Polynesian Cultural Center and Luau Review

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what to do at the Polynesian cultural center with kids

Hawaii was such a magical place for us. We loved every single moment that we were there. One of our favorite experiences on Oahu with our kids was our day at travel partner, Polynesian Cultural Center . There is so much to do that you could easily spend a full day here, or if you are short on time, do an abbreviated visit and come for the afternoon and stay for the luau.  

Hawaii attractions

Polynesian Cultural Center is the best way to experience, learn, enjoy and explore the Polynesian Islands all in one place. 

Spend the day exploring the rich heritage of the Pacific Islands. Wander through 42 acres of tropical splendor and enjoy the adventure of traditional hands-on activities. Dine like royalty at an authentic Polynesian luau and top it off with the most spectacular evening show in the islands, Ha: Breath of Life. All of Polynesia in one exciting place.

hukilau marketplace

Before even entering the area you need a ticket for, there is a great area on the outside called the Hukilau Marketplace that is open to the public. There are some great food trucks and snack stands including one that sells Dole Whip!
dole whip hawaii

Grilled cheese served on Hawaiian bread came from this truck and “it’s like the best grilled cheese ever”, says Ash!

food truck Polynesian cultural center

I also bought the girls some fun treats like a flower for their hair and a t-shirt or two!

After we had snacks and bought some fun things, we went through the entrance and saw this. So beautiful!
Polynesian cultural center review

There are waterfalls, canoe rides, and so many things to see!
hawaii waterfalls
things to do with kids on oahu
what to do at the Polynesian cultural center
Polynesian cultural center for families

We started at the beginning and worked our way through all the villages starting with Tonga, Tahiti, Marquesas, Hawaii, Fiji, Aotearoa, and Samoa. 

Each village has a performance area, a traditional hut or building, and a game. Hawaii even has an area where you can learn how taro is harvested and cooked… and sample some too!




There are different show times for the performances in each village, so we planned our time around those. We also really enjoyed speaking to everyone in each village about the culture and heritage of the area. It was fascinating and just made us want to visit more places! I see Fiji in our future, hopefully soon!

hale aloha

At the end of the day, we were able to check off another important experience from our Oahu travel list… a LUAU!!!

When I visited Hawaii with my family as a teenager, we made sure to go to a luau each time we visited, so I was really excited for Pete and the girls to go to one too!

best luau oahu

It was awesome going to one right at the Polynesian Cultural Center since we were already immersed in the experience all day. This felt like a natural progression and a great way to end the day.

it's a lovely life family travel bloggers

We enjoyed some great food, an amazing show, and even some non-alcoholic tropical drinks!

best pina colada luau hawaii

Emmy has always wanted to have a drink in a pineapple so we made that happen! It was really refreshing!

Polynesian cultural center luau vegetarian

They even had vegetarian and vegan options for us. Once we were seated, Maddie and I just had to notify our waitress that we were vegan and we were brought out tofu stir fry, chili, and taro rolls from the buffet. Everything was really good and I can’t even tell you how awesome it was to have food we could eat. We had pretty much accepted that a luau wasn’t going to be the most vegan friendly place, but we were so pleasantly surprised! 


Such a fun show and there were a lot of opportunities for audience participation. 


Everything included commentary too so that we knew what was happening.  Although it was pure entertainment, they also gently worked in educational aspects too so that we learned from the whole experience.


After the luau, Emmy was so excited to meet and have her picture taken with the performers. 


Have you been to a luau before?

Heather Reese
the authorHeather Reese
Heather Delaney Reese is the storyteller and photographer behind the lifestyle and family travel blog, It's a Lovely Life®! For the past decade, she has vacationed over 150 days a year with her family. She is a vegan, and loves being by the water, spending time with her children, husband, 2 Shih Tzus and Cat.


  • I’m really more of a cold and damp travel kinda girl (Ireland, Alaska) BUT I have always wanted to experience the food and culture of Hawaii. I wonder if that means there’s a good season for me to visit, given I don’t care much for the sun? Haha! This looks like it was a blast and a real learning experience!

  • Sounds like fun and a great learning experience. Did you get a chance to try the food from the Aloha Food truck? They participated in the Food Network Food Truck Show. Great food!

  • I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii, but just haven’t done it yet. This makes me want to wait a year or two until the grand kids get a little bigger so I can take them with me.

  • What an amazing experience that must have been. I Have always wanted to go to a luau.

  • I can’t wait to go Hawaii! We are saving to go there next year! It will be fun to see this center when we go! I love the culture of each place I go!

  • What a beautiful places to go!! Hawaii is on my bucket list!! Maybe one Day I’ll make it there! I don’t know what I love better, the scenery, the culture of the food!! YUM

  • All the views you are seeing is just amazing! I think my daughter would really enjoy watching those dancers.

  • Oh my goodness, what fun. It looks like there was truly something for everyone. Am I odd in that I have only seen one waterfall in my life and it was far from being as beautiful as this one 🙂

  • I have a lot of great memories from our Hawaiian cruise a few years ago, but the best memories are from the luau. It’s a really magical thing.

  • Oahu looks like such a beautiful place! I would love to visit with my family someday and try a Dole Whip!

  • That place looks very beautiful! I have never been to a Luau before. I think that would be amazing too. My girls would have so much fun there. Hopefully someday we’ll be able to experience it.

  • I would love to find some great food trucks and snack stands including one that sells Dole Whip. Yum! Sounds like a fabulous place to go with kids.

  • What a wonderful experience you had! Hawaii is on our family travel bucket list, we’ll be sure to include this in our trip!

  • We are actually planning a trip to Hawaii for next summer and I can not wait. I will definitely be adding these to our list of to-do items. The luau would definitely be one for me – the food looked amazing!

  • Your photos are all so pretty and colorful: Oahu looks so wonderful and lush. What a great trip to take with kids to learn about Polynesian culture and experience the local food, music and lifestyle.

  • The Polynesian Cultural Center looks like an awesome adventure! I have never been to a Luau before but i would love to get the chance some day.

  • This would be an amazing adventure. The kids look like they are having a great time.

  • Hawaii is a dream trip for us. I would love to go to a Luau. I am loving all the posts about your trip.

  • I love Dole Whip! The PCC looks like a ton of fun and a place I have always wanted to go especially with my kids! I didn’t realize all the things you can do in there.

  • What a wonderful time you had. I’ve seen how beautiful Hawaii is in photos and videos and I can’t wait to see it with my own eyes.

  • I’ve never been to a luau before but I’d love to. I think it would be a great learning experience for the kids and myself. Your photos are absolutely stunning.

  • Hawaii is one of my dream places, I heard so many good things about it! You have so much fun there, thanks for sharing.

  • I love that you were able to absorb so much of the Polynesian culture. I have a few friends that are originally from the islands and they are the absolute best people.

  • I remember visiting there many years ago. I loved learning how to properly open a coconut and make Tahitian Coconut bread!

  • Traveling with children is an important part of their development. It is good for them to see different places, appreciate different cultures and experience life in different places.

  • What a beautiful place. I can’t get enough of the polynesian culture. They are some of the most humble people and are very proud of their heritage. Trips which provide some educational time really make for some good times.

  • I have still never had this mana called the dole whip! I know I’m missing out. Ugh. I need to find a good recipe online and try to make one myself.

  • I can’t wait until my family can visit Hawaii. I went when I was little and loved it–the luau was a great memory I have. I bet my kiddos would be on a mission to drink out of a pineapple too! Great pics!

  • Wow is all I can say, what a great adventure. Your pictures are also fabulous. I have as yet never been to Hawaii let alone tried a dole whip. I love travelling and experiencing different foods and cultures.

  • Thank you so much for your review about the Polynesian Cultural Center, I myself work at the Polynesian culture center, it is a great pleasure to share our culture with people from all over the world. One of the great thing about the center is that if you cannot travel all over Polynesia you can get a sample of the main Polynesian Islands all at one place. We Polynesians have a similar culture but at the same time very distinct as well. The center is not only super entertaining but it is also very educative, you get to learn a lot about Polynesia, lifestyle etc. The villagers at the center are actually natives, they are from those islands coming to Hawaii for school and that’s what makes the Polynesian Cultural Center authentic. I am glad that you and your family had fun and a great experience at the Center, thank you so much for visiting us.

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