There is nothing like a cold January day in land-locked Arkansas, to get one's mind to take an imaginary trip to a tropical Polynesian paradise. Such was the case that made my mind recall my visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center (www.PolynesianCulturalCenter.com) on the north shoe of Hawaii's Oahu island. The Polynesian Cultural Center is a 42-acre facility that employs about 1300 people, with approximately 70% of those employees being students at nearby Brigham Young University/Hawaii. In fact, that was the purpose of this non-profit entity when it was founded in 1963. The "edutainment" complex enables BYU students to work 20 hours per week while school is in session, and 40 hours per week during breaks. (This is similar to a college near where I live, called College of the Ozarks, in Hollister, Missouri or www.cofo.edu ) The students at the Hawaii branch of BYU come from an area that covers about 12 million square miles of Pacific Ocean.
There are recreated villages of six different Polynesian cultures, such as this one, marking the entrance to a Tahitian village.
A visitor can participate in activities associated with whatever village culture they are visiting. I did not want to pass on the opportunity for a temporary tattoo, from a culture that had perfected this form of art long before it made its way into mainstream USA culture. Another culture of special interest to me was that representing Tonga, because I have cousins whose father is from that country. While in the Tongan village, I learned how to clap with a pasi or a fu sound. Although it was complicated at first, it turned out to be lots of fun!
This unusual structure is a recreation of a temple a European explorer might have encountered when the shores of Fiji were first discovered by non-native travelers. Activites one can do in this part of the park are reprsentative of the Fiji culture. The format is similar to that used at the Ozark Folk Center (www.ozarkfolkcenter.com) in Mountain View, Arkansas.
There are tree-lined canals and lagoons where visitors can see the sights, while seated comfortably in their simulated outrigger canoe.
A highlight of my day at the Polynesian Cultural Center, was viewing the colorful "floating pageant" of performers doing the native dances of each of the Polynesian cultures represented in the park.
The "hypnotic hip action" of these dancers kept the crowd of spectators on the bank of the canal thoroughly entertained.
Of course, there are gift shops and souvenir shops that have items representing all of the cultures of Polynesia. My son had brought me a necklace similar to this one as a souvenir for me from his trip to New Zealand. By reading about this jewelry in the New Zealand village store, I learned that this "whale tail hook" design incorporates the whale tail that brings the meaning of family love: the mother and calf together side by side in the ocean is where this meaning originates. Turns out this was a very appropriate gift for a son to give his mother! In fact, it was a "whale of a gift"!
An optional part of your visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center can include a tour of the Visitor Center for the Laie Hawaii Temple (tourists are not permitted inside the temple itself).
The beauty of the Polynesian Cultural Center makes this Bible verse even more meaningful: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him." (I Corinthians 2:9 NLT) Just imagine this----heaven will be even more beautiful than the Polynesian Cultural Center----more beautiful that all of the REAL Polynesian islands!!!Now, that's an expedition I DO NOT want to miss! Miles of smiles! Tricia