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Pono: The Sacred Spirit of Hawaii Travelogue

Hawai’i is an isolated archipelago in the middle of the Pacific Ocean lying 2,500 miles from the nearest landmass. It consists of 8 islands covering 6,425 sq. miles. These islands are the tips of a large chain of volcanoes and were formed by volcanic eruptions. Early life on the isolated Hawaiian Islands evolved from wind-borne seeds and occasional birds that were blown off course by storms. As a result, the unspoiled island ecosystem consists of thousands of unique species that evolved by adapting to their new environment. Seafaring Polynesian explorers dared the 3,000 mile voyage to discover the Hawaiian Islands in 300 AD. The early Hawaiians established an advanced, spiritual culture. They built monumental heiaus (temples) and the largest irrigation systems in Polynesia. Life centered on the ‘ohana (extended family) of 250 to 300 people who were all vital to the whole.

Cultural values included aloha’aina (love of the land), laulima (cooperation), and pa’ahana (hard work). During the 12th and 13th centuries, new waves of Polynesian settlers came to Hawai’i, resulting in bloody invasions. They established a rigid class system with themselves as ali’i (chiefs) who regulated the lives of the commoners through the harshly enforced kapu system derived from the Tahitian term “taboo.” Ancient Hawai’i produced a wealth of oral literature and myth, which was passed down from generation to generation. By the 19th century, they used a 12-letter alphabet, the smallest in the world, developed by missionaries.

Hawaiian spirituality includes hakalau, which is an expanded sense of time that reflects a “gentle flow of water across a tranquil bay.” Life in Hawaii is the concept of the "old style" of when the time is right, according to the schedules of the mysticism of the universal knowing. Their clocks are the wind, weather and astrology. Hawaii can still evoke aloha ‘aina by recognizing a sacred landscape. ‘Aina refers to the rhythms of life that can nourish your body, mind, and spirit. Mo’olelo refers to the power of the old sacred stories. Hawaiian chants can connect one’s innermost being to their ancestor and the universe.

Hawaiian spirituality invites you to recognize yourself as Ho'omaka, a beginner, as one’s first step towards becoming Holo 'i mua, an accepted student of the old Hawaiian culture.


May 27 - 29







The third largest in the archipelago with an area of 600 sq. miles, O’ahu was born of two volcanoes. O’ahu was conquered in 1795 by Kamehameha the Great. This was an important battle for his campaign to unify the islands.

• Byodo-In Temple - Rimmed by 2000-foot cliffs, this Buddhist shrine is a replica of a 900 year-old Japanese temple that is home to a beautifully crafted 9 foot Buddha

• Ka’ena Point - The legendary “leaping place of souls.” After death, here is the point where the spirit leaps to the other world

• Kaneaki Heiau - temple dedicated to Lono, god of Harvest and Fertility

• Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens - 400 acre gardens at the foot of the steepled Koolau Mountains meaning “peaceful refuge”

May 30 - June 14




The earliest inhabitants are thought to have arrived from the Marquegas around the 4th century AD. In 1795, Kamehameha I conquered Maui to unite the islands and established his royal seat there at Lahaina.

• Iao Valley - Means “supreme light” and is a place of pilgrimage for Maui warriors. It is one of the wettest places on earth, and a sacred place where 26 Hawaiian kings and queens are buried

• Haleakala - The world’s largest dormant volcano and the site where the god Maui held the sun hostage

• Halekii-Pihana Heiaus - Ancient temples of sacrifice and refuge built in 1240

• Pilanihale Heiau - Temple made out of lava rock with immense tiered walls and terraces, and the largest ancient place of worship in Polynesia

• Holy Ghost Church - Built in 1894 by Portuguese immigrants, it has an unusual octagonal design

June 2


NOTE: The Kaua'i visit may be cancelled.


The oldest of the major Hawaiian Islands at 6 million years old. It is formed by a single volcano and believed to be the original island populated by Polynesians. It is the only island not conquered by Kamehameha the Great when he established the Hawaiian Kingdom. It is called the “Garden Isle.”

• Hanalei Valley - A National Wildlife Waterfowl Refuge

• Mehehune Fishpond - A 900-foot fishpond said to be the handiwork of mythical Hawaiian elves built in one night over 1,000 years ago

• Lihue Lutheran Church - Built in 1881 by German immigrants after their long voyage across the sea; this experience is reflected in the church’s architecture: the floor slants like the deck of the ship; the balcony is the Captain’s Bridge; the ceiling is like the bottom of the ship; the lights are the ship’s lanterns; and the pulpit is the Forecastle

• Hikinaakala Heiau - Translated as “rising of the sun,” it was at this temple, built around A.D. 1300, that the dawn was celebrated with prayers and chants

June 9




HAWAI’I- (“The Big Island")

Here Captain Cook met his demise. Kamehameha the Great rose to power and the first Christian missionaries set foot on Hawaiian soil. Hawai’i Island is more than twice the size of all the other islands combined: 4,035 sq. miles. It includes the earth’s most massive mountain, Mauna Loa, which rises over 30,000 ft. from its sea-floor base.

• Pu’uhonua O Honaunau (Place of Refuge), ancient sacred haven

• Waipio Valley- the burial site for many kings and home of Hawaii’s highest waterfall

• Kealakekua Bay - Where Captain Cook discovered Hawai’i and where he was killed

• St. Benedict’s Painted Church - Brightly illuminated with biblical scenes painted by its Belgian priest

• Puako Petroglyphs - More than 3,000 symbols that were carved between AD 1000 and 1800

• Kohala Site - Kamehameha I birthsite and Mookini Heiau sacrificial temple

June 10


Its north shore is lined by the world’s highest sea cliffs. Moloka’i has a reputation for having great spiritual powers. There is a great sense of mystery around the Kalaupapa Peninsula, which was set aside in the 1860’s as a leper’s colony where the Belgian priest Father Damien tended to the exiled patients.

• Kalaupapa Peninsula - Home to Father Damiens’s church

• Iliiliopae Heiau - Second largest heiau in Hawaii; a learning center where kahuna (Hawaiian priests) from other islands where tutored

• Kaluaaha Church - First Christian church on Moloka’i built in 1844 like a fortress with tiny slit windows

• Kamakou Rain Forest - Remote mountaintop rain forest

• St. Philomena Church - This church was shipped from Honolulu in 1872 and later modified by Father Damien whose grave is nearby