Kauai adds wellness options to great outdoors

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HONOLULU -- Paula Quon, president of San Francisco-based Supreme Travel, loves outdoor adventure, especially hiking. It's no surprise, then, that she often recommends Kauai to clients searching for that type of vacation.

Kauai has long been a haven for lovers of the outdoors, famous for its scenery and relaxing atmosphere, Quon said.

But now visitors are looking for even more. They want spa treatments and spiritual rejuvenation with their exercise, according to Sue Kanoho of the Kauai Visitors Bureau.

The Kauai Marriott Resort & Beach Club, Kauai Lagoons, Ala Lani Spa & Tennis at Kauai Lagoons and Waimea Plantation cottages all have added spas, and the facilities at the Princeville Resort and the Hyatt Regency Kauai Resort & Spa are well established.

It appears the island is taking a more prominent role in wellness-centered vacations, with "cottage spas" springing up in response to demand, along with weekend guided hikes throughout Kauai, Kanoho said.

"The island is trying to refine itself," she said. "People understand the kind of client that is coming here, and they understand the potential of adding a diversity of services."

Diversity that includes nontraditional visitor attractions, such as the Hindu Monastery near the Wailua River.

Paramacharya Palamiswami, one of 23 monks living on the property, said he has witnessed firsthand the growing interest in wellness travel coupled with the search for spiritual fulfillment.

"They'll hike in our valleys for a few days and come meditate at our temple," he said, adding that visitors want to "add depth to their travel, add a dimension of growth -- something more than just sightseeing."

The monastery's Kadavul Hindu Temple is open to visitors daily from 9 a.m. to noon.

Weekly tours through the temple, the 458-acre meditation sanctuary and botanical gardens and ponds begin at 9 a.m. and last about two-and-half hours. Tour dates run from November through April.

For clients interested in more of a working definition of a wellness vacation, the Kauai marathon will debut on March 16.

Although a little less strenuous than a marathon, the Kauai Adventure Trek takes guests through an old cane road that runs through the 22,000-acre Grove Farm Plantation, a former sugar plantation.

In another hiking option, local guides lead groups on a three-hour jaunt through the red trails of Waimea Canyon, "the Grand Canyon of the Pacific," to examine the island's geological features.

And, with 1,866 acres of parkland descending 3,000 feet, there are plenty of features of the Waimea Canyon to explore.

In addition, Kokee State Park also is a favorite for hikers and campers. With 4,345 acres and miles of trails -- many with stunning views of the ocean -- it could satisfy an entire budget-minded vacationer all by itself.

Adjacent to Kokee State Park is the Alakai Wilderness Preserve. This preserve includes the 10-mile-long, two- mile-wide Alakai Swamp, which features a new boardwalk over the boggy terrain.

The Na Pali Coast State Park, meanwhile, remains the ultimate adventure for hikers looking for a challenge. There hikers can join the famous Kalalau Trail, which extends 11 miles from Haena State Park to Kalalau Beach.

For more information, contact the Kauai Visitors Bureau at (800) 262-1400 or at www.kauaivisitorsbureau.com.

Contacts

Kauai's Hindu Monastery
(808) 822-3012, Ext. 237
www.saivasiddhanta.com/hawaii/visiting.html

Waimea Canyon State Park
(808) 274-3444

Kokee State Park
(808) 274-3444

Alakai Wilderness Preserve
(808) 274-3433

Anara Spa at the Hyatt Regency Kauai
(808) 742-1234
www.anaraspa.com

Princeville Resort
(808) 826-9644
www.princeville.com

Waimea Plantation Cottages
(800) 9-WAIMEA
www.waimea-plantation.com

Ala Lani Spa & Tennis at Kauai Lagoons
(808) 245-3323

Kauai Visitors Bureau
(800) 262-1400
www.kauaivisitorsbureau.com

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