You can add to your to-do list a horseback ride, a visit to Blue Pool, and an outdoor massage. Peter Heinemann says if you haven't done these three things, you haven't been to Hana.
A novice rider, I was placed at the mercy of Blackie. There's a Blackie in every corral, the horse that has seen it all and knows what's expected of him. Our hour-long ride took us across Hana Ranch—4,000 acres that envelop the hotel with rolling pastures, bucolic views, and excellent trails for walking and jogging. We toured the grasslands, discovered a black volcanic beach or two, and ventured out on a lava outcropping with the vicious surf below. Heinemann was right: there's nothing quite like seeing Hawaii with a six-foot boost into the air and the swagger of a Blackie.
I'm much better in a Jeep. For the trip to Blue Pool, Suzanne, a sunshiny woman born to swim with the dolphins, took the wheel, and I rode it like a pro.
There are waterfalls everywhere along the Hana Highway, but Blue Pool is the only one you really need to see. Several miles down a dirt road from the highway, you park, then scramble across a few hundred yards of boulders. You round a bend, and there, with the surf at your back, is the waterfall of your dreams, 10 stories high. I sat with my feet in its pool andtalked extensively to myself about why waterfalls are so likable, until even I couldn't stand my own inner dialogue. At which point I jumped in the water.
My final afternoon, John the masseur arrived at my door. He's the same John who teaches yoga each morning at 7:30. Lomilomi, he explained, isn't a conventional massage, but more of a holistic Hawaiian treatment, rooted in breathing. He said he was looking forward to helping me on my journey. I was on the massage table when his tone of voice took a serious turn.
"Do I have your permission to be your kahuna?"
Be my guest.
My kahuna, or healer, then said a little prayer, welcoming input from my ancestors past, present, and future. That gave me something to think about.
Lomilomi is not a sequence of gentle pats. It's Body vs. Masseur. Like shiatsu, it feels interesting while it's happening, good when it's over, and best the next morning. Ninety minutes is an eternity on a massage table, and the time of day exaggerated the feeling. During the massage, the sun set and the warm air grew chilly. I opened my eyes to a full moon over the Pacific. John was pretty excited about that evening. He was headed to a Native American sweat.
I liked Hana best at night, when the last white rental car, rushing to get back, had scampered off to the other side of the island. At night I always had that safe feeling I have on an island after the last ferry has departed. Nothing can get to you, and there's no better place than your bed. You listen to the palms and the surf, and read a few pages, and begin to drift. And you would be surprised to find out just how early it is, if you had a clock, or cared.
Hotel Hana-Maui; doubles from $295.