What is the real beauty of Polynesia? The media may focus on pictures of beautiful Polynesian woman dressed in hula skirts, with big brown eyes and long, luxurious hair. These quintessential islanders can make men swoon and women long for such genes. But the real beauty of Polynesia comes from the hearts of its people.Those who have worked at the Polynesian Cultural Center, and the loyal guests who visit us time and again will be happy to list off the people who have touched their lives…..honorable and gracious kapuna who have guided and influenced us throughout the years.

fijiThe truth of the matter is that Polynesians are an extremely diverse population. What makes them unique is that they embrace and cherish that diversity.

There is no shaming if you’re 6’ 4” or more than toothpick thin. There is beauty in the short and curly hair as much as having long, full waves….and unlike the stereotypical image, eye colors can range from chocolate brown, to tawny, to a hypnotizing green.


Even hair color can look like a paint sample of rich blacks, warm browns, and rusty reds.

The red hair can come as quite the surprise, as evidenced in a post in my family blog from November of 2014:

I was taking tickets with some of the ladies at the Hale Aloha Luau.  Along the main path comes a little red-haired boy….all by himself.  He could not have been older than 5 or 6.

“Hello little fella,” I said brightly.  “Where are your momma and your pappa?”

He shrugs his shoulders.

“You look a little young to be walking down this path all by yourself.  Are you lost?” I asked.  The other ladies started gathering round.

Just as pretty as can be, and in this adorable little voice he says:  “I’m a keeeeeeeiki.”  I’m not kidding – in the tiniest little voice – just like that.

I leaned down and said “I’m sorry, little guy.  I didn’t hear you,”

“I’m a keeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeiki”, he repeated.  Ah, how cute, I thought.  He learned how to say child in Hawaiian (keiki = child)

“Little fella, where is your mummy,” asks one of the ladies?

“She’s at work.”

“Does she work here?” He shakes his head yes.

“Here we go then,” I said, taking his hand.  “I’ll help you find her.”

“But,” he repeated with more urgency, “I’m a keeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeiki“.

Oh, wait. Now I get it……he’s a keiki.  As in one of the children who performs at our Ali’i Luau. You see, the red hair threw me.  And here I was, about to march him down to Lost and Found and send out an all-points bulletin for his mommy.

The stage entrance was just around the corner.  I gave him a little pat on the back with a “well then, young man, you’d best run along.”

The important lesson for me was more than learning who is who and what is what. It was to understand that my conception of Polynesia was gathered from books and movies, and had very little to do with reality.

 Experience has now taught me that:






 There is beauty in youth












 There is beauty in individuality











There is beauty in experience









There is beauty in memories





Polynesians understand that everyone is unique, everyone is special, everyone is valued. And that is the real reason why there is beauty in Polynesia.

nina-jones-croppedNina Jones, a mainland gal from way back, is now a transplanted Islander. With her husband of 39 years, she volunteers at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Her hobbies include swimming, traveling, studying and writing about what she is learning from the various Polynesian cultures. Her blogs focus on their history, beliefs, practices and – as an added bonus – delicious food! To her, Polynesia is not just a place to visit, it is a way to live and she is very honored to be able to be a part of their amazing world.