There are few better ways to begin or end an overseas trip than with a massage. And in Hawaii, I managed to do both.
The first was really a way to kill time. Our eight-hour flight from Brisbane to Honolulu arrived at around 9am, and crossing the international dateline meant we had gained a whole day – but without any sleep. And hotel check-in time wasn’t till 3pm. So what better way to spend time than a long lazy brunch, followed by a session in the spa?
The Moana Lani Spa is upstairs, with a jacuzzi positioned to overlook the waves of Waikiki and the ancient banyan tree that dominates the hotel’s beachfront garden. After a soak, I relaxed into a “heavenly massage” for 50 minutes – just not quite long enough to send me to sleep.
After a few days of sightseeing, shopping and indulging in Honolulu’s great food, I couldn’t resist the chance to go back to try something I’d always wanted to have: a traditional Hawaiian lomi lomi massage.
Lomi lomi is a concept of wellbeing, with modern spas adapting traditional teachings, usually handed on by kapuna (grandparents) or kumu (teachers).
My masseur is Aaron, who later told me he is a fourth generation Hawaiian “but my ethnicity is Japanese”. This means, he explained, that he was not raised to learn the traditional Hawaiian methods of lomi lomi – but he eagerly embraced the offer to train under a kumu who was a family friend.
Before the massage, Aaron handed me a small smooth wooden bowl, telling me to cup it in my hands and “pour into it” all my troubles. Inside the bowl was a small amount of pinkish sea salt. At the end of the day, he said, the salt would be poured back into the sea, taking with it all my worries. What a nice thought.
The massage was deeply relaxing, with pressure points being used to release the knots in my neck and shoulders. But each practitioner has their own techniques so each lomi lomi will be different. And each therapist practices something called Ho’oponopono, a way of life so they are in the right frame of mind to address the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of the person on the massage table. I figure it’s the Hawaiian version of Zen.
So as I headed to the airport to say farewell to Hawaii, I was comforted to think that all my cares and woes – slight though they may be – are floating on the waves of Waikiki. Out there with the surfers.
A Glass Half Full travelled to Hawaii as a guest of Hawaiian Airlines.