One place we recommend our guests visit for a complete cultural immersion is the Polynesian-themed living museum, The Polynesian Cultural Center. The park is based in Laie, a small town right here on the North Shore of Oahu. This month on the blog we’re spotlighting one of our favorite places to spend time.
Our spotlight begins in 1850 when missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints made their way to the Hawaiian Islands after visiting surrounding islanders of the sea. By 1965 the church had purchased over 6,000 acres of plantation land, today known as Laie. The concept of the park began with a man named Matthew Cowley. Cowley served a full-time mission in New Zealand for the church and developed a deep love and respect for the Maori people along with their Polynesian brothers and sisters. Matthew Cowley ended up becoming a leader for the church and gave a speech in Honolulu that addressed his concern for the native people and the erosion of cultural tradition. Cowley’s interest in the matter was shared with then prophet and president of the church, David O. McKay.
In 1962 President McKay authorized the development of the Polynesian Cultural Center, also known as the PCC, on church acreage. David O. McKay knew the park would provide meaningful employment to the students of BYU-Hawaii as well as surrounding Laie families. The PCC was dedicated and made open to the public in October of 1963, and covers roughly 42 acres of land. Although Matthew Cowley did not live long enough to see his vision come to life, his dream was nurtured into reality by those who felt his same passion for the people of Polynesia.
By 1970, following the enormous boom in Hawaii’s tourism industry, The Polynesian Cultural Center began to truly thrive. The Aliʻi Luau, which takes visitors on an authentic trip through Polynesia with the help of traditional Hawaiian food and entertainment, has won awards by the state’s Visitors & Convention Bureau for being the best of the best.
In 2001 more than one million dollars of improvements were made to the entrance of the park. The center’s retail area was renovated to become a more authentic shopping experience. The Aloha Theater, made to handle groups of people of 1,000 or more, was also redone and immensely improved. As modern changes continue to be made and crowds continue to grow, guests of all ages and ethnicities are able to experience the magic of Polynesia.
The Polynesian Cultural Center has become a world-renowned place of cultural enchantment, entertainment and education. We cannot say enough great things about the park and recommend all travelers to the islands (as well as our beloved kamaʻāina) pay the PCC a visit. We love Hawaii and the spirit it brings to everyone who visits. We strive to live and spread Aloha in everything we do. The North Shore of Oahu offers adventures that cannot be experienced anywhere else in the world — let us take you on a thrilling Hawaiian ride.