A lot of people travel specifically to relieve stress, and a recent survey by American Express shows that three in four respondents (76%) are willing to spend more on travel that improves their well-being. And when you picture a soothing, healthful getaway, it’s hard not to imagine Hawaii. Hawaii has the longest life expectancy of all 50 states: they have a low smoking and obesity rate, plus ideal year-round weather that makes outdoor physical activity appealing. Clearly, there’s something about the Aloha lifestyle that’s more conducive to wellness. Perhaps it’s the breathtaking surroundings, the slower-paced lifestyle, or the wide availability of fitness and wellness retreats and programs. Here’s why Hawaii should be at the top of your list if your mind and body are begging for a break.
In Hawaii, getting from point A to point B is an experience in itself. Despite being the world’s most isolated archipelago, Hawaii boasts of relaxing drives that rival even that of the US mainland. On the Big Island, you’ll encounter the famed Scenic Byways, designated for their archaeological and cultural significance, and on Maui, the Road to Hana is considered one of the most beautiful roads in the country.
Simply soaking up the sights and enjoying the change in environment can do wonders for your mental health. To start off on your road trip, rent a vehicle at Honolulu airport. Fortunately, all the car rental companies are located at the Consolidated Rent-A-Car (Conrac) Facility which is accessible on foot from Terminal 2 or via shuttle from Terminal 1. It’s better to book your car rental well in advance to avoid stress, as prices and demand can fluctuate. From there, you can enjoy the freedom your rental car offers and drive to some of the state’s extraordinary hiking trails.
Another great way to explore Hawaii is on foot, as you marvel at the stunning natural formations, expansive valleys, lush rainforests, and much more. To keep things relaxed, opt for these easy-to-moderate hikes. The paved Makapu’u Point lighthouse trail allows you to appreciate Oahu’s clear blue coastline, and the summit is a perfect location for whale watching. Are you interested in Hawaiian folklore? Head over to Pu’u Pehe (Sweetheart Rock) on Lanai Island, where legend has it that a warrior fell in love with a beautiful woman named Pehe.
Hikes don’t always have to be challenging and strenuous – in fact, even a short one brings immediate benefits. The activity stimulates the release of endorphins to boost your mood and reduce stress levels. In a study by Stanford University, participants who walked in a natural setting for 90 minutes reported reduced rumination or negative thoughts about themselves. Plus, hiking can reduce the body’s blood pressure by up to ten points. Just be sure to pack a healthy “Poke Bowl” full of raw fish cubes, rice, and vegetables to eat mid-hike and keep your energy up!
After all that adventuring, a spa experience is the best way to wind down and cap off your trip. You can’t do wellness without a spa retreat. In Hawaii, it may be ideal to lean into tradition – after all, you could get a great massage anywhere, but there’s no better place to enjoy an authentic Lomi Lomi massage experience than on the islands. Also known as “loving hands massage,” this technique brought in by early Polynesians makes use of nut oils, broad, flowing strokes, and even dance. Massage, in general, has been known to reduce irritability, decrease anxiety, and reduce stress, so go ahead and enjoy this uniquely Hawaiian restorative experience in various spas and resorts across the island.
Going on vacation in Hawaii doesn’t have to mean rushing from one tourist spot to another or traversing challenging trails. For the discerning, laidback traveler, plenty of wellness offerings allow one to rest and recharge – and embody the meaning of hoʻonānea.
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