

You will need at least two days to do everything in the villages, unless you purchase the packages with a guided tour.

Which package to book at the Polynesian cultural center

If you are looking at visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center, it can be a bit overwhelming which package to book.

My family booked the Alii Luau Package, which was the second largest. Unfortunately, by the time we booked, even months in advance, the top package had sold out.

Here is a breakdown of the different packages and who they might be good for:

Polynesian Cultural Center Packages Overview

ISLANDS
OF POLYNESIA
ISLANDS OF POLYNESIA
& HA: BREATH OF LIFE PACKAGE
GATEWAY BUFFET PACKAGEALII LUAU PACKAGESUPER AMBASSADOR PACKAGE
PRICE PER ADULT$69.95$119.95$139.95$184.95$242.95
PRICE PER CHILD (AGE 4-11)$55.96$95.96$111.96$147.96$194.36
HOW FAR IN ADVANCE SHOULD YOU PURCHASE (MINIMUM)ONE WEEKTHREE WEEKSFIVE – SIX WEEKSTWO MONTHSTHREE MONTHS
HOURS12:45 – 5:3012:45 – 9:0012:45 – 9:0012:45 – 9:0012:45 – 9:00
TRANSPORTATION FROM WAIKIKIADDITIONAL CHARGEADDITIONAL CHARGEADDITIONAL CHARGEADDITIONAL CHARGEADDITIONAL CHARGE
FREE 3-DAY PASS TO ISLAND VILLAGESYESYESYESYES
FREE PRESELECTED DIGITAL PHOTOYESYESYESYESYES
RESERVED CANOE RIDEYES
RESERVED SEATING AT VILLAGE PRESENTATIONSYES
IVORY KUKUI LEI AT ARRIVALYES
HA: BREATH OF LIFE SEATINGBRONZE LEVELSILVER
LEVEL

GOLD
LEVEL
PLATINUM
LEVEL
GATEWAY BUFFETYES
ALII LUAU ADMISSION WITH SMOOTHIE & FLOWER LEIYESYES
TOUR OF 6 ISLAND VILLAGESSELF-GUIDEDSELF-GUIDEDSELF-GUIDEDGROUPPRIVATE
CANCELLATION POLICYUP TO 5:00 PM NIGHT BEFORE FOR FULL REFUNDUP TO 5:00 PM NIGHT BEFORE FOR FULL REFUNDUP TO 5:00 PM NIGHT BEFORE FOR FULL REFUNDUP TO 5:00 PM NIGHT BEFORE FOR FULL REFUNDUP TO 5:00 PM NIGHT BEFORE FOR FULL REFUND

Save On Your Admission To The Polynesian Cultural Center

You can save 10% on the top four packages by purchasing using the button below

Where To Stay When Visiting The Polynesian Cultural Center

There are not many hotels on Oahu near the Polynesian Cultural Center as it is near BYU Idaho. However, there are options on where to stay that have easy access to the center without needing to rent a car.

Stay at Waikiki

Waikiki is a bit of a drive from the Polynesian Cultural Center, but due to the large number of tourists who stay here, there are several shuttle options to get all over the island.

In fact, you can even book a shuttle directly through the Polynesian Cultural Center to take you to the center and back to Waikiki. These are an additional cost, but may still be saving over a rental car and parking during your vacation.

North Shore Oahu Courtyard

The closest hotel to the Polynesian Cultural Center is the Courtyard by Marriott Oahu North Shore. Located just a quarter-mile from the Polynesian Cultural Center, this is a great option if you want to stay close by. You could even just stay here 2 nights before moving on to another hotel.

This hotel has a heated pool, children’s pool, on-site restaurant, fitness center, and an activity desk to help you plan activities in the area.

This hotel is much more budget-friendly than hotels along the popular beaches, but still conveniently located to many activities, including the Polynesian Cultural Center and Kualoa Ranch.

Tips For Planning Your Day At the Polynesian cultural center

Since the center does not open until the afternoon, and the mall/dining opens in the later morning, I suggest stopping by the Laie Latter-Day Saint Temple. Even if you are not a member of the LDS Church, it is a beautiful place to visit, and the grounds are stunning.

The temple also has a visitor center where you can walk through and learn more about the temple and the LDS Church. It is also a great place to get a little rest if it is hot and humid out.

What To Wear To The Polynesian Cultural Center

When planning what to wear to the Polynesian Cultural Center keep these tips in mind:

  • It can often mist or rain, then switch to being sunny and hot. Plan to bring a light jacket, poncho, or umbrella
  • You will be doing a lot of walking, so make sure you wear good shoes. It is like choosing the best shoes for Disney. You want supportive shoes that you have been wearing regularly
  • If you are attending the Luau, floral patterns are a great way to go. We also found our coordinating colors of blues, and yellows, plus I had some pink, which worked well for pictures
  • If you want to get the temporary tattoos available in some of the villages, be sure to wear clothing that allows access to the part of your body you want to put the tattoo on. The ink will rub off onto clothing
  • The Polynesian Cultural Center Dress Code prohibits clothing or visible tattoos with foul or offensive language or pictures

What Should I Bring to The Polynesian Cultural Center

If you are wondering what to take with you to the Polynesian Cultural Center, here is a list of things to bring:

  • Sunscreen
  • Water bottle
  • OTC meds – allergy, pain relief, etc
  • Light jacket, poncho, or umbrella
  • Back up battery pack for your phone
  • Camera/phone camera
  • Sunglasses
  • Handheld fan – either battery-powered or a folding fan (I have and love this one which also works as a backup battery pack)
  • Cash to tip those putting on presentations, steering the canoes, waiters, etc
  • Check current guidelines for masking requirements, and bring masks if needed
Did you know that Disney came to the Polynesian Cultural Center to research for the movie Moana? This is one of the many boats they studied.

What Time Should I Arrive At The Polynesian Cultural Center

While the center doesn’t officially open until 12:45, the Hukilau marketplace opens at 11 am. I suggest arriving before 11:30 to have the best parking options, time to enjoy lunch, and shop.

Can I Bring In Food or Water?

You may bring in water or refillable water bottles with you. Refill stations are located throughout the center.

Outside food is prohibited.

Is There Food and Beverages Available For Purchase In The Center?

Yes. There are dining facilities and kiosks in the center at the following locations:

Fale Popo (Samoa Village):
1:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Tonga Snacks (Tonga Village):
1:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Kiwi Grill (Aotearoa Village):
1:00 pm – 4:30 pm

Additionally, a buffet dinner or Luau with a buffet dinner is included with the three top ticket options.

You also can leave the center and re-enter, so you may pack a cooler to keep in your vehicle and go out to it to eat.

Tips For Visiting The Polynesian Cultural Center Villages

Here are tips to make the most of your time at the Polynesian Cultural Center. These tips will help you get in as much as possible, while still taking time to enjoy the beauty of the cultures you will learn about.

Get The Polynesian Cultural Center App

Whether you are doing a self-guided tour, or you will have a tour guide, I suggest downloading the official Polynesian Cultural Center App.

The PCC App will let you link your tickets, plan out your day, give you a map of the center, and more.

Make a Rough Schedule

Look at the times for the cultural performances and make a plan. I personally suggest catching a canoe at the park opening and riding to the back of the center, starting with the North End, learning about Hawaii.

Then you can work your way back to the front, where the Alii Luau and Gateway Buffet Dinner are held.

Screenshot of the park map

When To Arrive At Your Dinner or the Alii Luau

One reason that you need more than one day to visit the villages is that there is so much to do and really, only around 4 hours to do it before you need to check in to your buffet dinner or the luau (depending on which one you do).

With the Luau, the earlier you check-in, the better seating you get, so I definitely suggest getting there early.

Tips For Enjoying the Luau

When you arrive at the Luau, you will be seated and receive a free smoothie. This is new since the reopening. The smoothies used to cost extra. They are delicious.

After that, you might find that you are sitting there wondering what to do. Here are tips to know about the Luau:

  • There is a time between when guests are seated and the start of the Luau. I suggest after you have been seated, use this time to go out and use the restroom, etc so that you don’t have to miss any of the entertainment
  • You may order drinks from your server during this time. (Pepsi products) and enjoy your smoothie if you would like
  • Auntie will begin the festivities and will instruct you when it is time to get up and serve yourself from the buffet. After everyone has had their first serving, you are welcome to get second, third, or fourth helpings as you wish
  • During the time that you are getting your first serving, instead of having dancers on stage, Auntie will make her way around and ask about any special celebrations, etc happening
  • There are tons of dessert options as well, so leave room for dessert
  • During the Luau, you will learn the history of the islands.
  • At one point in the luau, children will be invited on stage to learn a dance – so have your cameras ready
  • After the Luau ends, you will have some time you may go up on stage and get pictures, etc. You have a decent amount of time before the Ha: Breath of Life show begins

Tips for Ha: Breath of Life Show

The Ha: Breath of Life Show is amazing! Here are a few things to know about this show before and during your visit:

Tips for Ha: Breath of Life

  • When choosing your seats during your ticket purchase, try to aim for a middle-section seat as much as possible. I would say this is more important than being closer to the stage
  • Because there is reserved seating, there is no rush to arrive at the amphitheater super early. Simply make your way there and plan to be seated at least 15-20 minutes before show time
  • Use the restroom before the show as you will not want to miss any of it
  • No videotaping or cameras are allowed, and they ask you not even bring out your cell phone. They do have DVDs available of this show if you wish to purchase it
  • The show may get a little long for younger kids. My twins were 6 at the time and started struggling a bit, especially given the time change
  • After the show, almost everything will be closed in the Marketplace, so be sure you have done your shopping for the day before then

Hopefully, these tips for visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center have helped you out. If you have any questions, drop them below in the comments and I will be sure to answer and/or add them to this article.

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