The Mormon Side Of Hawaii

It’s impossible to do everything on O’ahu in one trip. As much as we were determined to hike every mountain and swim at every beach, we had to make compromises. Even though it wasn’t a mountain or a beach, spending our last day on O’ahu around Brigham Young University-Hawaii was perfect.

Before we could do anything else we had to get some food. Even though it was in the opposite direction, we drove to Matsumoto’s to get some world famous shaved ice. Getting shaved ice was Hannah’s thing, I’m more of a milk shake guy personally, but Matsumoto’s almost made a convert out of me. For those that have had the typical shaved ice at a carnival there’s a very familiar format to the snack. Shaved ice always has a crushed ice base with sugar-flavored syrup poured over the top - that is unless you’re at Matsumoto’s. It had the crushed ice base, but everything else was unexpected. I wouldn’t even call the sauce poured on top a syrup; it was more like a fruit smoothie in a thousand different flavors drizzled over ice. Top off the smoothie-ice with mochi and you have something that transcends “shaved ice” and becomes a proper dessert worth spending your last day on.

Thoroughly sugared up, we hurried back across the island to spend the rest of the day at the Laie Temple and the Polynesian Cultural Center. Not to downplay the temple, but it is exactly what you would expect from a Hawaiian temple. The grounds were immaculate and the building itself both contrasted and complimented the tropical landscape.

The Polynesian Cultural Center was the big surprise for me. I had no idea what to expect, other than the traditional food, song, and dance. The PCC delivered on those three expectations, but exceeded in the showmanship and production quality that the entire center offered. The only way I could think to describe it was “Polynesian Disneyland.” The store fronts, the park design, the performances, everything was on par with a Disney production. We did our best to capture it on camera, but it really is something that should be experienced in person.

Our day ended with the big nightly dance performance at the PCC. The show was a blend of fire dancing, cliff jumping, sword throwing, and a beautiful story about love and family. It was traditional presentation that was streamlined and enhanced to impress a modern audience and we loved it. Amongst all the other ways we could have spent our last day on the island, the Polynesian Cultural Center really was perfect.