Kalani Honua Blog

Monday, September 13, 2010

Lily Kardon

This is an excerpt from an article Lily wrote on elephantjournal.com. Click the link to read the whole thing!

“Heaven is a Place on Earth.”

Lily KardonIt’s not just a Belinda Carlisle song to ironically play at your neighborhood hipster bar’s. It’s a reality found on the verdant Hilo side of the Big Island, Hawai’i. Part resort, part wellness center and fully an intentional community, Kalani Honua is truly paradise. The name itself means “Heaven on Earth” and with good reason. And it’s within your reach to live on the Black Sand beaches of Hawai’i among coconuts, avocados and papayas on your terms. Come play for a week of you-time. Or stay as part of the community volunteering in the work exchange program anywhere from one month to the 35 years Richard Koob, owner and founder, has been living on the property.

Boasting 120 acres of diverse plant life Kalani offers three open-air studios ranging in size for yoga, ecstatic dance and meditation, an organic aquaponics system where kale, basil and tomatoes (among other things) grow year round and a pristine pool fully equipped with a dry sauna and hot tubs. Not to mention the constant rotation of classes in a variety of disciplines (yoga, hula, aerial dance, lauhala weaving, woodcarving, fire spinning and more). Of course there are also the nightly events, when one can gather around with the “Ohana” (Hawaiian for “family) for kirtan, themed parties or group processing.

I spent weeks in anticipation of my departure, imagining each morning walking to practice in an open-air studio of my choosing while the gentle fragrance of night blooming Jasmine gave way to Plumeria thick in the air. Eating an organic breakfast surrounded by an eclectic group of beautiful people from all over the world before heading off to care for the land as part of the work exchange program or enjoy a morning Vinyasa class on my days off. Perhaps on any given day I would feel like walking off property to “the point” to sea-gaze for turtles. After dinner and the sun set why not take a cruise in the darkness of a new moon to go see the surface flow of molten lava only a few miles away?

And when I got there that’s how it was. Of course all of this is quite heavenly, no doubt. But more than the amenities provided or the proximity to natural wonders Kalani offers something very rare in this world. An opportunity to live in introspection and grow into one’s own wonderment. This place I had intended to vacation became a home in an otherworldly reality.

...After six months of living in this paradise I have returned to the mainland. I believed in community-living before I went to Kalani but primarily as a theoretical possibility. I’m telling you this dream is real.


Monday, September 6, 2010

Jim Larsen

Jim Larsen in ChinaI have been in China for this past month and half, and am loving it here. The food, the people, the scenery, it's all great. I'm working as a teacher, and the kids are a lot of fun to teach. I was wearing my Kalani t-shirt a few days ago and one of the Chinese staff members at the school took great interest in it and asked me about it.

I explained the concept of living and working at a retreat center, and it slipped out that my family is at Kalani. She said, "oh really? Your family is in Hawaii?" Then I had to explain that my blood family is in Virginia, but I have Ohana in Hawaii. She really liked the idea of such an extended family. She decided that the school where we teach is our Chinese Ohana, and I agree. Well, I do look forward to being back with my Kalani Ohana.

Please give my best to everybody!



Friday, September 3, 2010

Nicole Parente

Nicole ParenteLiving again breathing again. Breath is life.. Love is life. Love is opening your eyes and seeing the wind. Love is remembering yourself. Love is discovering yourself. Love is sacrifice. Love is letting your body relax. Love is letting your eyebrows melt to the floor. Love is the music of the coqui. Love is lava. Love is fire. Love is distance. Love is closeness. Love is a friend. Love is community. Love is smiling to a stranger. Love is warm tea on a cool night. Love is a midnight storm. Love is to share. Love is alive (I love being alive). Love is being. Love is attentive. Love is shy. Love is believing there's more than meets the eye. Love is a wave. Love is waving its arms wildly, announcing its presence in everything surrounding you. Love is in you - Love is you.

It's one thing to exist but its another to live. I watched others and myself grow in such beautiful ways.. I saw parts of my soul that have been hidden in darkness for a long time. I opened myself up to universal love and .. now everything is glowing. Kalani truly is heavenly. I remember watching people float effortlessly up to the lanai at meal times and thinking.. how different it is we all move at here. with such grace, such peace. no rushing around, trying to be something.. we are just being..

Kalani is a place where I felt both connected and disconnected in such a harmonious way. Nothing is permanent, nothing is absolute.. but that is simply the beauty of it all. to just feel every moment in such a blissful way. a spontaneous rain shower is just a quick chance to cleanse. the coqui frogs aren't keeping you up at night - they're singing you to sleep.

No where else have I seen so many people embracing life, giving love, receiving love. Reminding each other, to breathe..

With this breath I take, I realize.. Life belongs to you and I. Let us share it, not forget it, share it freely. Free is the gift of love. All is ours in a world of love.. Love is all ~


Friday, September 3, 2010

Satya Dolgin
"Kalani was the place I decided I was ready to live".

Friday, July 9, 2010


Ok, I will be honest and say that I am writing this blog because I was asked to write a blog. This is a good thing though, to quote Martha, cause I might not have otherwise. I have said before that I needed inspiration first. I am not the type to just sit down and start writing. Well inspiration is now at hand, and feet actually. I will explain the ‘feet actually’ part, but as it is I sit here thinking now how many different directions that this subject could take me, so before I begin let me say forgive me if I digress extensively.

feetBack to the feet. I love my feet! I love walking, almost on level with a Forrest Gump type. I have taken walks of 8-12 hrs just to clear and sort my thoughts. My feet are a great source of inspiration for me. On my walks I let my mind wonder, taking in the sites of my surroundings. In the ‘old days’ back in the ‘default world’ I was often walking through neighborhoods. The sites that I saw were other people’s yards. I would absorb the arrangement of plants that others had put together, make alterations on mental graph paper and file them away.

In 2004 my partner Kimo led me to Kalani and my feet were immediately excited, 120 acres to walk around and call home. Actually, we came to play a game of volleyball and were so impressed that we decided to volunteer and we have been here ever since. I went into the Landscape dept. and was soon walking here and there, making great discoveries for a Midwest farm boy. On one of my walks I was up along the mauka border of Kalani when I came across the Kalani plant nursery. I remember being so excited to see all these exotic tropical plants. It was only a few tables but that was it I started dreaming of all the gardens I could create with these beauties. My feet once again brought me to a space ripe with inspiration and my mind began picking the fruit. I took up the care of the nursery, weeding it, organizing like plants together, and watering.

It was a great space, but shortly after I was asked to head up the department, I decided to move the nursery to a more central location on property. At that time I had only one volunteer helping but we were ho’omau, determined to make it even better in the new space. And boy did we. We started propagating from cuttings we collected in the existing gardens on Kalani and from some “found” on roadside walks. Thank you feet. We grew slowly, but we grew. It was the experience that was important not the speed with which we created.

It was also a learning experience. Ti and ginger do not grow like corn and tomatoes. Then along came Bud ‘the wiser’ who sat down beside us and said, here let me show you how it is done. The best way to do this is to blah, blah, blah. I told him that I always thought the best way to do it was to have the guy with the best way, do it. So I put him in charge of our propagation efforts and before we knew it the nursery had grown to about one acre.

BarcusAll this time my feet were taking me all over Kalani. I have gone into areas that humans have not gone in decades if not centuries. On one of those walks I came across an area that was dominated by invasive non-native plants. These I knew would have to come down. So I began thinking of what to replace them with, when it came to me the idea of turning it into a nursery spot. It was on the mauka end of Kalani again, it was in line with our maintenance/solar building, and Bud was already saying that we needed more room if he was to continue producing more plants. So I put it before my crew who thought it was a big job, but also who new my favorite word was Ho’omau, determined.

Well it took us about 2 yrs but my feet now stand in our new mauka nursery. It is about four acres and includes an aquaponic vegetable and herb garden, composting site, and hundreds of exotic tropical plants. In our native/cultural plant collection alone we have 72 Kou, 30 Kukui, over 100 Pohinahina , and over 300 Ti plants just to mention a few. We also have palms, cycads, gingers, crotons, lilies, ferns, and orchids again just to mention a few. In short it is a GREAT SPACE that my feet lead me to. My feet take me here every morning now. I even come here with eight other feet on the weekend when I walk our two dogs. They like it too, lots to smell. Ahhhhhh, again I love my feet. They always keep taking me one step closer to my dreams. Mahalo no na kupuna.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Juan Manuel

Juan ManuelI had a marvelous experience at Kalani attending the 2010 Retreat Centers gathering. It was not just the gathering itself, but also the place that encouraged all of us to embrace the spirit of Aloha and imbue the gathering with it, creating a very rich and rewarding experience both, on the personal level and on the professional one. You can breathe the spirit of Aloha at Kalani and, if you happen to find yourself there, just let yourself to be taken by it.

Juan Manuel
Madrid, Spain


Saturday, June 5, 2010

"This has been an amazing vacation for me.  Kalani is flawless.  Everyone has been so friendly and open.  I can't wait to come back.--"

"I have come to love this place very very quickly.  I enjoyed my short (but sweet stay) and know taht I will be back again.  I have already begun to recommend it to people back home.  I love you guys!  Thanx heaps."  -- Australia

"What a relaxing atmosphere... A place to feel free... uninhibited... thankful... peaceful... a place to learn new cultures... song... dance... customs...  - Mahalo! "

"You guys are doing great ~ I'm so glad you are still here.  I've been coming for years but hadn't made it back for six ~ you create a gentle fun creative nurturing healing space.  You ARE Hawaii for me.  I take you back to Lopez Island, WA with me and spread Aloha there.  Thank you."

"This space, this land is blessed.  Thank you for providing such a sacred space."

"Thank you for a wonderful week!  I am so impressed with the warm welcoming & peaceful community at Kalani.  I enjoyed my stay & will definitely be back.  I truly had a healing retreat - which was my ultimate goal.  Mahalo!"

"I really love your place.  All the staff are friendly and very positive!  Thank you so much!  Aloha!"

"My time at Kalani is refreshing and restorative.  I am drawn back every year.  My heart thanks you!  Mahalo."

"It is a nice place to stay.  The whole staff is very friendly and we got help all the time we needed.  Mahalo.  I'll take the spirit to Germany."

"My stay was truly a healing for me.  I came after major major trauma in my life.  I am returning to New York a changed person.  Having left my hurtful baggage here where it will seep into the lava."

"I have been coming here over several years.  It's a joy to see Kalani grow, the landscape & trees, the people and the refinement of the retreat facilities.  There was wonderful coordination among the volunteer staff ~ so seamless we hardly knew they were there except for the lovely atmosphere they control.  Mahalo"

"This is our 2nd & 3rd times here.  It will not be our last time!  Special place - Keep it wild & loving!"

"A very 'warm' and welcoming place.  We have really slowed down and relaxed as the week progressed.  the Aloha spirit is everywhere.  A very free and peaceful retreat.  Mahalo!"

"I really enjoyed my stay.  The food, service, housekeeping, volunteers were great.  It was great to be in a place where transgender bodies are safe and accepted.  There's not a lot of place where we are welcomed and unquestioned.  Thank you!"

"Kalani couldn't have been a better experience.  Thanks to everyone for creating/maintaining this!"

"Kalani is a oasis of beautiful people, land, and healing energy that resonates throughout."

"The main thing that comes to my mind when looking back at this last week is 'Kalani is Thankfulness'.  I'm so thankful to this place.  EVERYBODY has been so welcoming, warm, & caring.  I will come back in a heartbeat!...I've traveled a bit & this place has offered the best services I have expereinced so far.  I'll be back... with all my friends from Seattle."



Sunday, May 16, 2010

Joe Joppe

I came for a visit to Kalani. To be a volunteer and do a three month stint. To take a chance and pull out of a life I was very comfortable with to one that seemed very foreign. A little risky for me from a past perspective. So I've been here for around five years now and after only two weeks here I knew inside that I was going to be here for a while. Why or how long? I wasn't quite sure at first.

Over the years Kalani has changed so much for me, but in reality I'm learning that it was in fact my own perception that has changed. In the beginning I was swept away by the beautiful, lush foliage, the friendly people, the cocqui frogs, the full moons so bright that you can read a book by it. The smell of the rain, the great studio spaces along with my cute and comfortable A-frame. But of course what is it that makes any place great?…the people of course. The minute I stepped out of the car from being picked up at the airport I felt I was home. The open easy-going attitudes along with so many warm friendly smiles and this very distinct feeling of being in the presence of non judgment.

People from all over the world arrive and leave and sometimes leave to arrive again later. Time and time again I'm witness to people having major shifts in perception here. Taking away something special and leaving things that were just extra baggage. Too heavy and not needed anymore. Everyone in this world regardless of what religion they are, where they come from, who they know, what they eat or what ethnic background they come from could probably all conclude that they want true peace of mind and to have that peace of mind ALL THE TIME.

I'm learning that where ever I may go there my mind is. Where ever I travel to I take my state of mind with me. Happy, sad, mellow or moody it comes with me like a package deal that is absolutely unshakable. Then what's so special about Kalani? Us, you, me, the people here. We all want peace and are trying to make and give peace to have it. Being part of the management team we are creating a place with our own rules. Rules that are made not to enforce, but to make for what is best for Kalani as a whole. Then all of us as individuals creating a peaceful space with "the whole" in mind. Creating a space where people can not feel judged by how they look, their sexual preference or what they wear, sometimes they wear nothing at all! It doesn't matter because those are things that are all external. I feel deep inside we all desire, know and want to remember and uncover those feelings of peace which we've always have known since time began. It has never left us, it just has been covered up with ego perception we ourselves chose to cover ourselves with.

Kalani is a place of remembering for me now. A place where I am reminded of who i really am and not who I think I was. Kalani is a place where people accept and love you and allow you to express yourself creatively. A place where all I see are reflections of myself in other people who are reflecting back that desire for peace back at me. I'm waking to a inner peace I've always known with friends I've known forever at a place where heaven really does seem to meet with the earth. Kalani Honua


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Chris Roufs
  1. swing!Push through the first few days. Your body and mind are not used to the pace, peace and beauty of this place, or the kindness and love of your new ohana. (Your soul is, that is why you came. It felt a calling.)

  2. At first don’t sit in the middle of a table at meals. It’s difficult because you feel torn between two conversations. Aim for the end seat, it’s much better. Listen to the flow of the conversation and join in when you feel like it.

  3. Smile at people and introduce yourself. Don’t worry about names. Ask again if you can’t remember. No one will be offended and the names will come faster than you think.

  4. Be kind and talkative with your new roommate. If you are lucky, you’ll find an amazing new friend who you can share your experience with.

  5. If you work in the kitchen, serve the food as much as you can in the beginning and get to know the faces of your fellow ohana. Watch the joy in their faces when you serve something that they love! When you’re up for a new challenge, become one with the Hobart Dishwashing machine!

  6. Keep an eye on the Free Box – you’ll find some pretty amazing things!

  7. Do YOGA! If you haven’t done yoga before, start slowly and tell the teacher that you’re new. When they ask if everyone is familiar with something, don’t say yes because you’re embarrassed. Learn the right techniques and sooner than you know it you’ll be doing poses you didn’t think were possible at the start.

  8. Go to Restorative Yoga on Saturday mornings with Kathy. Find relaxation and inspiration and then go out and seek the color RED!

  9. Keep a journal, and write in it EVERY day! Not only will you have a great memory, but it will help you work through and process things.

  10. Ask yourself questions. You have the time and are in a loving space in which to do so. Why did that upset me? What is it about that person that bothers me and WHY? And you’ll almost always find that it’s NEVER about them! It’s about YOU!!!

  11. Take deep breaths all the time.

  12. Enjoy the pool – in the sunshine, in the rain, under the stars - in your birthday suit!

  13. Go to The Point whenever you feel you need a recharge. Marvel at the ocean’s beauty and power. Find the tree swing and watch for Honu (Sea Turtles) to pop up for air – polarized sun glasses help a lot! Watch for whales and dolphins – a surprising treat! And if someone says they’ve never seen a turtle from the swing, take them down and share the experience with them.

  14. Make friends that will last a lifetime.

  15. Go to Ning’s for Thai in Pahoa! Do Happy hour in Pahoa Village Café or Luquin’s!

  16. Go to Sun Dance and shake your booty!

  17. Put yourself on the A-Frame waiting list and have fun decorating it and making it your own space! Don’t keep food in it and watch out for Gecko Poop and Hornets!

  18. If you can, EXTEND YOUR STAY!!

  19. Rent a car and go on a road trip! Take as many people as you can fit! Find a fun road trip song and play it over and over and over! Laugh and sing, and practice your car dancing skills!

  20. Respect the island and all it has to offer you. Ask for permission and for safe passage from the universe when you go on your adventures. Do magic fingers and say, “Wooooo!” Works every time!

  21. Go visit the following (optional): Kahena Beach, Tide Pools, South Point and Green Sand Beach, Captain Cook and Two-Step, Ho’okena Beach Park, Waipio Valley, Kilauea Iki in Volcano National Park, drive over the Saddle Road.

  22. Go visit the following (mandatory):

    1. The Top of Mauna Kea at Sunset and the Visitor Center for the star show – an amazing experience you’ll remember forever! Bring a jacket.

    2. Pololu Valley – Amazingly beautiful and there are tree swings at the bottom – connect with your childhood self!!

    3. Sunrise at Kalapana! EVERYONE should see the sunrise with its beautiful orange glow.

    4. The Secret Lava Tube at Kalapana (that makes its way to the ocean)! Take someone along who has been before, and don’t let the first few feet of the cave scare you. Like difficult times in your life, take a few deep breaths, let go of any non-essential stuff that is weighing you down, and press forward. Just around the corner is one of the most amazing things you’ll ever see! (And if someone is scared, hold their hand and help them through.) Stand in the large chamber with your traveling companions and turn out your flashlights. Marvel at the darkness and the quiet and meditate for a while. Move forward and literally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Do the limbo to get to the ocean and when you do, celebrate the beauty of this magical place by taking beautiful pictures in silhouette. Show off your Yoga or Meditation Poses. Carefully venture to the very edge of the cave and if you’re lucky you’ll see lava hitting the ocean off in the distance.

  23. Practice the art of the self-photo (on your own or with friends).

  24. Publish photos of your adventures on the internet so others can see how wonderful this place is and maybe make the journey themselves someday.

  25. If you meet someone new in your life shortly before your meant to leave for Kalani, go anyway. If that person loves you and the universe wants things to work out, they’ll still be there when you get back and you’ll be that much more at peace with yourself to start a new life adventure or journey with them.

  26. Maybe get a tattoo to permanently remind you of what you experienced and learned here. It’s meant to remind you of a special time in your life. How could you regret it?

  27. Be sad when it’s time to leave (don’t hold back on the tears if and when they come), but also be joyous at what you’ve experienced.

  28. Tell yourself that you’ll be back someday and manifest it, make it happen.

  29. Bring the Spirit of Aloha back with you to your life outside of Kalani. And if you feel its power slipping away from you, take a moment, close your eyes and journey back here. Find that special place that you found for yourself (be it The Point, The Swing, The Pool, The Lanai…). Say hello to those special people you met, your ohana. Feel the love that you have for them, and they for you, the universal energy that connects us all. Then open your eyes and greet the present moment (which is all we have) with a smile and with love in your heart!

Friday, April 9, 2010


My ten days at Kalani were gloriously rich in so many ways - I was immersed in extravagant nature, surrounded by incredibly luscious tropical flowers and fruits, exotic plants, beautiful trees and elusive dragonflies. The well-worn cliche about the ripe fruits dropping off the trees was in fact true; I enjoyed many very ripe guavas and a few tasty mangoes. The huge mango tree at the Kalani entrance was bent double with its load of fruits, and quite symbolic of the abundance within.

LadybeeGuests have the rare privilege of swimming in a non-chlorinated Olympic size pool with two outdoor hot tubs and a lovely sauna nearby, all nestled in a garden setting with palm trees, flowers, and both Ganesha and a reclining Buddha looking on. I loved heating up in the sauna, then diving into the cool swimming pool, sans bathing suit. Just walking on the property was really enjoyable; there seemed always to be a new flower or tree to discover, and the varying elevations of the land provided a good workout. I loved sitting on the big front verandah, listening to crashing waves below while eating delicious local ice cream. I also liked the cozy lounge next to the office, where one could check email, read, or just relax in a comforting environment. Dining al fresco on the lanai was a great pleasure, not only because of the healthy, delicious food but also because one could survey the broad lawn with its flowering trees and happy birds while eating. The salad bar was fantastic, and what could be better then fresh local fruits - papaya, pineapple, soursop, mamey, bananas - at breakfast? The desserts were delicious as were the entrees. And the company was marvellous.

The staff, volunteers, and guests were seemingly in a state of bliss - virtually everyone greeted me, with a smile, when passing and conversation flowed freely. Being at Kalani, in such a lush environment, seems to bring out the best in everyone. I certainly felt great every day I was there, and the intimacy of happy people in nature was lovely to experience. My greatest thrill was being close to big hawksbill sea turtles at several nearby beaches - I was able to swim with them, look at them closely, and just sit near them in awe.

The water, the lava, the plants and the flowers all seemed to conspire to enchant me - and the trade winds helped, too. Kalani is truly heaven on earth, and I hope to return this summer for more. As I write this from San Francisco, I miss it all keenly.

Mahalo and Aloha - LadyBee