3 Ways to Find Your Inner Hula in Florida

    By Jodi Mailander Farrell

    The South Seas doesn’t seem so far away in Florida’s subtropical setting. Tiki-inspired hotels and restaurants dot the landscape.

    Here are three places where you can catch retro kitsch from the South Pacific here in the Sunshine State.

    • Polynesian dances, live music, culinary offerings and language introduction, along with basket weaving, coconut husking, a ukulele exhibition, a tiki bar and an exciting fire knife dance after sunset, are all part of the Polynesian Cultural Festival, which is held every February in Oakland Park. 

    • Since 1956, the Mai-Kai Restaurant and Polynesian Islander Revue in Fort Lauderdale has been entertaining visitors with shows, authentic food and creative concoctions like the Shrunken Skull and Black Magic. The landmark at 3599 N. Federal Hwy. recreates a Polynesian Village, complete with tiki torches, a thatch roof and a wooden plank bridge entrance. Nightly shows Tuesday-Sunday. Info: 954-563-3272; http://maikai.com. Mai-Kai is also one of the hosts of the immensely popular Hukilau festival each spring. Visit www.thehukilau.com for more information.
    • An oasis of tropical palms, lush vegetation, koi ponds and white-sand beaches, Polynesian Village Resort in Orlando has been a favorite Disney destination since 1971. Designed after a Tahitian royal assembly lodge, the main house is surrounded by several lodges and a torch-lined waterfront, along with several restaurants and two pools. The resort, at 1600 Seven Seas Dr., is currently undergoing renovations in some areas (20 over-the-water “Bora Bora Bungalows” are planned), so be aware that some spots may be closed for part of 2015.
    The Polynesian Cultural Festival is held every February in Oakland Park.

    The Polynesian Cultural Festival is held every February in Oakland Park.

    - Polynesian Culture Association

    Disney's Polynesian Villas & Bungalows

    Disney's Polynesian Villas & Bungalows

    - Matt Stroshane for Walt Disney World Resort