Next in my series exploring diversity in Virginia Beach, I wanted to showcase the Pacific Islander culture that is embedded in the area. For those who don’t know, Pacific Islanders are inhabitants of any islands in the South Pacific. This includes places such as Hawaii, Tahiti, and Bora Bora. Yes, a vacation to any of those islands would be nothing short of a dream, but hey, the next best thing is right here in Virginia Beach.

A lot of people aren’t aware of the rich culture that Pacific Islanders have, and it is easy for anyone to experience what they offer locally. Pacific Islanders of Virginia (PIVA) is a community organization of “islanders” who live in the Hampton Roads area. The organization’s goal is to preserve island culture, and they do that through many community events throughout the year. One of their biggest events is the Virginia Beach Polynesian Festival, or “PolyFest,” which has grown to become the largest Polynesian festival on the east coast! This annual event is held towards the end of the summer and features vendors, food, live music, and ancient Polynesian dancing. The festival even features a “Miss Polyfest” competition. The community group also hosts an Asia Pacific Heritage Day picnic in May.

Now to my favorite part, the food. I had the opportunity to explore a Hawaiian and Filipino infused restaurant called Auntie’s Tiki Bar & Restaurant. The atmosphere of this restaurant gives you a taste (literally) of true island culture. Their Tiki Cocktails have their own menu, featuring delicious island-inspired drinks. The food menu is comprised of dishes such as Sisig Tacos, made with seasoned pork belly, Sweet & Spicy burgers, and the thought of their Veggie Lumpia is seriously making my mouth water as I type this.

Interested in exploring more about Pacific Islander culture? Doing research for my series, I found out some cool things about the people of these islands. It was exciting to discover things I had never known before, and being able to share that with peers made it worthwhile. I encourage everyone to do the same, then take advantage of what Virginia Beach has to offer, Pacific Islander style!