I recently read research that said people who put themselves in the way of nature, art, music and beauty experience lower levels of cortisol and inflammation markers. Basically, those who are “awe inspired” regularly, are more healthy. It has also been noted that people who live in Hawaii, have the highest level of happiness in the nation. Hawaii has the lowest depression rate and the best exercise rate in the nation, as well. How can you not be happy when you get to live in a temperate climate year round, eat locally grown produce and meat and see awe inspiring displays of beauty each day?
I discovered a few things to do here in Kona and on the island when I have been in a state of absolute joy, bliss, happiness and awe and wanted to share them with you so if you come to visit or are new to the island, you can try these out and boost your immune system, step out of a dark mood or get your brain cells firing on all cylinders and definitely put a smile on your face. I put these things into two categories- “Things to Do Alone” and “Things to Do with Others” . I could go on with 14 points, but will share a few of my favorites.
Awe Inspiring Things to Do Alone
- Float face up in the ocean. The salt water here keeps you super buoyant so all you need to do is swim in a bay or out beyond where the waves break and lay flat on your back. And then close your eyes. If you are near a reef, you will hear the crunching munching sounds of the Parrotfish and his buddies chewing on the coral, or perhaps the sounds of the whales if you do this in December through March. You will feel the sun’s warmth on your face and your body is supported effortlessly. Just thinking these two things..”I am in Hawaii” and “I will not sink” lend joy to this moment. I do this now any time I get to be in the ocean. It is soul rewarding.
- Watch the sunset. Every time I post a sunset photo on my “365 Things To Do in Kona” page, it is liked and shared copiously. The art of the sky, the paint brush of God, Pele’s gift to the viewer…whatever you want to call it, it happens every night in some manner in Kona and each time it is different. Sometimes we get spectacular red skies due to the VOG in the air and there are
some days when it is cloudy and the sun starts to sink under the clouds and rays of light shoot out. It fills your heart. I am trying to learn to put the camera down and just soak in these moments when they come.
- Sit in a tidepool. I have been doing this for a few years now about once a month depending on how cold the water is. (My favorite place is Old A’s and I check the tide chart to make sure it’s almost high tide. The entrance to the tide pools is this path that you see in the photo). During this time, I sit still and watch the tide pool come alive around me. The shrimp will scootover to nibble toes.The baby tropical fish dart by to look at you.
The hermit and black crabs scamper on the rocks, where moments before they may have looked like pebbles. Taking that time to just be and to feel the water coming in and out around you like an ocean massage, must open up your chakras or at least make it harder to remember your desk job.
- Walk on a beach. The longest beach in West Hawaii is Hapuna Beach which is a half mile in length and during the summer months the white sands can extend to a full 200′ wide. (VIDEO) I was there recently and after a long walk, I floated face up! One of my favorite “beach walk” memories is when I got to Kua Bay at 6:30 am on a summer morning. I was almost completely alone and I watched the sun rise across the beach and turn the ocean a vibrant color of aqua. The sand there is so soft and deep that you melt into each step. Really concentrating on the feeling of the sand on your feet and squishing between your toes, as you hear the surf break nearby and feel the light tropical breeze on your face is tremendous. I hope to do this again VERY soon!
Awe Inspiring Things To Do With Others
- Hike into Waipio Valley– I say hike here, because not all of you will have a 4WD vehicle to get down into the valley. We have picked up hitchhikers a few times when we have felt sorry for people making the steep climb out of the valley, so you can hitch your bets on a helpful local. Bring a lunch and sit by the river and look up the river into the valley. I think I can hear angels sing when I do this. The valley is very sacred and there is a beautiful energy there. Sit in peace, close your eyes and breathe. The dual sounds of the water bouncing across the river rocks and the incoming ocean
waves are amazing. There are not too many places you get to hear both at the same time, AND when you are looking UP the river, it seems as if you are in Washington, or the Sierra and then you look behind you and you are firmly in Hawaii with the green velvet cliffs cut out from erosion and the waves exploding at their base. The sand is almost black and again, during certain times of the year, you can squish your toes in it as you walk over 1/4 mile to the base of the cliffs to see wind surfers or picnickers just laying in the sand soaking up the warmth from both the sand and the sun. You need to come with friends so someone can take a photo of you all blissed out and to share the memories you will create from your time there.
- Share a Mai Tai– My friends who visit from the mainland can not wait to get their first taste of a Mai Tai when they get off the plane..and when they do..its like they are tasting a succulent sweet gem. It is not always the flavors of dark rum and pineapple that makes them so happy. It’s the reality of finally sitting down in Hawaii. The drink is usually accompanied with a view. And some friends and Hawaiian music or at least the sounds of the surf make that first sip magic. My fans on Facebook all debate where the best place to have a mai tai is. I will give you two of my favorites because of the view, the strength of the drink itself and the “awe-factor”- Kona Inn and Don’s Mai Tai bar at the Kona Resort. (video) Both are in downtown Kona and both have a great ocean view, put fun fruit/flowers/umbrellas and/ or plastic monkeys in the drinks and at sunset, it’s just fantastic. (get there early for the happy hour deals, too!)
Of course, seeing the brightest rainbow you’ve ever seen, like the one I saw last week, gives everyone a boost of serotonin and swimming with dolphins and manta rays is bonus for the soul, too. If you plan to visit, come with time to just sit and enjoy some of the amazing things that show up each day. Those of us who live here, rarely take these moments for granted, even if we are given them each day. You learn gratitude and to live in the moment here, because even driving down the road and seeing the vastness of the ocean or a passing rain shower on the lava fields provide moments of joy. Open your heart and take it all in. I think it’s time to go sit in a tide pool and watch the sunset with some friends…