Near the town of Laie, make this one of your first, if not your first, activities. At first glance, the price doesn't seem cheap, but it is worth it. We couldn't do everything in one day. If possible, take two days here. The evening show will be a repeat but it's a wonderful spectacle.
The center is run by the Church of jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons). Nearby is the Mormon temple and the campus of BYU Hawaii. The temple was built here for much the same reason the Mormons settled in Salt Lake - solitude. The only way to reach Laie in those days was by boat and most ships went to Honolulu and Waikiki. Today there are several roads, including a couple of interstates (Oahu has three, H1, H2 and H3) that provide access to most areas of the island.
The center provides an oportunity for the polynesian students attending the college to work and pay for their education. There is a close bond between the school, the temple and the center. Work schedules at the center and class schedules are juggled to meet the student's needs. There is a free shuttle bus between the center and the temple for those who want to see both.
There are four packages to choose from. The middle two options are the ones I recommend. They are both self-guided, and include the evening show. The more expensive recommended luau package ($64 adult, $43 child) includes the luau and "preferred" seating for the evening show. The recommended cheaper priced Buffet package ($47 adult, $30 child) includes a delightful buffet dinner (a step down from the luau) and "reserved seats" for the evening show.
The following are not recommended! The cheapest ($27 adult, $16 child), general admission, doesn't include the evening show or meal. The most expensive ($95 adult, $63 child), the "ambassador package" is a guided tour, guaranteed you'll see a little of every area, have the best seats for the evening show and includes a luau.
Take a tour bus ($15 or so per person) to the center, you won't save anything on the admission, but it's so good to leave the driving to someone else, especially after the evening show. Your bus driver will tell you about Oahu and the points of interest that you pass by. You can then decide what you want to see another day when you drive around the island yourself.
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