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Part II: Kauai's Healing Vacations Last a Lifetime


Copyright Jim Johnson. Horses from Princeville Ranch Stables take a water break on the way to Kalihiwai Falls.One morning, I headed to Princeville Ranch Stables for a horseback ride to Kalihiwai Falls. I'd never been comfortable around horses, but Mollie seemed to sense she had a city slicker aboard and conducted herself admirably. For about an hour, our small group crossed open pasture before descending into overgrown jungle where we dismounted in a small clearing. As our horses grazed, our guide led us to the top of the falls. With death grips on a guide rope, we stepped from stone to stone through the swift water, which tumbled 75 feet to a shimmering pool.

 

Eventually, we struggled down a rugged path to the basin, where we changed into bathing suits and swam in the spray of the falls. Fifteen minutes later, we filled plates from a stone-top buffet, as wild chickens pecked at scraps.

I spent the next day with Micco Godinez, owner of Kayak Kauai Outbound. Godinez knows his kayaking. He has traveled throughout the Hawaiian Islands, including an 18-hour overnight crossing from Oahu to Kauai using only the stars for navigation.

Copyright Jim Johnson. Micco Godinez, owner of Kayak Kauai Outbound, leads a small flotilla off Hanalei Beach. Despite its name, Kayak Kauai also offers hiking and mountain bike tours, as well as weeklong "adventure" packages that combine various means of locomotion. I was most interested in kayaking and joined Godinez for a day on the water. We put in behind the outfitter's North Coast base, paddled down a narrow irrigation canal and entered the Hanalei River.

Had we steered to the right, we would have headed upstream two miles into the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge, a peaceful paddle where hazy blue mountains provide the backdrop for taro fields and grazing buffalo. We turned left, however, and drifted downstream to Hanalei Bay.

With a slight twist on the name, perennially popular folk singers Peter, Paul and Mary made Hanalei the mythical home for their dragon friend, Puff. From the water, the place is indeed magical. Spinner dolphins leapt in front of us. Green sea turtles, looking like so many floating trashcan lids, grazed at seaweed churned up on the reefs. Bleach-white beaches cut a swath between turquoise waters and the silhouette of Makana, better known as Bali Hai since its stand-in role in South Pacific.

Copyright Jim Johnson. When the winter seas are too rough to visit the Na Pali coast, kayak tours visit the In summer, kayak trips follow the rugged Na Pali coast 13 miles from Hanalei to Polihale. Winter swells made that trip impossible during my visit, but we paddled far enough down the coast to see jagged cathedral spires disappear a thousand feet into the mist. Waterfalls poured through the cloud cover, carving valleys through ancient rock.

Waves travel thousands of miles across the Pacific before they crash into the cliffs. In some places, erosion has carved vast caves. Today, the sea formed fountains as it forced its way through long-spent lava tubes.

The return trip was exhilarating as we surfed the kayaks toward shore – and then circled back for more. Kayaks offer a calming unity with the sea: It's difficult to fall into something you're already in. And tipping over is easily fixed, especially if you forget the shark stories you heard at breakfast.

Hiking opportunities also abound on Kauai. Trails in the Waimea Canyon – dubbed "the Grand Canyon of the Pacific" due to its 10-mile width, 3600-foot depth and stunningly stark cliffs – cut through ancient lava flows and under waterfalls fed from the nearly 36 feet of rain that fall annually on the nearby mountains. (Mount Waialeale is officially the rainiest spot on earth). In contrast, the arid Polihale State Park (which gets barely a foot of rain each year) offers a five-mile beach hike between 100-foot dunes and reef-lined sea. At twilight, it's easy to understand local mythology, which claims that the souls of the dead depart the world of the living here.

Copyright Jim Johnson. Kalihiwai Falls offer excitement at the top…The ultimate hike is the 11-mile Kalalau Trail, which hugs the Na Pali coast. Na Pali is Hawaiian for "the cliffs," and this demanding hike requires adventurers to clamber up craggy, cloud-draped outcroppings, drop down slick paths to the sea, and then repeat the process. Those who venture past the first two miles are generally backpackers who will face multiple stream crossings, crumbling switchbacks and unwelcome cohabitants from the insect world. The compensation is ample: verdant valleys, waterfalls that tumble into bottomless swimming holes, and private views of hidden beaches and the Pacific beyond.

"Most people could do any of the hikes on Kauai," says Humberto Blanco, owner of Island Enchantment. "It's all about balance – not just the balance that keeps us from falling, but the balance between fear and comfort, danger and safety."

Blanco has guided hundreds of people on "magical adventures" along Kauai's trails, on its rivers and in its coastal waters. Most of his guests aren't tourists but travelers who seek challenge off the beaten path.

When I expressed my general fears of falling and failing, Blanco suggested one of his favorite treks, a hike along – and in – Makaleha Stream. Although the path started innocently enough in a dense bamboo forest, we were quickly forced into over-or-under decisions by the bent branches of hau trees. It was still early in the day, and the trees' blossoms were yellow. By day's end, they’d turn burnt orange and fall, forming a floral flotilla on the river.

Copyright Jim Johnson. …and relaxation at the bottom. The path soon disappeared into the stream itself, where we waded through pools, struggled up small waterfalls, and pulled ourselves over boulders strewn as if in some giant game of marbles. As we plunged further upstream, the boulders grew larger and the climb more strenuous.

At our lunch stop, I felt winded but unusually comfortable and confident.

 

"Each time we start to fall, even if we're not aware of it, the body makes small self- corrections," Blanco explained. "The more we push ourselves, the more the body learns, and the more the mind trusts the body. We become less aware of each step, and we start to let go of our fear."

When fear and self-doubt subside, Blanco says, the mind opens itself more to the "resonance of nature." That, he says is "when true healing happens."

When You Go:

 

For general tourism information, contact the Kauai Visitors Bureau at 808-245-3971 or the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, www.gohawaii.com or Tel: 800-GO-HAWAII (464-2924).

Heal thyself

Healing Arts Resources Kauai (800-599-5488; www.hshawaii.com/kvp/joan/ ) can package healing vacations, including lodging, activities, lomi lomi and other forms of therapies from ancient to New Age.

Accommodations

Healing Arts Resources Kauai can arrange accommodations in line with the organization's healing philosophy (and with rates as low as $360 for a week, double occupancy). Mahala Ke Ola (888-465-2824), for example, is a bed and breakfast retreat where host Ed Stumpf provides guests with massage and Reiki treatments in sight of mountains and waterfalls. Om Orchard (808-828-0111) offers a "meditative guest cottage" and outdoor volcanic rock shower and allows guests to pick their own bananas and papayas.

Courtesy of Hawai'i Visitors and Convention Bureau. Map of Kauai.

The Keapana Center (800-822-7968; planet-hawaii.com/keapana/ ) is an airy property with five guestrooms decorated with Balinese art. Owner Gabriela Taylor built the Center ("keapana" means "clear breath with a heart beat") on six remote acres to bring guests "as close to nature as one can come without diminishing creature comforts." At Island Enchantment (888-281-8292; www.aloha.com/~enchant/Kauai.html ), owner Humberto Blanco provides both vacation retreats in his tropical guest lodge and guided "paradise adventures" like hiking trips to waterfalls, secluded beaches and towering cliffs. (Or rent a kayak and paddle from the front door down the river and explore the beaches and coast on your own.)

Those addicted to mainland luxury will have no problem finding it at the island's many resorts. For a nice blend of luxury and healing, I found that the deluxe Hyatt Regency (800-742-1234) injected history, nature, culture and pseudo-authentic spa offerings into the overall experience.

Activities

For general tourism information, contact the Kauai Visitors Bureau at 808-245-3971. For healing vacation resources, contact Healing Arts Resources Kauai (800-599-5488; www.hshawaii.com/kvp/joan/ ). Excellent lomi-lomi practitioners include Angeline Locey (808-822-3235), Kirstin Morris (808-822-0427), Penny Prior (808-822-0919) and Ed Stumpf (888-465-2824). For horseback riding, contact Princeville Ranch Stables (808-826-8777). For general outdoor activities, contact Kayak Kauai Outbound, (800-437-3507; www.planet-hawaii.com/outbound/ ) or Island Enchantment (888-281-8292; www.aloha.com/~enchant/Kauai.html ).

Transportation

Flights to Kauai are from most mainland gateways through Honolulu to Lihue Airport. Since there's no public transportation and taxis are expensive, plan on spending US$150 or more per week on a rental car.

Hiking opportunities also abound on Kauai. Trails in the Waimea Canyon – dubbed "the Grand Canyon of the Pacific" due to its 10-mile width, 3600-foot depth and stunningly stark cliffs – cut through ancient lava flows and under waterfalls fed from the nearly 36 feet of rain that fall annually on the nearby mountains. (Mount Waialeale is officially the rainiest spot on earth). In contrast, the arid Polihale State Park (which gets barely a foot of rain each year) offers a five-mile beach hike between 100-foot dunes and reef-lined sea. At twilight, it's easy to understand local mythology, which claims that the souls of the dead depart the world of the living here.

Copyright Jim Johnson. Kalihiwai Falls offer excitement at the top…The ultimate hike is the 11-mile Kalalau Trail, which hugs the Na Pali coast. Na Pali is Hawaiian for "the cliffs," and this demanding hike requires adventurers to clamber up craggy, cloud-draped outcroppings, drop down slick paths to the sea, and then repeat the process. Those who venture past the first two miles are generally backpackers who will face multiple stream crossings, crumbling switchbacks and unwelcome cohabitants from the insect world. The compensation is ample: verdant valleys, waterfalls that tumble into bottomless swimming holes, and private views of hidden beaches and the Pacific beyond.

"Most people could do any of the hikes on Kauai," says Humberto Blanco, owner of Island Enchantment. "It's all about balance – not just the balance that keeps us from falling, but the balance between fear and comfort, danger and safety."

Blanco has guided hundreds of people on "magical adventures" along Kauai's trails, on its rivers and in its coastal waters. Most of his guests aren't tourists but travelers who seek challenge off the beaten path.

When I expressed my general fears of falling and failing, Blanco suggested one of his favorite treks, a hike along – and in – Makaleha Stream. Although the path started innocently enough in a dense bamboo forest, we were quickly forced into over-or-under decisions by the bent branches of hau trees. It was still early in the day, and the trees' blossoms were yellow. By day's end, they’d turn burnt orange and fall, forming a floral flotilla on the river.

Copyright Jim Johnson. …and relaxation at the bottom. The path soon disappeared into the stream itself, where we waded through pools, struggled up small waterfalls, and pulled ourselves over boulders strewn as if in some giant game of marbles. As we plunged further upstream, the boulders grew larger and the climb more strenuous.

At our lunch stop, I felt winded but unusually comfortable and confident.

"Each time we start to fall, even if we're not aware of it, the body makes small self- corrections," Blanco explained. "The more we push ourselves, the more the body learns, and the more the mind trusts the body. We become less aware of each step, and we start to let go of our fear."

When fear and self-doubt subside, Blanco says, the mind opens itself more to the "resonance of nature." That, he says is "when true healing happens."

When You Go:

For general tourism information, contact the Kauai Visitors Bureau at 808-245-3971 or the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, www.gohawaii.com or Tel: 800-GO-HAWAII (464-2924).

Heal thyself

Healing Arts Resources Kauai (800-599-5488; www.hshawaii.com/kvp/joan/ ) can package healing vacations, including lodging, activities, lomi lomi and other forms of therapies from ancient to New Age.

Accommodations

Healing Arts Resources Kauai can arrange accommodations in line with the organization's healing philosophy (and with rates as low as $360 for a week, double occupancy). Mahala Ke Ola (888-465-2824), for example, is a bed and breakfast retreat where host Ed Stumpf provides guests with massage and Reiki treatments in sight of mountains and waterfalls. Om Orchard (808-828-0111) offers a "meditative guest cottage" and outdoor volcanic rock shower and allows guests to pick their own bananas and papayas.

Courtesy of Hawai'i Visitors and Convention Bureau. Map of Kauai.

The Keapana Center (800-822-7968; planet-hawaii.com/keapana/ ) is an airy property with five guestrooms decorated with Balinese art. Owner Gabriela Taylor built the Center ("keapana" means "clear breath with a heart beat") on six remote acres to bring guests "as close to nature as one can come without diminishing creature comforts." At Island Enchantment (888-281-8292; www.aloha.com/~enchant/Kauai.html ), owner Humberto Blanco provides both vacation retreats in his tropical guest lodge and guided "paradise adventures" like hiking trips to waterfalls, secluded beaches and towering cliffs. (Or rent a kayak and paddle from the front door down the river and explore the beaches and coast on your own.)

Those addicted to mainland luxury will have no problem finding it at the island's many resorts. For a nice blend of luxury and healing, I found that the deluxe Hyatt Regency (800-742-1234) injected history, nature, culture and pseudo-authentic spa offerings into the overall experience.

Activities

For general tourism information, contact the Kauai Visitors Bureau at 808-245-3971. For healing vacation resources, contact Healing Arts Resources Kauai (800-599-5488; www.hshawaii.com/kvp/joan/ ). Excellent lomi-lomi practitioners include Angeline Locey (808-822-3235), Kirstin Morris (808-822-0427), Penny Prior (808-822-0919) and Ed Stumpf (888-465-2824). For horseback riding, contact Princeville Ranch Stables (808-826-8777). For general outdoor activities, contact Kayak Kauai Outbound, (800-437-3507; www.planet-hawaii.com/outbound/ ) or Island Enchantment (888-281-8292; www.aloha.com/~enchant/Kauai.html ).

Transportation

Flights to Kauai are from most mainland gateways through Honolulu to Lihue Airport. Since there's no public transportation and taxis are expensive, plan on spending US$150 or more per week on a rental car.