This past Saturday, February 20, 2016, Yelp invited Oahu’s Elite Yelpers on a Polynesian Cultural Center “Road Trip”, an all day and night excursion that would turn out to be an EPIC Yelp Elite Event!
It began at 12:30pm at the Kapiolani Community College (KCC) main parking lot, where everyone converged to catch two plush Roberts Hawaii motor coaches that ferried us all the way to the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie on the North Shore of Oahu. Thankfully traffic heading that way was for the most part flowing normally. We were worried the large surf that’s been rolling in this past week further down at Sunset Beach and Haleiwa was going to cause major back-ups on Kam Highway, but it wasn’t the case.
Upon arrival, we were given our PCC tickets for admission into the main gate and Ha: Breath of Life show, comp’d by PCC for all Elite Yelpers and their +1 guests. Nice!
Emi Hart, Yelp Honolulu’s Community Director also gave us a scavenger hunt work sheet, check listing a bunch of eateries and other attractions offering all the Elite Yelpers complimentary samples. Sweet!
While I would have liked to try all the food in the scavenger hunt, honestly, I did not have ANY appetite whatsoever when I first got there and throughout the afternoon, mainly because I think I was more excited in SEEING everything PCC had to offer than eating my way through it. On top of that, I really wanted to save my appetite for dinner at Pounders Restaurant. Had I eaten even half of what was on that list, I guarantee I’d hardly take a bite of my dinner.
Now other fellow Elite Yelpers who left Yelp reviews of this event mentioned they haven’t been here for a long while, however for me? This was the VERY FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE I’ve ever stepped a foot within the Polynesian Cultural Center grounds, and I was born and raised here on Oahu.
And it’s not because I never had opportunities to visit here in the past, because I have. Many times. However avoided PCC due to what I’ll explain next.
I honestly assumed PCC was going to be a mostly cheesy tourist trap on Jurassic Park scale. Was I right in that assumption? Yes in the obvious ways, such as some of the stores in the marketplace and totally rehearsed and “sanitized’ demonstrations, however in essence, NO, I was wrong.
All the workers there — who many are students at BYU — are the GENUINE REAL DEAL, and you can tell they truly have a passion for the culture they represent while working there and performing and greeting visitors.
The main grounds where the waterway is of course landscaped to the T, reminding you this is indeed a 100% fabricated visitor attraction, and not the “real deal”. However unless you have the resources to visit each of the Pacific islands PCC represents on your own, this is by far THE BEST PLACE you’re going to get all that under “one roof” within one entire day of your time committed to exploring it.
And exploration and commitment is certainly the name of the game at PCC, as you need to put on your “curiosity hat”, and go through each exhibit and sit through each performance and demonstration to truly get EVERYTHING PCC has to offer. And there really is A LOT. It’s a VERY EDUCATIONAL & IMMERSIVE experience.
Not only educational and immersive, but PCC is of course very ENTERTAINING, with some of the demonstrations being as good as a stand-up comedy routine on the Comedy Channel, mixed with some Polynesian culture added to the mix, making it SUPER FUN ‘n COOL.
The dinner served at Pounders Restaurant was overall FANTASTIC, and was the perfect energy boost to get us all through the 2 hour HA: Breath of Life show that would round out our very long and EPIC Yelp Elite Event day and night (a long one!) at this very special PCC YEE.
I thought after eating dinner that I’d pass out “Kanak’ Attack” style in the middle of the performance at Ha, but NOPE. I was ON MY FEET the entire show, mesmerized and entranced by every segment of Ha. It starts slowly, yet builds in suspense and new styles of dance and performances that span the entire Polynesian region through every segment. Ha touches every emotion, from anger (even at times violent), humor and suspense, to forgiveness and love. It will take you for a ride that will surprise you, and only get’s better as the show progresses. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
As soon a the Ha: Breath of Life show ended (and using the lua if needed) everyone headed back to the buses for the long 1 hour and 20 minute night time ride back to KCC, returning there at 10:40pm.
Huge, huge mahalos to Emi and her assistant Shelley for bringing all us Elite Yelpers along for the ride to Laie. I really appreciate all you do! And also of course HUGE mahalos to the Polynesian Cultural Center for the Aloha in letting us local Yelpers come and see what you’re all about. It would be safe to say, all us YELPERS ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!!!!
Following are photos I’ve captured (unless otherwise noted) from this Polynesian Cultural Center Yelp Elite Event. Enjoy. ;-)
Panekeke (Samoan version of Okinawan Andagi) from Poi Boy Dogs @ Hukilau Marketplace. Image source: Jules Y. @ Yelp
Poi Toa, or Poi throwing is an Aotearoa Maori exercise and game
We’ve all seen Samoan rock walls fronting and/or surrounding folks homes, right? Well, introducing the latest in “green” construction materials technology: the Samoan Coconut Fence! Braddah, isha’ goo’ one! LOL!!!
Pounders Restaurant (front entrance, facing makai; Pounders is open to the public, PCC admission not required, so if you’re driving around the island, this is a great option to stop for lunch or dinner!)
Pounders Restaurant couldn’t fit our entire Yelp group outside to dine together, so some of us were split up into private booths inside the restaurant, where I joined Matt B. and his lovely wife Rachel for dinner… super cool couple! That’s Emi Hart also joining us for this photo op.
Pounders Restaurant Surf & Turf’s steak was grilled to RARE/MEDIUM RARE PERFECTION, wonderfully tasty ‘n tender, while it was topped with a sort of Mint-Chili Pepper “pesto” that was pretty dang SPICY hot
If “Surf and Turf” didn’t sound like your bag, the second of two dinner entree options at Pounders Restaurant was Kalbi (shown above), which from what I’ve heard from those who chose it that night, was AWESOME. Braised until fork tender, with a deep and authentic Korean Kalbi flavor. Photo source: Traci T. @ Yelp
Pacific Theater at the entrance of PCC, home of the HA: Breath of Life show. Note, photography and video is strictly forbidden during the performance… if “Abdula Fata’ai” catches you, look out, you HAD IT! lol
Ha: Breath of Life Mana Lani dance. Photo courtesy of Ha: Breath of Life media kit
There’s many more photos coming, so please check back again later... Fa’afetai tele, talofa and CHEEEEEE-HOOOOOOOO!!!!!! lol