Oahu: North Shore and Polynesian Cultural Center

Can’t believe it is already the last day on Oahu, but the final day on Oahu was just as wonderful as the others.  This morning, we headed into the car, and starting heading north.  For the first time, we left the “cityscape” of Oahu and moved into the farming and agricultural area of Central and Northern Oahu, as the island transitions from skyscrapers and dense housing to sprawling pineapple and coffee plantations.  Our first stop of the day was the Dole plantation as we got to see where all of the famous pineapples came from (Funny story…  Many Dole pineapples now come from Thailand…)  While we were there, we got to enjoy some amazing pineapple soft serve, which was excellent, and we enjoyed a leisurely walk of the grounds.

From here, we headed to North shore, and made a stop at the famous Matsumoto’s Shave Ice, to enjoy some of their frosty creations.  The line snaked out the door, as we made our way to the counter to select three flavors, the size of the shave ice, and if we wanted some ice cream in the bottom.  Darin walked away with a Large ice cream bottom, with Cherry, Tangerine, and Blue Pineapple.  Excellent!

As we continued up the North Shore, we made a stop at a local beach where turtles regularly bask in the sun, and while we were there, “Isabel” was on the sand with a large group of onlookers watching and taking pictures.  At her side were two Honu Guardians (Volunteers that protect the turtles) making sure everyone was following the rules and keeping their distance.

We continued onto the north shore city of Laie, where we saw the campus of BYU-Hawaii and the Mormon Temple there.  A quick stop at a unique McDonalds (they have a waterfall inside the restaurant!) and we arrived at the Polynesian Cultural Center.

The Polynesian Cultural Center is like a huge amusement park, divided up into 7 different sections, but it is so much more than that.  Run primarily by students at BYU-Hawaii, the center provides jobs and scholarships for the students at the University, while they simultaneously share and respect their home cultures as many of the students at the school are from the islands.

The 7 sections of the park include:  Hawaii, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, Tahiti, New Zealand, and the Marquesas.  Each area of the park provided an amphitheater for a cultural presentation that shared history, songs, music, and dance.  In addition to the cultural presentations there were activity areas where you could see and sometimes participate in individual skills like climbing coconut trees, making fire with two sticks, archery, hula, weaving, drums, long poi twirling, ukulele lessons, and spear tossing.

All of the presentations and activities were extremely well done by individuals who were engaging, fun, and truly loved what they did.  Everywhere in the park, we encountered the Aloha spirit and everyone enjoyed the day immensely.

We also viewed a boat pageant, where each culture performed dance and song, while on moving double hulled canoes!  We also we able to attend an IMAX presentation of the history of Polynesia.

It was a very full and busy day, but extremely enjoyable, as we got to watch Hawaiian Hula (it’s not what you think!), New Zealand Poi Twirling, Samoan Fire-making and coconut preparation, Tahitian Dance, and Tongan Drumming (Darin was a guest drummer!)

After all of this (which is more than enough in its own right), we attended a full-length feature show with dozens of performers that encompassed 6 of the 7 cultures in a single storyline called “Ha — Breath of Life”.  It was exceptional with male and female dancers, action, lots of fire (fire is always good in any show) and great scenery and layout in a huge open air pavilion.

It was a wonderful time and experience at the Polynesian Cultural Center.  After the drive home, we called it a day and got ready to say goodbye to our island home and return back to the mainland.

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