The cultural scene in Oahu
Oahu is a civilized paradise that's best known for its rich culture and colorful history. Its multicultural heritage complements the warmth of its people and its inviting tradition. Oahu's love for culture is very evident in the number of cultural centers they have put up as well as the museums showcasing Hawaii's natural beauty, unique heritage, history, and arts. To emphasize the wealth of Hawaii's culture, Oahu is home to museums, theaters, and tours that offer a glimpse of the past and its celebrated traditions. Other than mere sightseeing, you are encouraged to join tours and take part in many activities that are in store for both locals and foreign guests.
Polynesian Cultural Center
The Polynesian Cultural Center, or PCC, is a good a starting point for your cultural exploration. It is almost an hour away from Waikiki. To represent the diversity of the early inhabitants of Hawaii along with their rich history, it showcases native villages representing Samoa, Fiji, Tahiti, Tonga, Aotearoa (Maori New Zealand), Rapa Nui (Easter Island), and the Marquesas. Here, you can learn more about the history of each island nation and how they mirror the true Polynesian culture. This is also a good place for admiring exhibits and participating in activities that feature traditional arts and crafts, ancient forms of recreation, food preparation, and even training methods used in ancient warfare.
Activities in the PCC
Be part of traditional activities at the PCC and see native performers from across the Pacific. As soon as you arrive at the Polynesian Cultural Center, you will be treated to Hawaii's most authentic luau and one of the world's largest Polynesian night shows. You'll then understand why every trip to Hawaii should include a stop at the Polynesian Cultural Center. This cultural center had over 33 million visitors since its first opening in 1963. This figure may well be attributed to the wide-range hands-on activities in the Polynesian Cultural Center that makes the visit only more interesting and remarkable. Here, you can experience husking a coconut, building and using an underground oven, and even doing the famous Fire Knife dancing.
You can also watch shows that features a cast of over 100 performers from the Pacific to celebrate the rich cultural diversity and traditions of Polynesia. A visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center will tell you why the center remains one of Hawaii’s top tourist attractions. While you are at Oahu, immerse yourself in the cool arts and culture scene in Honolulu.
Another cultural activity of the Oahu residents is the "Rainbows of Paradise" in the PCC, which hosts the famous canoe pageant. This pageant features a colorful parade of canoes representing each of the island nations. You can also watch the Coral Reef Adventure on Imax, followed by the Ali’i Luau, an all-you-can-eat buffet catering traditional Hawaiian cuisine as well as other local favorites. Take time to sing or dance along with Hawaiian music for entertainment and meet friendly locals who are more than willing to help their guests and show the best of Oahu.
You would see more Hawaiian or Oauhuan traditions on wedding ceremonies or marriage rites, which include Hawaiian music, ancient Hawaiian chants and blessings, and traditional Hawaiian food at the reception. The simple lei exchange, for one, is customary for most couples, such as the bride and groom. Green maile garlands are, especially made for grooms, while pink and white pikake flowers are given to brides. In a traditional Hawaiian wedding ceremony, the officiant, called the kahuna pule, binds the couple's hands together with a maile lei.
Historical sites and other nearby attractions
If you are the type of guest who is interested in history, plan a trip to Honolulu's historical sites. Downtown, you would see the Iolani Palace, the King Kamehameha Statue, and Kawaiaha'o Church. Just a few blocks away, you can explore Chinatown and visit Kuan Yin Temple and some galleries. The Hawai'i Maritime Center will also interest you in learning more about different sea animals that are native to the islands of Hawaii through interactive exhibits. From here, you can also plan a visit to the anthropological and archaeological center of the state, the Bishop Museum. Driving along the Pali Highway, you will find the Queen Emma Summer Palace, which offers a view of quaint living around the warm trees and green surroundings. But if gardening is one your passion or hobbies, then you better take some time off to go to Foster Botanical Garden.
Parks and museums
If you wish to discover ancient Hawaii through tours and museums, you can do that with a tour to Iolani Palace, the only royal palace on US grounds. You can also visit Pearl Harbor, Arizona Memorial, and the Battleship Missouri to reminisce the past events relevant to World War II. Take a peek at the Honolulu Academy of Arts and the Hawaii State Art Museum, and enjoy their art exhibits and collections found only in Oahu. Oahu is such a generous place, sharing its culture and tradition with guests. In fact, you can take ukulele lessons here, learn how to make Hawaiian feather lei, and even imbibe the Aloha spirit of Oahu's people.
Arizona Memorial Museum is yet another cultural venue where Oahu imparts knowledge about cultural and historical events to its guests. The Arizona Memorial Museum Association operates a bookstore at the USS Arizona Memorial, providing visitors educational materials about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1942, which led to World War II in the Pacific.
The Oahu government has built memorials to preserve the culture and history of their beloved place. This includes theBattleship Missouri Memorial, which was established as a National Memorial commemorating the end of World War II, and the Bishop Museum, considered to be a state museum of natural and cultural history with daily activities and craft demonstrations for tourist guests. The Cedar Street Galleries also has exhibits for the works of contemporary local artists recognized by the local art museums. You can find artworks made of acrylic, bronze, ceramic, glass, oil, stone, watercolor, and wood.
Another cultural site that's a must-see in Oahu is Hawaii's Plantation Village located in the historic Waipahu. It is an outdoor museum that showcases the lifestyles and experiences of Hawaii's plantation workers. Community structures here best describe the history of Hawaii's multi-ethnic heritage. The Village not only features Asian art and architecture, but also some treasured antiques and relics. The Hawaii Plantation Village first opened in September 1992, displaying original structures and replica homes of multi-ethnic groups who arrived at Hawaii between the late 1800s and the 1940s to work as plantation laborers.
Kalaupapa historic adventure
For guests who are interested in the cultural and historical heritage of Oahu, visit the land of Father Damien, Kalawao, and Kalaupapa on the island of Moloka'i. You may fly from Oahu and experience an educational ground tour that takes you back in time to learn about the blessed life of Father Damien, a historical figure in the town of Oahu. At Kalaupapa Airport, expect to be greeted by an escort from Damien Tours. Then sit back, relax, and learn about Blessed Father Damien and his mission for Hansen's disease patients.
For those who don't know who Father Damien is, he volunteered in 1873 to help the leper settlement. He was a religious missionary, a skilled carpenter, and an organizer who brought law and order to the leper settlement. The Roman Catholic Church is currently investigating and examining Damien's personal life, writings, and ministry to officially consider him as a saint.
Another exciting event is in the form of Oahu Ghost Tour, wherein guests will hear ghost stories from Hawaii's best storytellers. Through this tour, they will also get to visit haunted landmarks and learn about ancient Hawaiian legends. The guides to accompany you during the tour are good storytellers themselves. In fact, most of them grew up learning about all those popular legends and terrifying tales of haunted places in Hawaii and Oahu.
By day, Hawaii may seem like all about fun in the sun--surfing, swimming, snorkeling, and lounging in the sandy beaches. But by night, you can get the thrill and excitement from hearing about haunted happenings, taking you to the scary side of Hawaii that few visitors are aware of and even fewer still get to experience. This, of course, is courtesy of the ghost tours.
Another event relevant to the Oahu Ghost Tours is the "Orbs Of Oahu" nighttime driving tour, where you'll head out to some of the best known and downright spookiest haunted spots around the island, making stops along the way at Kapena Falls, Morgan's Corner, the Old Pali Road, and more. Then, there's always the "Sacred Spirits" tour, which takes place during daylight hours and includes visits to the Pali Lookout, Kahuku Sugar Mill, and the native Hawaiian heiau. You’ll hear all about Pele, the Fire Goddess, learn a little something about the magical little Menehune, and even get to check out some ancient Hawaiian petroglyphs.
Oahu is a good place for fun family vacations and romantic getaways because of its wide array of cultural destinations and exciting events that will make your trip memorable. These sites are not only considered as tourist magnets but a way for the Oahu people to preserve and share their culture and tradition to others.