Hawai'i as A World Class Wellness Destination
"When you return home from a vacation in Hawai'i,
you just want to be a better person." --Garrison Keillor
For as long as I can remember, the Big Island has been known as the "Healing Island." Thus, the origin of the name of this column. Those of us who are blessed to live in Hawai'i know that there is an almost mystical quality to life here. It feels good to be here. On the physical level we have the warm moist embrace of scented air, the sparkling of the morning sunlight after a night of rain, and the colors, oh the colors. Hawai'i's impact on the senses was aptly described by Mark Twain when he called it "a place where you can get drunk without drinking."
But it is the invisible forces all around us that create impressions which filter through our wakefulness and into our subconscious realms. The aloha graciousness of Hawaiian people, the aina, or the spirit and beauty which permeate the land, and the mana, the almost tangible blessings and grace of the Great Spirit, grab hold of us and move us toward wholeness and wellness.
Many of us who have migrated from the U.S. mainland and other countries were brought here by a longing. We may have verbalized our longing in a variety of ways, but we knew on some level that by coming here we were doing something that would be good for us.
Healers of all persuasions have always been drawn to these islands and to the Big Island in particular. They also have responded to the magnetism wrought by the aloha, the aina and the mana. Those of us who live here are incredibly fortunate to have such a diversity of gifted and spiritually-in-tune health care providers within a short, beautiful drive of wherever we are on the island.
Tourists have always come to Hawai'i because being here simply made them feel good. The tangible beauty and the legendary romance inherent in just the name, "Hawai'i," evoke smiles and stress-releasing sighs. Past tourists may not have put it in these words, but they came here in search of health.
What is happening now is that there are rapidly increasing numbers of tourists who are consciously looking for vacation opportunities that promote their well-being. Providing services for these health-focused travelers is becoming a full-blown cottage industry in the islands.
At the end of February I attended a wellness tourism networking meeting at the Hamakua Ecology Center near Honoka'a. The content of the meeting emphasized how individuals and groups on not only Hawai'i, but the other islands as well, are starting to promote wellness-oriented vacations. The meeting was organized by Laura and Betsy Crites, sisters who are focused on communicating to the world the vast resources Hawai'i offers for healing the various levels of existence. To this end, Betsy and Laura have compiled an excellent publication titled, "The Call to Hawai'i, A Wellness Vacation Guide Book." Their stated intention in publishing the book is "defining wellness travel as a vacation with the intention on enhancing balance and harmony on all levels -- mind, heart, body and spirit."