You Can Harvest Your Own Sea Salt on a Volcanic Hike in Hawaii (Video)
Most visitors are aware that the Hawaiian archipelago was formed by volcanoes, but it’s most apparent on the Island of Hawaii, known as the Big Island.
On the drive from Kona International Airport, which was built on the lava flow from the Hualalai Volcano, black lava rock surrounds both sides of the road. The youngest of the Hawaiian islands, the Big Island is home to Kilauea, the world’s most active volcano, which has been erupting since May, spewing ash into the air and sending lava into the ocean, destroying the property in its path. Five other volcanoes had a role in creating the Big Island, including Moana Loa, the largest active volcano in the world.
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The Hualalai Volcano is considered to be active, although its last eruption was in 1800. Since then, the airport and the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai as well as homes and hotels have been built on its lava flow. The porous black rock is plentiful on the resort’s golf course and along its beaches, an integral part of the environment. World famous Kona coffee is grown on the slopes of Hualalai Volcano, and sea salt is gathered from lava rocks along its shores.
At the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, guests can hike out to the seaside salt flats and collect sea salt just as the ancient Hawaiians did hundreds of years ago. In this guided cultural experience, guests use a spoon to harvest the fresh sea salt from indentations carved into the lava rock, saving it in fabric bags. The salt then becomes an ingredient in a cooking class that follows.
“The Salt Harvesting experience is a fun way for our guests to learn about how we cook with our local ingredients,” executive chef Thomas Bellec told Travel + Leisure. “The cooking class can be tailored to the guests’ preferences, but typically we suggest making poke using raw, local fish. This dish highlights the different sea salts and allows guests to taste how salt can truly change a dish.”
It’s not all about food, though, because sea salt is also a detoxifying and healing element used in a body treatment at the Hualalai Spa. Seven varieties are featured in the Salts of the Ocean body treatment, combined with seven Hawaiian essences working in harmony to maintain energy and well-being. Salt was a valued commodity in Hawaii hundreds of years ago, when it was used for trade, medicines, ceremonies, and preserving fish.
It still partners perfectly with fish in the chef’s poke recipe. “The guests I have done the class with were intimidated to make a dish with raw fish, but after we took them through the preparation step by step, they were excited to make it at home,” he said. “Many told us the dish will always remind them of their time at Hualalai.”
The Salt Harvesting Experience at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai can be arranged through the hotel’s concierge for $450 which includes the guided hike and the cooking class. The 80-minute Salts of the Ocean body treatment is available separately at a cost of $285.