Visit Hawaii, Samoa, Fiji, Aotearea, Tonga, and Tahiti in a Day
When you're ready to see more of Oahu than just Waikiki, spend a day at the Polynesian Cultural Center. This Mormon-owned (but non-proselytizing) cultural center employs many BYU Hawaii students (the campus is next door), and takes pride in having real dancers and performers from the island cultures they represent. It's a race to catch as many shows, activities, demos, and dances as you can, but don't miss the grand canoe pageant at 2:30 (pictured). In fact, there's so much to see that your admission allows you to come back within 3 days and check out the rest (though it's closed on Sundays). If you enjoy traditional dance, plan to see their amazing evening show, "Ha: Breath of Life," a beautifully choreographed, high-budget spectacle that stands head and shoulders above the other cheesy luaus.
Have you been here? Share a tip or a photo with fellow travelers.
Watching the Coconut Show or the Musical Show
For most Hawaii vacationers, the Polynesian Culture Center (PCC) is on the travel schedule. There are highlights at the PCC that you should not miss, and a few up-sells to skip.
First, be sure to attend the Samoan coconut show—tree climbing, and making coconut milk, it doesn't sound that amazing, but it is really hard to explain with words. It's good for all ages, and it's just a brief show.
Do see the float parade. It's a nice break in the day, very lively and exciting.
During your time in the park, skip the ice cream sundaes--but get them as part of your ticket to their evening stage show Ha Breath of Life. You'll be craving them like crazy at that time anyhow, and they won't melt all over you and attract bugs in the theater. Besides, what else will you do during intermission?
Do see the Ha Breath of Life show, though it may be scary for kids under 8—perhaps sit them near an adult.
Do get the Polynesian food buffet, skip the seafood alternative--you can get that at Sizzler back home. The Polynesian food is plentiful and there's something for all tastes.
If you have a food allergy, you'll find staff very accommodating, and they can direct you to the list of allergen-containing foods. I have celiac disease so I eat gluten-free, and didn't have any difficulties at all.
Finally, don't be deterred by crowds and lines. We visited during record crowds, and had no difficulties. Lines and waits were all very efficiently managed.