Polynesian Cultural Center

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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The Polynesian Cultural Center is a theme park dedicated to the preservation of the cultures of  Polynesia. It is on the northern shore of Oahu, and is owned by The Church of Latter-day Saints

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We spent the day at this park…it’s like EPCOT (the world showcase part) for Polynesian nations. Our reservations included transportation from our Waikiki hotel, access to each of the villages, an afternoon floating pageant in the central lagoon, a luau with entertainment and an evening theatrical performance. It was a full day, but lots of fun!

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The park is organized into six villages, each representing a different Polynesian culture, on the banks of a central lagoon. Most of the center’s performers are from the areas represented and receive scholarships to the Church of LDS’ Brigham Young University – Hawaii.

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We took a canoe ride to Tahiti, watched a man make poi out of taro root in Hawai’i, attended a Maori warrior dance performance in Aotearoa (New Zealand), and laughed at a Tongan drum performance involving volunteers from the audience.

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In Fiji, we kept the rhythm by pounding bamboo sticks in time to the music. In Samoa, we were treated to a fire dancing performance, a coconut husking demonstration and then two young men scaled palm trees in their bare feet to retrieve some more coconuts!

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In the afternoon, there was a performance in the lagoon on canoes, featuring the dances of all six regions.

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We cooled off for a few minutes in the IMAX theater with aerial photography of Hawaii. Then it was time for the luau!

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At the luau, the roasted pig was unearthed from its fire pit with much fanfare and then there were more performances while we ate. (And yes, we did try the poi, and while we didn’t care for that, the dinner rolls made with taro were quite delicious.)

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Afterwards, we headed over to the Pacific Theater for the theatrical production of Hā–Breath of Life. This was the only place were weren’t allowed to take photos.  It is a cross between a Broadway play and Medieval Times performance, telling a story of ancient Polynesian traditions and history, interwoven with song and dance in arena-like setting.

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Oahu Posts:

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Location: 55-370 Kamehameha Hwy, Laie, HI 96762

Designation: Cultural Theme Park

Date established/designated: 10/12/1963

Date of my visit: April 12, 2019

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Kahului Harbor

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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After departing Honolulu, our cruise ship docked in Kahului on the island of Maui. It was very windy that morning with rough waters, so our snorkeling excursion was canceled. So we decided to explore the port area for a little while since our Haleakala excursion wasn’t until the late afternoon.

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Kahului is the business center of Maui, with shopping malls and shipyards. This town was rural and undeveloped until the sugar cane industry boom. Then, the sugar companies built a railroad to haul their crop to the harbor.

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In 1900, the bubonic plague swept through Kahului. Officials burned down the town to staunch the epidemic. In 1948, the Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Company built the planned community that is modern day Kahului.

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The sugar plantations are gone now, the factories shuttered. Kahului is still important to Maui as a port, bringing needed supplies and tourists to the island on a regular basis.

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We walked past the industrial cargo container yards and strip malls and found a decent beach. There were windsurfers and kayakers in the water here and a few sunbathers on the sand. Not exactly paradise, but clean enough to dip our toes in the water before heading back to the ship.

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Maui Posts:

  • Kahului Harbor
  • Haleakalā National Park (Coming Soon)
  • ʻĪao Valley State Monument (Coming Soon)
  • Maui Tropical Plantation (Coming Soon)
  • Maui Ocean Center (Coming Soon)

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Location: 100 W Kaahumanu Ave, Kahului, HI 96732

Designation: Harbor, Public Beach

Date of my visit: 4/14/2019

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Byodo-In Temple State Landmark

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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The Byodo-In Temple is at the foot of the Ko’olau Mountains in Valley of the Temples Memorial Park on the island of Oahu in Hawaii.

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It is a replica of the 950-year-old Byodo-in Temple in Uji, Japan. At 11,000 square feet, it is big, but half the size of the original.

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It  was built in 1968 to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii.

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The Temple is a non-practicing Buddhist temple…it doesn’t house monks or host a congregation. All faiths are welcome here.

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The main structure is Phoenix Hall…there is a Phoenix carving on the roof. Inside is an 18 foot statue of the Lotus Buddha. You must remove your shoes to go inside.

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Outside is a three-ton, brass peace bell which we were encouraged to ring, releasing our negativity.

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We bought some food from the gift shop to feel the koi and black swans in the large koi ponds that surround the temple.

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Oahu Posts:

  • Kahanamoku Beach
  • Fort DeRussy Beach Park
  • Green World Coffee Farm
  • The Dole Plantation
  • Anahulu River
  • Waimea Falls
  • Hau’ula Beach Park
  • Tropical Macadamia Farm
  • Byodo-In Temple
  • Polynesian Cultural Center (coming soon)
  • Aloha Tower (coming soon)
  • Diamond Head (coming soon)
  • Iolani Palace (coming soon)
  • King Kamehameha Statue (coming soon)
  • Aliʻiōlani Hale (coming soon)
  • Pearl Harbor (coming soon)

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Location: 47-200 Kahekili Hwy, Kaneohe, HI 96744

Designation: State Landmark

Date established/designated: June 7, 1968

Date of my visit: April 11, 2019

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Tropical Farms Macadamia Nut Farm

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

The macadamia nut tree is originally from Australia, but the macadamia industry was born in Hawaii. Most of the world’s macadamia nuts are produced in Hawaii on small farms.

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While on our tour of Oahu’s North shore, we stopped at Tropical Farms. This began as a roadside stand in 1987 with a husband-wife team shelling the nuts at night and selling them by day. It takes 300 pounds of pressure to crack the macadamia’s shell.

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Now it’s a tourist attraction with a farm tour, demonstrations and a gift shop with lots of free samples. In the shadow of the Koʻolau Mountains with wild chickens running around the property, it is a lovely place to stop.

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Oahu Posts:

Location: 49-227 Kamehameha Hwy # A, Kaneohe, HI 96744

Designation: Farm

Date established/designated: circa 1987

Date of my visit: April 11, 2019

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Hau’ula Beach Park

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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As part of our North Shore tour, we stopped at Hau’ula beach to take a dip in the ocean. All beaches in Hawaii are public and this one has a parking lot, restrooms and showers.  Hau’ula translates to ‘red hibiscus.’

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Hau’ula Beach Park is on Oahu’s windward coast and is popular with the locals for picnicking. It was quiet when we were there and we were the only tourists.

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The beach itself is narrow…our shoes almost got washed away when we didn’t leave them high enough up the bank. I also noticed an unfortunate problem with plastic garbage washing up on the shore. But it was peaceful…some of the other beaches along that section of the highway were packed with no available parking, so it was nice to be away from the crowds.

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Location: 54-135 Kamehameha Hwy, Hauula, HI 96717

Designation: Public Beach

Date of my visit: April 11, 2019

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Waimea Valley

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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Waimea Valley was  known as “the valley of the priests” in the time of the ancient Hawaiians as it was home to the Kahuna Nui (high priests.)  It was the site of first contact between the Hawaiians on Oahu and European explorers in search of fresh water. This encounter did not go well and ended with the execution of the HMS Daedalus’ captain.

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Today Waimea Valley is a park that includes several historical structures. It is also home to botanical gardens and a waterfall with a swimming hole. Scroll to the bottom of this post for a video of the waterfall.

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The trail to the waterfall is about a mile on a wide path through the botanical gardens, with many signs naming the various tropical plants. On the day that we were there, a section of the trail was blocked off because a movie crew was there filming Jumanji 2.

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In its modern history, Waimea Valley was a County Park and then was managed by the National Audubon Society for five years. In 2008,  Hi’ipaka LLC, a non-profit organization created by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs took over management of the park.

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When I’d visited in the eighties, swimming in the deep pool at the base of the 45 foot waterfall was a free-for-all and a little scary to me at the time. On this visit, we were handed life vests before we could go in the water. Apparently, there have been drownings, so the rules have changed.

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Oahu Posts:

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Location: 2055 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815

Designation: Military Reservation

Date established/designated: circa 1904

Date of my visit: April 2019

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Anahulu River

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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Every place we visited in Hawaii was steeped in history. We spent one morning kayaking (my daughter opted to paddle board) on the Anahulu River via Tsue’s Farm in Haleiwa on the island of Oahu.

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The Anahulu River is 7.1 miles long. Anahulu translates to ten days.
It is on the western side of the Koolau Mountain Range and empties into Waialua Bay at Haleiwa. We paddled a mile or so and saw locals catching big crabs along its banks.

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Haleiwa (‘home of the frigate bird’)was once the site of an ancient Hawaiian village, then farmland providing food for King Kamehameha’s army, and later, a base for Protestant missionaries. In the late 1800s it was a summer home for Hawaiian monarchs.

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After our paddle, we enjoyed a delicious lunch of coconut shrimp, teriyaki chicken and noodles on the banks of the river, accompanied by some of the island’s wild chickens and kittens. Afterwards, we were treated to shave ice from their stand.

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Oahu Posts:

  • Kahanamoku Beach
  • Fort DeRussy Beach Park
  • Green World Coffee Farm
  • The Dole Plantation
  • Anahulu River
  • Waimea Falls (coming soon)
  • Hau’ula Beach Park (coming soon)
  • Tropical Macadamia Farm (coming soon)
  • Byodo-In Temple (coming soon)
  • Polynesian Cultural Center (coming soon)
  • Aloha Tower (coming soon)
  • Diamond Head (coming soon)
  • Iolani Palace (coming soon)
  • King Kamehameha Statue (coming soon)
  • Aliʻiōlani Hale (coming soon)
  • Pearl Harbor (coming soon)

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Location: 62-400 Joseph P. Leong Hwy, Haleiwa, Hawaii 96712

Date of my visit: April 11, 2019

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