Polynesian Cultural Center Review: Is It Worth The Money? (+ Essential Tips)

The Polynesian Cultural Center is one of the most popular activities in Oahu. So much so, that it’s often even rated as the #1 attraction in all of the island!

It’s easy to see why – the Polynesian Cultural Center is home to some of the most fun daytime activities and luaus on the island. It’s definitely a bucket list-worthy thing to do in Oahu!

With Polynesian Cultural Center luau tickets, you’ll not only get a delicious dinner with entertainment but also admission to the Islands of Polynesia area. With the right tickets, you’ll also be able to watch the nightly entertainment show, which in our opinion, is not to be missed.

I’ve been to the Polynesian Cultural Center FOUR times and I still find myself learning so much about Polynesian history and customs every time. If you don’t know much about PCC but are curious about what it is and what you’ll get out of a day there, I’m here to demystify it all for you.

In this post, I’ll be breaking down what exactly the Polynesian Cultural Center is and reviewing the entire experience for you.

I’ll provide you with everything you need to know, including what to expect at the park, what the different luau packages look like, and how to snag some discounts (hint: book tickets early for a discount, at least 10 days in advance!), as well as some essential tips for visiting.

In my opinion, PCC is totally worth the money. Read on to discover why!

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. You won’t be paying a cent more, but in the event of a sale, the small affiliate commission I receive will help keep this blog running/pumping out useful and free content. Thanks a lot!

What Is the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC)?

Polynesian Cultural Center - The Perfect Oahu Itinerary

For those of you who are less familiar, the Polynesian Cultural Center is essentially a cultural park that brings to life the spirit of Polynesia through its six Polynesian villages. You’ll be able to enjoy shows, demonstrations, and immersive activities, all while learning facts about the islands of Fiji, Samoa, Tahiti, Tonga, Aotearoa, and Hawaii.

As soon as you arrive at the Polynesian Cultural Center, you’ll notice that this park is unlike any other park or attraction in Oahu. It’s unlike any other attraction across all of the Hawaiian islands, for that matter!

This venue was founded by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1963 as a way to provide job opportunities for students at BYU (Brigham Young University) who were looking for work opportunities during the summer months.

Thanks to the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC), thousands of students have been able to achieve an education when they may have otherwise not been able to afford it.

Today, the Polynesian Cultural Center has become a very popular tourist destination where guests can truly immerse themselves in local culture while learning about different Polynesian islands, histories, and customs.

🎟️ Book your Polynesian Cultural Center tickets on the official site here!

What To Expect At Polynesian Cultural Center

When you’re at PCC, get ready for a sensory overload.

Polynesian Cultural Center Review - Is It Worth The Money?

Islands of Polynesia

At the Islands of Polynesia, you’ll find a wide variety of interactive exhibits, replica Polynesian villages, and hourly spotlight shows featuring traditional rituals, music/dance performances, tree climbing, and even fireknife dancing!

You’ll find a ton of hands-on activities such as learning how to do a Tahitian dance, learning how to twirl poi balls, making fire the Samoan way, tasting coconut bread, tasing poi, and so much more.

The immersive, hands-on aspect is what’s coolest about the Islands of Polynesia. It’s a great place to experience what it’s like to have lived on these islands because you can take part in so many activities that are unique to each island.

Other daytime activities at PCC

Outside of the six village areas, you can do a bunch of other stuff in the daytime including:

  • shopping in the large Hukilau Marketplace
  • see the Football Hall of Fame
  • watch a cinematic movie showcasing the beauty of the Hawaiian islands
  • go on a canoe ride
  • grab a bite to eat (at Ali’i Luau, Gateway Buffet, or at Hukilau Marketplace)
  • take a tour of La’ie and BYU

The luau and the evening show

And when night falls, you can partake in an award-winning luau and even watch their high-production value evening show, Hā: Breath of Life.

Having said that, the Islands are really the main attraction during the day. These six villages of the Polynesian Cultural Center have a lot to offer, so let’s dive into these first!

Polynesian Cultural Center: Islands of Polynesia

Polynesian Cultural Center - Oahu Things To Do

There are six villages at the Polynesian Cultural Center: Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Tahiti, Aotearoa (New Zealand) and Hawaii. Each village has its own history and customs, as illustrated via the interactive island cultural presentations and hands-on activities.

One of the coolest aspects of visiting the villages of PCC is that most of the people staffing each village are actually from the island they’re representing!

Here’s what you can expect from each of the islands.


Samoa - Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu

Samoans are known throughout Polynesia as the “happy people”! Samoans are famous for their cooking skills as well as fireknife dances. You can experience both of these skills at the Samoan Village.

Since Papu is half Samoan, we always like spending a little extra time in this village.

I’d highly recommend catching the cultural presentation that takes place multiple times per hour. It’s SO funny, and if you catch the later shows (around 4pm and after) you’ll even catch some really impressive fireknife dancing!

Activities include:

  • Weaving your own fish with coconut leaves
  • Learning how to spin a fireknife
  • Making fire the Samoan way (without matches!)
  • Coconut shell dance


Polynesian Cultural Center - Fiji Islands Of Polynesia

Fijians may be most famous for their skills in battle, but they are also wonderful singers and makers of clay pottery. This is definitely a very energetic and exciting village to visit!

Activities include:

  • Discovering how coconut oil is made
  • Learning about an authentic Camakau (Fijian outrigger canoe)
  • Learn to play the derua (bamboo instrument)
  • Getting a washable Fijian warrior tattoo
  • Make your own Kesakesa Pattern


Polynesian Cultural Center Review - Is It Worth The Money?

If you’re at PCC and you hear drumming in the distance, chances are it’s coming from Tongan village. This area is a ton of fun, as you’ll get to try your hand at a lot of activities such as spear-throwing and even paddling in an outrigger canoe.

The canoes here are NOT on a track, so you’ll actually have to paddle to get moving! For a more leisurely canoe ride where you can just sit back and relax, hop on the 20-person canoe ride instead.

The cultural presentation at Tonga is a lot of fun, as there’s a lot of focus on dance, music, the Nafa (drums), and cultural core values.

Activities include:

  • Paddling in a Tongan-inspired outrigger canoe (my personal fave!)
  • Trying lafo (Tongan shuffle board), an ancient royal game
  • Touring a replica of the Queen Salote’s Summer Home
  • Weaving a windmill from coconut leaves
  • Trying your hand at hiko, the ancient art of juggling
  • Learning Nafa-drumming


On top of showcasing the dancing skills that they’re so famously known for, you’ll also get to learn about other aspects of Tahitian culture such as love and marriage, fishing and cooking.

You’ll find multiple types of cultural presentations at the Tahiti area throughout the day. At the time of writing, there’s the Intro to French Polynesia, Rhythms of the Islands, and the Tahitian Wedding Ceremony.

I’ve personally seen the wedding ceremony show at it’s great!

Activities include:

  • Tasting handmade coconut bread
  • Fishing in the lagoon with bamboo poles
  • Learning how to dance the Ori Tahiti
  • Get a washable Tahitian tattoo
  • Spear throwing
  • Witness a traditional Tahitian wedding ceremony

Aotearoa (New Zealand)

Aotearoa - Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu

Aotearoa (The Land of the Long White Cloud) is the home of the Māori, the indigenous people of New Zealand.

Māori people are known for their elaborately carved meeting houses as well as their dancing, including the Haka which many of you may have already seen without knowing it at some point in your lives!

No matter when we’re at PCC, we always try to make it a point to catch the Aotearoa cultural presentations — I love watching their high-energy singing and dancing performances. Plus, getting to see the haka performed is always so moving.

Activities include:

  • Twirling the double-long Poi (ball on end of string)
  • Try the Kapo Rākau to help you quicken your reflexes and reaction time
  • Testing your hand-eye coordination skills with Titi-torea (Maori stick game)
  • Exploring replicas of an ancient dwelling site, ancestral meeting house, Māori war canoe, and more


Hawaiians are great storytellers, and at the Hawaiian village, you’re going to hear a lot about not only the beauty of their islands but the beauty of their culture as well. 

Our favorite activities here and taking the hula lessons and trying the freshly made poi! If you’re a fan of hula dancing, do not miss their cultural presentation, The Sound of Hula.

Activities include:

  • Practicing Hawaiian hula
  • Watching how poi is made (and then tasting it for yourself!)
  • See all of the beautiful items that can be made with lauhala
  • Try your hand at traditional Hawaiian games of skill
  • Traditional net throwing
  • Get a washable Hawaiian tattoo

Iosepa Learning Center

Don’t forget to head to the corner of the Hawaiian village, where you’ll find the Iosepa Canoe and Learning Center. The canoe is a working replica of a traditional Hawaiian double-hulled voyaging canoe, and it’s MASSIVE.

We found that it was so awe-inspiring being that close to it, imagining what life would have been like in the past, traveling on such a massive yet traditional watercraft!

While you’re here, you can also learn a bunch of things, including:

  • learning how to make ropes with coconut husks
  • learning how to navigate by the stars
  • learn about the wood species used to build canoes
  • Building wooden canoe puzzles
  • learning how to tie sailing knots

Rapa Nui (Easter Island)

Rapa Nui - Polynesian Cultural Center - The Perfect Oahu Itinerary

This smaller island exhibit in the center of the villages features seven hand-carved moai, or stone statues, created onsite by artisans from Rapa Nui.

There are no activities in this area, but there sure is a lot to learn via the interpretive signs detailing the Rapa Nui history.

🎟️ Book your Polynesian Cultural Center tickets on the official site here!

Other Daytime Activities At Polynesian Cultural Center

Other daily activities that aren’t tied to a specific island include:

  • catching a quick 14-minute film about Hawaii in a cinematic theater (a great place to get some shade and air-conditioning)
  • taking a canoe tour from the comfort of a 20-passenger double-hulled canoe (the canoe takes you from one side of the property to the other; you can do a round-trip ride too)

This canoe ride will take you to the other end of the park so you can hop off there and continue exploring. It’s a nice little break for your feet/legs if you’ve been walking too much!

Canoe Ride - PCC Luau Review -  Is It Worth The Money

You can also marvel at the Iosepa Canoe, where you’ll be able to learn about the migrations of early Polynesia.

Outside of the village area by the entrance, there are a few other fun places to check out, including the Hukilau Marketplace where you can shop for Polynesian gifts and clothing, as well as a few restaurants including Kiwi Style Fish & Chips, Shaka Shake Korean BBQ, Fat Poi Hawaiian, and Tita’s Grill.

Hukilau Marketplace - PCC Luau Review -  Is It Worth The Money

And if none of those restaurants get your tastebuds going, there are food trucks dotted throughout the area, too! For dessert, options include malasadas, shave ice, cookies, ice cream, and crepes.

You can even buy a high-quality ukulele from Mahinalani to take home or a piece of artwork by Kap Tafiti at Kap Culture & Art Gallery.

If you’re unsure of who Kap is, you’ll know of him as soon as you visit the Samoa area — I beg you, do not miss him at the Samoan cultural demonstration! He is pure comedy!

Sports lovers will enjoy the Football Hall Of Fame, where you’ll be able to see many of the Polynesian football legends honored alongside coaches and contributors.

The last activity is to take a shuttle out to the town of La’ie and through the campus of Brigham Young University–Hawaii. You’ll then enjoy a 20-minute stop at the La’ie Temple Grounds where you can either tour the Visitors Center or simply enjoy the beautiful garden’s fountains and waterways.

The villages at PCC do close at about 5:30 to 6 pm (check the PCC website for the latest hours), but the fun doesn’t stop there!

There are two activities in the evening worth partaking in– having dinner (at the Ali’i Luau or Gateway Buffet) and the Hā: Breath of Life evening show.

The Dinner Options At Polynesian Cultural Center

Ali’i Luau At Polynesian Cultural Center

Polynesian Cultural Center Super Ambassador Ali'i Luau Package

The Ali’i Luau is a traditional luau set up, where a couple hundred people will attend and dine around the main stage. When you arrive, you’ll get lei’ed and have the option to take a group pic (for purchase).

Upon getting seated, you’ll get a fun little welcome drink. Ours was a non-alcoholic pina colada inside of a pineapple! The food is served buffet-style for about 30 minutes before the entertainment begins.

You can expect typical luau buffet-style food such as taro rolls, poke, Imu Pua’a Pork (a pig cooked onsite IN the ground), steamed Kona kanpachi fish in ti leaves, pan-seared local fish, teriyaki brisket, huli chicken, fried saimin, salads, assorted fruits, and desserts.

Polynesian Cultural Center Ali'i Luau Welcome Drink
Polynesian Cultural Center Ali'i Luau Food

The entertainment usually lasts around 30 to 45 minutes and is comprised of a mix of professional performers (hula dancers and young kiddies) and bits where the host is calling people up to the stage to dance.

While the food was by no means “gourmet”, the whole luau was interactive and really just a lot of fun!

UPDATE: I got the chance to re-do the Ali’i Luau in 2024 and found the food to be immensely better than when I first went years ago! I went with three other people (two are really judgy and picky when it comes to food) and we all agreed the food was pretty darn good for a buffet-style luau!

The Gateway Buffet At Polynesian Cultural Center

Gateway Buffet - Polynesian Cultural Center Luau Review - Is It Worth The Money

If you’re looking for a less expensive dinner package without the mini luau show, there is another dinner package — the Gateway Buffet.

At the Gateway Buffet, you can expect food such as whole grilled Kona kanpachi fish, top sirloin roast, salads, vegetables, beef, seafood, poke, chicken, keiki-friendly foods (kid-friendly), beverages and desserts.

👉 Ali’i Luau or Gateway Buffet? The price difference between the Ali’i Luau Package and the Gateway Buffet Package is about $40-50, depending on if you’re buying a child or adult ticket. You can compare the two options here.

While I haven’t eaten at the Gateway Buffet, I’d guess that the food is pretty good, given what I experienced at the Ali’i Luau.

If you ask me though, I’d tell you to splurge on the Ali’i Luau, especially if this is your first time in Hawaii and have never experienced a luau before.

Evening Show: Hā: Breath of Life

PCC Ha Breath Of Life

Regardless of your dinner choice, the one thing at the Polynesian Cultural Center that you absolutely can’t miss is the evening show, Hā: Breath of Life.

This show is truly entertaining! I don’t want to give any spoilers, but you can expect a lot of dancers and performers, a good plot, lots of acting, and fire dancing!

Per the PCC website, this “stunning evening show featuring over 100 Polynesian natives, special effects, animation and surround sound. It is a Pacific isle saga of birth and death, love and family, tragedy and triumph.”

I gotta reiterate the fire dancing section of the show. PURE AMAZEMENT!

Polynesian Cultural Center: Package Options

So now that you have a good idea of everything you can expect at PCC, let’s dive into some of the packages they offer. Because there are SO many options, it can be confusing for first-timers. Let’s break it all down.

In a nutshell, these are the packages you can choose from:

  • Super Ambassador Lūʻau Package: PCC’s most premium luau package, super popular and tends to sell out the fastest. You’ll have a private tour guide for the Islands of Polynesia and reserved seating everywhere you go.
  • Aliʻi Lūʻau Package: PCC’s second-most premium luau package, also tends to sell out fast.
  • Gateway Buffet Package: PCC’s most popular dinner package and is offered as an alternative to the luau.
  • Islands of Polynesia & Hā: Breath of Life Package: Access to the Islands and the nighttime show. Because dinner is not included, this is PCC’s most affordable package.
  • Islands of Polynesia: Access to the Islands only (no show, no dinner).

👉 Check what packages are available for your travel dates here!

Polynesian Cultural Center Luau Review - Is It Worth The Money

1. Super Ambassador Luau Package

This is PCC’s most premium package. If you’re interested, do book as early as possible because these sell out FAST.

Package Details

  • Admission to the park
  • All the activities and demonstrations during the day
  • Access to the Ali’i Luau buffet with live entertainment
  • The nighttime show, Hā: Breath of Life
  • Private guided tour through 6 island villages
  • Access to the VIP Check-In area (with free snacks!)
  • Platinum level seating at “Hā: Breath of Life” show (Super Ambassador level seating is in the front two rows by stage, with unobstructed views)

Additional Perks

  • Ivory kukui nut lei at arrival and flower lei greeting at luau
  • Free photo pass (includes 8 free welcome photos)
  • Reserved premium seating at all village presentations
  • Reserved canoe ride
  • Free Smoothie at Ali’i Luau
  • Free 3-day re-admission pass to the island villages

Again, you can expect a luau menu of veggies, taro rolls, poke, kalua pork, steamed Kona kanpachi fish in ti leaves, teriyaki brisket, huli chicken, pipikaula, fresh fish, fried saimin, salads, assorted fruits, vegan entrees, and desserts.

2. Ali’i Luau Package

Package Includes

  • Admission to the park
  • All the activities and demonstrations during the day
  • Access to the Ali’i Luau buffet with live entertainment
  • The nighttime show, Hā: Breath of Life
  • Group guided tour through 6 authentic island villages
  • Gold level seating at “Hā: Breath of Life” evening show (right behind the Super Ambassador rows)

Additional Perks

  • Flower lei greeting at Luau
  • Free smoothie at Alii Luau
  • Free 3-day re-admission pass to the island villages
  • Free photo pass

3. Gateway Buffet Package

The Gateway Buffet is PCC’s most popular dinner package and is offered as an alternative to the luau. This dining experience includes live music in a relaxed atmosphere with an expansive buffet of island-inspired dishes.

Package Details

  • Self-guided experience through 6 island villages
  • Gateway Buffet dinner with live music
  • Silver level seating at “Hā: Breath of Life” evening show

Additional Perks

  • Free 3-day re-admission pass to the Islands of Polynesia
  • Free photo pass

At the Gateway Buffet, you can expect food such as whole grilled Kona kanpachi fish, top sirloin roast, salads, vegetables, beef, seafood, poke, chicken, keiki-friendly foods (kid-friendly), beverages and desserts.

4. Islands of Polynesia & Hā: Breath of Life Package

This will be the package for you if you’re not interested in buffet or luau-style dining. Because dinner is not included, this is PCC’s most affordable package.

Package Details

  • Self-guided experience through 6 island villages
  • Free photo pass
  • Dinner NOT included
  • Bronze level seating at “Hā: Breath of Life” evening show
  • Free 3-day re-admission pass to the Islands of Polynesia

5. Tickets for Islands of Polynesia (Only)

Not interested in the luau or the evening show? It’s possible to buy tickets for just admission to the Islands of Polynesia.

In fact, that’s what we did on our most recent trip to Oahu. We had Go City Oahu passes, which at the time, offered free daytime admission to PCC with the pass. So, we visited PCC from about 1pm to 5pm, leaving when the dinners were just starting.

We ended up eating poke closer to our hotel for dinner–and despite not being able to enjoy the luau or evening show, it was still a very fun day out!

Having said that, if you have not yet had the chance to do the whole thing–the islands, the luau, and the show–I would highly recommend it!

Pros And Cons Of The Polynesian Cultural Center


  • A jam-packed day of entertainment–you will NOT be bored!
  • The food at the luau is good and comes with entertainment.
  • High production value show included in the cost of many packages. We highly recommend seeing the evening show if you can! 
  • You have the ability to go back to PCC (Islands of Polynesia) with the complimentary 3-day readmission ticket, free with any package purchase.


  • Limited hours of exploration before the islands close for dinner. PRO TIP: We recommend getting there right when they open so you can maximize your time for exploration and hands-on activity. Getting their at 2pm or later will leave you very limited in time!
  • Compared to other excursions or activities on Oahu, PCC is a tad bit on the pricier side.

My Overall Thoughts About The Polynesian Cultural Center

PCC is a great place to spend a day. Not only is the luau a ton of fun (especially if you’re traveling with friends/family), but so is the Hā: Breath of Life evening show. If you’re on Oahu and looking for an excursion to do with your family or friends, PCC is an enriching and fun whole day activity!

Heck, Papu and I love PCC so much that I’ve gone on FOUR separate occasions! We opted for the Ali’i Luau Package on 2 out of 4 of our visits. And the only reason we did not go for the luau package on our other visits was that we were attempting to travel on a budget those times!

It is worth noting that because this luau (like many other luaus on Oahu) is buffet-style, you shouldn’t go in expecting fine-dining quality food. They are cooking for the masses, so while the food is not Bib Gourmand or Michelin star-worthy, it certainly is not bad.

Their latest luau menu has improved dramatically from when I first tried it in 2015.

Luau aside, it’s impossible to ignore how educational this place is. I not only love the hands-on demonstrations and activities, but the hourly presentations at each village all have history, comedy, and culture woven into them.

We especially loved the shows and activities at Samoa, which — over the course of our four visits — has remained our favorite village at the Center!

Polynesian Cultural Center Luau Review - Is It Worth The Money

The cultural presentation that featured Kap (pictured above) was essentially a comedy skit with a lot of Samoan-related facts thrown in. This was followed by coconut tree climbing and fire knife spinning. It was all so funny and overall a really great time!

We also found the cultural presentations at Tonga and Aotearoa to be a lot of fun and educational too. We witnessed what playing the flute with a nose sounded like for the first time. Something that I didn’t even know existed!

Islands Of Polynesia - Polynesian Cultural Center Luau Review - Is It Worth The Money

And if there’s one activity I recommend you not miss, it’d be the canoeing activity.

Polynesian Cultural Center Luau Review - Is It Worth The Money

I just love the Polynesian Cultural Center’s three-pronged approach to a good time–

  • educating through interactive shows and activities
  • feeding you a good meal
  • and providing top-notch entertainment to round out the night!

On top of being a really fun day out, they have a mission I can really get behind, being a non-profit dedicated to preserving the cultural heritage, arts, and traditions of Polynesia.

All of the revenue that they make is used for daily operations and to support the education of its student-employees from Brigham Young University-Hawaii.

No matter how much you already know about the Polynesian islands, you will leave with a deeper knowledge and appreciation for these cultures!

Last note here–if I’m a grown adult gushing about how much I love PCC, I’m sure the kids will be huge fans as well!

Is The Polynesian Cultural Center Worth The Money?

Yes, I do think the Polynesian Cultural Center is worth the money. Getting an 8+ hour experience for under $200 pp is DEFINITELY worth the money, in my opinion.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Let’s break down the experience and compare prices with other luaus on Oahu.

For the luau alone

If you’re looking primarily for a luau experience

Let’s consider other luau experiences and their prices:

Luau ExperienceCost (Adults)Length of ActivityLuau EntertainmentExtra Evening ShowAlcoholLei Greeting
PCC Ali’i Luau$194.958 hoursYesYesNoFresh flower
Paradise Cove Luau – Orchid Package$1754 hoursYesNoYesFresh flower
Germaine’s Luau – Original Package$1562.5 hoursYesNoYesShell

If we divide the overall ticket cost by the number of hours you’re spending at each experience, this is what it looks like:

  • PCC Ali’i Luau: $24/hr
  • Paradise Cove Luau: $44/hr
  • Germaine’s Luau: $62/hr

And the winner is… The Polynesian Cultural Center! You really get more bang for your buck at PCC.

Okay, so it’s a good value. But is the food actually good?

A few years ago, I would have told you that PCC is a “decent” option, but not the greatest. However, they’ve recently really stepped up their menu and the food tastes a million times better than it did years ago.

While the food is great, please note that alcohol is not available at PCC. If you’re looking to drink mai tais and pina coladas alongside your meal, you’ll want to look elsewhere.

For a traditional luau experience with alcohol, we think the better options out there include Paradise Cove Luau and Toa Luau.

You get lots of extra experiences with admission

If you’re looking for a jam-packed day of immersive fun, learning, cultural activities, and entertainment with a luau, PCC is unbeatable and 100% worth the money.

Other luaus usually only come with food and a Polynesian show while you eat. A small number of them will MAYBE hands-on activities. Those hands-on activities may last an hour, but nowhere as long as the 5 hours you get at PCC’s Islands of Polynesia.

And we haven’t even touched on the Hā: Breath of Life evening show.

If this show were to be on New York’s Broadway or Las Vegas’ Strip, it would easily cost $100+ for tickets. The fact that the show is included with many of the ticket packages at PCC makes PCC even more worth the money!

If you’re down to visit the Polynesian Cultural Center, I’d recommend you at least opt for the Ali’i Luau Package. This is our go-to package whenever we visit with friends.

And if you’re celebrating something special (like a birthday, honeymoon, anniversary, etc.), I’d say splurge and go for the Super Ambassador Package. We opted for this package on our latest visit as it was my cousin’s 35th birthday and we were treated like royalty! It was amazing.

🎟️ Book your Polynesian Cultural Center tickets on the official site here!

Oahu, Hawaii - www.travelswithelle.com

How To Get Discounted Tickets To Polynesian Cultural Center

Book Ticket Early

The most straightforward way to get your tickets is to go straight to their website and book directly. The PCC website clearly outlines all of the ticket package options, and provides you with a 10% discount on tickets purchased at least 10 days in advance.

This is a great deal because finding Polynesian Cultural Center promo codes or coupons is pretty hard to do. Check out all of the ticket options here.

DEAL ALERT: Save 10% on select PCC packages when you book at least 10 days in advance!

Get The Go City Oahu Pass

If you only want basic admission to the villages (no luau, no nighttime show), you can actually get access to the park via the Go City Oahu Pass.

This is actually how we got into PCC during one of our visits!

Should you want to upgrade and add on the luau and/or show, you can pay an additional fee upon making your reservation and have the best of both worlds.

Because the Go City digital pass includes a bunch of other activities on Oahu, it’s actually an excellent value! You can buy a digital pass here on the Go City website.

Essential Tips For Your Visit To The Polynesian Cultural Center

  • Arrive early! And we mean it! You will need all of the hours PCC is open in order to see everything in the Islands of Polynesia area. (This is the exact reason I’ve gone 3 times–I’ve always gone later in the day and ran out of time to explore.)
  • Take advantage of the transportation option from Waikiki if you aren’t renting a car for the duration of your trip. More on that below.
  • You will walk a lot (several miles worth of walking), so wear comfortable shoes–you can go with comfortable walking shoes or supportive sandals.
  • It can get very hot during the summer months so make sure you pack plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated throughout the day. Bring a water bottle and refill it throughout the day.
  • Shoes and shirts must be worn at all times; no swimsuits.
  • Wear sunscreen and a hat! The Polynesian Cultural Center is mostly outdoors with grassy fields. The cultural demonstration shows do have shaded seating, but some of it can be in the sun (depending on time of day and whether you can get a seat or not).
  • When an island/village is putting on its cultural presentation (usually about 30 minutes long), the island activities will not be held. You have two choices here–either watch the main show or visit other villages until they resume their activities once the show is over.
  • Island villages close at around 5:30 pm to allow visitors who opted in for the luau to eat before the evening show (seating starts at 7 pm).
  • For those visiting with very young children who may also be jet-lagged: the evening show runs from about 7:30-9 pm Hawaii time. This can be really late depending on what your home time is, especially for those who are dealing with a large time change. Do carefully consider whether or not they can make it through the show without being too fussy and disrupting others’ viewing experience.
  • Be aware that strobe lights and sudden loud noises are used in the show.

Best Time To Visit Polynesian Cultural Center

The Polynesian Cultural Center is open from the early afternoon until about 5:30 to 6pm, and the best time to visit is as soon as they open (around 12:30pm).

This allows you to see the entire park as well as take advantage of all the activities in each island village before they start to shut things down for the dinner and evening show portions of the night.

You can easily keep yourself busy for five hours at PCC. Start your day at the park with some shopping, followed by a visit to all 6 villages where you can do activities and watch their super-fun cultural presentations (these typically run for 30 minutes).

If you complete all of that early, ride the canoe, catch the quick movie about Hawaii in the theater, take a ukelele lesson, or chat up the workers to learn even more about Polynesian culture.

Polynesian Cultural Center - The Perfect Oahu Itinerary

By the time you know it, it’ll already be time for the luau/buffet and the post-dinner show!

How To Get To The Polynesian Cultural Center

By car / bus

The PCC is located on the north shore of Oahu in Laie. It’s easy to reach by car or bus. Simply follow Highway 8 east from Honolulu and head toward Laie town. The best part about driving is that you can arrive on your own time and parking is completely free!

Allow yourself at least 60-75 minutes of straight drive time. Please note that commuter traffic from Honolulu to the North Shore can be heavy from 3:30 pm to 6:30 pm on weekdays.

Staying in Waikiki and don’t have a rental car? PCC offers convenient transportation from Waikiki to the Polynesian Cultural Center and back. They have two transportation options: Motor Coach or the Circle Island Tour.

Motor Coach (from Waikiki)

This is the standard transportation option. This includes roundtrip transportation in a top-of-the-line motor coach with A/C and restrooms on board.

You’ll be picked up at a designated location near your Waikiki hotel, where you’ll simply hop on and enjoy the road trip, narrated by a local guide. Pickups start around 10:30 am and the entire trip takes about 90 minutes.

Circle Island Tour (Sightseeing Tour from Waikiki)

The Circle Island transportation option is for those who want to tack on an island sightseeing tour before arriving at the Polynesian Cultural Center.

While you will have to be up a bit earlier for this tour (pick-up time starts at 6:45 am), you will have the pleasure of visiting various scenic and historical sites on Oahu. The trip will be narrated by a professional local guide and includes at least 3 stops of 10 to 20 min each.

If you need transportation provided by PCC, you can add that to your online cart upon checkout.

Hotels Near The Polynesian Cultural Center

The Polynesian Cultural Center is quite the drive from Honolulu and Waikiki, where most visitors tend to stay. With traffic, it could easily take 1.5 hours to drive back to your hotel!

If you want to make the most of your time at PCC, as well as enjoy the change of pace on the quieter northeast side of Oahu, consider staying a couple of nights at one of these hotels near the Polynesian Cultural Center:

Turtle Bay Resort – If you’re looking for a splurge-worthy resort on the North Shore, this is the best of the best! We’re talking world-class golfing, spas, and restaurants–the whole shebang. If you’re traveling during off-peak seasons, you might be able to find some nightly prices that really aren’t too expensive.

Paradise Bay Resort – This little resort is located slightly down the highway near Kaneohe. The resort offers so much! Not only are free yoga and meditation classes offered, but kayak rentals and snorkel equipment are also included in the resort fee. They have an Aloha Nights Buffet Dinner is offered on certain days of the week as well as other scheduled entertainment.

Courtyard by Marriott Oahu North Shore – This is the closest hotel near the Polynesian Cultural Center (located just across the street). It’s modern, with a cute touch of Hawaiian flair!

Turtle Bay Resort - Best Hotels In Oahu For Honeymoon
Turtle Bay Resort – Courtesy of Booking.com

PCC: Frequently Asked Questions

What do you wear to the Polynesian Cultural Center?

First off, wear comfortable shoes! You will be doing a lot of walking over the course of the day, so you’ll want good support for your feet.

Next, because it will likely be hot and sunny, plan to wear comfortable clothes and a hat for sun protection.

While there is no requirement to look fancy or done up, for the ladies and fellas who want to dress up a bit for the luau, flowy dresses and light linen shirts/pants will do.

How long does it take to do the Polynesian Cultural Center?

Honestly, it could take the whole day from the time the park opens until the park closes.

The park typically opens around the early afternoon and closes at 9 pm.

For the best experience in the island villages, plan to spend five hours there alone. If you have tickets to the luau and evening show, plan on being there until 9 pm.

Polynesian Cultural Center Luau vs Paradise Cove Luau

In my opinion, the overall Polynesian Cultural Center experience is a much better value than the Paradise Cove experience. Why? Because it is so much more than a luau!

While you can get the same types of foods at both luaus, there are some differences in what their admissions come with.

Drinks: Paradise Cove does offer a welcome mai tai drink as well as bars with alcohol for purchase, while PCC has no alcohol, but offers punch, soft drinks, water, coffee, and tea.

Night Entertainment: The entertainment at Paradise Cove can be considered ‘better’ to some, as it has more traditional Polynesian acts compared to what you’ll get at PCC.

Activities: And while Paradise Cove does offer pre-dinner activities, PCC offers a whole afternoon filled with activities and shows (6 villages, canoe rides, a marketplace for shopping, and a movie theater).

All in all, I’d say if you’re looking for a more traditional evening luau, then go with Paradise Cove.

If you’re looking for a whole day of cultural immersion and entertainment that also happens to have a luau and an evening production (a show with a storyline that features Polynesian dancing), go with Polynesian Cultural Center!

The decision between which luau to choose is ultimately up to you and what you’re looking for!

I hope you found this Polynesian Cultural Center review helpful. If you’re looking for additional Oahu travel tips, check out my other posts here:

What To Pack For A Week In Hawaii: 60 Essential Things To Bring

125 Bucket List Things To Do In Oahu, Hawaii

Go City Oahu Review: Is The Pass Worth The Money?

33 Fun and Free Family Activities In Oahu

Essential Oahu Tips For First Timers: Things You Need To Know

Oahu North Shore: 12 Stops For A Perfect Day Trip Itinerary

9 Best Snorkeling Spots In Oahu, Hawaii

Photo of author


Elle Leung

My name is Elle and I'm a travel blogger and adventurer based in California. I love helping people plan trips and create unique itineraries based on their interests and their budgets. I'm a huge fan of outdoor adventures and doing off-the-beaten-path things in my state (and all around the world too)!

2 thoughts on “Polynesian Cultural Center Review: Is It Worth The Money? (+ Essential Tips)”

  1. Thanks for that very informative post. I’m a former blogger and happy to find a post before our Hawaii trip. My daughter booked us for that Alii luau package so now I have a clear picture of what PCC is all about.

    Quick question – is there a place to change from our “comfortable clothes” to something fancy for the luau?

    Would appreciate hearing from you.

    Rebecca Sullivan

    • Hi Rebecca! I don’t recall a changing room station at PCC, but worst case you can just change in the bathrooms on the property!


Leave a Comment