Kalani Honua Blog - Volunteer Life

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Alexandra K. Ambrose

What are the benefits of volunteering at Kalani?

This might be your biggest question before filling out the volunteer application. Kalani offers volunteers a full schedule of classes and events (including lots of yoga); 3 healthy - and mostly organic - meals per day; and lodging in a tent or shared room. While all of this helps to make your extended stay in Hawaii’s Puna District comfortable and memorable, there is so much more to be found here:

Discover a simpler way of life.

Kalani life is a change from the routine. Before arriving here, many of us get caught up in chasing a standard of life that leaves us feeling stressed, tired, frustrated, or some combination of the three - but that certainly doesn’t make us happy.

All it takes is a tent or a simple room, letting go of excess stuff, and having all your basic needs met, to free up time and energy to discover what actually does make you happy. Even volunteers who have never lived so close to nature or never considered off-grid living, adjust easily to this simplified way of life.

Feel at home.

A week’s vacation goes by like nothing at all - usually leaving us feeling rushed and depleted when we have to go back to the regular 9 to 5. This is a different story when you stay for 3 months, which is our standard volunteer commitment. With the extra time, you can visit all the places on your list and maybe even discover one of the Big Island’s hidden gems!

Not only does volunteering at Kalani take the rush out of traveling, but an extended stay also allows you to feel like more than just a tourist passing through. Whether you frequent Ecstatic Dance, Kehena Beach, or Uncle Robert’s night market, you’ll begin to feel a part of the sights and sounds of Puna. Before long, Kalani becomes home.

Make meaningful connections.

While there are many ways to connect with others, an intentional community offers the opportunity to create a unique bond. As we live, work, and share meals together, every day, this intimate setting embodies the Hawaiian tradition of ‘ohana, or extended family. This is why many volunteers leave Kalani with some of their closest, lifelong friendships - even if we only spent a few months getting to know each other!

Balance work and play.

Let’s face it, spending three months anywhere without structure would get monotonous. We all require a schedule of some kind in order to maintain focus and discipline. That’s how our 4 day a week volunteer requirement works: the short workweek allows for a balance of volunteering, exploring the island, meeting new people, and taking time for yourself.

In fact, balance is the intention set for Hawaii Yoga Festival - October 11 through 16. With a schedule of classes and events designed to help inspire balance, you’ll end the week ready to set your life on a renewed course. Get here soon and stay for this enriching event!

Get outside your comfort zone.

There are so many opportunities! Visit lava flowing from an active volcano. Snorkel with fish, turtles, and dolphins. Try yoga for the first time. Explore vulnerability with a new friend or in a group workshop. Live in a tent. Maybe just the act of coming to Hawaii on your own is a giant step outside your comfort zone.

Getting out of your comfort zone is an incredible learning experience. It teaches you more about your likes and dislikes, how to communicate effectively, and what you may be missing out on. Take a chance and see how you grow in the process!

Learn more about yourself.

This time is devoted to you - whether you decide to journal, meditate, practice yoga, or any other activity that helps you to look within. Volunteers can also join special one-day events, workshops, or retreats (for a reduced rate) to create community and discussion around the process of self-reflection. These activities and the community support help make Kalani such a transformative environment.

Find your bliss.

“I learned to have fun again” is a common quote we hear about Kalani’s Volunteer Program. There’s something to be said about the spirit of aloha on the Big Island - it’s a constant reminder to be kind, slow down, and practice gratitude.

Puna is also a place filled with opportunities for inspiration. These include the natural wonders of the lava landscape as well as the people culture made up of artists, healers, and yoga enthusiasts. You will find yourself immersed in ways to rediscover and rekindle your passions, with friends by your side.

Take part in social transformation.

In many ways, it is the estrangement of people that causes us to disconnect; we often forget that our actions can have far-reaching impacts on others. In the frequent interactions of a volunteer community, it’s easier to see your role in the collective and to work on ways to improve these interactions. It is also an opportunity to discuss and reflect, with like-minded people, about how to address conflicts amongst each other, in our culture, and in the world.

Embrace change.

There is a reason why so many of us are called to Kalani with a great desire to change our lives. Located next to one of the world’s most active volcanoes, Kilauea, the Big Island - and Puna in particular - is a living model of the constant nature of change. Here, we can literally witness new earth being born and, often, the birth of a new self as well.

There are so many benefits of volunteering at Kalani - this is just the beginning. Check out our Volunteer page to find out more and take advantage of our $300 off special!

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Alexandra K. Ambrose

Ahhh, home sweet tent.



Never thought you’d be about the tent life? Well, living in Hawaii just might change your mind. Here are five reasons why living in a tent rocks:

1. Minimalist living.

We live in a consumer-driven world, bombarded with the message: buy this now! It’s important to take the time away from advertising overload. Living in a tent is an opportunity to really utilize your space and get rid of what you don’t need - we even have an excellent “Free Boutique” where you can share with others! Take this time to disconnect from consumer culture.

2. Ultimate freedom.

Now that you’re living without the burden of all that extra stuff, you’re free to pack up and go on a trip - any time. You’re as mobile as you want to be, which is excellent because the Big Island has so many great places to explore. You can even bring your tent with you to great campgrounds, like Ho’okena, where you can wake up to see dolphins in the morning.

3. Get in touch with your natural biorhythm.

Without the distractions of technology or electricity, you’ll be able to discover what your body really needs. Fall asleep to the sound of coqui frogs and wake to the birds singing. You’ll find yourself getting deep, restful sleep away from all the hustle of urban life. Let all the rush and anxiety just melt away as you discover how good it feels to be in touch with the natural cycle of daylight.

4. Be sustainable.

Yes! Make a positive impact by living without electricity and by passing your tent on to a new owner after you leave. You’ll get to live close to nature in the lush beauty of the jungle - without leaving a harmful footprint behind.

5. Simplify.

Suppose you don’t want to leave the Big Island (it’s happened before!) and you decide to extend your stay. Usually it is an enormous pain to sift through all the clutter just to move somewhere new. However, once you realize packing up and moving the contents of a tent is a snap, you’ll fall in love with a simpler way of life. Whether this inspires you to pick up and go more often - or just to keep your travel options open - tent living is a great traveler experience.

Let’s be honest, given the year-round warm climate, living in a tent in Hawaii is more like glamping than your average camping trip. Our retreat center is the perfect place to experience tent life while rejuvenating in luxurious simplicity and abundant natural beauty. You’ll definitely be a happy camper!

Ready to try camping life? Learn more about volunteering at Kalani Retreat Center.

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Eric Ellenwood

Editors Note: This entry is first in a special series of blogs that will chronicle the growth of permaculture at Kalani.

Aloha!

I’m Eric and I have the honor of being the very first Permaculture Design Specialist to work at Kalani.

Permaculture is a branch of ecological and environmental design and ecological engineering that creates both sustainable architecture as well as self-maintained agricultural systems – all taking cues from natural ecosystems. I know it may seem like common sense that our culture might follow nature’s cues on living and agriculture, but our current approach in modern society has strayed far from nature’s model. For example, did you know that an aquaponics system can produce as much as 5 times the output compared to traditional land agriculture? 

With this first blog, I am very excited to share the progress we have made in this endeavor. Kalani’s aquaponics system was designed and constructed by former volunteer Jacob Tuft. Aquaponics is a system of aquaculture that grows plants hydroponically – waste from farmed fish is used to supply nutrients for the plants, which in turn purify the water. Its successful output was interrupted not long after Jacob left Kalani. A power failure on the property caused significant damage to the ecosystem, and most of the living Tilapia fish (an integral part of the aquaponics system) died. This caused the ecosystem to be adversely affected, and many of the plants either died or languished.

My first project at Kalani was to work with fellow volunteer Beth Messinger to reestablish the ecosystem. I am happy to report that we successfully revamped the aquaponics system, and we share our success with you here in this blog!

This is the aquaponics graveyard- parts and pieces of reclaimed material that had been saved for future projects.  They were slowly being overtaken by the jungle.
Above: This is the trough net that keeps the baby Tilapia from entering the grow beds. The nets were torn, and the fish had found new homes in the beds and a new food source- our plant roots! PVC frames were constructed, and nets were made with existing screen material and some 50lb. of test fishing line.

Every float had to be removed,  and the grow beds were netted to remove all of the misplaced Tilapia.

Beth “Bam Bam” Messinger, a force in motion.

Below: Meet Fred.  He is our newest volunteer at Kalani.  We stocked roughly 150 fish into our seven hundred gallon tank, and painted it black because the water was too cold for Tilapia.  Since then the temp has raised to the ideal level, this fish are growing steadily.
Above:  Beth painting our 700 gallon tank to raise the temperature, so our fish will eat more food, and then grow quickly to a harvestable weight.  The tanks on the left are a hatchery system that will allow us to continually breed and manage our own stock of White Nile Tilapia.

With a freshly restocked fish tank, Tilapia out of the grow beds,  nitrogen levels on the rise, pests managed, and hungry seedlings filling the troughs, it is very noticeable how quickly the system is starting to produce again!

Recruiting extra hands…  Even our accountant breaks away for some soil production and seedling planting.

Some of our first harvested veggies.  As I mentioned, it is said that aquaponics can produce five times the amount of vegetables in the space that soil can produce, due to the immediate availability of nutrients in the water resulting in a faster growth rate, and intensive planting arrangement.
Above: Success! Beth Messinger, Aquaponics Manager and Eric Ellenwood, Peraculture Design Specialist.  Hauling in the harvest to our beloved kitchen crew.

So what is next in aquaponics?  We are still streamlining our system, but are quickly getting back to full production.  The upcoming projects will be setting up a fish hatchery system, and a whole new “ebb and flow” system using a 4,000 gallon water catchment tank.  I hope to utilize this system to grow food trees that can be grown from saved seed, such as papaya. 
 
What about permaculture?  Now that aquaponics is back up and running, classes are being taught, and there are some very big projects on the horizon!   

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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Monica Viera

When I first came to Kalani in summer 2012, I found the experience to be so transformational for me that I knew that right after college I would return. The lessons I learned served me well spiritually and practically in my “real life”, so in my mind, I made Kalani a symbol of personal growth. This has become my mini-university of mindfulness and well-being. Of course, the journey for me hasn’t always been easy, but the fact that I am mostly surrounded by growth-minded people who live intentionally has given me insight on the 2 following themes:

Make Connections Based on Values, Not Traits.
Back on the Mainland, one generally makes friends because of proximity, and we can get stuck associating with others who share our socioeconomic status, race, etc. This isn’t always conducive to spiritual growth, and has left me feeling stuck in a creative rut. This is part of the reason I came back to Kalani: Kalani is unique because one constantly has the opportunity to connect with people from around the world over meals, our work environment, and our living space. How cool is it to have eaten with someone from Germany, Texas, New York, and Hawaii all in one table over dinner?!

Although sometimes this has pushed me outside my comfort zone, I’ve found it very enlightening because I have been immersed in a situation where I can align myself with others because of values we share vs. traits. Despite all of our demographic differences, we can form bonds over what we REALLY have in common, whether it be our love of fine arts, our interest in activism, Eastern philosophy, etc. It really brings light to the question, “What ARE my values?” And then because we have so many diverse classes and opportunities to be creative, I’ve been able to find focus after clarity has been brought to my preferences and intentions. Because of this, I’ve been able to bring more consciousness to my values and make some of the most powerful friendships and creative connections I have ever made!

Practice Flexibility.
At Kalani, there are many opportunities to practice flexibility, whether it be mental/emotional in our relationships here or physically/spiritually through yoga. Before I came to Kalani last year, I was aware that my rigidity and fixed attitude on some things were not working for me. I found it difficult to be in friendships/relationships for too long, because once things weren’t on my terms, I felt out of control and walked away. I couldn’t do that at Kalani…and for that I am grateful. Here, I am in an environment where if I get into a disagreement with somebody, I need to address it, for my sake and the community’s. I wish I would have learned this skill at a younger age, but I was probably too self-absorbed and intimidated to try.

Naturally at Kalani, since I am living with over 100 people, sometimes things come up! With the guidance of some of the older Kalanians, I’ve been able to work on confidence and experiment with making more room for people’s differences in my relationships. I no longer feel I am losing myself when I give in; I can see things in perspective and am more willing to conture to the needs of another. Practicing this flexibility has been reinforced by the powerful yoga classes, and I believe that flexible bodies nurture flexible minds.

I have lived at Kalani for a total of 8 weeks, and feel genuinely fulfilled. I have a renewed enthusiasm about the world because of the confidence I’ve developed, the growth-minded community, and the endless learning opportunities that make my life feel enriched and colorful.

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Andy Freist

Tranformation Ignites Heart Fire

Angels ground me I seek deeper love
letting go like the rain drops land all around
each light-beam lands on my skin in gratitude
I trust each day a gift I see to this day my life brings
wholeness I lust
cherish where I come from
beleiving in where I go
that star in my sky reaching for this breath
I am joy
In rest
and in my hands i sense freedom in the passing wind
starlight dreams in my whisper
enlarging my true essence
my tropical spirit flower intrigue with the red winged bird in flight
lush soothing jungle
smiles from heart surround me
bliss full dance
expression power of ocean waves
just below the surface alive moving lava of intent always
changing, manifesting, transorming, alarming, igniting
the grace of Pele appears
All is a part of me...thank you
I want to hug the ground, kiss the plants
say mahalo to Buddha for reminding me
I am peace
My Grandma's butterfly wings send me to new heights
I feel her smile, her proud tickled heart embrace
I have no doubt opportunity awaits
magic abundance is here
I trust~
Deep mahalo's to my Kalani `ohana for all you individually are and i wish you all greatness in where you fly~

Love,

Sommer Joy Albertsen

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Monday, April 2, 2012

Taylor Powell

A quote from Taylor Powell, who made this video:

"My mother always asks me, 'Taylor, what are you doing?'  This is my answer."

What are you doing? from tee pee on Vimeo.

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Molly Rikkers

Camping at Kalani Big Island Hawaii

We've long wondered how to convey the beautiful experience that is 'Camping at Kalani'.

With lush tropical jungle surrounds to inspire you by day and a blanket of stars to cover you at night, it's hard to encapsulate what campers receive in our campgrounds experientially (physically and emotionally) in just a few simple words.

Thankfully one of our long-term volunteers, Molly Rikkers, has done it for us in the beautiful poem below.

Molly camped at Kalani for ten months (she and her tent are pictured).

Whether you're considering camping in Hawaii at Kalani or simply reading the Kalani blog for pleasure, .my jungle tent. makes for an inspiring read.

***

.my jungle tent.


my home breathes with the jungle.

the walls are transparent and billow like sails in the wind.

i have to unzip the windows to let air in, unzip the door to let myself in.

tiny droplets of water splash onto my pillow when it rains.

lilikoi vines wrap around the foundation and climb towards the sky.

if i don't weed every few days, the jungle will swallow me.

and i love it.

i'm safe on my wooden platform, under my teal-streaked tarp, behind my see-through walls.

i sleep in a sea of green.

i lie in my bed and watch shooting stars from my window.

i can rub a gecko's belly and give it mini high-fives with my fingertip as it hunts for dinner on my rooftop.

the coqui frog orchestra serenades me to sleep and the blue-eyed doves remind me that it's time to wake up.

i have everything i need in here with me, in this 13 by 9 foot space.

and it's the most perfect home i've ever lived in.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tina Eastoe

Tina during her volunteer stay at Kalani

If you are reading this you may be thinking about coming to Kalani as a volunteer.

The search for ‘something’ (maybe you're not exactly sure what yet) has brought you to this website, and now you're curious about this place called 'Kalani' on the Big Island of Hawaii.

That’s how it happened to me, anyway. As I sat reading through other blog posts six months ago, my heart beat a little faster. Why? Because each post provided a glimpse of what life was like at this special place, and what I heard resonated deep inside. I wanted what I was reading about. My soul needed it, and I'm guessing that yours might too.

For this reason I want to share a little about my own experience at Kalani in the hope that it will encourage you to have your own personal experience with, what I call, 'The Kalani Effect'.

As soon as I arrived I could tell that my time at Kalani would be life-changing.

The Big Island, with its lush jungle, volcano, powerful ocean and endless canopy of stars in the night sky couldn’t have been more different from my life in a small English town, a 'nine to five' office job, and live-for-the-weekend lifestyle.

Tina at The PointDuring my stay at Kalani I danced, laughed and laughed, ate well and tried all sorts of different classes, diving into everything that was on offer. I can't tell you how good it felt to be interested in new things again.

I swam in the pool almost every day, wove bracelets that I’ll keep forever, watched moonlight on the waves, smelled the most wonderful fragrances from flowers in the night air, helped make a community drum, sketched and painted, dressed up, had blissful massages, swam with sea turtles and colourful fish, made amazing friendships, had one of the most memorable birthdays ever in my 37 years, opened my heart, remembered what it was like to experience joy every day, and more and more and more…

Oh, I also cleaned some bathrooms and made quite a lot of beds! But even during my volunteer work hours at Kalani, there was still time to think, to reflect and to listen to myself.

One of the best bits about this place (because there are many best bits) is the people. The fellow volunteers and staff are fun, loving, supportive, mindful, interesting, entertaining, engaging and most of all being themselves. And they stay in your heart even once you’ve left.

Not a single day passed when I didn’t at some point think "I can’t believe I’m in Hawaii, I’m so lucky!"

And once I departed, my life was suddenly full of possibilities again. I was more confident that I could create the life I wanted rather than reacting to life around me. I was happier. I felt excited again.

Three months on, that same feeling of confidence and happiness - 'The Kalani Effect' - is still strong within me. My stay at Kalani has changed my life permanently.

So, if you do come to Kalani, at the very least you’ll have fun and catch some sun, and at the very best it will be a life-enhancing and life loving experience!

Kalani is a place where you have nothing to lose and everything to gain, so do whatever you need to do make your visit happen. If that means saving money, arranging vacation time, or taking care of other practical details, do it. If it means facing some fears and anxieties, so be it. Once you get to Kalani you’ll realise you don't need to hang onto fear and anxiety anymore. You'll have the time and space you need to get to know yourself. You'll learn to create and live the life you've always wanted for yourself.

In the end, my own experience of living and volunteering with this community – the Kalani 'ohana (family) – was truly more than I could have hoped for.

I hope you too will take the leap and honor whatever it is that is calling you to go.

* * *

Click here to read more about Kalani's Volunteer and Sabbatical programs.

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Chris Roufs

Fireworks at Kalani

Every Monday a Kalani 'Ohana member is invited to inspire those present at our weekly community meeting with a speech, poem, song, quote, meditation or anything else of their choice.

Resident volunteer and filmmaker Chris Roufs shared an inspiration and ensuing video project so spectacular that we couldn't wait to put it on the Kalani blog.

Read the speech Chris gave to us about finding his inner firework at Kalani, and scroll down to view his video at the end of this post.

***
FIREWORKS AT KALANI

You don’t have to feel like a waste of space,
You’re original, cannot be replaced.
If you only knew what the future holds,
After a hurricane, comes a rainbow.

Maybe your reason why all the doors are closed,
So you could open one that leads you to the perfect road.
Like a lightning bolt, your heart will blow
And when it’s time you’ll know.

You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine.
Just own the night like the Fourth of July.

Cause baby you’re a firework!
Come on show em what you’re worth!
Make em go, oh, oh, oh.
As you shoot across the sky-y-y!


If you haven’t already figured it out, these are lyrics from a Katy Perry song called 'Firework'.

I had heard this song many times before I came to Kalani this time (my third visit as a volunteer), but I had never really listened to the lyrics very closely.

When I arrived at Kalani again and life slowed down (as it always does when I’m here)  the song’s lyrics were pointed out to me by one of my 'Ohana. I took the time to realize that they had some deeper meaning.

That’s one thing I think is so wonderful about this place.  Being here slows things down.  Knowing that you are a part of this 'Ohana and feeling love and the beauty of nature all around you, allows you the opportunity to go a bit deeper within yourself. To discover your Firework, so to speak.

Shortly after I arrived back home this time I went to Open Mic and I saw the plethora of talents here at Kalani. I remember thinking to myself, “I wish I had something to offer.”  I wanted to get up and sing a song, or play an instrument, or recite some poetry, but that didn’t really feel right.  Just thinking about it seemed forced.  It felt wrong for some reason.

It was shortly after this that I heard Katy’s song again… and I really took the time to listen to the lyrics and then (like Katy sings)… something started to ignite inside.   But I also realized that I didn’t need to DO anything to be special or be appreciated, all I needed to do was to search for that Firework in me, that Firework in all of us.

The ONLY thing any of us ever have to BE is ourselves.  To try and find that DEEPEST PUREST sense of SELF, the part of us that is PERFECT, with no EGO, no JUDGEMENT, no preconceived BELIEFS.  That part of us that is pure JOY!

So one morning while walking toward Kehena beach, with Katy’s song stuck in my head, I turned to two of my 'Ohana and said, "I think I’m gonna make a video to a Katy Perry song."  I was going to do it so that everyone could show off their firework, their joy.  And I wanted people outside of this place to see how Kalani helps to bring that joy out in each member of its 'Ohana!

I’ve always heard that when you find a project or an idea that you truly believe in, the work you do in order to complete that task feels effortless, that time means nothing while working on something that you love, and that you fall into a kind of zone.  That is what this video project was like for me.  I think I briefly tapped into my Firework, my pure joy.  And I’m ever so grateful to all of my 'Ohana (especially Janice, Stephen and Alissa) for helping me to experience that.

For those of you reading and watching this that have never been to Kalani, I hope you catch a glimpse of the JOY that you too can hopefully find here.  I hope you make the journey very soon, and I hope I get to meet you here in paradise.

Mahalo Nui Loa 'Ohana!  May this little video always make you smile and warm your heart as it does mine.

Chris Roufs

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Noelani Rodriguez

How do you describe Kalani?

For those that know Kalani, the non-profit educational village and yoga retreat center in the Big Island of Hawaii, they know that it is a favorite repeat destination for many people!

For people that are new, here are some ways to describe Kalani:

Kalani Retreat Center | Yoga Retreats | Non-Profit | Camp

  • Spiritual Retreat Center- Kalani is kind of like Esalen Institute but more rustic, with  "tiki" chic.

  • Yoga Retreat Center - Yoga workshops and yoga retreats create a culture of people that enjoy yoga-related activities like ecstatic dance, kirtan, trance dance, and other similar events. There are other types of fun activities too like watsu, hula dance, huna healing and a full schedule of classes.

  • Volunteer Program - To volunteer in Hawaii you can live at Kalani and enjoy cheap travel, but unlike another place to volunteer like United Way, you get to live and enjoy fun activities like movie nights, open mike nights or themed "Ohana" or family nights. You also get to take most classes for free. Some people come to Kalani as a guest, start to feel like Kalani is "their family," and then come back as a volunteer.

  • It's the Food - If you are a "foodie" or even if you are not, Kalani has legendary cuisine that stays in people's memory long after their vacation at Kalani is over. For some people the food is enough to make them wild about Kalani. A recent Italian night in Kalani's kitchen included:
    • Farfalle chi Sardi - gluten free pasta with almonds, pine nuts, fennel and raisins
    • Caprese made with fresh mozzarella from the milk of water buffalo, tomatoes and basil
    • Pesce alla Messinese (whitefish with capers and olives), Cipolle Gratinate, (onions baked with balsamic and seasoned with wild island mint).
    • Cassata Sicliana that is one of the oldest cakes in history, enjoyed by Ancient Romans. Twice cooked cheese and almonds
  • Was this food for a special occasion? Not at all! It is just a typical day of dining at Kalani Retreat.

Kalani Retreat Center | Massage and Yoga Retreat

  • Community Dining - Last but not least, Kalani is unique in how it creates community. Group dining at the dining lanai creates fun opportunities for people to start out as strangers and leave as friends. Enjoyable activities like hula dancing, huna healing circle, yoga workshops can be shared with like minded others, and there are many chances to mingle and see familiar faces--during meal hours in the dining lanai, at the clothing optional pool or hot tub, or over at one of the classes. It's not unusual to meet people at Kalani and make friends for life.

Well, Kalani isn't always easy to describe, but we're doing our best for now. Want to help us describe Kalani? Please post a comment here, or send us a blog at [email protected]. It's worth it as this place is amazing and magical, and a best kept secret that others might love to know more about!

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