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This is the true aloha spirit! One of those ancient ponds, known as the "Looking Glass," can be found just next door to the Four Seasons at the Lanikuhonua Cultural Institute.


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Bowing her head, her lips form a silent blessing as she bends toward the gently lapping surf to fill a wooden bowl. She gestures for me to come to her, squeezing my wrists with her hands and brushing my forearms with water from the bowl. Afterwards, at her prompting, I wade into the warm Pacific to seal the exchange. As a descendent of a family that once served King Kamehameha the Great, Auntie Nettie inherited her role as kahu from her mother, who taught her the ancestral traditions.

It was a retreat area for the royals. They came for the water.

The Best Books on Hawaiian Mythology

They came to bathe in these sacred ponds. These days, Lanikuhonua strives to sustain and celebrate native Hawaiian culture through educational programs and annual festivals. At Lanikuhonua, the hula brothers train as warriors, using only what the ancestors had available to them — the rocks, the sand, the coconut palms, the ocean — as they memorize ritual dances and the stories those dances tell. They were just ashamed.

When visitors passed through town, the Nanakuli natives stood mute, staring blankly at the newcomers and pretending not to hear, embarrassed that they had no refreshment to give. Later, after the mele and hula and plenty more stories, we headed back. Along the way we stopped to zigzag down through rough volcanic boulders to where they met the ocean, forming deep tide pools perfect for a swim.

Nearby, a large monk seal lounged on the porous black rocks that surrounded the pools. Kumu John Lake tells of a mysterious day in his Lahaina childhood. Nana Veary shares the importance of aloha that she learned as a child, and Nalani Olds shares stories about events that shaped changed her life.

Actress Bo Derek recounts a moving story about how manta rays helped begin her healing from grief after her husband John's death. Actor Jason Scott Lee tells how his Hawaiian childhood helped him in time of crisis on a movie shoot, Kenny Loggins recalls how the lushness of the Big Island surrounded him as he fell in love and started a new life; John Baxter tells how two young filmmakers named Spielberg and Lucas changed the face of Hollywood while sculpting sandcastles on an O'ahu beach. Chef Roy Yamaguchi explains how Hawai'i inspired him not to give up after a disastrous career turn.

The Best Books on Hawaiian Mythology

Tutu Hale tells how a ukelele and two old women changed the hearts of Congress; Genie Joseph gives the definitions of "aloha" that have been taught her by kindergarteners statewide. And adventure stories! Radio personality Larry Price recounts the hilarious story of his first big football game. Bill Jardine tells a surprising "shark story," and three Army men get hopelessly lost in lava tubes under Madame Pele's volcano.

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But no one seems to miss it. On a sunny Sunday afternoon families fill the oceanfront parks that dot the entire length of Farrington. Diapered toddlers run squealing across the grass chased by older siblings while grandparents sit and talk story — the Hawaiian term for shooting the breeze — in lawn chairs placed beneath pop-up canopies.


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On the drive back to Ko Olina, a different scene captures my attention. It takes a moment for my brain to register that the motley band of leathery men standing on the rocky bluff are roasting a pig over a wood fire, but when it does I decide to stop. I pull my embarrassing rented behemoth of an SUV into the gravel parking area and a wave of apprehension washes over me as I walk toward the spit — "Look, a random haole girl with a camera," I imagine them thinking.

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A few of the men watch my approach and eye me with more curiosity than derision as I gesture toward the fire with my camera. The man at the spit grins and nods.


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As I snap the shutter, another guy approaches and shakes my hand, introducing himself as Richard. I thank them again and again for the feast and walk over to my car.

In Hana, where the paved road ends, the soul of the Maui begins

This is the true aloha spirit! One of those ancient ponds, known as the "Looking Glass," can be found just next door to the Four Seasons at the Lanikuhonua Cultural Institute.

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Bowing her head, her lips form a silent blessing as she bends toward the gently lapping surf to fill a wooden bowl. She gestures for me to come to her, squeezing my wrists with her hands and brushing my forearms with water from the bowl.

Finding Paradise in Hawaii

Afterwards, at her prompting, I wade into the warm Pacific to seal the exchange. As a descendent of a family that once served King Kamehameha the Great, Auntie Nettie inherited her role as kahu from her mother, who taught her the ancestral traditions.